The Norns were introduced to me back in 2013 by the Undine in charge of the creek that flows behind my home. My husband of two years had received some shamanic training and taught me techniques that deepened my capacity to learn from the spiritual beings who work within the realms of Nature. I had been learning from this Water Being since 2010. Little did I know then how wonderfully life could unfold for me.
The Norns came to me around the Mesa I keep in the manner taught by Don Oscar Miro Quesada over a weekend at Camp Rowe in the Berkshires in May of 2009, revealing that spiritual messages and beings can easily cross lines of tradition. To explain the Mesa, it is a time honored lineage of the Peruvian Quechua tribe, who are descended from the Inca. The Quechua peoples secreted themselves away from the developing world during the years of colonization, and brought their teachings out of the mountains of Peru when they were shown that the human collective would need their teachings of Anyi. Anyi tranlates as “today for me, tomorrow for you,” and is a message of reciprocity and caring for one another in community. One can learn more about the Mesa practice through books by Don Oscar Miro Quesada, Bonnie Coffin, and Matthew McGee. I understand that Alberto Villoldo also teaches the Mesa. I am not very familiar with his methods, even though I have studied with those who are. His books too are worth reading.
The Norns are three ancient female powers within the Scandinavian, Germanic, and Indo-European heritage who weave the cosmic “law and order” of fate and destiny, called in the old language “Wyrd and Orlog.” “Wyrd and Orlog” are concepts fitting what contemporary people know more commonly as “Karma.” The three Norns appear as women of three ages. The oldest appearing Norn is called Urd, who recalls the past. The mother age appearing Norn is called Verdhandi and she is the ever-present and unfolding power of “Now.” The youthful Norn is Skuld, who unfolds what “should be” from all that has gone on before and the choices and decisions made in the ever-present “Now.” When the Norns first appeared to me, they seated themselves around my Mesa. As Mesa carrier I sat in the South, Urd seated herself in the West, Verdhandi in the North, and Skuld in the East. They brought their Weaving with them, and passed the shuttle back and forth around the Mesa, sharing their weaving with me.
This was a very powerful experience for me. I could sense the energy as the Norns passed the shuttle. At that time, I was enduring my first husband’s efforts to gain full custody of our son. The Norns questioned me as we examined the situation: What outcome do you want? They were not there to help me “win” or to get revenge. Rather I needed to chose to align my spirit with the outcomes that I wanted, and I wanted what was best for my son. I had to align my will to what would come in order to gain the answers I sought. What I most wanted, I told the Norns, was to rebuild my relationship with my son who was in the middle of the conflict. I willingly chose to surrender my resentment and anger in order to remain open to what would be. We passed the shuttle of the Weave between us, the Norns and I. With each question, the answer came as to the actions I would need to follow through on to receive the outcome I requested. I acted on the Norns’ advice, and the outcome I requested emerged for me. To this day I enjoy a positive relationship with my son, who also remains close to his father.
The entire process was deeply emotional. Confronting the uncomfortable aspects of my own psyche shook me deeply, but brought me to a deepening truth of myself. The questions that arose as I studied with the Norns led me to a truth that the old Norse Mythology provides a structured method to understand whole aspects of human consciousness and a way to evolve consciously.
The Norse Mythology is structured around the great World Tree, Yggdrasil (pronounced eeg-dray-sil). Yggdrasil means the “steed of the Terrible One.” The “Terrible One” is Odin, who sacrificed himself for nine days and nights on the World Tree in order to gain the Runes. The abode of the Norns, Urd’s Well, is located at the base of the World Tree. The Poetic Edda places Urd’s Well in Midgard, Tolkien’s “Middle Earth.” Tolkien drew his inspiration from the Norse Mythos. Later in the Prose Edda, Snorri Sturlusson placed Urd’s Well near the place in Asgard where the Norse Gods meet to uphold their laws. Although the Norns do have their association with cosmic law in terms of actions and reactions resulting from the consequence of our choices and decisions, I believe the placing of Urd’s Well is at the base of the trunk of the World Tree in Midgard. My reasoning is thus: In shamanic terms, the physical plane of Earth is where humans are embodied in order to carry out the work of our spirit in “flesh time.” In this manner of thinking, death is something that happens to the physical body, but the indwelling spirit returns to the Source until it’s next incarnation.
