Prayer Beads: The Well of the Wyrd


Tree of Life: 1
Well: 1
Small suns or moons: 4

Rhodochrosite: 9
Clear Quartz: 9
Smokey Quartz: 9


Tree of Life: 1
Small moon: 1
Rhodochrosite: 9
Small moon: 1
Clear Quartz: 9
Small moon: 1
Smokey Quartz: 9
Small moon: 1
Well: 1


Tree of Life:
I sing of the World Tree
From the misty void of Ginnungagap
The Great Tree of the Nine Worlds
At whose roots lies the Well of the Wyrd
There live the Norns
Weaving the threads of all

Small Moon:
In the Turning of Time, we are our deeds.

I sing of Urda
Of Which Has Been
Who governs the threads
Of memory,
Mists and shadows

Clear quartz:
I sing of Verdandi
Of Which Is Becoming
Who governs the threads
Of the ever present,
Clarity and light

Smokey quartz:
I sing of Skuld
Of Which Is Yet To Come
Who governs the threads
Of endings
Night and blackness

The Well of the Wyrd:
The Well feeds the World Tree
Deeds upon deeds
Rippling in the waters
Layers upon layers like fallen leaves
The Past becomes the Future

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.

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

My Encounter with the Wild Hunt

When I was a young adult living in Connecticut (US), I had an experience that shook me. I was in a park that overlooked the Housatonic River in late November. When the sun was setting, I walked back to my car. Suddenly the wind picked up, and the clouds boiled over in swirling blacks and reds. Loud barking and blasts from hunting horns assaulted my ears. As the hair on my arms stood up, I felt the temperature drop.

I fell to the ground, and just laid there cowering with my hands over my head. As blackness enveloped the park, the air grew heavy. The din became deafening as shadows flew over and around me. I continue to lay there, shaking uncontrollably.

Then complete silence. Softly the moon emerged in the clearing sky. In a daze, I got up, dashed to my car, and sped home. Arriving, I went immediately to bed and stayed there for two days. My family was worried for me but I could not say what had happened to me. Later, I had a nervous breakdown.

I had encountered the Wild Hunt, which of course I had no knowledge of at the time. A part of European folklore, the Wild Hunt has been sighted in North America. Here it is called “Ghost Riders in the Sky.” My French-Canadian relatives referred to it as “Chasse-galerie.” This “motif” entails a mythological figure leading a supernatural group of hunters and dead souls. The leader of the Hunt ranges from Odin to Herne the Hunter to King Arthur. Black hounds and horses with fiery eyes accompany the horde. Some believe that the Hunt collects souls, while others claim that the Hounds of Hell are chasing sinners. Whatever, it is considered a bad omen, foretelling doom.

People who encountered the Hunt are either taken, warned, punished, or rewarded. Staying in the middle of a road will keep the person safe. A person could cooperate with the leader’s requests and hope the Hunt will pass them by. I was saved by my nearby car and half-eaten sandwich in my jacket pocket. Bread and steel protect an individual from being taken, since the Hunt will avoid both elements. My adult life has been divided into before and after seeing the Hunt. What I experienced long ago still frightens me.

The Multiple Souls of Polytheism

adult black coat conceptual

Photo by OVAN on

Polytheism differs from Christianity in that instead of one soul, a person has multiple souls. The Romans have the genius, renamed by Christians as the Guardian Angel. Meanwhile, the animus, which is the dynamic force of personality, can exist outside of the body. One soul dies with the body, while another one survives to form its own body. When a person dies, one soul will merge with the ancestral soul, and another soul will go to the underworld. The physical (body) soul that lives on after death is called a revenant.

This is a difficult concept for many people to grasp. Western culture sees a person’s soul as a singularity. Moreover, the revenant is no longer believed to be real. Since the Dead have been relegated to being phantoms. Modern science has reinforced the idea that ghosts are figments of a confused mind.

The Christian Church deliberately redefined the concept of “soul,” thereby merging all the souls into one entity. Now, when the body dies, the soul merges with God. The Church dismissed the existence of revenants. Tertullian, St. Augustine, and Gregory the Great developed and promoted the concept of the soul being a singularity. Their aim was to eliminate the Pagan veneration of the Dead.

Tertullian claimed that Plato had asserted that the soul remains in the body after death. However Plato said that after death, a soul does continue to exist. Moreover, he divided the soul into three parts – logos (mind), thymos (emotion) and eros (desire).

In Polytheist theology, it is important to note multiple souls are the norm. For example, the Egyptians believed that everyone had nine souls. They are: kha: the body, ka: the living life force, ba: the personality, sekhem: the transfigured life force, khaibit: the shadow, akh: the transfigured soul, sahu: the spiritual body, ib: the heart and ren: the true name of the person.

In Norse Polytheism, the litr is the body’s vital force. The hame, the “astral body,” works with the lich, the physical body. The flygja is similar to the Roman genius. The kinfylgja is the ancestral soul.

