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What are The Norns in Norse Mythology?

Updated: Jul 16, 2022

The Norns (or Nornir, which is the Old Norse plural for "Norn") are in their simplest terms weavers of Fate. However, the Old Norse conceptions of Fate are in no way akin to predestination or fatalism. Let's examine the identity, origins, and function of the Norns as they pertain to Old Norse mythos.

Who are the Norns (Nornir)?

In Norse mythology, there are three main beings appearing in the form of women that embody cause, effect, and evolutionary force. These weavers maintain the world tree Yggdrasil from beneath the roots with the waters of Urdr's Well (Urðarbrunnr) to keep the tree from withering. In preserving the sacred tree which connects the nine worlds, the Norns weave and influence the very fabric of existence.

The Norns are named as follows: Urdr (that which has come to pass), Verdandi (that which is becoming), and Skuld (that which should become). Evidently, the definitions behind these names are more complex than the simplistic correspondence of past, present, and future.

In the Norse cosmos, what we tend to regard as a fixed past, present, and future is in truth mutable on all fronts. (If you are interested in learning how this is so, I recommend Aiden Wachter's Weaving Fate: Hypersigils, Changing the Past, & Telling True Lies). The present is the only reality that we have access to. As such, within the present moment, we can alter the past and affect the future through our Will.

Origins of the Norns

The Prose Edda suggests that there are more Nornir than just these three and that the arrival of their race from Jötunheimr ended the Golden Age of the gods. The Elder or Poetic Edda additionally attests to their existence. Both offer unique tales regarding the Nornir that are worth exploring.

The Function of the Norns

It is fallacy to regard the Norns as external forces beyond our influence. Fatalism is a problematic philosophy because it removes the responsibility of present decisions to influence our past and future, generating the idea that there is a fixed destiny that will absolutely occur no matter what you do.

To better understand Nornic power, it is worth studying and meditating on the Perthro rune.

It is a reduction to say that Urdr merely represents the past as we understand it. She represents that which has come to pass as it influences the present. By internally changing our conceptions of the past, we can change our present. We are eternally in a state of becoming, and the right use of Nornic power aids us in shifting to where we want to be.

Notice that Skuld is what should become and not what will become. Alignment with your Truth will create a vacuum to continually manifest what should become. (To discover more about Truth in the sense that I mean, Aleister Crowley's Magick in Theory and Practice is particularly useful.)

Through healing your inner shadow, you can influence the past which, in turn, alters your present. With your current state of vibration and present actions, you alter the future present moments. The past and future are the most mutable illusions, yet our conceptions of them influence the way that we feel we are right now.


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