The Death Rune

The 13th rune was chosen as the emblem of the Order of the Trapezoid, because it had long been the personal sigil of both Anton LaVey and myself. I had it tattooed on my right arm a full half decade before ever meeting LaVey, and LaVey had used it in a sub rosa form on his earliest business card. In the 80’s, the San Francisco Chronicle posted a story of LaVey angrily storming out of court and carving the symbol onto the courtroom door.

For both of us, the sigil signified the balance and reciprocity between light and darkness, creative force and destructive force, or what the crowd would deem good and evil. But, for both he and I, the symbol represented an attitude toward life that rendered redundant the very concept of good and evil.

It’s origins can be traced to the most ancient runic alphabet, where it was known as the Eihwaz rune. For the ancient Nordics, it represented the world tree that intersected and unified all realms of existence; with roots that extended to the underworld while it’s branches reached toward the heavens. It was also associated with the sacred yew trees which were predominantly seen in graveyards, so it was a symbol of death. But since the yew was an evergreen, it was also a symbol of life eternal – and thus represents both at one and the same time.

Sadly, by the time the second runic alphabet was introduced, the 13th rune had vanished; along with the concept it represented. But the intrinsic truth it embodied is still a fact, whether it is recognized or unrecognized.

Death Rune drawn by Boyd Rice with his own blood, 1980

Early LaVey acolyte Freewheelin' Frank (secretary of the Hells Angels) carving the Death Rune onto a coffin lid in Roger Corman's film Wild Angels