The Norns (Old Norse: norn, plural: nornir) in Norse mythology are female beings who rule the destiny of gods and men, possibly a kind of dísir (see below), and comparable to the Fates in Greek mythology.
According to Snorri Sturluson's interpretation of the Völuspá, the three most important norns, Urðr (Wyrd), Verðandi and Skuld come out from a hall standing at the Well of Urðr (well of fate) and they draw water from the well and take sand that lies around it, which they pour over Yggdrasill so that its branches will not rot. These norns are described as three powerful maiden giantesses (Jotuns) whose arrival from Jötunheimr ended the golden age of the gods. They may be the same as the maidens of Mögþrasir who are described in Vafþrúðnismál .
Beside these three norns, there are many other norns who arrive when a person is born in order to determine his or her future. There were both malevolent and benevolent norns, and the former caused all the malevolent and tragic events in the world while the latter were kind and protective goddesses. Recent research has discussed the relation between the myths associated with norns and valkyries and traveling Völvas (seiðr-workers). The norns were thought to have visited newborn children in the pre-Christian Norse societies.
Norns within skaldic references are often seen as negative beings that are mostly associated with transitional situations such as violent death and battle. In Egil's Saga, Kveldulf composes a poem lamenting the loss of his eldest son Thorolf. Here, what is stressed is the personal tragedy felt by Kveldulf and the sense that what happened was out of his control or in the hands of fate. It is presumed that Óðinn has chosen Thorolf to be among his einherjar so Bek-Pedersen suggests that since Óðinn has caused the death then the norn has caused the emotional turmoil. Another negative aspect associated with the norns is that they are associated with death (see Skaldic Poetry). Not all aspects of the norns were negative, however, as they were associated with life and birth as well (see Helgakviða Hundingsbana I and Gylfaginning).