As we have discussed previously, the fate of all things is to die, but with that death comes renewal and even advancement. Perhaps this is a reason why we strive so hard to be creators—our life is a perpetual state of entropy as we age and get closer to death. However, death is not an end, but an evolutionary step forward into the next realm of existence. We all have to die, and our death is as inevitable as our next breath, thus it is the most common expression of fate still found in our vernacular. We say that someone 'met their fate,' meaning that they died, while the word 'doom' actually means 'judgement,' 'decree' (ON dóm), referring to the judgment of the Norns and Gods over the dead. Everything must die, and everything must end, including the natural order which will one day delve into chaos. But then there will come renewal. The universe is eternal, and its constant state of flux is what never changes: it never changes the fact that it is always changing. Worlds are born, develop, die out, and then new worlds are formed. In their microcosms, flora and fauna continuously go through this cycle, as do human beings. It is the fate of all to be a part of this, and no one can deny its validity.
Our lore even goes through this cycle, which our ancestors described as taking place in various stages, which has been a six-spoked wheel. The first spoke is the Primal Age (Úr Aldr), where new life is formed from the chaos of the previous cycle; then comes the Golden Age (Gullaldr), the age of the most glorious peace and prosperity; after this is the Silver Age (Silfr Aldr) when corruption is introduced into the divine order; next is the Copper Age (Koppar Aldr) when the corruption begins to properly manifest; then there is the Iron Age (Jarn Aldr), when the worlds are on the brink of destruction; and finally there is the Wolf Age (Vargaldr) which can also be called the Outlaw Age (Vargr means both 'wolf' and 'outlaw'), which is the age of Ragnarok. From the ashes of Ragnarok's destruction the next cycle will begin, and the wheel will start anew. This is a testament to the moral properties of these stories, for the entire framework of our great epic (originally described to us in the Völuspá) represents a lamentation of the corruption of this world, as well as hope for the next.
We can apply this lesson to our lives as well. Pain and suffering will come. People will die, property will be lost, and hardship will happen. But so will joy, peace, and love, which are a part of our personal renewal, and we must never let the bad times destroy us nor the good times spoil us. This is a lesson of balance. Accept hardship as a necessary part of life; embrace it as a warrior, knowing that you will learn and grow from this, then move on. When things are going well always be prepared for those unforeseen downfalls, never take things for granted, and enjoy life to its fullest. We are not entitled to have a perfect life, nor are we destined for it to be all bad. What happens happens because of the choices we make, and how we deal with these events is our choice as well. Karma or urlag will respond to what we do, but then we must respond to how life treats us: I can either learn from it or let it harm me, the decision is mine to make.
Our ancestors claimed that fortune and misfortune come to us through our fylgja, also known as a lesser norn. This is fitting, considering that she is also a personification of our good thoughts, good words, and good deeds, and thus represents our conscience. "The good norns, the ones who are well born, shape a good life. When people experience misfortune, it is the bad norns who are responsible" (XIX.17).
The fylgjas represent our luck, and at the same time our lineage, for these norns are our ancestresses and the "well born" are the ones who bring forth a good life, while the ill-bred bring misfortune and calamity. Perhaps this is based on observing the status of different people? While at the same time serving as a lesson to raise our daughters well, for they will benefit the next generation when they become a fylgja in the next life.
It is the fylgja who directly dispenses a karmic response to our actions, and whether or not we may feel this is done in a just manner is moot.
Actions demand reactions, and what we do, how we interact with others is a reflection of ourselves and our upbringing. The fylgja is just as much a part of your destiny as any other aspect of your life, even more so since she was appointed to you by the Wyrd sisters themselves and was woven into the thread of your existence. She is your conscience, your luck, your guide, and witness to your actions before the Helthing. Learn of her, listen to her, never offend her with vile actions and you will be sure to have a life of peace and joy.
Fate is a powerful, at times overwhelming concept. We humans, who feel so in control of so many things often have trouble accepting that in reality we control nothing but our own reactions. We are but tiny specks within the infinite fabric of existence, one which we know little to nothing about.
With all of our science, all of our observations, all the thousands upon thousands of hours humans have spent contemplating and trying to decode the universe, we still understand so very little, and must accept that we control even less. We look into the sky, or even into the farthest reaches of space, and can see an order to it all, one that mimics the order we witness in our own world. Something is holding it all together, something accounts for its existence, and something directs its course of action.
We Odinists call this something fate, and view it as the most powerful force we can fathom. The Gods are a part of this design, as we are, and are subject to its laws as well, while they act as emissaries of fate to humankind in that they are further inclined towards convergence and therefore to our well-being. Because of this we can interact with them and they can intervene on our behalf. But understanding the neutrality of fate helps us to gain acceptance, which for us is a huge step towards enlightenment.