Even if our destiny is written, does that mean that we should just stop acting or do you continue doing what you think is right in the moment?

Jeff Pinkner

My recent binge (re)watching of Fringe has brought back one of my favourite existential questions of all time: destiny vs. free will.

I was in my teens the first time I heard the story of Oedipus and I still remember arguing against the “you can’t escape your Fate” premise. “That’s absurd! If they hadn’t tried to stop it none of that would’ve happened at all!”, protested the know-it-all teenager.

By using the doppelgängers in the alternate universe, Fringe played around with the question of what is it that molds us, exactly? Outside events? Our own nature and choices? Most likely both.

We all know the turning-point moments in our lives. The events or actions (or lack thereof) that we know changed the course of everything (I still wonder what the alt-me would be like in a universe where her/our mom hadn’t died). It is never just what happens to you. It’s how you react to it.

He deals the cards as a meditation

And thinking about Fate has made think about the idea of divination.

Lately, a friend and I have been discussing oracles at great length. He’s very keen on the I Ching, while I am madly in love with all the symbolic depth of the Tarot.

The more you study the different methods (I hold the Tarot, the I Ching and the runes as the holy trinity of old-modern oracles), the more you realize that an oracle doesn’t tell you the future so much as it helps you to better understand yourself and situations – and why you always find yourself in the same situations…

Sure, you want to know what will happen in the future, but how will that help you? So you can try to avoid it? To speed it up?

When comparing notes on both systems – what they have in common and what sets them apart – my friend noted that most people seem to use oracles in search for easy answers, when the true objective should be that of reflection. “What you get in a reading should be with you for months. Years, even. Something you should really take in until it’s a part of you.”

Cards or coins or stones don’t really tell you anything. Their symbols and meaning act as triggers for a soul-searching process. As Yoda as it may sound, you will only find what is already there.

Knowing what is there is what really matters. That is what will help you understand everything else.

The great “know thyself” aphorism was inscribed in the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, where the Pythia served as oracle to those searching for answers.

And that – not your future, or your fate – is the most important thing you can ever try to learn.


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