Wyrd

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Nothing may happen without wyrd, for it is present in everything, but wyrd does not make things happen. Wyrd is created at every instant, and so wyrd is the happening. ~ Brian Bates

Wyrd is a concept in Anglo-Saxon culture roughly corresponding to fate or personal destiny. The word is ancestral to Modern English weird, which retains its original meaning only dialectically.

The cognate term in Old Norse is urðr, with a similar meaning, but also personified as one of the Norns, Urðr (anglicized as Urd) and appearing in the name of the holy well Urðarbrunnr in Norse mythology.

Quotes[edit]

Gǣð ā Wyrd swā hīo scel!
Fate goes ever as it must.
~ Beowulf~
Wyrd existed before the Gods and will exist after them. Yet wyrd lasts only for an instant, because it is the constant creation of the forces. ~ Brian Bates
Wyrd is too vast and too complex, for us to comprehend, for we are ourselves, part of wyrd and cannot stand back to observe it as if it were a separate force. ~ Brian Bates
The wyrd sisters spin the web of wyrd and weave the loom of life, they do not thereby determine it … the wyrd sisters simply express the will of wyrd. And so do we. ~ Brian Bates
The pattern of life is not woven ahead of time, like cloth to be worn later as a tunic. Rather, life is woven at the very instant you live it. ~ Brian Bates
Balder holds up a completely blank rune. Wyrd. The beginning and the end. Fate.
I don't know what that means, but it's not doing anything to uncreep me. ~ Libba Bray
  • Oft him anhaga      are gebideð,
    metudes miltse,       þeah þe he modcearig
    geond lagulade      longe sceolde
    hreran mid hondum      hrimcealde sæ,
    wadan wræclastas.       Wyrd bið ful aræd!
    • Who liveth alone longeth for mercy,
      Maker's mercy.
      Though he must traverse
      Tracts of sea, sick at heart,
      – Trouble with oars ice-cold waters,
      The ways of exileWeird is set fast.
  • Gǣð ā Wyrd swā hīo scel!
    • Fate goes ever as it must.
  • The most fundamental concept in heathenry is wyrd. It is also one of the most difficult to explain and hence one of the most often misunderstood. … The Anglo-Saxon noun wyrd is derived from a verb, weorþan, "to become", which, in turn, is derived from an IndoEuropean root *uert- meaning "to turn". (If you noticed the redundant use of "turn" in the previous sentence, good. The use of the modern English phrase "in turn", illustrates wyrd in action. Watch for it throughout this article.) Wyrd literally means "that which has turned" or "that which has become." It carries the idea of "turned into" in both the sense of becoming something new and the sense of turning back to an original starting point. In metaphysical terms, wyrd embodies the concept that everything is turning into something else while both being drawn in toward and moving out from its own origins. Thus, we can think of wyrd as a process that continually works the patterns of the past into the patterns of the present.
  • Wyrd is the unfolding of our personal destiny. It has sometimes been translated into modern English as "fate." But it is much deeper than that. It does not see our lives as "pre-determined." Rather, it is an all-encompassing view which connects us to all things, thoughts, emotions, events in the cosmos as if through the threads of an enormous, invisible but dynamic web. Today, scientists know intellectually that all things are interconnected. But the power of Wyrd is to realise this in our inner being, and to know how to use it to manifest our personal destiny.
    Today, through a deep connection with wyrd, we are inspired to see our lives in a new and empowering way. It restores our experience of the healing power of love, nature and creativity. It is about letting into our lives the guidance of an extended universe of spirit. It brings ancient wisdom together with modern science in the service of enhancing our lives, and the integrity of our human presence on the planet.
  • Wyrd existed before the Gods and will exist after them. Yet wyrd lasts only for an instant, because it is the constant creation of the forces. Wyrd is itself, constant change, like the seasons, yet because it is created at every instant it is unchanging, like the still center of a whirlpool.
    The pattern of wyrd is like the grain in wood, or the flow of a stream, it is never repeated in exactly the same way. But the threads of wyrd pass through all things and we can open ourselves to its pattern by observing the ripples as it passes by.
    • Brian Bates, in The Way of the Wyrd : Tales of an Anglo-Saxon Sorcerer (1983)
  • Nothing may happen without wyrd, for it is present in everything, but wyrd does not make things happen. Wyrd is created at every instant, and so wyrd is the happening.
    • Brian Bates, in The Way of the Wyrd : Tales of an Anglo-Saxon Sorcerer (1983)
  • The threads of wyrd are a dimension of ourselves that we cannot grasp with words. We spin webs of words, yet wyrd slips through like the wind. The secrets of wyrd do not lie in our word-hoards, but are locked in the soul. We can only discern the shadows of reality with our words, whereas our souls are capable of encountering the realities of wyrd directly. This is why wyrd is accessible to the sorcerer: the sorcerer sees with his soul, not with eyes blinkered by the shape of words.
    Do not live your life searching around for answers in your word-hoard. You will find only words to rationalize your experience. Allow yourself to open to wyrd and it will cleanse, renew, change, and develop your casket of reason. Your word-hoard should serve your experience, not the reverse.
    • Brian Bates, in The Way of the Wyrd : Tales of an Anglo-Saxon Sorcerer (1983)
  • Wyrd is too vast and too complex, for us to comprehend, for we are ourselves, part of wyrd and cannot stand back to observe it as if it were a separate force. Just as fisherman cannot see the full extent of the seas, so even a sorcerer cannot view the totality of wyrd.
    • Brian Bates, in The Way of the Wyrd : Tales of an Anglo-Saxon Sorcerer (1983)
  • All our lives are locked together in the shimmering world of wyrd in which all things are enmeshed and connected to one another by the threads of wyrd. ….The wyrd sisters spin the web of wyrd and weave the loom of life, they do not thereby determine it … the wyrd sisters simply express the will of wyrd. And so do we. We cannot control our lives, because we too are inseparable aspects of wyrd and express its will. But this is not the same as saying our life is determined. Rather, it is saying we live like an ocean voyager, trimming our sails to the winds and tides of wyrd as we skim across the waters of life. And cresting the waves of wyrd is something that happens at every instant. The pattern of life is not woven ahead of time, like cloth to be worn later as a tunic. Rather, life is woven at the very instant you live it.
    • Brian Bates, in The Way of the Wyrd : Tales of an Anglo-Saxon Sorcerer (1983)
  • In Anglo-Saxon literature, which Tolkien knew, the place of fate (wyrd) is central. Only occasionally is it suggested that efforts of the hero are determinative. Beowulf, most famously, gives himself up to the powers of wyrd before each battle, accepting as fact that the outcome has already been determined. The task of the hero, therefore, was to fight well, to earn a reputation as a great warrior.
    • Kathleen E. Dubs, in "Fortune and Fate" in J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia : Scholarship And Critical Assessment (2007) edited by Michel D. C. Drout, p. 215

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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