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Hi folks, I've been doing some research into the ideas of Fate and Wyrd and the surrounding mythologies. I wanted to sum up and share with you my understanding of the concepts so far and see what else any of you have to add and maybe this can help anyone else starting out understand the basic ideas.

 

Fate: this is relatively simple and is the idea that everything is predetermined and controlled by a higher force or being: our destiny is completely out of our control. The mythology around this includes 'the Fates' called Moirai, in Greek mythology, Parcae, in Roman mythology and Sudice in Slavic mythology.

 

In Greek mythology: Clotho, the youngest of the three Fates (female divine beings) spun the thread of destiny determining the time of birth of an individual; Lachesis measured the thread length to determine the length of life; finally, cruel Atropos cut the thread of life, determining this way the time of death. They also allocated good, evil and suffering in various measures. No other god had the right or the means to alter their decisions.

 

The Norse concept of Wyrd and the mythology of the Norns is at first glance similar but it is actually quite different and more complicated.. it includes the idea that our choices and actions can influence the future and not only for ourselves but that all things are interconnected and the consequences of our actions can be far reaching. Aside from the influence of our own actions there are a great many things that are out of our control and influence our destiny, some patterns we can effect, some we can't.

 

The Norns are three female divine beings. Their names are Urd, ‚ÄúWhat Once Was‚ÄĚ (past), Verdandi, ‚Äúthat which is in the process of becoming‚ÄĚ (present) and Skuld ‚ÄúWhat shall necessarily be" (not exactly future)

(Among other things) They weave destiny like a web or tapestry.

 

Here is a bit or Norn mythology quoted from this website: http://www.aworldofmyths.com/Norse_Gods/Norns.html

 

The Norns sometimes wove webs so large that while one of the weavers stood on a high mountain in the extreme east, another waded far out into the western sea. The threads of their woof resembled cords, and varied greatly in hue, according to the nature of the events about to occur, and a black thread, tending from north to south, was invariably considered an omen of death. As these sisters flashed the shuttle to and fro, they chanted a solemn song. They did not seem to weave according to their own wishes, but blindly, as if reluctantly executing the wishes of Orlog, the eternal law of the universe, an older and superior power, who apparently had neither beginning nor end.

 

Two of the Norns, Urd and Verdandi, were considered to be very beneficent indeed, while the third, it is said, relentlessly undid their work, and often, when nearly finished, tore it angrily to shreds, scattering the remnants to the winds of heaven. As personifications of time, the Norns were represented as sisters of different ages and characters, Urd appearing very old and decrepit, continually looking backward, as if absorbed in contemplating past events and people; Verdandi, the second sister, young, active, and fearless, looked straight before her, while Skuld, the type of the future, was generally represented as closely veiled, with head turned in the direction opposite to where Urd was gazing, and holding a book or scroll which had not yet been opened or unrolled.

 

 

So there you go.. The ideas of Wyrd resonate with me much more than Fate, although I think when most people use the word 'Fate' they don't necessarily mean it literally actually.

 

This web page really helped me understand what Wyrd means:

http://www.wyrdwords.vispa.com/heathenry/whatwyrd.html

 

And a bit more bibliography ;-) ...

 

http://mythmaniacs.com/fates.htm

http://www.greek-gods.info/ancient-greek-gods/fates/

http://norse-mythology.org/gods-and-creatures/others/the-norns/

 

Please add your thoughts and point out anything you think I've missed or got wrong.

 

Sarah

 

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The concept of Wyrd was brought sharply home to me when I was first learning to spin, using a drop spindle not a wheel. I was so determined and concentrated so hard on it over three days solid that, whenever I looked up, I saw spirals in everything. Clouds stretching across the sky appeared as long strands of fibre being pulled into an eternal twist of thread. Bare limbs of trees spiraled upwards. Water spiralled as rain in the sky, as well as in the sink.

 

That the weaving of Wyrd was related to women's work (spinning and weaving) made complete sense to me. An example perhaps of when we experience and gain understanding of the ways/works of our ancestors first hand, the more we are able to connect to their mindset, and therefore their stories, deities, legends.

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I think Fate and the Parcae are a bit more complicated than that... it was possible for the gods to appeal to the Parcae to change someone's fate. The gods were subject to the weavings of the Parcae but they could attempt to change things for others - for better or worse. Morta isn't really cruel: she, like the others, are just the inevitable and necessary functions of life.

 

Also, there is a lot of argument about whether Zeus is subject to the Moirai or not - in the Homeric hymns he isn't. The Greeks have several different theories on fate depending on what era you look at and who you ask - the archaic concept is different to the Homeric is different to Hesiod is different the Orphic is different to Plato and so on.

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Thanks Samhainmooncat! I found a lot of discrepancy on the internet about the fates, one said they preceded the gods another said they were daughters of Zeus, it usually sounded like the idea was that everything is controlled by a higher force and that our choices don't make any difference. But on the other hand I read something somewhere that man cannot blame fate for all his failures as sometimes he alone is responsible for them... Maybe you can point me the direction of a more reliable source on fate if you know one.. Oddly I found it much easier to find info on Wyrd.

 

I think Fate and the Parcae are a bit more complicated than that... it was possible for the gods to appeal to the Parcae to change someone's fate. The gods were subject to the weavings of the Parcae but they could attempt to change things for others - for better or worse.

Maybe fate and Wyrd are more similar than I thought then?

 

Morta isn't really cruel: she, like the others, are just the inevitable and necessary functions of life.

