The three NORNS were believed to govern the fate of man. Even the gods were subject to their decrees. They could neither question their judgement nor influence their will. The Norns were three sisters whose names were Urd, Verdandi and Skuld. They were respectively the personifications of the past, the present, and the future.
Symbolizing the concept of time, they were each represented as being of a different physical age. Urd was very old and continually stared back into the past. Verdandi was mature and active seeing only the present, while Skuld, the youngest of the three, always looked far ahead in the opposite direction to her elder sister Urd. She was also represented as being veiled to indicate the uncertainty and hidden nature of the future.
Together they wove the web of fate, from whose strings none could escape. Urd and Verdandi, the past and the present, were considered to be benign and helpful spinning their web with the utmost care, while Skuld (future) was thought to be constantly undoing their good work.
In the card they are shown beneath the tree Yggdrasil, in their traditional positions. Urd looks to the past, the young Skuld in the opposite direction, while between them Verdandi has her eyes firmly set upon the present. Before them is the pool of the Urdar fountain, with which they water the roots of the sacred tree. Upon the pool live two swans. From them all the birds of the earth were said to be descended. It was believed that at times the Norns themselves would visit the world in the shape of swans.
INTERPRETATION Change for the better; motion; improvement; good fortune and prosperity; starting a new cycle of events; the unfolding future looks good.
REVERSED MEANING A turn for the worse; bad luck; the past catches up; an inability or unwillingness to adapt to change.
THE RUNE Rad, meaning travel or riding. Movement; change, travel; continuity.