1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Norns
NORNS (O. Norse, Nornir), in Northern mythology, the female divinities of fate, somewhat similar to the Gr. Μοῖραι and the Roman Parcae. Like them they are generally represented as three in number, and they are said to spin, or weave, the destiny of men. Their dwelling is beside the "Spring of fate," beneath the "world-tree," Yggdrasil's ash, which they water with draughts from the spring. In some cases the Norns are not easily to be distinguished from the Valkyries (q.v). Sometimes again they appear as prophetesses (völur) at the birth of children, whose destiny they foretell. The most famous these stories is contained in the Tháttr af Nornagesti, and has a curious resemblance to the Greek legend of Althaea and Meleager. Similar beings seem to have been known among other Teutonic peoples in early times. (See TEUTONIC PEOPLES § 7).
- (H. M. C.)