That makes a lot more sense! Thanks :-)

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The Norns are three female divine beings. Their names are Urd, "What Once Was" (past), Verdandi, "that which is in the process of becoming" (present) and Skuld "What shall necessarily be" (not exactly future)

(Among other things) They weave destiny like a web or tapestry.

 

Those are (using my words) the great norns. There were many norns, who were held to attend childbirth and to influence the fate of the child. :)

 

The Norns sometimes wove webs so large that while one of the weavers stood on a high mountain in the extreme east, another waded far out into the western sea. The threads of their woof resembled cords, and varied greatly in hue, according to the nature of the events about to occur, and a black thread, tending from north to south, was invariably considered an omen of death. As these sisters flashed the shuttle to and fro, they chanted a solemn song. They did not seem to weave according to their own wishes, but blindly, as if reluctantly executing the wishes of Orlog, the eternal law of the universe, an older and superior power, who apparently had neither beginning nor end.

 

Two of the Norns, Urd and Verdandi, were considered to be very beneficent indeed, while the third, it is said, relentlessly undid their work, and often, when nearly finished, tore it angrily to shreds, scattering the remnants to the winds of heaven. As personifications of time, the Norns were represented as sisters of different ages and characters, Urd appearing very old and decrepit, continually looking backward, as if absorbed in contemplating past events and people; Verdandi, the second sister, young, active, and fearless, looked straight before her, while Skuld, the type of the future, was generally represented as closely veiled, with head turned in the direction opposite to where Urd was gazing, and holding a book or scroll which had not yet been opened or unrolled.

 

I've never come across any of this before. I've checked my reference books and they don't mention it, either. Is it possible these are from a modern work?

 

Has anyone else come across these passages?

 

Edited to add: found the source. It was Myths of Northern Lands by H.A. Guerber (Published 1895) p155. Guerber was an hostorian and presumably wrote in additional bits, like Crossley Holland's modern retelling of the myths. :)

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I'm not necessarily quoting reliable sources. I checked the website I got those bits off and they said their source was:

Source: Myths of the Norsemen by H. A. Guerber

 

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I'm not necessarily quoting reliable sources. I checked the website I got those bits off and they said their source was:

Source: Myths of the Norsemen by H. A. Guerber

 

Thanks, hun. There's no problem at all with using other people's images in one's own devotion. It's just that Heathens tend to distinguish between modern interpreations and what comes from the old texts, so other Heathens know the difference between the two. We all share the texts in common, but not every Heathen will interpret them in the same way, hence the way we tend to like to know the difference. :)

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Thanks Samhainmooncat! I found a lot of discrepancy on the internet about the fates, one said they preceded the gods another said they were daughters of Zeus, it usually sounded like the idea was that everything is controlled by a higher force and that our choices don't make any difference. But on the other hand I read something somewhere that man cannot blame fate for all his failures as sometimes he alone is responsible for them... Maybe you can point me the direction of a more reliable source on fate if you know one.. Oddly I found it much easier to find info on Wyrd.

 

No problem! For the Moirae the best online source (as with most things Hellenic) is probably the Theoi website.

 

I suspect that the Moirae, or at least the Parcae, are less judges and more guardians of their respective areas of expertise. Nona was so named because she was originally a goddess invoked to watch over women in the ninth month of pregnancy. And Morta with her shears reminds me of the Etruscan guardian deity of the Underworld. Only my hunch though!

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this was really interesting, I've always believed in 'fate' but not that it was set in stone, so I guess I've always believed in 'Wyrd' and yet always been drawn since an early age to Greek Mythology? I'm a bit confused now as to were I have set myself... Considering I thought the Greek Gods and Goddesses were the ones I'd like to research more on in relation to my chosen path... which isn't exactly chosen either.... God I'm confused on where I am going, what path I'm right for, and which Gods and Goddesses are in a way, meant for me? x

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Well, what I would say is that it's very easy to forget that the Greeks didn't have a canonical set of texts or a creed or anything that unifying. So lots of Greeks might believe in the Olympian gods but not the Fates or the lesser gods and so on. You could believe or not believe in what you wanted pretty much... so it's very easy to adapt the Greek pantheon to your own views of the world - as it is with most pre-Christian religions I think! I'm sure a lot of people in ancient Greece had differing opinions on Fate. They certainly did on the Afterlife.

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God I'm confused on where I am going, what path I'm right for, and which Gods and Goddesses are in a way, meant for me? x

 

You know, you don't need a label for the path that you tread - you see, you climb onto your "path" when you are born. Along the way, you bring to it the things that you learn - all the things - mundane, practical, spiritual, educational, family traits and so on. At some point, you bring into your sphere of thought, ideas of paganism and what that umbrella-word might mean to you. You don't have to follow any path and certainly not one made by someone else. All you need to do, is to create your own way, with the things that interest you and bring meaning to you ...........

Edited by Naomi
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Well, what I would say is that it's very easy to forget that the Greeks didn't have a canonical set of texts or a creed or anything that unifying.

 

:lol: There was no unified "Greek" culture, so no surprise, there! But there were practises each city-state observed. However, I don't generally go into details as it gets complicated. ;)

 

What surprises me, is that I always expected to end up Hellenismos in my paganism. I never expected to be a Heathen. Well, a Heathen with relationships with Roman gods. And Kemetic gods. And Ganesh-ji. Oh, and then there's... *sigh*. Oh well. Perhaps i should say it can get very complicated when you try immersing yourself in various pagan cultures in order to write novels. My wyrd seems to have been very different to what I thought! :D

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