Heathenry, or Germanic Neopaganism, centres on Scandinavian, Germanic and Anglo-Saxon deities and mythology. Heathens are largely polytheistic and follow a reconstructionist viewpoint, which aims to recreate the religion of ancient people through study of archaeological and historical records. These records include Old Norse texts (such as the Prose and Poetic Eddas, and the Icelandic Sagas), Germanic folklore, and archaeological evidence.
Wyrd is an Anglo-Saxon term for fate or personal destiny.
Wyrd is an Old English noun from the verb weorþan, meaning “to come to pass, to become”. Wyrd has cognates in Old Saxon wurd, Old High German wurt, Old Norse urðr, Dutch worden (to become) and German werden.
The term wyrd developed into the modern term weird. In Elizabethan times, this meant “having the power to control fate”, such as the Weird Sisters, the Three Witches in Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
In Norse mythology, the Wyrd Sisters refers to the three Norns, or Fates, the Goddesses of Destiny. There is Urðr (Wyrd) (“that which has come to pass”), Verðandi (“what is in the process of happening”) and Skuld (Should) (“that which should necessarily be”). Together the three Norns weave Fate or ørlǫg, the layers of the past.
Wyrd has also been included in some modern-day Rune sets as the “Blank Rune”, the rune of Fate. Seeing the wyrd rune in a casting could suggest that an important choice is about to be made, which could change your life forever.
Wyrd does not refer to the “inexorable fate” of the ancient Greeks. Wyrd is not an end point, but something continually happening around us at all times. Our past affects us continually. Who we are, where we are, and what we are doing today is dependent on actions we have taken in the past and actions others have taken in the past. Every choice we make in the present builds upon choices we have previously made.
“Through wyrd may force us into circumstances we would never have freely chosen for ourselves, we always have some choice about how we react in those situations. And how we choose to react will always make a difference, if not to the world at large, then at least to our own ørlög.” (What is Wyrd)
© A Year And A Day (2012)
Runes are letters in an ancient Germanic alphabet used from about 150 to 1100 CE, prior to the common usage of the Latin alphabet. The word ‘rune’ is thought to come from a Middle English word that means “secret writing”.
Runes are also known as futhark/fuþark or futhorc/fuþorc based on the first six letters of the runic alphabet. The three best-known runic alphabets are the Elder Futhark (Norse, Germanic tribes, c. 150–800), the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc (c. 400–1100), and the Younger Futhark (Scandinavian modification c. 800–1100).
The runes are broken into three groups of eight, called aett (aettir), meaning ‘family’. The First Aett is also known as Freyja’s Aett, the Second as Heimdall’s Aett, the Third as Tyr’s Aett.
In Norse mythology, it is thought that Odin hung upside down from a tree for nine days, after which he learned the secret of the runes and became their master (translated from the poem Havamal in the Poetic Edda).
Since each letter has a specific meaning, runes are also used in divination and magick. Cunningham says that “runes are symbols that, when drawn, painted, traced, carved or visualized, release specific energies”. Runes are commonly drawn or carved on wood, clay, stone or other natural objects.
Modern day rune sets are made out of 24 letters, 25 if you include the blank or Wyrd rune, which symbolizes fate or the unknown.
© A Year And A Day (2012)