The use of a trio of witches is quite common in literature and lore. Greek, Slavic, and British tales have used them as antagonists or catalysts in their (sometimes cautionary) stories. In other sociological constructs, such as pagan and wiccan religions, their qualities and form (maiden, mother, and crone) are often revered.

I'm curious to know if the Three Witches from Macbeth share a common origin with other similar people/creatures such as the Stygian Witches or The Graeae.

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    Ben Johnson famously said of Shakespeare that had a little "Latin and less Greek" so it's a fair assumption Shakespeare was influenced by Classical material in his imagining of the Weird Sisters. Goddess triads are quite prevalent in Classical mythology. – DukeZhou Nov 16 '16 at 21:16
  • @DukeZhou Indeed they are! I am curious to know if they share a common etiology as many share similar traits. – Rincewind Nov 16 '16 at 23:40
  • If you are agreeing about the fact they are basically the name as the one found in other myths... What is your question then???? – Gibet Nov 17 '16 at 14:49
  • @Gibet I don't see where I made the affirmative connection. The given paradigm is the aforementioned similarities and I was asking if substantiating evidence exists regarding a common etiology. And also, "multiple [quotation] marks are a sure sign of a diseased mind." – Rincewind Nov 18 '16 at 4:40
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    @Rincewind Basically Shakespeare is fairly easy to understand (joke), he borrowed happily here and there especially in Plutarch and here in Holinshed chronicles. So per se you need to go to Holinshed to see the reference. Considering here the origin of the myth (proto celt) you can see a VERY high chance of a port of Norse Nornes, one of them being Wurdr... See "weird"... I would safely bet the origin is there. – Gibet Nov 18 '16 at 8:54

I think the most obvious connection between the 3 witches and prior mythologies is the witchcraft goddess Hecate, particularly since she's mentioned explicitly in Macbeth, Act 3, Scene 5.

Originally Hecate was considered a beneficent figure and among others had a large cult centre in Byzantium (modern-day Istanbul, Turkey). She was described as a titan in Hesiod's Theogony, but unlike other titans, she sided with the Gods and was therefore subsequently allowed to retain all her former power and providence.

Her representations are many and varied, including association with Zoroastrianism via the Chaldean Oracles, with the Orphic mystery cult, and subsequently with Neoplatonism was featured as the World-Soul. A sculpture of the triple goddess Hecate Chiaramonti is still on display in the Vatican Museum. During the Roman period, she became increasingly associated with death and evil doing in spite of the fact that she was originally credited with averting evil.

Her character and attributes were syncretized many times through history as different cultures came in contact, so it's likely that there is also relation with the Nornir from Anglo-Saxon myths who are quite comparable to the Moirai and Eileithyia with whom Hecate is also often associated.

Depending on how far back you want to go, she can also be considered descendent from the cult of the Matrons, who are most commonly depicted as triple Goddesses, and which has precedents going back close to 30 thousand years according to evidence in the archaeological record. The Matrons cult was widespread and according to scholar Maria Kvilhaug, still persists in a nearly identical form in some remote parts of Siberia. Venerable Bede specifically mentions Mōdraniht as a winter solstice festival in Britain honouring the Matres and Matronae.

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