See Part 1 Buddhist and Heathens for some background if you wish.
Gæð a wyrd swa hio scel! (Fate goes ever as she shall) -Beowulf
Central to Buddhism is the concept of karma, or the philosophy that one’s own intentions and associated actions affect the world around them. Those actions, through affecting the world, will be visited back on the originator as beneficial or detrimental outcomes (please forgive my paraphrasing if it be too simplistic or partially inaccurate; karma is difficult to summarize in a single phrase).
Asatru has its own concept of karma developed over hundreds of generations by our Germanic predecessors (bear in mind Asatru is not strictly Viking; it draws its philosophy and cosmology from all Germanic peoples including the Vikings, Goths, Saxons, Geats and dozens of other tribes dating to prehistory). Asatru karma is divided into two interdependent concepts, wyrd and ørlög.
Wyrd (pronounced like, and actually the Old English root of the modern word “weird”) is the process that continually shapes the patterns and direction of our lives. Wyrd is the engine that drives the events of our lives forward, but it is also the path that our lives take. Wyrd is the culmination of life’s formation in the moment, and is directed by one’s actions. Wyrd is influenced by the second concept, ørlög (my Old Norse is rudimentary at best, but I believe it is pronounced “oor- lay” or “oor-lug”). If wyrd is the engine that drives life forward and the road it follows, ørlög is the infinite set of circumstances that help shape the path’s direction. Ørlög is the unique set of personal circumstances and experiences that determine your outlook and the choices you make.
In a hiking analogy, ørlög is the terrain surrounding the path; it is the weather that we experience along the way; it is how comfortable our hiking boots are; it is whether we are hungry, thirsty or tired along the way; it is even how much our parents enjoyed or hated hiking and how their opinion affects our hiking experience. All of these factors will influence our choices on our “karmic hike” and affect our hike’s outcome.
As Asatruar, we strive to “take our hike” with courage and determination, for we realize that there is no stopping or ignoring our wyrd. No matter what happens on our journey, we must constantly move forward, aware that our decisions and actions affect our experience, and the experiences of those around us. If ørlög and wyrd present us with challenges, if there is a steep hill in our path, if it is raining, if we run out of water, or even if we don’t enjoy our hiking partners’ conversation, it is still our job to “Viking up” and continue forward. After all, not only do our actions bear on the immediate positive or negative experience on everyone’s journey, but our responses to the events along the journey are also being watched by our gods and our ancestors. Personally, I am not comfortable with the idea of simultaneously being detrimental to the world around me AND pissing off Odin, Thor, and hundreds of generations of my forefathers simply because my boots are too tight.
Here is an excellent and oft cited article on these Norse concepts of fate:
Thanks again DCP! Much metta your way for posting and describing your spiritual path! Cheers!