Wyrd, orlæg and tarot

©2021 Michael Raven

I’m still toying around with the conceptualization of the tarot spread I was working on yesterday, as I felt it was missing some key element based on a barely-recalled online post that I had read a while back.

I managed to re-locate the post. While there are elements that I found a bit strained, I found other people afterwards that supported the parts that I felt were less so. I wouldn’t classify myself as a Heathen, but I do feel alignment with some of the old Norse/Viking and Anglo-Saxon/British Celtic themes and those cosmologies. So I tend to think about things like wyrd and how that might operate in the world as an animist with shamanic leanings. And something felt “missing” from the spread.

I went with the parts that felt right and looked for other sources that confirmed some of the understanding and was likely right in rejecting the part that seemed off, but found the bulk of the remained to be in agreement with other folks.

The element that I think might be missing from the spread that I was working on is the idea of orlæg, or that element of wyrd that is outside anyone’s control.

Let me roll back a bit and explain how I see wyrd. Wyrd, to me is not a predetermined inevitability, a “destiny”; there is no butterfly effect going on that determines my eventual immutable destination. As one author has said, once the thread has moved from present to the past, it is then fixed, and may impact the unknowable future, but the future is still mutable. How mutable is based on those decisions made that have moved towards the past, as well those things outside of our control, orlæg. Wyrd (to me) can be seen as a tapestry for which we all contribute, our threads are entangled and bound, and we can make choices that impact the colors and shapes within that tapestry. But the woven elements are only “fated” as the present becomes the past.

Orlæg can be seen as those things chosen for you before birth and those things that are outside the control of a growing child. Or- is the “fundamental”, while -læg finds it’s roots in “that which has been laid”. Thinking of it as building a home, it is the foundation upon which other things are built upon, the essentials. This would include things like ethnicity, socioeconomic status to which you are born into, place of birth, parent(s)’ occupation(s), year of birth, assigned gender, sexual orientation, emotional and physical addictions, etc. These are the “fates” written for you before you were born or before you were able to make certain decisions.

And I think it is important to consider those things when doing a spread for wyrd working — understanding the options available for you to tweak in the manifestation of your ultimate tapestry.

As such, I think I’ll add a fourth card to the three-card spread for orlæg, or those fixed elements of your wyrd that you never had control over.

Or, perhaps, I am overthinking — as I am wont to doing.

Photo by Alina Vilchenko on Pexels.com

Please note: I do not consider tarot to be a divination tool. I see it as a tool for personal reflection and a means by helping one look at their present moment from a different perspective other than how they may see it with their current cognitive biases, not as a magical device or a tool to predict any future.

7 thoughts on “Wyrd, orlæg and tarot

  1. Useful post. My pantheon is heavily dominated by Egypt, while I have some Norse and Celtic gods and goddess behind me, a couple of the Greeks and one voodoo-connected mother Goddess. Isis and Thoth are my tarot and oracle guides and I’m strictly a novice at this time. My reading last night was spot-on again in a draw three tarot and one oracle, but a separate stuck to my third tarot as it flitted from the shuffle. Made me question why. Your post is timely in that regards.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I tried to with with the Crowley Thoth deck and just couldn’t make it feel natural. Same thing with the Arthurian deck. The Crow deck I’ve been using feels less esoteric and more down to earth than the other two, but I’m still on the lookout for a weird deck like the Vertigo deck. There are times I consider adding a Rider-Waite, just for visually different.

      It’s been fun, my recent foray into tarot. I am wondering if Ogam or Runes might fit better into my personality, but resources are more limited, especially with ogam.


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