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The Web of Wyrd is one of the lesser known of the Nordic symbols though it is found in a number of sagas and poems. When you look at the symbol you see an interconnectedness within it – matrix in which each piece is intertwined with another. This represents all aspects of time as well as destiny, as we will discover as we delve deeper into this Norse symbol.
Origins of the Web of Wyrd
There are multiple stories and myths associated with the Web of Wyrd, explaining its meaning and symbolism.
Woven by the Norns
In Nordic folklore, the Norns were females who had charge over destiny and fate. They created the Web of Wyrd using thread that they had spun. The web is also known as Skuld’s Net, after the Norn who was believed to have made the Web. Many Nordic poems and tales support the idea.
The web, in this context, is believed to be a reflection of the different possibilities that occur in time past, present and future and our destiny as we choose our path in life to follow.
Helgakviða Hundingsbana I
This poem starts with the Norns coming to spin for Helgi Hundingbane who was destined to become a hero in Nordic folklore. During the night, the Norns visit the family after the birth of Helgi and make him the wyrd, which assures a life of greatness for him.
Another ancient poem dating from the 13th century, the Vǫlundarkviða retells the story of Võlunder, how the king Níðuðr seized him and Võlunder’s subsequent escape and revenge. In the opening stanza of this poem, we are introduced to the maidens sitting by the seashore and they’re spinning. It is believed that these maidens are none other than the Norns who, in most Nordic accounts, are always three females often portrayed as spinning yarn.
In this poem, we find that it was the valkyries who did the spinning, yet the idea is still the same in that the valkyries were creating the fate and destiny for soldiers on a battlefield. The valkyries are also referred to as “choosers of the slain” and are observed by the man Dörruðr as they spin on their looms determining the outcome of those fighting in ancient Ireland.
The Web of Wyrd in Norse Cosmology
In Nordic cosmology, we again find the idea of the Web of Wyrd being associated with destiny through the Norns who wove the fate of all beings into the fabric of the cosmos.
The myth states that in the middle of the cosmos stood the Tree of Life, or the Yggdrasil, which tied together the Nine Worlds of the Norse cosmology and through this all things have an interconnection. Three wells provided water for the tree and within one of the wells, the Well of Urd, existed three Norns who wove the Web of Wyrd throughout the cosmos.
Number Nine in Norse Mythology and the Web of Wyrd
In Nordic mythology, as with any tradition, pays special attention to certain numbers. The main two numbers for the Norse were 3 and 9. You will find these numbers occurring repeatedly in Norse folklore and poems.
When you look at the Web of Wyrd, it is made up of three sets of three lines which makes nine. The number nine was believed to represent completeness and it should come as no surprise that the Web of Wyrd, with its interconnections, can symbolise completeness in which everything is determined by everything else. Our destiny and fates are woven intimately into a whole fabric that encompasses the cosmos, time and everything within it.
What’s with the Spinning Analogy?
Typically, the Norns are presented as spinning or weaving yarn or thread. This can be seen as a metaphor of how the fabric of life and time, as well as the universe, is made up of the meshing together of various threads to create a whole. Every single thread is necessary to create the whole and if one thread comes loose, it affects the others.
Taken this way, the Web of Wyrd symbolizes:
- Interconnection: The symbol represents the interconnectedness of all things
- Destiny and Fate: As the fibers of the thread are woven together, they interconnect and become the thread of our lives.
- Completion: The number 9 represents completion, and the Web of Wyrd has 9 lines.
- A Network of Time: If you look at the image of the Web of Wyrd it is seen to be made up of all the runes. This reflect the idea of the intricate weaving of time, as past, present and future become interconnected. These stages aren’t separate but part of a whole and anything is possible whether in the past, present or future. We can look back in hindsight and regret the things in the past and have those affect our current lives which will influence our future.
The Web of Wyrd Today
In recent years, the symbol has found popularity amongst pagan groups. It’s also sometimes used in fashion, tattoos, clothing and jewelry.
As a fashion item, the Web of Wyrd can be used as a reminder that the actions we take now can change our future just as those of the past have affected our present lives.
It also can serve to prompt us to consider how what we do can influence other people as we are all part of a complex matrix.
Though the Web of Wyrd is said to be a less recognisable Nordic symbol, it contains a powerful message. All things in the universe are intricately linked and the Web casts a matrix over our lives, spun by the Norns who are be believed to control fate and destiny.
It’s a symbol of how time is intertwined, and our individual destiny is influenced by the things we have done, are doing and will do. Those that wear the Web of Wyrd do so as a way of remembering this interconnectedness.