As one of the lesser-known Nordic symbols, the Web of Wyrd is a symbol in Norse mythology that represents the interconnectedness of past, present and future.
According to the myth, the Web of Wyrd was woven by the Norns/Nornir, the Shapers of Destiny in Norse mythology.
The symbol comprised of nine staves contains all the runes thus symbolizing all ‘the possibilities’ the past, present and future brought and might bring.
It is also called ‘Skuld’s net’ as Skuld was believed to be one of the Norns that wove the web.
The Web of Wyrd is a metaphor for fate and destiny derived from women's spinning. As the individual fibers turn round the spindle, or are woven together as the warp and the woof, by the Norns at the foot of Yggdrasil, they become the thread of our lives, or so Norse mythology tells us. After all what else is the umbilical cord but the thread between spindle and distaff? What else is the human genome?
Weaving is just as appealing a metaphor as anything other religions have been able to come up with to explain the meaning of life - the past in the present (and the present in the past). Henry James uses it in his novella The Figure in the Carpet (1896) and of course nowadays it applies to the www.
Wyrd refers to more than individual lives but to the universe, a vast spider's web where everything is connected and analogically related, so that vast galaxies can resemble cell structures and the genome of living creatures. Macrocosm and microcosm. While science remains fascinated by structural and functional analysis, the old Norse and Germanic world might say that it's the time and purpose that matter too.
The Web of Wyrd can be associated easily enough with runes - in Hávamál, the runes appear to have the power to bring the dead back to life. Odin recounts a spell: "if I see/up in a tree/a dangling corpse in a noose/I can so carve and color the runes/that the man walks/And talks with me."
I have always interpreted these things as totems, which means they depend on the ability to inspire the imagination, whether that be spiritual or secular. Nothing more... Above left is a modern synthesis of all the runes which some today think of as a totem for the Web of Wyrd. It's a fanciful design but pagan ideas have a much more integrated world view than the one bequeathed us by the newer religions. Think of the simplicity of the cross or the crescent moon. To its right is Fehu, one of the ancient runes.