Everything that exists much reach some culmination, some point of meaning or purpose for that existence. To exist is to move forward, to forward, to progress or evolve; so if existence=motion, then fate=destination, a word that has its root in the term 'destiny.'
We are not simply moving forward, we are all progressing towards something on both a personal and a collective level, and this progression gives our lives meaning. Sometimes this meaning may not be readily apparent; some of us may not have the time or desire to mete out who we are and why we are here, but I think that most humans do feel this connection to something greater than themselves, a force driving us toward our destiny.
We are the culmination of our experiences and what has happened to us, coupled with our genetic background, leads us on the path we have taken. This is fate, or in Odinism it is called wyrd, and it is the single greatest force in our religion.
Think of it this way—in an eternal universe with an infinite amount of stars, many of them surrounded by an array of planets, our Earth was formed on the exact spot it needed to be formed—just the right distance from our sun—in order for life to emerge. This included a process so vast and so complex that we may never fully understand it. From this process came all the flora and fauna within our natural environment, with all the right cells in place, all the right structures to form, and all of the delicate, balanced ecosystems to develop.
Then, at some point, beyond this there arose intelligent man, who stood above all the other animals because just the right events took place for his brain to evolve further. Then, man formed his own societies and tribes, which became nations and through just the right circumstances those of your ancestors came into being. The genetic line continued throughout the ages until today, when just the right events were brought about for your parents to meet and conceive you. What is all of this? Is it coincidence? Is it the will of the divine? We Odinists simply call it wyrd or fate.
Allow me to take a moment to get personal, so that I can better delineate the role fate plays in our lives. When I look back on the life I have lived and think of all the ups and downs I have experienced, I can see that even the worst events were necessary in making me the man I am today. I do not claim to be better than anyone else or anything like that, but I am satisfied with how things have turned out.
My life, your life, anyone's life can be either seen as a simple series of coincidences leading up to one's death, or you can realize that there is a higher purpose to it all, some sort of design. If I had not gone through or done certain things I might have never become and Odinist, I might not have had the opportunity to start writing for our faith, and I might not have met my amazing wife and had our beautiful daughters.
One small twist and everything goes a completely different direction, or what I once thought was the worst thing that ever happened to me became my greatest blessing.
The fact is, I cannot control the universe. I cannot control what happens to me. I cannot even control the results of my own decisions, for things often do not go according to plan.
Some see this as a bleak worldview and would prefer to consider themselves masters of their own destiny, but any one of these people at this very moment could get hit by a bus, drop dead from a heart attack, or acquire some debilitating disease. By the Gods let us hope that they do not, but the point is that you think you have control until the powers of destiny show you very clearly that you do not. Is this view bleak? Of course not, it is realistic. It is based upon the beautiful philosophy that all life is connected and that in this connection we will lift each other up and drag each other down.
We will enjoy the life affirming powers of convergence and we will suffer at the hands of the destructive forces of entropy; that is our destiny. Our 'control' is but an illusion that is a direct result of our being on the path we are supposed to be on— the achievement of our destination. In any case, the Odinist model teaches us to use both the good and the bad experiences to our advantage and always grow from these life lessons.
What would a hero be without the enemy he must overcome? How can there be light without darkness? Good without evil? Love without hate? In our lore the Gods must combat the Giants, which makes up the majority of our epic, and what would it be without this conflict? What would any religion be without this overall theme of creation versus destruction? In Odinism, one of the most valuable lessons we are taught is acceptance. We are taught that our trials by fire are necessary so that we are tempered into steel as we grow. The Gods had to face this same trial in the early ages, when they initially entered into their struggle with the powers of corruption.
Compare their frantic maneuvering when they discovered that Baldur was going to die, to the peace and calm they will experience just before Ragnarok. In the former instance they ran from seer to seer, trying to find some glimpse of hope for the future, took oaths from all things to not harm Baldur, then tried to get everything in the universe to weep him out of the land of the dead. They could not accept what fate had in store for them, and yet it took place anyway.
However, at Ragnarok they have matured and learned from their past, and from this reached a higher state of divinity that allowed them to subdue the entropic forces until Ragnarok. They have learned acceptance, and from this serenity.
This shows us that we may face the most impossible trials, what may strike terror into our hearts, but rather than complaining about our 'bad luck' or saying 'it only happens to me,' we accept it, learn from it, then move on.
The Gods know that after Ragnarok things are going to get better again, and this is what we have to keep in mind when facing our ordeals. No matter what happens, your situation will improve.
Odisbook: The Book of Odr