In nearly all mythologies the three Fates, rulers of the past, present and future, are represented and many believe they symbolize the Triple Goddess, Virgin, Mother and Crone (Creator, Preserver and Destroyer). The most prominent are the Moerae, or the Greek Fates. Clotho was the Spinner, Lachesis, the Measurer; and Atropos, the Cutter of life’s thread. All were aspects of the archaic Triple Aphrodite of whom it is said that her name was Moera, and she is older than Time. Moera is actually a late name for the Fate goddess. In the Mycenaean period it meant a landholding, possessed by a female property owner during the matriarchal period. Hence, Moera might mean a lot, thus later “allotted fate.”
The Fates were weavers in most mythologies. Within Anglo-Saxon literature fate is “woven” derived from the Latin destino (destiny) meaning that which is woven, or fixed with cords or threads; fate is “bound” to happen. Thus, spells of fairy-women were “binding.”
There were mythologies of other trinities as well including the Horae, Graces, Muses, Gorgons, Furies, and others. They appeared in various religious guises including the Norns or Weird Sisters of the north (thus wyrd fate), the Zorya of the Slavs, the Morrigan of the Irish, and the Triple Guinevere or Triple Brigit of the Britons.
The Trinity of Aphrodite is sometimes called the three Horae, or celestial nymphs, Eunomia, Dike and Eirene, meaning Order, Peace, and Justice. Their names indicate their roles: the ordering of the elements forming the individual, the individual’s destiny set by the Mother, and the peace or dissolution planned by Aphrodite Columba, the Dove of Peace, for the end of that life.
It is believed that magic can influence the weaving Fates. If they can by influenced not to severe the thread the individual with thus not die but live longer. A Slavic charm for healing was addressed Fate weavers of the mystic Isle of Bujan, or Buyan, the Goddess’ paradise:
In the Ocean-sea, on the isle of Bujan, a fair maiden was weaving silk; she did not cease weaving silk, the blood ceased flowing.
According to Russian myth, this maiden was the Virgin of Dawn, equivalent to the Latin Mater Matuta, or the Greek Eros, traditionally the first Fate. The sun god rested on her mystic isle and rose each day.
The Romans named her Fortuna, a trinity or monad. Vienne chose her as its tutelary city-goddess. As the Babylonian “Mother of Destiny” her name was Mammetum. All of these aspects of the Fates originated from the primordial Indo-European Mother of Karma, or Kali Ma.
By the Middle Ages Fates were synonymous with fairies causing Alponsus de Spina to place the Fates first on his list of demons. Burhardus of Worms argued that the people worshipped the Fates or Weird Sisters at the beginning of each year, placing food and drink out on a table for them. These seem legitimate considering Christianity with a monotheistic God that directs everything would not want three feminine spirits doing it, another attempt to eradicate the Mother Goddess. Besides, the Feasts of the Circumcism and Epiphany fall at the start of every year.
The Fates are still in legend and fable. Some Greeks claim the Fates visit the cradle of every newborn to determine the child’s future. They are thought to be the fairy godmothers. Parents chained up the watchdog, leave the door opened, and put out dainty food to put the Moerae in good humor. Many fairy tales describe the bad results for offending the godmothers. Gypsies still say “three ladies in white” stand at the cradle of each child, and take back the soul when life has run its course, like the Three Queens of Arthurian legend, Greek laments for the dead are still called moirologhia, giving the decease back to the Moerae. A.G.H.
Grimal, Pierre, Larousse World Mythology, Secaucus, New Jersey, Chartwell Books, 1965, p. 110
Walker, Barbara G. The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets. New York. HarperCollins. 1983. pp. 302-303