Fyrnsidic Cosmology- Wyrd and Orlæg
Posted by Byron Pendason on , in Cosmology, Heathen basics, Heathen worldview, Heathenry, Reconstruction
My first post on this blog was about wyrd. Like most Heathens, I looked at it on the personal level. We each have our individual wyrd, and this should probably be our basic understanding of it. But the universe itself also has a wyrd, and I think we’ve reached the point in this series on Fyrnsidic cosmology that wyrd is the next logical concept to address. Before we dive into that, though, let’s recap what wyrd is on a personal level.
Wyrd is the Heathen concept of fate, but it’s not the deterministic fate of classical religion. It’s best summarized as “Where we are going is determined by where we are now and where we have been.” Our every action is a thread that is woven into the web that is our personal wyrd. Each thread determines what our wyrd looks like, and once a thread has been added it cannot be removed. What the final product will look like may not be known, but what’s already been woven into it limits what it can look like.
The universe itself has its own wyrd. But instead of each thread being an action, each thread is the wyrd of an individual. What this means is that every individual is connected to the web, and thus everyone is connected to everyone else. That web is the wyrd of the cosmos.
This wyrd is part of the cosmic order that was instituted by the gods at the foundation of our physical universe. It has a cause and effect dynamic just like our individual wyrd does. A cause leads to an effect, which becomes the cause for another effect, and so on forever.
Wyrd is the vast web that spans the entire cosmos. It permeates all living things from the smallest cells to largest cosmic structures. Your every action gets added to your wyrd, but it also gets added the the cosmic wyrd as well. Our actions not only shape our fate, it shapes the fate of the entirety of all that exists. This has important implications that’s should shape our views on ethics, but that is a subject that is best saved for another post.
Just like we each have our own orlæg that is our “starter wyrd” from which we build upon to shape our wyrd, so too does the cosmos. Orlæg is often translated as fate or destiny, but it literally means “that which was originally laid down” or “fundamental law”. On a cosmic scale, it is the fundamental nature of the universe, both the physical and metaphysical laws that determine it’s operation. It was laid down by the gods at the foundation of the universe. Just like we can’t change our orlæg, neither can the orlæg of the universe be changed. It can only be built upon. It is, in short, the order of the universe which shaped it out of the chaos from which it was formed.
The interdependence and interconnectedness of all things is a logical result of these ideas. No person is an island, and as a consequence of this, no action affects only the person making the action. Each action has consequences that effect countless others. Most of the time, these consequences might be imperceptible to us, but it has a butterfly effect upon the rest of the universe. That’s why it is important to consider the ramifications of our every action, because those consequences often come back to bite us and/or our loved ones in the ass.
Even the most seemingly inconsequential of actions can lead to a butterfly effect that can end up having a major impact on history. A lot of the time, we don’t see the impact we’ve had or we see the impact but don’t recognize it as having been our doing. The Doctor Who episode “Turn Left” is a good example of how wyrd works and how a seemingly inconsequential decision (to turn right instead of left at an intersection in the road) can snowball into a dystopian future. I won’t say more about the episode except to say that if you haven’t seen it, you should.
It’s a work of fiction, but the principle behind it is valid. There’s a reason that most TV shows seem to have at least one episode that explores how different things would be if just one thing changed. It’s because even though we may not think about it very often, our society recognizes that every action has consequences that cause chain reactions along the web of wyrd that can lead to major changes.
We need to start being mindful of the fact that our smallest decisions can have huge effects. Everything we do, we need to think about whether our action is going to lead to better and stronger communities, or worse ones. Very rarely will our decisions not have indirect consequences upon our communities. Let’s start recognizing this, and living our lives to build a better tomorrow.