Not every battle that we face in life is of the literal kind. Every day people fight terminal illnesses, fight oppression and fight many other battles, with bravery and every ounce of their strength, despite knowing they will one day lose those battles and pass from this realm.
I like to believe that those people, not only warriors in the traditional sense, will also find a place in the halls of Asgard for their bravery in fighting that which will one day destroy them.
People often contemplate Wyrd, Ørlög, Fate or Destiny in Norse Heathenry.
Is our life locked into a defined path that we cannot change? How do we reconcile this notion of a fixed destiny with the freedom of personal responsibility? Hopefully I can share with you my beliefs.
When I think of “fate”, I think of it in terms of two distinct concepts - livstråder and skjebne. These are the terms that are relevant to my own practices but others may know them as Wyrd, Ørlög or other names.
Livstråder means “life threads”.
Skjebne means “destiny”.
To help with my explanation I will use an analogy.
Imagine a roadmap.
I think of the livstråder as a series of concrete roads, all of the possible routes imaginable, between the starting point of your journey (birth) and final destination (death). Roads are fixed in place and to move forward in life from your birth to your death you must travel along them. They are already laid out in a predetermined layout.
Then the skjebne is the route which you personally choose to travel. You may encounter speed bumps, traffic, collisions, roadworks and dead ends depending on your route but you are free to turn around or steer your own vehicle and take whichever path you wish from your available options.
To me that is how I can explain two different concepts of livstråder and skjebne and how they combine to govern the overall destiny.
I would like to talk about my beliefs regarding the concepts of the ånd or ‘essence’ as it is may be known in English. Hopefully, I can get these idea’s across clearly and in simple terms so they are easy to get.
Imagine the earth, the universe and all living things as a vast bank of life-force. Every living thing carries a fragment of that life-force or “essence”.
A mother and a father join together and their DNA mixes to create the physical building blocks of a new human. That human also receives the spark of life-force (ånd) from both parents that will become their own.
As the mother consumes food, she breaks down and passes yet more life-force from these living things (the “essence” that was part of plants and animals) to her unborn child, almost as she does the nutrients. After birth, the child continues to consume the life-force from other living things to sustain and grow. Eventually that child grows to adulthood and then eventually dies, at which point the life-force is stripped from the shell (body) as it decomposes or is absorbed and returned to the great universal bank for re-use by flora and fauna.
So if you think of any living thing, from the smallest single cell amoeba up to a high order animal, all creatures and vegetation in our world, they all posses a borrowed portion of this universal life-force (otherwise known as the ånd or essence). This life-force exists within every cell of every organic thing. And when those cells are broken down (by whatever process), that life-force returns back into the care of something else in the eco-system.
This is why we believe that all living things are connected. We are all of one essence. We are merely the caretakers of that essence for our short time on this planet before we hand it on to the next caretaker, whatever or whoever that may be. And our children all carry forth a portion of our essence. And our ancestors all gave us a share of their own essence.
All things connected, one universal soul, forever changing hands and always just one stitch in a larger tapestry.