Issue #13, Blood-Moon

Welcome to the Blood-Moon issue of Runa-Eormensyl blog. Today we have the final instalment of Ingrid Fischer’s Germanic Soul-Lore, Fate. As Ingrid writes, ‘the work on your soul should not stop here’; I hope some of you have been inspired to carry on this work and make it part of your lives!

FATE

Asc veit ec standa,                        heitir Yggdrasill.

hár baðmr, ausinn             hvítaauri;

þaðan koma døggvar,                      þærs í dala falla,

stendr æ yfir, grœnn,                         Urðar brunni.

 

Þaðan koma meyiar,                        margs vitandi,

þriár, ór þeim sæ,                   er und þolli stendr;

Urð héto eina,                         aðra Verðandi

– scáro á seíði – ,                     Scul ina þriðio;

þær løg løgðo,                         þær líf kuro

alda bornom,                           ørløg seggia.

– Voluspá, stanzas 19-20.

 

I know an ash tree,                 called Yggdrasil,

A mighty tree                         moist with white dews;

From there come the floods falling in the valley;

Evergreen it stands             over Urth’s well.

 

From there came three maidens             deep in wisdom-

From the water               which stands under the tree-

Urth one is called,             the other, Verthandi,

Skuld the third:               scores they cut.

Laws they made,             lives they chose:

For the children of men     they marked their fates.

Thus we are told in the Elder Edda: Three maidens, the three Nornir, determine the fate of men. Urdhr, Verdhandi and Skuld they are called. Remember that in previous chapters we spoke about them at length in connection with the Germanic concept of time. Verdhandi, that which is becoming, Urdhr that which has become, and Skuld that which out of necessity has to become.

In Old Norse soul lore there are several layers to fate, and broadly speaking we may distinguish between individual fate and the fate common to all members of a clan, a folk and even to all living beings (or beings with a soul), whereby the individual fate is also contained in the fate common to all living beings. Fate in Old Norse is called ørlög that is the primal law, fate, weird, or doom. Ørlög also means the primal layers and from here we may see that the three Nornir do not just speak the fate of individual beings (ørløg seggia) but also that of the clan and mankind in general. To say it simply, no man comes from nothing or nowhere. Each newborn child bears inherently in it all experience and all happenings from those who came before, be it the genetic make-up, the family history, the wars his forebears fought, the fields his ancestors ploughed, and so forth. Ørlög is the layers that have been laid down by past actions and which condition present and future. Implicitly, this means that each and every one of us contributes to his own fate and to that of his descendants.

I have avoided saying that each of us is ‘responsible’ for his own fate, because although we are responsible to some degree, it is only in the short time span of Verdhandi. It is all there in the well of wyrd, in Urdhr’s well. All our actions turn into what has become and what is to become by necessity, however, all our actions are pre-conditioned by those who have been before us and whose actions and results lie in Urdhr. The Old English word for fate is wyrd, a feminine noun developed from the past tense of the Old English verb wêorðan, ‘to become’ or ‘to turn’. Wyrd, therefore, is that which has become and which affects present and ‘future’1. Again, this leads us back to the Old English Wyrd Sisters or the Old Norse Nornir. This cyclic view is the Germanic concept of ‘fate’ and shows a close link with the concepts of time and causality. Urdhr and Verdhandi condition, but do not determine Skuld. This is exactly the point I have raised earlier, namely that each man is responsible for taking his fate into his own hands and giving it his personal, individual shape. Or, as Edred Thorsson says in Green Rûna, speaking about Urdhr, Verdhandi and Skuld: ‘The first two condition but do not determine the third. These conditions are produced by the deeds of the person who receives the fruits of those deeds. The Nornir are not causal agents but rather the numinous organisms through which the energies of actions are received, transformed, and re-directed back to their source.’2

Fate, as the sum of all our ancestors’ and mankind’s development which has been passed on to us, is ‘impersonal’ and cannot be changed as it is woven in and through the past, the past that was before the ‘person’ began. The ancestors (in most cases) created this past and the ones before them theirs. The fylgja carries in it all their pasts and holds the individual’s fate. It is impersonal because the seeds were laid before the individual came into being. It is stored in Urdhr and cannot be changed. What has been done cannot be undone. There is a small window though: every moment in an individual’s life when everything becomes personal. In Verdhandi it is up to the individual to deal with his fate and create new fate and a new part of Urdhr, laying the seeds for Skuld. In Verdhandi, and only in Verdhandi, the gods can have influence and guide and change the individual’s way. One could even say that the gods exist in Verdhandi eternally, at least on the level of an individual’s understanding. The gods live, work and create the past, namely Urdhr, in Verdhandi. Fate lies beyond this and even the gods cannot alter it.

Practical work:

This is the last part but your work on your soul should not stop here. This should be a life-long pursuit. There will be setbacks of course, but the most important thing is to never give up, always keep going, one step after the other.

Start by standing up straight’ inhale and intone, three times:

 

uruz ansuz isa eihwaz   ehwaz odhilaz

uruz ansuz isa eihwaz   ehwaz odhilaz

uruz ansuz isa eihwaz   ehwaz odhilaz

Contemplate the three Nornir and what they stand for. Concentrate on Verdhandi and what this means to you; what can you do in every single moment of time – now – to affect Urdhr and Skuld; and by doing so, not only affecting your own fate but also that of your descendants.

1 Germanic people did not have our concept of future; this came to us from outside our own culture and was adopted early on by Christianity.

2 Edred Thorsson, Green Rûna, Runa-Raven Press, Texas, 1996

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *