Today’s post is about a really interesting modern neo-pagan symbol that has been inspired by Norse mythology, the Web of Wyrd. The Web of Wyrd is a Nordic symbol, a woven web of fate tied to the three most important Norns, or Nornir, in Norse mythology. This lesser known sacred symbol is a metaphor for fate and destiny of all in the cosmos, humans and gods.
The Web of Wyrd Meaning and Symbolism
The Web of Wyrd symbol, also known as Skuld’s net and the matrix of fates, represents the connection between past, present and future possibilities. The web is meant to remind that past choices affect the present, and present choices affect the future.
The web shows that all timelines are interconnected. The symbol can be thought of as a parallel to karma and fate. It represents the secrets of life and destiny.
The symbol shows nine staves arranged together to form a grid. This grid contains the shapes of all 24 runes that have been found to date.
Along with the number three, the number nine plays an important role in Norse faith.
There are nine worlds connected by the tree of life: Asgard, Midgard, Vanaheim, Jotunheim, Svartalfheim, Alfheim, Muspelheim, Nifheim, and Helheim.
Odin’s gold ring, Draupnir, drips eight more rings every nine nights. The Valknut symbol has three triangles, having nine total points. The Web of Wyrd symbol contains all of the runes, symbolizing fate and the interconnectedness of past, present, and future.
Origins of The Web of Wyrd Symbol
There is no record of exactly when and where this symbol appears first, but the concensus is that the Web of Wyrd is not an ancient symbol dating back to the Viking Age but a modern one created by combining the runes in the Elder Futhark. In that sense, we can only explain connections to ancient times and possible interpretations.
The Web of Wyrd symbol is tied to the three most important Norns in Norse Mythology. The Norns are female beings that rule destiny some of which were sometimes compared to guardian angels. The name Norn means “to twine,” referring to twining the thread of fate.
They are similar to the Fates in other mythology, like the Moirai in Greek Mythology. Urd, Verdandi, and Skuld are three Norns described as Jotuns, or giantesses.
The names of the symbol, “Web of Wyrd” and “Skuld’s net” are directly related to Urd and Skuld. Urd, or Wyrd, is associated with the past, or that which happened. Verdandi is associated with the present, or that which is happening. Skuld is associated with the future, or that which needs to occur. This trio of Norns are said to spin threads of life, cut marks in pole figures and measure destinies.
It is in an old Norse poem that speaks of a hero, Helgi Hundingsbane, that the Norns are mentioned weaving the web of fate.
The Yggdrasil, the tree of life, is watered by three wells, one being the Well of Urd, or Well of Fate. Urd’s well has holy water in it. Water from this well can give infinite knowledge.
Urd, Verdandi, and Skuld were said to live in this well and write the fates of all beings in the cosmos. These three women sit at the Well of Urd at the base of the Yggdrasil. It was said that these three wove the Web of Wyrd under Yggdrasil. Now, the Norns are responsible to weave the destinies of all beings as part of the myth.
Uses for the Web of Wyrd
The Web of Wyrd symbol could be used to represent one’s belief in fate and/or interconnectedness of all beings in the universe. Other than possible interpretations, there is not much evidence about where and how the Web of Wyrd could be used in Wiccan and pagan practices.
That said, since the symbol is created by combining all the runes in the Elder Futhark, it is useful to provide some background information about the use of runes by Norse people.
Symbols were vital to Norse culture and thought to have power. In Old Norse culture, cosmic forces were active in everything and were part of everyday culture.
Vikings used runes, which were thought to carry the destiny of the cosmos. Though the symbols on runes may not seem to be very different from other ancient writing systems, the runic symbols were not often written with pen to paper.
Runic symbols were almost always carved into wood, stone, metal or bone. Most surviving runes are on stones that have been around for centuries. Some Vikings used divination with runes called rune casting. They would spill bones or wood onto cloth and attempt to decipher the message.
Runes were associated with Odin, who discovered them at the Well of Destiny, at the foot of the Yggdrasil. The Yggdrasil and the Well of Urd were said to sit at the heart of everything, representing the relationship between time and destiny, harmony and the cycles of creation.
Divine symbols were also made into amulets, used around hearths, carved onto longships and boundary stones, stitched into clothing, and painted on shields.
Runic Divination is still used in modern times, namely modern witchcraft. In witchcraft, runes are used similarly to tarot cards. Rune stones are picked out and arranged into a template, or spread.
Arranging the layout in a certain way can tell a person what obstacles are currently in their way, what direction their life is going in, and how their lives will change in the future. The stones are typically laid out on a white cloth. This method of divination, like others, are often used to predict the future.
This wraps up our post on the Web of Wyrd symbol, its meaning and origins. If you are interested in learning more about ancient symbols or Viking symbols in particular, please kindly check out our other articles through the top navigation menu. See you in the next post!