" O’er people’s dwellings three descend of Mögthrasir’s maidens,the sole Hamingiur who are in the world, although with Jötuns nurtured. "
" But there came three maidens, monstrous to look at, Giant daughters of Jotunheim."
These Norns are the Norns of Fate, Urd, Skuld and Verdandi. They are not only the weavers of the fate of men and Gods, but also the protector Yggdrasil.
" It is said further that the Norns who live near the Spring Of Urd draw water from the spring every day and along with the clay that lies round about the spring, and the besprinkle the ash so that its branches shall not wither or decay. "
It goes on to say : " there is a beautiful hall near the spring under the ash tree, and from it come three maidens whose names are Urd, Verdandi, and Skuld. These maidens shape the lives of men and we call them Norns. "
These three Norns of fate, however, are not the only Norns. They are much more numerous and inhabit and belong to different groups throughout the nine worlds. " There are, however, more Norns, those who come to every child that is born, in order to shape its life and they are beneficent, others belong to the family of Elves, and a third group belongs to the family of the Dwarfs as it says here :
" Of different origins,
are the Norns I think,
not all one kindred,
some come from Aesir kin, some from the Elves,
and some are the daughters of Dvalin."
In Gylfaginning, Gangleri makes an astute observation : " If the Norns decide the fates of men they appoint very unequal destinies for them. Some have a wealthy life, but others have little wealth or fame. Some have a long life, and others a very short one. "
High One replies to this by saying : " The good Norns come from good stock and shape good lives, but those who meet with misfortune owe it to the evil Norns. "
To further complicate this perplexing question of who and what the Norns are they seem to be almost indistinguishable from fylgjas, hamingjas and valkyries, or with the generic term dísir. All seem to be some sort of spiritual being that is tied to an individual or individuals, and who controls their lives, luck and fortune. When you add the fact that they can come from, or be born within any of a number of different races of beings it really makes it a confusing issue. It does not seem to matter what race they come from as much as what they are born as. Just as some Gods and Goddesses are born with the ability to see the future, I. E. Odin, Frigga, Heimdall, so too these Norns are born with the ability to affect the lives of those they reach out to. I hate to use a Marvel example, but possibly they are born as a mutation within the various races for this purpose. A little like how a queen bee is born among the thousands of workers.
I have always been curious as to whether these Norns design your whole life at once, or whether the constantly tweak your life as it moves along through the years. This might explain why sometimes our lives seem to be sailing along through calm waters when suddenly a storm blows up and throws our lives into a sea of turmoil. I have also always wondered if every individual has a good and evil norn for life, or if these Norns travel from individual to individual shaping lives for better or worse. I know that I personally have always felt that I have had a Fylgja watching over me for years. Too many " lucky " decisions I have made over the years seem to confirm this in my mind.
I really don' t believe in " fixed destinies " by the way. I believe that we are placed on a path by the Norns, but this path has many forks in the road which only we can decide what path is right, or wrong for us. Do the Norns " whisper into our soul' s ear" and try to convince us which is right for us ? I am not sure, but like most people I have had many moments in my life where I felt I had two beings whispering in my ear to go right or left, to do right or wrong, to either take the easy path, or head down a longer tougher road to a possible richer reward. I wonder sometimes : " Was the decision really mine or was it influenced by a Norn, or Fylgja who had either my best interests at heart or wished to see harm done to me . "
The one thing that I am absolutely sure of is that we are not alone ! Whatever, or whoever, these beings are they are out there and they do interact with us on a level that is barely perceptible to us...... and yet in a way that we can describe, albeit in a confused way that others might not quite understand. Whatever they are I am glad that they are with us, and within us. May they guide us as individuals and as a nation of like people back to the Old Ways of our ancestors.
- Glenn Bergen
Go with Odin's wisdom, Freyja' s love, and Thor' s protection !