Our Perception Seals Our Fate or Sets Us Free to Weave Our Own Destiny

Learning about triple-loop learning and vertical development from the mythopoetic language of the Norn deities in Norse mythology

In exploring using video games as transformative learning environments, I’m playing around with the idea of returning to World of Tanks Blitz, creating a free community within it but also a low fee, monthly paid community outside of it which focuses on the ongoing mentoring and growth of its members. In effect, creating a true community of practice for life, that’s a spin-off of the community of practice within the game.

What I’m noticing as interesting about my process in doing this though is that I immediately seem to gravitate to creating or using some sort of mythology or lore for creating the community’s foundation or identity. And if I look back on how I’ve built communities within the past, I seemed to use a very similar approach. Why I find this interesting is because it seems to tie into me gravitating towards wanting to use mythopoetic language in the past (or perhaps mythopoeic language is the more appropriate wording).

Building an Identity Using Norse Mythology in Eve Echoes

For example, back when I was within Eve Echoes, even though I never actually did create a community of my own within the game and recruit people for it, I did actually build the whole community’s identity with the intention of doing so but I never actually followed through on opening up the community to people, due to the game’s ongoing collapse. In other words, it just never felt worth the effort of creating and maintaining something within a space that was already dying.

That said though, what I thought I created around the concept for the community was pretty cool. At the time of originating the concept, the idea was to join up with another larger alliance that was using Norse mythology for its primary branding and identity. Looking through the vary aspects of Norse mythology and trying to find something that fit into the “corporation” community that I wanted to build, that was focused on scouting, exploration, and covert ops activities but also one that would truly allow players to forge their own unique path within the game, I decided upon using The Norns as the conceptual brand and identity for my community.

The Norns are three female deities within Norse mythology that shape the destinies of humankind but also affect the destiny of the gods as well. They are similar to the Fates in Greek mythology but are much more independent compared to them. Each of the three deities represent the past, present, and future and together they weave the tapestry of fate, with each person’s life being a thread in their loom.

Using this basic understanding of them, the idea was to create a “corporation” community within Eve Echoes that would be a major force of operations for a large intelligence network within the game but also with regards to covert operations as well, thus being a formidable “force” behind the scenes similar to how the three deities were a force of nature behind the scenes in Norse mythology.

Seeing the Deeper Meaning of the Norns Weaving Fate & Destiny

Now while this community never came to fruition, while pondering what concept to use for potentially return to World of Tanks Blitz and building a community of practice around it, I again gravitated back to using the mythology of the Norns once again. This time though, while revisiting them, I stumbled across some remarkable realizations in how poignant they were as a symbol of triple-loop learning (and perhaps even quadruple-loop learning), not too mention vertical development overall.

This realization actually arose out of a video game cutscene below that I discovered on YouTube set within the video game God of War Ragnarök., whereby the developers amazingly intuited a deeper understanding and interpretation of the Norns and how they perceived the fates of humans as being steadfastly sealed because of their inability to see the patterns in the choices they were making.

You come to us, piteous archetypes, seeking freedom from your scripts—as if knowing your lines would grant you the power to rewrite them.

There is no grand design. No script. Only the choices you make. That your choices are so predictable merely makes us seem prescient.

You are the sum of your choices, nothing more. And because your choices never change, you will learn that Heimdall intends to kill your son in Asgard, and you will do what you do best. And then Ragnarök.

But wait. It even gets better. As whoever summarized the behaviour of the Norns upon the God of War Wiki articulated them perfectly. Like seriously, this sounds exactly what I’ve been doing on the Reddit for Eve Echoes in the past year or so (not so much torturing people within the community but rather more trying to wake them up to how their behaviours and beliefs are harming the community rather than helping it).

Like the Sisters of Fate, they toy and mock those who seek them; particularly Skuld, who likes to say whatever others are about to say before they say it. They even psychologically torture people by confronting them with their inner fears and past regrets.

However, unlike the Sisters, they offer their wisdom to those who manage to reach them, professing that there is no such thing as fate and that people cannot change it as long as they refuse to change themselves. To this end, they tend to tell their seekers a discomforting future simply to see how they will react.

Nornir, God of War Wiki

Perceiving the Mythopoetic Language of Vertical Development

Like if this is not obvious yet, this effectively gets to the heart of what triple-loop learning and vertical development is all about. Your current mindset traps you within a narrative “script” that you can’t see because you’re so immersed within it. Thus your fate, choices, and actions are sealed in a sort of eventual “doom loop” because you cannot see your mindset as this “script” and thus move beyond it. And in time, it leads to your “downfall” with your world(view) collapsing around you, effectively causing a metaphoric Ragnarök in your life.

But if we can shift our frame of perception and awareness, we can step back from it and begin to perceive a larger, broader world(view) and way of being which is what the Hero’s Journey is all about. One that helps us to weave our own destiny in life. And that gets to the heart of something I wrote below arising from this realization and the mythopoetic language used by the Norns in this cutscene.

Your perception of your problem is your problem. It seals your fate rather than sets you free to weave your own destiny in life.

And that perfectly relates to what I indicated before about what the Hero’s Journey is truly all about. It’s not about seeing our life’s circumstances as problems that we need to solve but rather our perception of our circumstances as the problem that is generating our problems in the first place. And by shifting our perception, we can systemically solve many of our problems indirectly, without even focusing on problem solving directly.

This pretty much embodies where I am with my life right now and how I’m stuck within the script of my Self-Authoring Mind (embodying double-loop learning) while struggling to fully explore and make sense of the script-less Self-Transforming Mind (embodying triple-loop learning). And I even remember Richard Barrett confirming to me what I asked him years back below, that if I don’t learn to step out of this narrower mindset and fully embrace my true self in the process, I’d effectively be creating my own metaphoric Ragnarök in my life as well (which has mainly come true, especially with the friends I’ve separated with within video games).

So my crux that has built up over the years is that I’m frustrated and angry at the world because I can see things that others cannot see, yet when I try to communicate this to them to help them (ie a product fault that could be improved, a culture fault that could be improved), I’m often ignored (and perhaps even seen as crazy because they can’t see what I see). So I end up feeling like I can’t help people because they don’t want my help (and I obviously don’t want to force it upon them). So it feels like maybe a combination of relationship and self-esteem needs not being addressed (which together probably feel like survival needs aren’t addressed as well). 

Now I think I’m understanding all of the above but the way forward, if I’m understanding what you’ve communicated in your books, is paradoxical to what the average conventional person might think. For example, a conventional person may say that if these needs weren’t addressed as a child, then I just need to find a group of people who can help me feel seen and heard, recognizing my ability, thus boosting my sense of belonging and self-esteem. But you’re not saying that are you?

You’re saying that I need to overcome these needs on my own. I need to find a sense of true belonging within myself, accepting myself as I am, and thus giving myself a sense of self-esteem that isn’t dependent upon others for it. Is that correct?

So until I can truly accept myself and “be at home” with myself, I’ll continue to be angry and frustrated at the world, no matter how positive a space I find with others. In effect, I’ll sabotage potentially positive relationships until I work out these lower needs and become truly “independent”, not requiring society to fulfill them for me. 

A Question Posed to Richard Barrett

All said and done though, there is definitely something emerging from all this introspection, and the synchronicities associated with it, that definitely feels like it’s guiding and leading me to a larger sense of my Self.

By Nollind Whachell

Questing to translate Joseph Campbell's Hero’s Journey into The Player’s Handbook for The Adventure of Your Life, thus making vertical (leadership) development an accessible, epic framework for everyone.

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