In the most basic worldview of a shaman, there are three worlds: the Upper World, the Middle World, and the Underworld. The Upper World is the realm of the Gods, the Middle World is where humans dwell (and where Spirits are embodied in physical existence), and the Underworld is the realm of death and the afterlife in which souls review their lifetime just past, and other souls await birth.
The powers that dwell in the heavens and the powers that dwell in the underworlds present duality and the struggle between the spiritual and material planes of existence. This struggle is like the continual striving between our waking consciousness – like the ordered consciousness of the Gods – and our Subconscious, which is always working to inform us of why we incarnated in the first place, despite the forgetfulness of physical life. Our waking consciousness, which is usually run by our intellect, seems to be the dominant consciousness. In reality, the Subconscious is like the bottom of an iceberg – the Subconscious is far deeper, and connected intimately to dreams and the World Soul, as the work of Carl Jung attested.
Upper world powers such as Gods, Angels and Archangels, Elves and Enlightened Masters, and Underworld powers such as the Ancestors, Dwarfs, and Hela, who oversees the Realm of the Dead, are Beings that humans can connect to when they make the choice to evolve consciously and “make the Subconscious conscious.” This is just another way of suggesting you develop your emotional intelligence and learn to trust your intuition. The Norns have shown me that they work with Hela and the spirits of the dead and the unborn in order to create the blueprints of a new lifetime. I find this information incredibly fascinating, as it seems to me to be upheld by the many stories of NDEs described by those who have died and come back to life.
The three worlds concept also relates to the fact that Shamanism holds the view that a person has three, or sometimes four and five soul-aspects. (Multiple aspects of the psyche or the soul relate to which cultural form of shamanism one is taught). The three we understand the most easily are the physical, the emotional, and the intellect. To these three, some add “spirit” as the animating breath or life force. The fifth soul-aspect is shared by all animal life, and has been called “Chi” (or ki, or li) and termed by Gurdjieff as “sex energy.”
Much more will be said later related to the idea of how consciousness is organized, but for now it serves to point out how the structured consciousness of a human being is related to the Cosmos and a human being’s place within it. The Northern Cosmology is as valid a point for this understanding as the Creation Myth of Genesis. I believe that Creation Myths in general ought not to be taken with the assumption that they can ever assume the burden of scientific “proof” – a fallacy many people fall into as many of us have been taught that we should take the Bible, for example, as literal truth. Instead, recent neurological research indicates that humans process what happens to us as story. We take in the evidence of our sensory apparatus and our mind sorts through many impressions and creates a linear sequence of events in order that we might understand the perceptual input. Truth is relative, as seen through many eyes. Good religious stories were established by our ancestors in order to awaken the knowledge of the heart. I am happy to see that many people are awakening to this understanding now.
The Norns with their Well have an association with water, and esoterically speaking, water has long been associated with emotions. The Norns utilize the water from Urd’s Well to water Yggdrasil, which is the Norse equivalent to the Tree of Life. Emotions are the real power behind all we want, say, and do, and in getting to know ourselves it is key to understand your own emotional feeling-states. I was thrilled by the content of Brene Brown’s new series Atlas of the Heart on HBO Max, as she helped me to further define just what it is I am feeling in any given moment by raising awareness of language as a portal to this understanding. In their action of watering the World Tree daily, I believe the Norns are watering awareness. I believe that awareness is what the Tree of Life represents, and in giving attention to our inner states and our sensory states we are watering our awareness like the Norns water their Tree. The Tree too stands proud as a symbol of the interconnectedness of all Life. This is a topic I look forward to talking about in future blogs.