The Well of the Wyrd

This is a brief introduction to Norse theology regarding “fate.”

The Norse have the concept of Wyrd , which is the destiny of every living being (Gods, humans, and Others) cast by the Norns (Fates). Wyrd is mutable for it is the threads by which every being weaves their tapestry. Every action by one being will affect those with whom they interact. The reverse is also true, since each being’s tapestry has the threads of others woven into it.

Orlog, another Norse concept, is what the person starts with. Since Orlog is laid down first before the person is born, it governs where, when, and how they are born. A part of their Orlog is inherited from their ancestors, and therefore passed on to their children. Furthermore, Orlog can be built up through actions in a person’s life.

Growing from the misty void of Ginnungagap, Yggdrasil, the World Tree, is fed by the Well of the Wyrd. The World Tree connects all of the Nine Worlds. (Note) The leaves (the past actions) of the Tree fall into the Well, which shapes the present.

Lying at the base of Yggdrasil, the Well of the Wyrd holds the waters of fate. The deeds of all beings water the Well. Since It holds all that has come before, the Well becomes the cycle of the past on the present which determines the future. The echoes of the past meets the echoes of the future in the present. To accept the present is to be free of the past and the future.

The Weavers of the threads are the Norns (Nornir), who live at the base of the World Tree. Urd (the Past), Verdandi (What is Presently coming into Being) and Skuld (What Shall Be) are the three Norns. They do allow each being to weave with the threads that have been given them. Urd spins the wool that Verdandi spools and Skuld cuts. By meditating on the names of the Norns, deeper meanings will emerge. Urd (Wyrd) means “fate and destiny.” Verdandi is “to become” or “in the making of.” Skuld means “debt” and “the future that must happen.” Each offers a doorway deeper into the tapestry of life.

Note:
The Nine Worlds:
Asgard – Realm of the Aesir
Alfheim – Realm of the Elves
Hel – Realm of the Dead, who died of illness or old age
Jotunheim – Realm of the Giants
Midgard – Realm of the Humans
Muspelheim – Realm of Fire
Nidavellir/Svartalfheim – Realm of the Dwarves and the Dark Elves
Niflheim – Realm of Ice
Vanaheim – Realm of the Vanir

2 thoughts on “The Well of the Wyrd

  1. Interesting how similar this seems to be to the Fates (Moirai) in Greco-Roman myths. Would be interesting to see if there’s any comparative literature on these perspectives. I know relatively little about Norse myths so thanks for the post.

    Axé

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    • There is a lot of discussion of how the two are similar. Wikipedia does a good write-up of the Norns. If you want to know more about the Norns, Raven Kaldera has a shrine with essays on them. You can start there.

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