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The Three Sisters of Fate

A Wyrd Connection, A Devotional Thread

They are both single and multiple, sometimes one, sometimes three, sometimes nine, known as the Norns, Ur∂, Ver∂andi and Skuld, Morrigan, Bendith Y Mamau (Blessing of the Mothers in Welsh), Weirdsystirs (Wyrd Sisters in Scotland) in the North, also "fateful sisters," "fate goddesses," the Matres, the Matronae, fairies, witches, weirds, dry-susters (Three Sisters in Dutch), De Drie Gezusters (three sisters in Flemish). In Slavic and Baltic cultures they are the Laimes in the Baltic, Sister Goddesses both one and three named Laima, Dekla and Karta, Rodjenice ("birth giving women" in Czech and Slovak), Sudjenice ("judging women" in Czech and Slovak), Narecznice ("name giving women" in Polish), with other names both local and vast that mean establishing, participation, luck.**


They are sometimes divine, and sometimes female ancestors. They have a specific function of protection for women in life's various stages, but especially during birth. Their role is also in blessing and determining the fate of a newly born child. Sometimes they wear black, sometimes white. They appear at the holy days, they carve runes, make marks of protection, and--almost universally in what I have found of European culture--they spin and weave.


“Have you done what some women are accustomed to do during certain times of the year? You prepare a table in your house and put your food and drink with three knives on it so that if those Three Sisters (which ancient posterity and ancient stupidity call the Fates) should come they can take repast there; and have you removed from the Divine Piety his power and name and given them to the Devil, by which I mean have you believed those whom you say are the Sisters can help you either now or in the future?”

Bishop Burchard of Worms, Corrector, 1008-1012 CE

This little snippet of text from a medieval penitential is all we have illustrating a concrete practice of ceremony for the Three sisters, a shimmering thread linking us to the Three Sacred Ladies whose names appear in so much lore throughout Europe.

But I find these rootings in text are all I need to craft meaningful ceremony, honoring ancestral folkways and beings whose rich texture is preserved in their persistence.

Here are some suggestions for crafting your own Three Sisters ceremony:

Consider your connection with the Three Sisters.

How do they manifest in your lineages?

What aspect of them appeals to you?

What aspect of them brings up difficult emotions?

Where in your life are you needing support, assistance or healing?

Set a table or altar for the Three Sisters.

The table may be literal or metaphorical, one is not superior to the other. There are many instances in folklore that require imagining, so do not feel pressured to craft a physical table.

Choose nine symbolic items for your table, representing the many manifestations of the Sisters, and consider including actual food, drink, and a knife or knives as indicated in the passage above. You may also write your offerings on paper.

Traditional offerings include seasonal items, flowers, fruits, nuts, seeds, bread, any household items made by hand, linen, spun threads, porridge, beer, mead, spring, rain or well water, cheese or milk, eggs, grains from the harvest, artwork, poetry, songs, carvings, medicinal herbs…

Feel free to adjust this list with anything that speaks to you and your ancestors.

For the ritual itself you might wish to join the Sisters in a meal, or simply leave it out overnight as an offering. If you do the latter, you might wish to set dream space with your ancestors and/or the Three Sisters. I usually like to begin with deep breathing, visualizing a protective sphere around my prone body and offering gratitude to the elements, the spirits of the place where I live, and asking my ancestors to be with me in dreaming. If I have a specific query (such as seeking insight into the Three Sisters) I might write it on a slip of paper and put it under my pillow, along with a sprig of mugwort for dreaming. When I wake in the morning the first thing I do on rising is write my dreams and give thanks.

When you complete the ritual thank the Three Sacred Ladies for their assistance, and clear the table with reverence, placing all food items in the earth, washing the knives with earth or salt water, and perhaps reserving a corner of you home for continuing relationship with these important beings.

I hope that you have been fed in this devotional practice, and are ready to deepen with the Three Sisters. Continuing the journey through research is highly encouraged! Source materials you may wish to investigate, depending on your lineages, include:

The Carmina Gadelica by Alexander Carmichael, Irish Folk Ways by E. Estyn Evans, Polish Customs, Traditions and Folklore by Sophie Hodorowicz Knab, The Book of Hel by HR Ellis Davidson and The Way of the Wise by JT Sibley.

By this and every effort may the balance be regained. ᚨᛚᚢ

Sisters names from Max Dashú's wonderful book Witches and Pagans.

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