The Moirai (Fates) were the white-robed incarnations of destiny. They controlled the fortune of man and assigned their fate through a simple thread of life, directing the consequences of their actions. Clotho would spin the thread from her distaff onto her spindle, while Lachesis measured the thread allotted to each person with her measuring rod. Atropos chose the manner of death, and when their time had come, she'd cut their thread with abhorred shears.
The Three Fates
At the instant of drowning he invoked the three sisters.
It was a mistake, an aberration, to cry out for
He came up like a cork and back to the river-bank,
put on his clothes in reverse order,
returned to the house.
He suffered the enormous agonies of passion
writing poems from the end backwards,
brushing away tears that had not yet fallen.
Loving her wildly as the day regressed towards morning
he watched her wringing in the garden, growing younger,
And when she was gone and the house and the swing and daylight
there was an instant's pause before it began all over,
the reel unrolling towards the river.