No Rest For the Wicked

“There\’s no rest for the wicked.”

How many times have we heard it said, even in jest? No repose, no rest; no refreshment for the wicked. Doomed to wander, outcast and alone until Judgement day when they\’ll be dumped into the Lake of Fire.

Or maybe it\’s because the wicked are always moving, never still; always stirring things up. Rabble-rousers with sly tongues and shrewd glances; for yes, shrewd once meant evil too. You can\’t trust the wicked – they are disruptive – they might do anything because they don\’t follow the same rules as right-thinking folks.

Let us consider this, this disruption, this breaking apart:

rupture (n.)

1481, from L. ruptura \”the breaking (of an arm or leg), fracture,\” from pp. stem of rumpere \”to break,\” cognate with O.E. reafian \”to seize, rob, plunder,\” reofan \”to tear, break;\” O.N. rjufa \”to break;\” see reft). Meaning \”abdominal hernia\” first attested 1539. The verb is first recorded 1739.

To rob, to reave, to steal; to break, to rend, and to rip; to fracture and shatter. These are all the verbs, the very acts of that which seeks to eviscerate the status quo, the way of the righteous. The maintenance of the system is broken; the flow comes in spurts, then trickles, then finally to nothing, cold and empty.

This is the corpse, the body with its function, its teleology; there is no place in life for it, and it must be disposed of, lest it become rotten and stinking. It has become something which must be treated with reverence and rite, to keep it down, send the soul along the way to its rightful place.

Leave it too long, and the problem becomes obvious; crawling things and foul gasses, pustular fluids full of noxious stench. Bacteria run riot; the flesh writhes with unknown movement, a familiar face now sunken and distorted. Death itself must obey the codified laws, the rta, the Me of the gods, the will of the Regin.

Otherwise it is disruptive, a contagion which by its very existence, by its contact with civilization, threatens to creep throughout the edifice and turn its heart into a pullulating, seething, mass of chaos.

That movement beyond the boundaries is by its very definition, wicked. Certain modes of movement are sanctioned, even expected; death as a narrative, be it as a cessation or transition is merely an extension of the status quo.

I knew I knew you. But you ain\’t you. You can\’t be you.[… ]There ain\’t no coming back. This is the really real world, there ain\’t no coming back. We killed you dead, there ain\’t no coming back! There ain\’t no coming back! There ain\’t no coming back!” – The Crow

To move after that? That is the violation, the disruption. The nails in the horse-shoe, the spear in the side of a crucified man, the stake through the heart, the holy water, the grave goods; the burning pyre, the medical incinerator and the crematorium; all these to guard against the unholy, the disease, the horror.

Resquiat in pace. Please, God.

Don\’t let him get up again, and make a mockery of life. Don\’t let the dead walk; our ancestors become displeased with us and the fabric of our society ripped apart by the vengeful, hungry ghosts with their metabolisms that can never be satiated.

The Devil makes work for idle hands – dancing, singing, screaming and howling with music and merriment. The question becomes then, if there is no rest for the wicked, then is it because it is denied to them? Is that peace, that final rest capable of being taken and given like a commodity, like the flow of currency?


But like currency, it is in fact a creature of decree and civilization. As such, those disruptive influences, those veritable thieves, are the ones who take what is not theirs. To them is denied the allotted span; these wolf-heads, snake-men and crow-fiends all.

Death take them, let their graves be unconsecrated; plague victims and lepers kept outside the city walls. Hear then in the night, moaning and groaning; lunatics howling at the moon. Mad, bad and dangerous to know in their furious nature.

Now do you see? The knife-thin grin of the Master of the Wodh in the dark beneath the gallows-tree is gleaming in the dark. Caput Mortuum.

No rest for the wicked – they steal your peace and give you war.

They howl at the moon – scream out so loud with terrible roar.

