As sheepishly mentioned before, I have been apparating between the muggle and magical world over the past few weeks. Therefore, when I saw a book on Philosophical essays in the Harry Potter World, I picked it up to read almost instinctively. The book was not a mind-blowing one, but the chapter on Prophecies and Destinies had me thinking.
Much of the Harry Potter series hinges on the prophecy made by Professor Sybil Trelawny. As Professor Dumbledore reminds us in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the prophecy only came true because Lord Voldemort decided to set store by it. If he hadn’t killed Harry’s parents and marked Harry in the process, it would’ve been another prophecy sitting in the room of prophecies and nothing more.
There is also the moment in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix where Harry finally accepts what he must do in order to defeat the most evil wizard of the times. Not a resigned acceptance of his destiny, but a blazing recognition of his role. That truly is the turning point.
When destiny comes to a man from within, from his innermost being, it makes him strong, it makes him into a god.
That week-end, we were sitting and deciding on what movie would be a good one to watch. A humongous decision in our household. But that Friday night, it was easy. Kung Fu Panda -2. The Kung Fu Panda series is an all time favorite in the nourish-n-cherish household, and is one of the best written movies. We watched the movie hinge on the prophecy made by a goat, that the peacock decided to act on.
My mind wandered to the essay regarding Prophecies and futures in the Harry Potter philosophies book. Many epics or stories spin off from prophecies in almost all mythologies. Lord Krishna’s story for instance – the evil king Kamsa was supposed to be killed by his sister Devaki’s eighth child. In the story, the eighth child is switched out in the middle of the night to a Sri Lakshmi incarnate born in the little village across the Yamuna river. Kamsa kills the child anyway not wanting to take any chances, and goes on in his path of brutal domination. But Devaki’s child was growing up to be a formidable opponent in the village across the river and ultimately killed Kamsa.
By Martadas Pirbudial -Pic Courtesy Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22395572
As Professor McGonagall says to Harry: Divination, is a woolly discipline.
But it is an intriguing one – primarily because we are a forward looking species.
Forward looking: This is an admirable trait in many ways and has contributed to our growth. We moved from being hunter-gatherers to a settled agrarian way of living due to this very trait, didn’t we? But like everything else, this too has a negative aspect: does destiny clash with free will or do they help shape each other lucidly?
On the trip to Delphi in Greece, our tour guide was telling us many myths and stories along the way. The story of Oedipus for instance. Apparently it was foretold that Oedipus would kill his father and marry his mother. So, the king Thebes and his wife set the child to sail on a river as soon as he was born, and Oedipus was raised by a loving shepherd family. Years later, when Oedipus traveled to Delphi to learn about his future, he was told the same thing: he would kill his father and marry his mother. Not wanting to hurt the kindly parents who had raised him with love and care, Oedipus ran away from his home. If he could do anything to avoid marrying his mother and killing his father, he would do it.
But like Oogway says in the Kung Fu Panda movie,
One often meets his destiny on the road he takes to avoid it. – Oogway, Kung Fu Panda movie
Oedipus landed up killing the King of Thebes in the forests and married the Queen who was trying to hold the kingdom together after learning of her husband’s death. The kingdom itself was under the spell of a sphinx and Oedipus saved the kingdom from its terrible clutches. He then married the Queen. Of course, he had not realized that they were his birth parents at the time.
In so many instances in folklore, there is the underlying current of choosing what to act on makes us who we are. But as Dumbledore says so beautifully,
“The consequences of our actions are always so complicated, so diverse, that predicting the future is a very difficult business indeed.” – Albus Dumbledore
Yet, astrology continues to be a fascinating area for many. From the days of Delphi, to today’s astrological predictions, humankind has been trying more than ever to get a handle on what they need to be prepared for.
Sitting with uncertainty is one of the hardest things. How do you turn the worries of a nebulous future into an adventure worth exploring?