In Norse Mythology, and Asatru there are many different ideas of what fate is and how it affects our daily lives. Of course, like many other topics there are some very distinct similarities in everyone's beliefs. As I always state, everyone is entitled to their own ideas and beliefs on everything, including fate and how it plays a part in our lives. Today I would like to go over some of the more common ideas, and explore what they may mean. Please remember these are all my views, and you do not have to share them, but please do not bash them! Thank you!
One of my favorite quotes, if not my favorite, describes very well one of the beliefs on fate; "Fearlessness is better than a faint heart for any man who puts his nose out of doors, the length of my life and the day of my death were fated long ago"-Unknown. What the latter part of this quote is referring to, is the Norns. The three Wyrd (Fate, not “weird”) goddesses who sit at one of the three roots of Yggdrasil (the one in Asgard) and guard it, as well as nurture it and keep the world tree healthy. They, just like Yggdrasil, are timeless. They live outside of time and are eternal. They have no specific beginning, and no end.
Their other task is to spin the strings of our lives. Now this is where the debating beings. Almost everyone agrees that there are the three Norn sisters, that they do weave the lives of gods and men alike, but where it differs is how much do they actually control of our lives? Do they weave our entire lives and all of our deeds and decisions are already predetermined? From the day we were born, was what we had for lunch today already predetermined and unchangeable? I personally do not believe this, however I am a strong believer of fate. Many people do however believe this, and I can see why.
Another view on fate, is that the Norns do in fact decide a great deal of our lives, but not say; what we are going to watch on TV today. What is decided, is things such as, say you find a stray dog or cat, and you decide to adopt it or not. If you do, one day far in the future it somehow saves you from a life threatening incident. If you did not adopt that animal, you would have surely died in said incident. This belief is that while we are free to make our own choices, the huge choices, the ones that will really affect us in the end are, I would not say made for us, but we are sort of "pushed" one way or the other depending on the overall layout of our lives. I believe that the Norns weave a few different lives for each person, depending on our own decisions, and how they want things to go, we end up on one of the specific threads they created out of the web of our lives.
I do not think that we do not have free will, or that the Norns make all of our decision for us before we are even born. What I do think, is that they do is give us opportunities, and we can effect their overall plan by our decisions and our actions. However, in the end it is still their plan. They make many strings, and we can choose the strings, but they all converge on the same places. For example, let us say the Norns want you dead, for whatever reason. The first string they weave, their preferred plan is on you dying in a plane crash. Since they weave multiple threads for us, we have the ability to alter certain aspects of our fates, so, against their preferred design you do not decide to get on that plane, but a different one. Thus your life is saved, for now. They are the overall masters and you are only on a separate string, later, maybe a year, a decade, it doesn't matter, you will die from something else. You were fated to die young, though through your free will and decisions, you were able to avoid it for a time, but none the less you were fated to die and so you did. It was not the "preferred" way, but since all of the strings they weave end up in the same place, you died regardless. This is how I think fate works. We cannot escape it, and all of the major things in our life are planned out; life, death, who we will marry or not marry, when we shall have children etc. You can alter things, change them, postpone them by the free will we are gifted with due to the idea of many strings. Yet all of those strings lead to the same place. This is how I think Odin feels about fate. He knows Ragnarok is coming, but he tries to postpone it through his free will even though he knows it will eventually happen because none can escape fate. That is my way of looking at the huge concept of fate. As I always say you of course are entitled to your own opinions and I would love to hear them!
Another belief, and one I personally cannot see being true do to all of the writing and belief in the Norns is that we are completely utterly free. There is no fate, there is no predetermination for any aspects of our lives, big or small and we are free to do whatever we want. I cannot see this as being true, for it just to me disrupts all aspects of our mythology! If there is no fate, why is there Ragnarok? If there is no fate then there are no Norns. I know some people, maybe many I do not know, believe this. If you are one of them I implore you to explain this to me! Not because I will shoot you down or anything of the like but because I want to learn! Am I missing something?
One of the things that I love about my belief, is that while we do have a destiny and a predetermined fate, but still make our own decisions and have free will! This is a concept that it gives me courage! "Fearlessness is better than a faint heart for any man who puts his nose out of doors for the length of his life and the day of his death were fated long ago!" I try to live by this quote and it has helped me in some pretty scary situations. If you think that you have a predetermined date to die then why fear life? If there is nothing you can do to stop it then embrace it and face it with strength and courage. If it is going to happen then it is going to happen! You do not need to fear say going hiking at night or skydiving! You will live or you shall die if you are meant to! And although as Asatruars we should value every precious minute we have on this green earth is death that bad? Well unless your a terrible person in which case, quite frankly maybe you should not be alive! Maybe that is a little harsh but I mean people like Hitler etc. Back to my point, if you die then you shall go to your appropriate place and enjoy your wonderful afterlife! We do not, SHOULD not fear life and trying/doing things. If something is going to happen then it will. Thats that.
What are your beliefs and ideas on the rules of fate? Which "category" do you fall in? Or do you have one all your own?
May the Norns look kindly down upon you as they weave your fate!