Samhain is a Time for the Ancestors
In the Autumn season leading up to Samhain, we slip into the time of the thinning veil and of magic. This is the season where I feel the ancestors tugging at my heartstrings. I am deep in the work of unwinding my lineage and slowly identifying the myths of my ancestors. In doing this work, I uncover what so many have worked to bury. The treasure that is uncovered by my hands empowers and connects. It is found in the yellowed pages of cracking leather books, and in old fields and farmhouses. In these books, dusty papers written in beautiful scrolling cursive and passed down oral stories, I awaken the ancestors so I may rekindle a relationship with them. I traced my way through the serpent path of DNA to find my ancestral lands, folk tales and earth practices. This work is very important to me. Part of my ancestral stories hail from the land of Norway.
The Norns: Spinners of the Web of Time
In Norse mythology there are stories about the Goddesses of fate. This trio of wise entities were called the Norns. The Norns are the weavers of Wyrd. Wyrd is the concept that everything in the universe is connected in a beautiful web that stretches through time. It is the thread of fate and destiny. It is the shimmering interwoven fabric of the universe. The Norns in their three aspects are Urdh the Goddess of “what once was,” Verdandi the Goddess of “what is coming into being” and Skuld who is the Goddess of “what shall be.” They live at the base of Yggdrasil, the magic tree of life, at the center of the cosmic world. The Norns act as caregivers for the tree. The Norns weave, spin and cut the threads of Wyrd. The Norns create on the loom of non-linear time and when the Norns cut the threads, they have dealt their fate. Most believe that fate is fluid, that it is interactive. The Norns hold Wyrd in their hands, but it is how we act that creates the future. We have the power to change the Wyrd, to change our destiny.
The Giantess Hyndla: The Goddess of the Bloodlines
Found in the folklore of the Northern European spiritual traditions, are myths of a giantess named Hyndla. She is the Goddess of the bloodlines. Hyndla is the keeper of all the genealogical information for all beings. Her fingers are tangled in the web of Wyrd. If there is a tear in your knowledge of the ancestors, she will pull the information forward to reveal what you wish to know. Hyndla repairs what has been broken and she mends what cuts you off from connecting to your spiritual birthright. She can gift you the information to heal traumas that linger from the past, to sooth the spiritual ghosts within your bloodlines. I hold the image of Hyndla in my heart when searching for the missing links to my ancestor stories. I think of Hyndla and the three Norns who weave the world unseen, the world that is felt and sensed.
Honoring Our Ancestral Grandmothers: The Disir
The ancestors are our guides and keys to our connection to the earth. After all, they become it. The earth cradles their bodies and holds ancient human memories. The dust of their bones lingers long after their spirits have moved on. Wherever we are on the earth, we are walking on someone’s ancestors. The ancestors are the soil that feeds all the living souls on earth. They birthed us into being. Many spiritual traditions around the world have ancestor practices. The Norwegian traditions have the Disír who are also known as the “little Norns”. The Disír are ancestral grandmothers who act as loving guides for their living descendants. I look for my Disír in the world between worlds, offering them my respect and love. I reflect on the life-death-life cycle and know that one day, I too will be an ancestor…and maybe, if the fates allow, even a Disír.
Wyrd Tarot Spread
This is a more in depth version of a simple past-present-future spread. In this spread, I used the archetypes of the Norns and Hyndla for understanding how our ancestors play a role in our lives. This spread is an exercise in opening us up to non-linear time frames. Then we might understand it as ever unfolding in order to see how vast the web really is. Vibrating threads on the web of Wyrd that were created by an ancestor are sometimes still felt by us today.
- Urdh, the Norn of past
- What is Hyndla showing you of your ancestors past?
- Verdandi, the Norn of present
- How are your ancestors guiding or affecting you now?
- Skuld, the Norn of future
- What ancestral issues need to be healed for you moving forward?
** A version of this post first appeared in an issue of Hill Lily Magazine, volume 4, Hunter’s Moon.