Related to the Norns were the Familiar Spirits (hamingjur) and the
Attendant Spirits (fylgjur). The Familiar Spirits were
invisible feminine beings who accompanied men and directed their
Each person had his Familiar Spirit, who strove to bring him good
was possible to lend one’s Familiar Spirit to another in case one
run a risk in his behalf. The Attendant Spirits (fylgjur), on the
ordinarily had the shape of animals who walked before men or
them. Each person had, according to the belief of our fathers, one
Attendant Spirits; and certain people pretended that they could
Attendant Spirits and thus ascertain in advance who was drawing
Attendant Spirit usually corresponded to the character of the
question; powerful chieftains had bears, bulls, and the like as
Spirits, crafty folk had foxes, and so forth. Supernatural beings
of this type
were not made the object of worship or prayer. Tales have come
us of sundry men to whom these beings by preference revealed
themselves and who by such means gained an uncommon insight into
destinies of other men. Faith in Familiar Spirits and Attendant
persisted after the introduction of Christianity; even zealous
Christians like Olaf
Tryggvason and Saint Olaf were not wholly free from such beliefs.
Occasionally both of these classes of tutelary powers were
outright as Norns; the popular mind appears not to have drawn a
distinction in this respect.
Andreas Munch: Norse Mythology: Legends of Gods
and Heroes. The American-Scandinavian Foundation, New
York. 1926, pp. 31-32.
Rasmus B. Anderson (Ed.): The Elder Eddas of Saemund
Sigfusson and the Younger Eddas of Snorre Sturleson.
Norræna Society, London-New York. 1906.
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