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The Fates were a common motif in European polytheism, most frequently represented as a group of three mythological goddesses (although their number differed in certain eras and cultures). They were often depicted as weavers of a tapestry on a loom, with the tapestry dictating the destinies of men. The primary instances include:
- Moirai are the Fates of Greek mythology who control the Threads of Fate
- Parcae are the Roman female personifications of mankind's and the gods' destinies, commonly referred to as the Fates of Roman mythology. They are the Roman equivalents the Greek Moirai. The names of the three Parcae are Nona (Greek equivalent Clotho), Decima (Greek equivalent Lachesis) and Morta (Greek equivalent Atropos). The earliest documents referencing the Parcae are three small stelae (stone or wooden slabs) found near ancient Lavinium.
- Deities and fairies of fate in Slavic mythology. There are many Slavic deities and fairies who control or foretell a person's fate.
- Norns are the Fates of Norse mythology, also related to other female deities in Germanic paganism
- Deivės Valdytojos, seven goddesses who weave garments made from humans' lives in Baltic paganism
- Siming is the Chinese deity, who holds the title of Director of Destinies, who makes adjustments to humans fate and is both an abstract deity and celestial asterism. Siming has roots to shamanic traditions and was later somewhat assimilated with the Chinese god of hearth and family, named Zao Jun, Zao Shen, or Zhang Lang.
- Purysho is the Mari Native pantheon god of fate, also known as “the caster and the creator of the future of all men.”
This motif has been replicated in fictional accounts, such as:
- Three Witches, characters in Shakespeare's Macbeth
- The Fates, characters in Disney's Hercules
- The Fates/Moirai, characters in Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, Heroes of Olympus series, and The Trials of Apollo series
- The Sisters of Fate, characters in the God of War video game series, based on the Greek Fates
- The Fates, characters in Anaïs Mitchell's Hadestown
- In his poem Howl, Allen Ginsberg warns of "the three old shrews of fate the one eyed shrew of the heterosexual dollar the one eyed shrew that winks out of the womb and the one eyed shrew that does nothing but sit on her ass and snip the intellectual golden threads of the craftsman's loom".
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