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Forums -> Norse Paganism -> Wyrd

Wyrd
By: Moderator / Knowledgeable
Post # 1

Wyrd is a fundamental Anglo-Saxon concept. The word, wyrd, is related to the Old Saxon wurd , Old High German wurt , Old Norse urur.

It is an ancestral word to the modern day English word weird. It means that which has turned/ that which is turning (some people substitute turned/turning for happened/happening). The concept is often hard to describe, frequently misinterpreted and occasionally difficult to grasp. Here is a modern definition for Wyrd: fate personified; any one of the three Weird Sisters. (wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn) Even this seems inadequate in describing wyrd. A key point to recognize is that Wyrd is not a set in stone type of fate, as seen in other early cultures. Fate was not fatalistic, or predestined under the concept of wyrd; rather it was believed that wyrd is continually happening and changing.

Related to Wyrd, the phrase "Three Weird Sisters" will often pop up. The reason for this is that Wyrd often was used to refer to the Norns (whom were Norse Goddesses/personifications of fate and destiny). Awhile back I wrote an article describing the Norns. The entire article can be read at the following link (be sure to remove any spaces that may appear):

http://www.spellsofmagic.com/read_post.html?post=361262

It's rather lengthy and so I will not reiterate the entire thing. However, this is a key section: " Because the Norns were personifications of time, each sister represented a different age and character. Urd (Wurd-"Weird") appeared as an old and decrepit woman.. Verdandi, the second sister... Skuld, the last sister.. ." There is discussion and debate over whether Urd, the oldest of the Norns, was the personification of Wyrd. Others suggest Wyrd was all three of the sisters, and even some would say that Wyrd is the mother or origins of the three. The Norns were similar to the Greek Moirai or Fates. Often the Norns were shown threading and weaving a cord, which represented the destiny of the cords owner. The Norns did not necessarily make the fate that was shown on the cord occur, they simply weaved it to represent what it would/could be.

The functionality of wyrd can best be summed up using a spiders web as an analogy, which is quite popular: Each section of the web is a discreet part of the whole, yet the tiniest ensnared insect will set the entire web vibrating. Whether the spider wins her dinner depends on how skillfully she has woven her web, how quickly she reacts, and the chances of the captured insect to struggle free. The web is wyrd, but what the actors do upon it will decide the outcome. (http://www.octavia.net/anglosaxon/Wyrd.htm)

Now imagine that in this web, each connecting thread meets another at a node. Let these nodes represent people, places, events. Some directly come into contact with others. Some build upon others to reach wherever they end up. And others are related only through a distance of symmetrical path. This shows the connectivity and complex nature of Wyrd. In this way, wyrd is not just a piece of flat and lifeless cloth like the Greeks believed the Fates spun. It is alive, intersecting and twisting in various ways, including everyone, everywhere, at all times. This means that the past plays more of a role than just being something already written or done. Under wyrd, you choose what happens, and those choices overlap and build upon each other.

Similarity to the fatalistic view of fate, Wyrd does have an ending of sorts. However, these twists and endings do not always mean the literal ending of life or our fate. They may simply call for a change, the ending of something that has come to pass, and the finishing of some event or happening. These twists are inevitable, and all throughout wyrd. Though, the form of how or why or when or what this ending or twist will be can often be apparent when looking back at the nature of wyrd. We have a choice, and thus depending on the choices we make- the ending or the form that this twist comes in may be altered.

So, Wyrd is weird. Wyrd is hard to summarize. Wyrd is difficult to grasp and understand fully. But it is also a learning experience, a way for us to try and understand our relationship to fate and how these things are related and function.

Sources:

Myths of Northern Lands by H.A. Guerber

Norse Mythology: Great Stories from the Eddas by Hamilton

http://users.lmi.net/maxdashu/kindreds/wyrdsis.html

http://www.tomgraves.org/wyrdfate

http://www.englatheod.org/wyrd.htm

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

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Re: Wyrd
By: / Novice
Post # 2
Very interesting post. I like how creative this is. Thank you for adding this.

Blessed be. :)
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Re: Wyrd
By: / Knowledgeable
Post # 3
Love it! I've known about this since I was in elementary school. I have always loved the concept of the fate sisters and everything that connects to them. I would get odd looks (Catholic school) when saying the phrase "if the Fates allow' instead of "god willing".

"Wyrd is weird." Hehe. Clever double meaning.
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Re: Wyrd
By:
Post # 4
Fabulous post, as usual! The Fates have always been one of my favorite figures in mythology.
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Re: Wyrd
By:
Post # 5
Can't believe i missed this. Great post, thank you again =)
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Re: Wyrd
By:
Post # 6

Well, I have little information to present that has not already been presented due to the thourough job of Personified, but would like to point out that you may find references to the "Weird Sisters" in Shakespeare's Hamlet . Which, is wuite obviously derived from this belief in these sister Personified has brought to light.

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Re: Wyrd
By:
Post # 7

This was a really great post personified, I never really looked into wyrd much but i absolutely enjoyed this post and the detailed information you provided.

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Re: Wyrd
By:
Post # 8
In my rune study class wyrd also means the interconection of everything. The use of this rune is at the center of controversy logically speaking a rune is a symbol carved on a piece of wood, stone, bone etc. Wyrd has no markings thus is not a rune.Makes agreat replacement piece if one is lost. The Norns were an important part of nordic/germanic life,same as the fates were for the Greeks. Good post I enjoy learning more on the history of the ancient peoples.
Blessings and peace:
Rogelio21
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Re: Wyrd
By:
Post # 9

You know, Rog, I think I've heard that somewhere as well. Unfortunately, I've never spent too much time with runes. I tend to stick with the older traditions, and less with the modern ones concerning these concepts. Out of curiosity, would you use Wyrd in a casting or reading?

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Re: Wyrd
By: Moderator / Knowledgeable
Post # 10
This thread has been moved to Norse Paganism from Misc Topics.
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