The Great Norns

I am a person who likes my routines, yet one thing I have been working on in myself this year is to get comfortable with the unexpected. It was a simple thing this morning, but still outside of my routines, when the dog whined to go out. So I donned all my down winter gear -it is “feather weather” after all- and out we went. I use my time out to tune in to the Great Nature around where I live, and it seemed to me this morning I could hear, very faintly, the call of Great Horned Owls. Then the night was silent except for the very loud crunching of my feet on the frozen snow.

The world takes on a new shape -or a new thought form- when I allow myself to be inwardly silent and simply LISTEN. Urd’s voice came to me: “And sometimes there can be joy!” This, after my initial reluctance to get up and get out in the cold. I have found that the simple act of being honest with myself about my inner state can help me be open to doing what is necessary, and that willingness helps me to bridge the lower emotions to remain open to a higher state of receptivity for when the GNG might communicate. Hearing Owls, like seeing the Mist rise around me, are often opening signs to communication with the Norns.

Discerning the Presence of the Gods means keeping myself in a positive state of receptivity. It is a continual effort to be in communication with my own soul and spirit lest I fall back into old habits. I can resent going to work, especially as challenging as this winter has been to keep the driveway shoveled of unexpected depths of snow, just to get my car out and on a safe road of travel. With one bridge out and several of our Catskill Mountains to drive on roads that snow plows do not immediately get cleared at 5:00 AM, I need to leave even earlier for my school bus driving job. I must refuse to descend into toxic thinking (poor me!), because that alone would bring a negative tone into the vibration of my time with the Gods, and that time is what renews me. An hour of driving each morning is opportunity to enter into that very special space.

I wanted to share some of the small details of the daily interplay of thought, duty, and willingness to do what is necessary -even with reluctance, there can be a “surrender” into presence, and those negative emotions fade away, leaving room for the inner silence. The act of LISTENING itself is a surrender into presence, a willingness to be open to WHAT IS. The Divine communicates with us through our inner guidance, our very own unique intuition, and even through things that happen in life. What seems like coincidences to the rational mind become synchronous answers to the intuitive mind. In the process people can discover the symbols that communicate to their particular individuality, as the Owls and Mist serve to bring me into receptive communion with the Norns, and I know that I approach the Mystery.

There are the “Great Norns” -Urdr, Verđandi, and Skuld- and there are the “lesser norns,” those women who assist the Great Norns in their work of Weaving the Being -and Becoming- of the Nine Worlds. Urdr is the aged one, the Norn of the Past, That Which Has Been. Verđandi is the middle aged one, the Norn of the Present, That Which Is. Skuld is the young Norn of the Future, That Which Should Be. Together the Norns oversee the flow of Time in the Nine Worlds.

In terms of Sir Isaac Newton’s Laws of Physics, every action has an equal and an opposite reaction. The actions of our past lead to consequences that make for new and different choices in the present, which in turn will lead to new and different potentialities in the future. The Norns oversee what the Norse termed Ørlög.

Ørlög (pronounced ur-leg) has been compared to karma, which to the contemporary American mind seems to be the concept of reward or punishment based upon past life deeds. The entire concept of reward and punishment that our minds bring to these ideas seems more a residue of the Puritanical principles that America was settled upon than upon a true understanding of the meaning of Ørlög or Karma. Rather it is the continual, ongoing interplay of our choices, decisions, and interactions and relationships with others in the world that makes up Ørlög and Karma.

To truly understand what the Norns have to show us, I felt it was important to me to question my beliefs about good and evil. I came to understand that to look at life strictly through the lens of good and evil was to lose sight of the fact that life is always being broken down and always being built up, that the powers of life and death are in constant interaction. Neither is good nor bad, but simply part of the process of life. An excess of anything -unchecked growth- can become cancerous, and a lack of anything -not having enough to meet our needs- can become the impetus our spirit requires to gain the motivation to acquire it. So in its own way, life is always the product of choices and the consequence of choices, and this is what the Norns oversee in the Weave. Choice becomes experiential in the act of living. The consequences of choice may confront us with uncertainty and the unknown.

At the same time, we don’t always see the consequences of our choices clearly. When I approach the Norns, I approach the Realm of Mystery. This is extant in the Rune Perthro, the Rune of Chance and Mystery, and also in the Rune Berkano, which touches upon the Mysteries of the Feminine.

Until tomorrow…

Published by susanofthenorth

Susan Hintz Epstein is an author, Rune diviner, healer, non-academic scholar, and former Methodist Lay Speaker who was called by the Runes in 2013. The time since then has been a serpentine shedding of one skin for another, as Susan's spiritual practice with the Runes and the World Tree, Yggdrasil, deepened. Susan keeps company with the Norns and other like-minded women.

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