The Norns

The Norns

The Norns (Norse: norn, plural: nornir) were a triad of goddesses in Norse mythology who were associated with fate. The most commonly known Norns in mythology are Urðr (Urd), Verðandi (Verdande) and Skuld, whose names are traditionally translated as past, present and future.

The sources suggest that, in addition to these three, countless norms were imagined to determine the fate of all types of creatures. For example, when a child was born, a Norn was present to determine its fate in life.

The function of Norns was thus both beneficial and harmful, as some people had a good life and a long life, while others had a short and difficult life. Recent research has discussed the connection in the mythological texts between, on the one hand, the Norns and Valkyries, and on the other, the real travelling Volvas who practised Seidr, in pre-Christian Norse society, they were mainly female shamans who, among other things, had a role in the development of the Norse culture.

According to the Icelandic writer Snorri Sturluson, Urd, Verdande and Skuld lived in a passage at the foot of the world tree Yggdrasil. Every day they took water from Urd's well and from the white mud that lay around it, and poured it over the tree so that its branches did not fall apart.

Gro Steinsland describes this as a central location in the whole cosmology, since they not only live in the centre of the world under Yggdrasil, but also dispose of the most important law in the Norse world, namely fate.



The three names given in The Wave's Divination, Urd, Verdande and Skuld, are usually translated as past, present and future. The name Urðr is related to Anglo-Saxon wyrd, weird, a concept equivalent to the Norse concept of fate, and can be translated from Norse as "fate".

Urðr is also linked to the Swedish word öde, which means "fate". Both Urðr óg Verðandi are derived from the Norse verb verða, "to be/become".

While Urðr derives from the perfect tense (i.e. "that which was/became, or rather happened"), Verðandi derives from the present tense (i.e. "that which happens"). Debt is derived from the verb "should" in the future tense (i.e. that which is to come).

However, some scholars believe that nothing in Norse mythology supports that the three norms were individually linked to either the past, future or present; rather, together they represented "fate" as closely linked to the passage of time.

The origin of the word "norne" is very uncertain, but it may derive from a word meaning "to weave", referring to their role as those who weave - or rather spin - the threads of fate.


The Norns were present every time a human was born, and determined the course and length of a person's life by weaving the thread of life with their hands. It was therefore crucial that the Norns mastered this craft, for a bad Norn wove a fate full of misfortune and misfortune, while a good Norn gave the person a good life. Since fate in the Norse world was so important that it determined the lives of individuals more than the gods.


The unclear descriptions of the origins of the Norns and their relationship to the other divine powers means that a number of different theories have been put forward about their significance and the types of deities with which they are associated.

For example, it has been suggested that they may have evolved from the feminine powers that were cultivated in north-western Europe from the 1st to the 5th centuries. They were depicted on votive offerings and altars.

These goddesses were always depicted in groups of three, and were probably also closely related to the Roman goddesses matres et matrones. Others have suggested that the Norns are the result of an influence from Greco-Roman culture, as they resemble the spinning fate goddesses Moirae and Parcae).