No rest for the wicked – they dance on their graves

The sound of their laughter – as ceaseless as waves

No rest for the wicked, no:


c.1275, earlier wick (12c.), apparently an adj. use of O.E. wicca \”wizard\” (see wicca). For evolution, cf. wretched from wretch. Slang ironic sense of \”wonderful\” first attested 1920, in F. Scott Fitzgerald.
An O.E. masc. noun meaning \”male witch, wizard, soothsayer, sorcerer, magician;\” see witch .
O.E. wicce \”female magician, sorceress,\” in later use esp. \”a woman supposed to have dealings with the devil or evil spirits and to be able by their cooperation to perform supernatural acts,\” fem. of O.E. wicca \”sorcerer, wizard, man who practices witchcraft or magic,\” from verb wiccian \”to practice witchcraft\” (cf. Low Ger. wikken, wicken \”to use witchcraft,\” wikker, wicker \”soothsayer\”). OED says of uncertain origin. Klein suggests connection with O.E. wigle \”divination,\” and wig, wih \”idol.\” Watkins says the nouns represent a P.Gmc. *wikkjaz \”necromancer\” (one who wakes the dead), from PIE *weg-yo-, from *weg- \”to be strong, be lively.\”
Strong and lively then, these furious folk whose sheer, unadulterated movement irrespective of condition threatened the status quo. Yet this is not so much a threat as an understanding of the mechanisms of existence. If there be no rest, no safety, then the premises of order – the energies devoted to their maintenance are suspect. The sole notion of death-as-rest is violated; the fact that even death itself moves and that the movements of the gods themselves are essentially doomed to go the way of all things; these evoke extreme horror. A kind of angst which suffuses and supposedly corrupts all it touches.
Is it any wonder then that the movement of the sorcerer evokes this horror by its movement in prohibited spaces and in asocial ways? After all, such movements invoke resources not available to those occupying and engendered by society. These movements are precisely what paints the sorcerer as monster – the only way this is possible, to human eyes, is a pact with the Outside – whether that be blood, rite or simple contagion.
It becomes a living embodiment of what is feared on an atavistic level; the edifice of humanity is rooted in dark soil, reactionary and primal. Civilization as escape from privation engenders dreams of greater capture. Flight becomes a method of escape – routes become designed for maximal speed – as if speed will somehow beat the inexorable pull of gravity; as if humanity runs far enough and fast enough, death will never catch up and the golden age will continue.
This is foolish. Existence is precarious, after all. The sorcerer is always wandering; it has no home, and can never return there. All that remains is survival in spite of the environment and conditions; the knowledge of the restless is one of precision.
From that understanding comes the embracing and mastery of the fury; the awareness and harnessing it to produce maximum affect; a long road to be sure, yet as I write this on the dawning of the day that will shade into Walpurgisnacht, I find myself gripped by that same fury and full of attendant awe.
For it is quite simply a road which I must walk, and though I must do it
without walking, the movements sing a song which threads its way through deep, dark lands full of Mystery. Such a path as this demands a way of being which, by its very nature, is unacceptable to all but a few.
Great courage is needed then, this night.
Mr. VI
Hanging Town
@5 am BST – Walpurgisnacht 2010
A German friend of mine, on reading this, pointed out that I had neglected to mention the Wild Hunt/Horde/Host in this discussion. He is quite right, as I\’d deliberately attempted to omit them in an attempt to express the ideas in other ways.
Having done so, we shall tackle it in short order; the furious Host is often said to be composed of the souls of the unquiet dead, or those who have performed evil acts. Contact with it is tantamount to contamination.
Contrasted to the agrarian utopia promised by civilization, the Host is a band of strangers:

host (1)

