Saturday, February 24, 2007

Concept Of Wyrd

Recently, okay, within the last few days, I have started to read up on Heathenry and I am finding that I am very interested in what I have read so far. I am coming to realize just how different the path of Heathenry is from general Paganism, when I never really thought there was much of a difference. That's what you pick up from reading.

The concept within Heathenry that has really stood out for me is the concept of wyrd. Some people would say that it is similar to the concept of karma, and to some extent, it is. At the same time, there is more to it as it is something that you yourself have a little more control over as it is about the decisions you make and what reaction comes after. At it's core, it is the concept that every action has it's consequences. Of course, that is over simplifying things a bit.

One of the explanations that I read regarding this concept, used the idea of weaving to explain the effects, which made perfect sense to me because I used to weave, so that is what I will use as an example here. With every pass of the shuttle through the warp (the vertical strands), a new thread (the woof/horizontal strands) is laid down into the fabric and pressed down against those that came before. These new threads are, in turn, connected to the previous threads that came before and creates a pattern for the world to see.

In the terms of wyrd, each new action that you make is not only determined by the decisions you have made in the past but will also determine what actions are to come in the future. Every decision you make is connected through your life pattern and effects the choices you will make in the future. Not to say that you don't have free will; it's just that you are laying down the patterns for how you react to various events in the future. Your wyrd is being constructed at the same time that it has a hand in constructing your reaction.

The thing that I like about this concept is that with this deeper understanding of every action has a reaction, you also have to take greater responsibility for your actions. You are responsible for you do. Those actions that you have chosen color everything in your future and there is only one person that can take responsible for those actions: you.

I'm not sure if I've got it quite right and I know there is more to it than what I have written, but this is my initial thoughts on what I have read. I'm sure as I learn more about Heathenry, I will be writing more regarding some of the concepts I am learning about.


Kay said...

I'm looking forward to reading your posts and to the conversations that are sure to follow.

Perhaps Frigg will pop in for a glass of lemonade. ;-)

Sojourner said...

:)Thanks, Kay.

I take it this is something you are interested in as well?

Kay said...

I am very interested.

It dawned on me that you might not have seen the following post on my blog, which is where the "Lemonade" comment comes from. My bad.

Lemonade with Freya?

Sojourner said...

I am as well.

Don't worry about your reference. I do remember that post now, but I didn't yesterday. And it has more significance now. :)

Bernulf said...

Well, Sojourner, it seems you've picked up on quite an extensive thread :-) I'd say you're picking up the concept pretty well, based on what you wrote, and I'm also looking forward to your further exploration of this concept.

Something you touched on with your post had to do with the subject of free will. A lot of people have taken the idea of the Norns, weaving the web of Wyrd, and seen it as predestination - considering Heathenry to be a fatalist religion as a consequence of this. That assumption isn't correct, though - as you point out, Wyrd's consequences are a result of actions that we choose (even if some actions might flavor the subsequent choices we might make). These choices negate the notion of a fatalist Heathenry.

One way that I look at this is to regard Wyrd as the balance between free will and fate, the web of consequence that binds the two together.

Sojourner said...

Bernulf - I love the idea of the balance between the two. As every student of psychology knows, there is balance between one's genetics and one's environment, more one way then the other depending on who's theories you are looking at. I like the idea of a balance between ideas, as not many things are "black and white."

I've seen a few people try to equate the Norns with the Fates, but it just didn't seem right. Similar, but not the same. They may weave the web, but they seem willing to change direction in that weaving at any time depending on where life is taking the person at the moment, if I understand correctly.

Pretty much "a go with the flow" type attitude with some exceptions.
Based on the choices that you have made before, as everything is circular, you can run into speed bumps. That is where the concept of wyrd comes into play.

Am I making sense or am I on the wrong track?

Bernulf said...

With equating (or even comparing) the Norns with the Fates, one has to be careful to keep in mind that beings from different religious and social perspectives are being compared. There seems a striking similarity in function, and the tendency is to see a relationship based on this similarity; but a lot of people take this too far, using the phrase 'the Norns are the Heathen Fates' for example. They aren't, the Norns are the Norns; so your assessment that, despite the comparisons made, the Norns and Fates don't seem to be the same is 100% correct.

Your avoidance of a polarized view is also right on target, as far as I'm concerned - and this is part of the reason why it's important not to look at Wyrd as simply 'if-then', but rather 'if-then maybe-or-maybe-or-perhaps' - Wyrd is incredibly complex, and I think Heathens could dedicate their lives to its study and just scratch the surface of its depths.

Regarding the Norns changing directions, I'm going to first refer back to the second paragraph of this post (it might look familiar to those who were reading along when I first guest-blogged for you last summer). I don't think the Norns control Wyrd - I see their relationship as being more complex, like being the hands of a person who performs brain surgery on his or her own self. To further complicate things, there are more than just the three major Norns (named Urd, Verdandi, and Skuld) - there are individual Norns as well, who set one's Wyrd in motion at birth (based on family Ørlög, in large part). Ultimately, I think the changes in direction rest in our own hands (although I think that people exercise this control over their own lives and destinies in varying levels - some exercise it not at all).

To answer your last question, that you are contemplating Wyrd at all puts you on the right track in my book ;-)