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~ Heathen Stories and New Myths ~

The Origin and Secrets of the Blank Rune

Loki looked on as Odin, supreme god of wisdom, pulled himself up off the ground
and removed his own spear from his side.

"Need a hand, brother?" he asked thoughtfully.

"I will manage," Odin said, straightening himself up and brushing himself off.

"Did you find the secrets you were searching for?" Loki asked.

"Yes," Odin replied. "Yes, indeed." He opened his hand to reveal twenty-four pieces
of mysterious wood from the world tree, Yggdrasil. They had unusual symbols carved
into them, etched with the blood of Odin himself.

As Odin made his way back to his waiting steed, Sleipnir, to return to Asgard
and rest after his ordeal, Loki looked around the base of the tree. He spied something,
stooped to look at it more closely, and then picked it up.

"Wait!" he called out after Odin, rushing to him. "You forgot one!"

Odin looked at the curious piece of wood.

"It's blank," he said, handing it back to Loki.

Loki looked at again, then looked back at Odin, who was already walking away.

"So, you don't want it?" he asked.

"No," Odin replied.

Loki looked at the small piece of wood once more, then smiled.


The mortal had never been a smart man, or a hard-working and diligent man.
He had dabbled in varying forms of the occult, such as tarot cards, I Ching, and the like,
but he never had the commitment to stick it out to the end.
And besides, he wanted something to call his own.

Book after book he poured over. Well, read through. Well, looked over.
Okay, okay, he skimmed. Uh, looked at the pictures?

But nothing came to him.

Until one day, exhausted, he finally found what he sought. Viking runes.
Not exactly like tarot cards, but he was sure they could be adapted.

He laid the book on his nightstand and slept, but his sleep was uneasy that night.


Loki put the blank rune, or rather the blank piece of wood, for it was not yet a rune,
into his pocket, then he flew across time and space to Midgard, sometime in the 1980s.
Stopping in at a local library, he found a curious mortal that he thought he could have some fun with.

The mortal was pouring over ancient tomes of forgotten lore. Well, looking over them.

Well, looking at the pictures.

The trickster went into the bathroom to relieve himself, then washed his hands and splashed
some water onto his face. He looked in the mirror and saw his almost boyish, almost innocent
reflection staring back at him.

"This'll never do," he said, and pulled some items from his coat.

The first was a fake beard. Long and gray. He attached it rather haphazardly, merely making sure
it would stick. Then he put on an eye patch and a floppy blue hat, and finally a blue cloak, then
glanced in the mirror once more.

"Perfect!" he said with joy. "I'm practically the old man's twin!" And off he went to play with his mortal.


When the mortal next opened his eyes, he was no longer in his bed, but rather in a great forest.
Wolves howled in the distance and ravens flew overhead. A lone figure approached.

It was an old man.

Well, no, not exactly. It was someone who looked like an old man. Sort of. Kind of.
But the mortal was not exactly intelligent, and he did not know what to think.

The "old man" approached and looked carefully at the mortal.

"Do you seek knowledge?" the old man asked. "Do you seek wisdom?"

The mortal looked confused.

"Well?!" the old man boomed.

"Uh," the mortal shrugged. "I guess. I found these symbols. These ancient Viking symbols.
I think I can use them to divine the future. Maybe. I'm not sure. But I think they're marketable.
People are really into that kind of stuff right now."

"Indeed they are," the old man replied. "But what do you know of these symbols?"

"Not a lot," the mortal responded. "There is a certain order to them..."

"WRONG!" the old man shouted. "Order my foot! You must find your own order!"

"What?" the mortal asked, confused.

The "old man" was really enjoying this.

"You must discover your own order," he instructed the mortal.
"Draw them out, one at a time. The only 'order' is the order you draw them out in."

"Okay," the mortal replied. "But first I'll have to find the meanings."

"No," the old man replied. "The meanings are... utterly meaningless. Instead find your own meanings."

"Are you sure that's a good idea?" the mortal asked.

"You dare to question ME?!" the old man shouted. "I tied the hair of my genitals to a goat's beard!
Never question me!"

"Yes, yessir," the mortal said, taken aback. He took a moment to regain his composure.

"Finally, there are twenty-four of them."

"Actually, no," the old man said. "There are twenty-five. But I have never revealed the final rune
to anyone. Ever. But I shall reveal it to you this day."
He removed the blank piece of wood, now and only now the blank rune, and placed it in the mortal's hand.
"This is the final rune."

"But, it's blank," the mortal asked.

"Yes," the old man answered, trying not to laugh and blow the entire act.
"It contains much more power than the others, more than all of them combined.

It shall be, in time, legendary. And it shall become so only with your efforts. The meaning...
well, you must discover that on your own as well. Then you will have wisdom, and knowledge.
Then you will have notoriety. Then you will have marketability. And, most importantly,
then, my friend, you shall possess cold, hard cash."
The old man let out a sinister and eerie laugh, and then walked away, still laughing.


The mortal awoke shocked, and looked into his hand. There lay a blank piece of wood.


There lay the blank rune.

The man rushed to record his dream, and begin his true study of the runes, remembering everything the old man had told him.


The trickster strolled back into Asgard smiling.

"That went rather well," he said to himself. "I must say, I make a very convincing Allfather."

"Loki, what have you done?" Odin said loudly, walking up to Loki.

Loki quickly removed the old man beard, eye patch, and hat. Instantly his cloak turned into a decidedly less Odinic color.

"What?" Loki asked, again looking almost boyish and almost innocent.
"Whatever do you mean?"

"I endured an ordeal for nine nights, not for my own gain, but for wisdom on which the world may depend,"
Odin began. "And instead, I find this!" He tossed a book to Loki.

Loki opened the book and looked it over. Recorded in it were the very things he had said to the mortal,
plus some... "additions" of the mortal's own. He handed the book back.
"I'm sure I don't know what you mean."

"Keep it," Odin said. "There are enough of them in Midgard as it is. Too many. Now, where did this trash
about a 'blank rune' come from? I told you that was an ordinary piece of wood!"

"Now, hold on," the trickster said. "You've got it all wrong. I may have said some things to that man,
that, well, you probably wouldn't have said them, but it's not right to lay the blame off on me.
Mortals are responsible for their own actions, after all. I was just sharing, um, my own point-of-view.
Surely you can understand."

"Mm-hmm," Odin said. "And who's going to clean this up?"

"Clean it up?" Loki asked, looking innocent again. "I'm sure it'll all sort itself out. I mean, mortals are
usually fairly clever, even if this one wasn't."

"I think you're right," Odin said. "I think it will sort itself out. Others will correct this man's mistakes,
but it will take time. It will take energy. It will take will and actions that could be used in better ways.

All because of one idiot who decided to rewrite hundreds of years of history because of, among other things,
your 'point-of-view'. Wisdom is not something to be trifled with. It is not something to be used
for the wrong purposes. Remember that."

With that said, Odin turned and walked away. Loki watched him go, and thought on his words a bit.

"But what is wisdom without humor?" he asked himself aloud.

Then he turned and left, in the direction of Bilskirnir.


Robert Silvers

Image: Runes and Coffee by ~iscalox: This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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