I Wrote a Heathen Fable- "The Old Wanderer"

Posted by Byron Pendason on , in Heathenry, Myths, Reconstruction

I use to write fiction (mostly sci-fi short stories) quite a bit in my younger days. As I got older and had to spend more and more time doing the whole “adulting” thing, I spent less and less time writing. Until it fell by the wayside almost completely.

I decided recently that I needed to make time to start writing again, and the idea came to me that I should start with a fable. I initially posted this as a Twitter thread, but decided to do some slight editing and post it to my blog as well.


An old wanderer came to a prosperous city. He pleaded for a meager meal and somewhere to sleep for the night.

The city folk replied, “We don’t like outsiders. Outsiders are nothing but trouble, bringing crime to our peaceful city. Be gone from us!”

So the old wanderer continued on.

He soon came upon a small town. Again he pleaded for just a meager meal and a place to sleep for the night.

The town’s people replied, “No, we will not give you a meager meal. We shall prepare for you a feast!”

As they ate and drank, the old wanderer told them about his travels, and the many places he had been. In exchange for their hospitality, he taught them many of the folk remedies he had learned along the way. Remedies for every ailment that plagues humanity.

After his meal, they provided him with the best room in town.

A few weeks after the old wanderer departed, a plague fell upon the land. The prosperous city was devastated. Many died.

The small town fared much better. Many became sick, but thanks to the old wanderer’s remedies, they all recovered without a single death. They gave many offerings of thanks to Woden the great healer for their good fortune.

Upon his great throne from which he could see all the seven worlds, Woden smiled as he saw the ‘good fortune’ of the small town that had welcomed him with open arms.

I started out writing a fable about hospitality. I think it does a good job at that, but I’ve noticed other Heathen values that could be gleaned from this as well.

There is a small demonstration of the gifting cycle. The town’s people provided him with a meal, and in return he gave them knowledge that saved many lives. In exchange, they gave him offerings of thanks for the ‘stranger’ that gave them the knowledge that allowed them to survive.

There is the concept of mægen (literally means strength, but it is often used to describe spiritual strength which attracts success and/or luck, and is roughly equivalent to the more generalized Heathen concept of luck) being strengthened by good deeds, and being diminished by evil deeds. The city folk turned him away, and so they did not get the knowledge he could have given them to save themselves. The town’s people welcomed him, and so they got that knowledge and so was able to mitigate the effects of the plague.

I would love to read your thoughts on The Old Wanderer. What did you like and/or dislike about this little story? Would you like to see more such content? Do you see any other Heathen concepts within this little fable? (I see a hint of wyrd, for example.) Feel free to sound off in the comments below!