Also called the nornic triplicity, the nornic triad refers to three interconnected principles of destiny, will, and the formation of future events. It is referred to as “nornic” because norns are thought to embody the culmination of these principles.
The three principles are named urd, verdandi, and skuld.
Urd, also called wyrd, is called the principle of “destiny and causality.” In this sense, “destiny” could be described as a force which destines, or produces possible events. This is to be understood not as a predetermined sequences of immutable future events, but as the phenomenon by which all events and forces are interconnected and together create the future. Each creature is said to have his or her own urd or wyrd, the manifestation of his or her will and ability to contribute to the greater interplay of wyrd. This principle is often symbolized as a web or tapestry of threads, representing the ties of linked existence, which pull one another and form the gestalt truth of reality.
Wyrd or urd is sometimes used synonymously with Urd’s Well, the spring of fate.
Verdandi is called the principle of “becoming, rising.” As time passes and events transpire, possibilities are created and possibilities pass. Verdandi is the expansion of possibility, where already transpired effects are a springboard into an infinite universe. Verdandi represents potential. In the light of verdandi, even the miraculous becomes possible.
Skuld is called the principle of “inevitability, certainty.” Skuld is that which will be, or that which is certain, even when not referring to future events. Skuld can mean predecided or rigid destiny, though more often it represents that which is certain because of the nature of existence. Skuld is full of hope as well as restriction. In contrast to verdandi, skuld is the narrowing of possibilities into the events that transpire. While it can describe lack of freedom, it also describes things that cannot be taken away or destroyed no matter what happens. Skuld can be expressed as supreme cosmic order.
Time is called “the transpiration of fate.” That is, the occurence of events according to the urd, the verdandi, and the skuld are what make up time.
In mythology and cosmic theory, the three principles are also associated with superior norns that have the same names, norns that preside over all creation rather than a single world.
Urd is spoken of as a sovereign goddess who dwells at the fount of Urd’s Well, the origin of life, matter, and energy from which the tree of Yggdrasil itself sprouts. Urd is like unto a ruler god who is the greatest authority in the universe. Legends depict Urd as a silent being who sits at the root of Yggdrasil, in control of all power and law, observing the ripples and flows of the Well (that is, the flow of time). Many people call Urd an indifferent, detached goddess who does not value the lives of the many small creatures that live in the Tree. Others say that her influence is merely invisible, since the flow of time itself is according to her will.
In recent times, some have been said to be found crying out to Urd, either cursing her name or begging for mercy. These have usually been people afflicted by the Howler, or rampant fey who spoke human language.
Verdandi, when depicted as a goddess, is typically not said to have a stationary place in the cosmos, but is more of a roving power. Translations from fey inscriptions and ancient tales mention Verdandi as an unseen will who witnesses the birth of every life, and who mysteriously anoints all such events.
Virgil the Magus described Odin and Mabry (and therefore, Jari and Jubelon) as “the presence of verdandi in the bleakness.” This is both comforting and troubling, as it suggests that anything could happen.
Skuld is said to not be an incarnate being in the way that Urd is. In many legends, Skuld is a state that a norn or like entity can enter into in certain circumstances, though these are always enigmatic and inexplicable transformations. In these cases, Skuld is like a vengeful or authoritative arbiter, a dreadful presence that bears the spear of divine judgment in situations of dire need. She is the one who preserves Yggdrasil at all costs. Skuld has been referred to in myths as “the most fiersome being ever created.” Another ancient name for the goddess Skuld is “the Dreadmost.”
The nornic triplicity has been interpreted at times as a relationship between past, present, and future. Though they can be arranged in such a relationship, all three principles are intended to represent different aspects of the future.