The Norns are three women who shape the life of each man from his first day until his last, and they determine the moment of his death.
The Norns live in Ásgarð by the Well of Urð, where the gods meet each day in council. Of the three women, Urð is old and decrepit, looking backwards to past events and people. Verðandi is young and active, looking straight before her. Skuld is closely veiled, and looks in a direction opposite to where Urð gazes.
The Norns carve men's fate on a stave of wood, in much the same way Norsemen might carve their individual marks on pieces of wood before throwing them together to draw lots.
In Gylfaginning, Snorri Sturluson writes that other norns, descended from
the Ęsir, dwarves, and elves, visit each new-born child to determine its life.
Good norns grant a good life, while malevolent norns grant lives filled with