You Have Nothing Else

Imagine yourself. Now imagine yourself 1500 years ago. Can you think like that? Think in Old English. There you go. Now you belong to a people who knew the Rune Poem backward and forward and folded in half. Fold it in half and look at the Gift and Home stanzas, they pair up for a reason. You know the reason and you would fear it, if it weren’t unthinkable. It won’t happen, but it does happen. Exile. You get your ass out of here right now. Just like that. Go. You are no longer welcome. This is no longer your home. We are not your people. We don’t know you. We won’t know you. We never knew you.

It’s shocking when it happens, wilderness. You had a place in this world. Gone. This is my family. These are my people. Nope. It’s expected for people to have people. With them comes respect, dignity, worth, support. Lots of support: these particular people, thinking in Old English like they do, circulate what they have. They display it by giving it away. Everybody, all levels of society, doesn’t matter who. It flows out in all directions, comes in from many directions more. Why not keep it? Because everything is temporary.

How does exile happen? Family meeting, and that means everybody. Your people, all of them, are going to gather like they do whenever they need to figure things out, and they’ll decide what’s to be done about you. They will do what is just and what is proper. They’re not going to kill you, don’t worry about that, but you will be dead to them. That’s the punishment. You will have to survive on your own now, and it’s not easy out there. It’s totally medieval. You are no longer welcome in this home. You are no longer welcome to the circulation of goods and services, you will receive none of these gifts so if you need it, get it yourself. If you can. Go live in the forest or wherever, go on, get. We will not take care of you. Now go.

And you do. Now what. You are mostly dead to your people. Mostly dead is slightly alive, so maybe somebody, not anybody you know, somebody else, will see you wretched and miserable, subsisting in your pile of nothing, and pity you from time to time. They might show a little mercy occasionally with a gift to ease your need. Maybe that way you’ll survive. And maybe you won’t.