\”person who receives guests,\” late 13c., from O.Fr. hoste \”guest, host\” (12c.), from L. hospitem (nom. hospes) \”guest, host,\” lit. \”lord of strangers,\” from PIE *ghostis- \”stranger\” (cf. O.C.S. gospodi \”lord, master,\” Goth. gasts, O.E. gæst \”guest\”). The biological sense of \”animal or plant having a parasite\” is from 1857. The verb is early 15c., from the noun. Related: Hosted; hosting.
host (2)
\”multitude\” 1265, from O.Fr. host \”army\” (10c.), from M.L. hostis \”army, war-like expedition,\” from L. hostis \”enemy, stranger,\” from the same root as host (1). Replaced O.E. here, and has in turn been largely superseded by army. The generalized meaning of \”large number\” is first attested 1613.
Evoking the image of palaeolithic hunters, warrior bands, armies; all these are furious things, often led by commanders, tyrants:
c.300, \”absolute ruler,\” from O.Fr. tyrant (12c.), from L. tyrannus \”lord, master, tyrant\” (cf. Sp. tirano, It. tiranno), from Gk. tyrannos \”lord, master, sovereign, absolute ruler,\” a loan-word from a language of Asia Minor (probably Lydian); cf. Etruscan Turan \”mistress, lady\” (surname of Venus).

\”In the exact sense, a tyrant is an individual who arrogates to himself the royal authority without having a right to it. This is how the Greeks understood the word \’tyrant\’: they applied it indifferently to good and bad princes whose authority was not legitimate.\” [Rousseau, \”The Social Contract\”]

Illegitimate sovereignty then; unlicensed authority; bastards outside of the line of succession and ritualized kingship. The illegitimacy comes from exercise of powers usually ascribed to, or seemingly greater than the \’rightful\’ ruler. Josephus, in his Antiquities of the Jews writes – emphasis mine:

Now it was Nimrod who excited them to such an affront and contempt of God. […] He persuaded them not to ascribe it to God, as if it was through his means they were happy, but to believe that it was their own courage which procured that happiness.

He also gradually changed the government into tyranny, seeing no other way of turning men from the fear of God, but to bring them into a constant dependence on his power. He also said he would be revenged on God, if he should have a mind to drown the world again; for that he would build a tower too high for the waters to be able to reach! […] Now the multitude were very ready to follow the determination of Nimrod, and to esteem it a piece of cowardice to submit to God.

Now, if this simply seems like replacing one status quo with another, you\’d be correct in thinking so. The value of Nimrod is not his defiance of YHVH, nor is it his construction of a symbolic penis; this is not simply an issue of genital measurement.

Rather it is that the world of the righteous is not the world of the wicked; that by definition the furious ones are other-worldly, almost a different species. We see Nimrod\’s \’contamination\’ of the world of the righteous and the subsequent shift towards another mode of movement – the people are swept up to follow Nimrod\’s determination.
In the same way, those who are caught up by the Furious Host become part of it – though they were originally of the human world, they become something else. Harriers of the status quo by their very existence; a violation of the world as an enclosed, contoured space with rules that keep it intact.
For the Furious Host admits no rule but its own; the laws of the world of mankind cannot apply to that which is no longer emerging from mankind, but has instead embraced the movement which is not escapist but survivalist.
We do not waste energy trying to escape. Millennia of mankind racing away from death, but the Furious Host survive it. Does this not indicate something?
1473, originally in the legal (inheritance) sense, from Anglo-Fr. survivre, from O.Fr. souvivre, from L. supervivere \”live beyond, live longer than,\” from super \”over, beyond\” (see super-) + vivere \”to live\” (see vivid). Survival is attested from 1598; phrase survival of the fittest was used by Spencer in place of Darwin\’s natural selection. Survivable \”capable of being survived\” is attested from 1961.
Beyond death, beyond worlds constructed by gods and men. When Ragnarok comes, and the worlds are afire; when gods die and the status quo burns itself out and there is only ash? When Loki Wolf\’s-Father watches his son\’s jaws ripped apart and sees something emerge to cast aside the mask of godhood?
When blood-brothers smile amidst the wreckage?
Then the Furious Host rides. Time to go; we have worlds to burn and birth.
“No rest for the wicked.”
– VI