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(Redirected from Fate)

Destiny or Fate concerns the fixed natural order of the universe. It is the invincible necessity to which even the gods must accede, as the Sibyl of Delphi confessed. Destiny is fate, personified in Greek culture by the three Moirae (called the Parcae by the Romans), with a Nordic counterpart in the three Norns. The "doom of the powers" in Norse mythology is Ragnarok the battle which even Odin must inevitably face, at the end of the world.

Destiny is the irresistible power or agency that is conceived of as determining the future, whether in general or of an individual. The remorseless goddess Nemesis for early Greeks like Homer personified the pitiless distribution of fortune, neither good nor bad, simply in due proportion to each according to his deserts. In the time of the Hellenistic monarchies, after the death of Alexander the Great, the image of Tyche, crowned with a mural crown of city walls, embodied the fortunes of a city, which struggled to keep afloat in the chaotic violence among the Successors, as Alexander's heirs were called.

On an individual or even a national level, destiny is a predetermined state or condition foreordained by the Divine (see Predestination) or by human will (for example, in Manifest Destiny). Destiny is the human lot in life. It has taken the function of its Old English counterpart "doom", as in the Domesday Book that took a census of England for the Normans in 1086, "doom" having taken on foreboding ominous connotations of the universal cataclysm at the end of time (see Doomsday, Doomsday machine).

Destiny is a source of irony in Greek tragedy, as it is in the Schiller play that Verdi transformed into La Forza del Destino ("The Force of Destiny") or Thornton Wilder's The Bridge of San Luis Rey, or in MacBeth's knowledge of his own destiny, which does not preclude a horrible fate. The common theme is: try as the protagonists might to change the patterns, they cannot escape a destiny if their fate has been sealed.

A sense of destiny in its oldest human sense is in the soldier's fatalistic image of the "bullet that has your name on it" or the moment when your number "comes up." The human sense that there must be a hidden purpose in the random lottery governs the selection of Theseus to be among the youths to be sacrificed to the Minotaur. Many Greek legends and tales teach the futility of trying to outmaneuver an inexorable fate that has been correctly predicted.

Reading the inscrutable Will of Destiny is the job of the shaman, the prophet, the sibyl and the seer. In Shang dynasty China, turtle bones were thrown ages before the I Ching was codified. Arrows were tossed to read Destiny, from Thrace to pagan Mecca.


Destiny in Divination

Destiny is commonly regarded as fate, a fixed timeline of events that is inevitable and unchangable, and the future knowable through means of divination. This has led to a misconception of divination as fortune-telling, though the actual practice accounts for the self-determination of individual people and an unknowable future. In divination, destiny takes on a meaning different from its common usage.

Although the words are used interchangeably, fate and destiny are distinct things. Modern usage defines fate as a power or agency that predetermines and orders the course of events, and adds an aura of doom and gloom. The definition of fate has it that if events are ordered or "meant to be" that they are put in order by a force or intelligence beyond us, acting upon us, usually for the worst (e.g. "the jury determined his fate"). Fate is used in regard to the finality of events as they have worked themselves out, and that same finality is projected into the future to become the inevitability of events as they will work themselves out. Fate also has a morbid association with finality in the form of "fatality". Destiny, or fate, used in the past tense is "one's lot" and includes the sum of events leading up to a currently achieved outcome (e.g. "it was her destiny to be leader", "it was his fate to be executed"). Fate is an outcome determined by an outside agency acting upon a person or entity; but with destiny the entity is participating in achieving an outcome that is directly related to itself. Participation happens wilfully.

Destiny in divinatory practice has none of the negative connotations of fate. Destiny has the same root as "destination": destine, to direct something towards a given end ("she is destined to be leader"). Without a subject's wilful participation, there is no destining. Destiny cannot be forced on someone; if they are forced into circumstances then that is their fate. As an example, there was a scene in the movie Whale Rider when the whales had beached, and Paikea walked up to the largest one and gently kissed it. She had reached a state of consciousness where a message she had absorbed from the mythology of her people, that she had memorized, sang, and enacted in dance on stage, moved from her subconscious mind to conscious awareness, where she was informed by the myth of the Whale Rider. Until then, there was doubt in the mind of the audience that she would be leader; circumstances looked dim; but in that moment she knew that she was leader, and she knew her destiny. Events, as they played out, had guided her to this place and this time. Her next act was made with full awareness--it was what the leader must do; it was what the first Whale Rider had done.

"Why did the whales beach? Did they do it for her benefit? Because she called them?" That is fate: the objective events, the opportunities and the limitations placed before us, the circumstances we are bound to that are beyond our control, and sometimes even beyond our meger understanding as to how they happen, but are a part of our destiny in that they shape us. Fate is a backdrop on which we play out our destiny. "Why did she ride the whale and become leader?" That is her destiny, what she determined will be, by directly participating in what was happening. She directed circumstances towards a certain outcome, and in doing so determined future circumstances. By participating in our destiny, we shape fate.


  • Cornelius, Geoffrey, C. (1994). "The Moment of Astrology: Origins in Divination", Penguin Group, part of Arkana Contemporary Astrology series.

See also

External links

he:גורל id:Takdir pl:Przeznaczenie pt:Destino


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