It is important to note that the texts written by the ancients are often interpreted by people who are steeped in the monotheistic culture. Therefore, references to multiple souls may be thought of as aspects of a single soul. However, the idea of multiple souls still manifests itself in modern thought. I consider Freud’s theory of the ego, id, and super-ego to be one example.

Polytheistic Ethics: Dealing with Groupthink

Often a test of ethics will come from membership in a group, whether at the workplace, home, or school. Each group has its own personality, derived from the combination of people in it. By sharing their goals and identities, people, in return, receive a feeling of security and comfort from the group. However, there will be times when what a person thinks is right runs counter to what the group wants.

Some groups can work to the detriment of the individual. Psychologist and researcher Beatrice Schultz wrote, “A group can hold power over us if we find it attractive enough to want to be a member.” When this develops, “groupthink” among the members will often occur, unless the members encourage nonconformity. Without any debate, group members will often coalesce to a tight unit. As it becomes incapable of making moral judgments, the decision making ability of the group deteriorates.

The University of Pittsburg’s student site on the dynamics of small groups lists several symptoms of groupthink. “The group overestimates its power. Often times a group can believe that their cause is right and that nothing can go wrong with their plan.” Moreover, groupthink leads to an extraordinary degree of over-optimism and risk taking by the group. Groupthink pressures the individuals to conform, and discourages them from having doubts. Silence then becomes consent.

Contributing to groupthink is the “Phenomenon of Group Polarization,” which is “people in groups become more extreme in their point of view.” The “Risky Shift Phenomenon” states that “In the group, they are likely to make riskier decisions as the shared risk makes the individual risk less.” Because of this, “decisional stress” may occur. When a group is forced to make an important decision, the individuals within the group will feel insecure. Therefore the group members will reduce their stress by making decisions quickly with as little dissension as possible.

I have had experiences with groupthink. At one time, a gang took up residence in my garden condo complex. Because they believed that the police were ineffective, my neighbors were reluctant to call them. Moreover, they also did not want to be a target for the gang. My neighbors thought that I was insane for wanting to go to the police to stop the gang. I became caught between keeping the social order and having relations with my neighbors.

When facing an ethical dilemma, Loyola Marymount University (LMU) advises their students to do a three step process. First ask, “What are the consequences of each act? What are the benefits and harms for each? How will they play out over the long and short-term?” Second, analyze each action. “How do they measure up against various moral principles?” (Polytheists have ethics that are derived from their religious traditions such as the Roman virtues.) Finally, make a decision that you can live with.

The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) tells their members to map out the dilemma to decide what action to take. CIMA advises that they should resolve the dilemma as quickly as possible since longer the delay, the greater the repercussions will be. The CIMA suggests asking yourself: “How would I feel if I saw this in a newspaper?”

There are two Polytheistic ethics which I considered, at the time, for my own dilemma. The first is “Natural Law: Actions have consequences. What we choose will expand beyond ourselves.” The second is the Norse concept of Wyrd (soul and fate). Our choices will add to or subtract from the Well of Wyrd. What we do with others will weave our Wyrd into theirs. Therefore together, our fates are intertwined unless we deliberately unravel the threads.

In my case, I had woven my wyrd with that of my neighbors’. With that in mind, I had to choose what to do next. Instead of berating my neighbors for their passivity, I called the police when I felt in danger. My neighbors thought that I was “asking for it,” but the gang ignored me. I felt resistance from my neighbors for “endangering everyone by calling the police.” For me, Natural Law meant doing something to keep my home safe. My wyrd would suffer if I did nothing. Also, I did divination to see what if anything else my Gods wanted me to do.

Life in my neighborhood became intolerable, after one of the gang members committed murder. Although his mother maintained her son’s innocence, he was convicted and sent to prison. At that point, the neighbors decided to evict her since she allowed the gang to stay in her home. The situation became difficult for me since everyone knew I had called the police, but still spoke to the mother. I was neutral about the mother since I was neither her judge nor jury. The mother knew that I worked with the civil authorities, but still greeted me. Eventually, the gang was broken up and the mother moved to be closer to her son in prison.

For several years, my neighbors did not speak with me. I made my choices knowing that my neighbors would shun me. It hurt but at least I could live with myself since I did what I thought was ethically correct. For me, there were no absolutes in ethics, only what I could live with. I had to consider the consequences of my actions beyond myself. Divination was a way to understand those consequences and to prepare for them.

Works Used:
Center for Ethics and Business, “Resolving an Ethical Dilemma.” Loyola Marymount University. 2009. Web.

Charterted Institute of Management Accountants, “Ethical Dilemmas: What would you do?” CIMA Global. Web. .

Kaldera, Raven, “Wyrdwalkers: Techniques of Northern-Tradition Shamanism.” Asphodel Press: Hubbardston, MA, 2006.

Mcleod, S. A., “Simply Psychology – Articles for Students: Lawrence Kohlberg.” 2007. Web.

—, “Working in Groups.” University of Pittsburgh. 2007. Web. .