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Fate and Destiny

As an initial matter, the words “fate” and “destiny” need explanation because they will be used throughout this study of the Twilight archetypes.  Caroline Myss and other spiritual teachers who subscribe to similar beliefs make the distinction that, generally speaking,  fate relates to any series of circumstances presented in our lives, and destiny is what we do with those circumstances when we make choices based on faith instead of fear.    A Twilight example might be helpful at the outset – consider Bella’s initial perception of her move from Phoenix to Forks.   At first, she is depressed and jaded toward the small, damp town, and she has resigned herself to the “sacrifice” of living in this God-forsaken place (as she thinks of it when she moves).   Her fate is to move from Phoenix to Forks.  Her destiny, though, is to learn to see it as the place where all of her wildest dreams could come true when she learns to see past the cold, wet, dreary environment and instead learns to see the dazzling, other-worldly promise of an exquisite reality she never imagined could exist for her – her fate became her destiny when she chose to surrender to the miraculous possibilities.   It is important to note that as we see throughout the entire Twilight series, the power of choice and free will, or free agency, are critical elements in our path from fate to destiny.

Bella’s original attitude toward Forks highlights what typically separates us from our destinies because we are afraid of anything unknown, uncertain and potentially unpleasant.  Most of us spend the majority of our lives hiding in our own shadows, afraid of our own gifts and talents, and utterly terrified to consider that destiny will require a little faith.  We settle for fate instead, which is a tragic testament to our lack of spiritual self-esteem and our misguided belief that it is safer, and therefore better, to live in fear than to explore our greatest treasures with passion and abandon.

Bella initially resigns herself to her fate of a miserable existence in this tiny dreary town, terrified that she will never fit in and never have any shred of hope of being happy —  instead of initially being open to her destiny to find more joy than she ever could have imagined; but to give a more realistic example as it may apply in our own world, it may be our fate to be fired from a job.  It may, however, be our destiny to subsequently start our own business.  Upon being fired, if we agonize too long or let ourselves slip into why-me/poor-me victim consciousness (the victim is its own archetype to be discussed among the character profiles), we may overlook the truth that being fired was the best thing that ever happened to us.  In that example, fate is the experience of being fired, and if we live in fear and resignation, we are drowned in a limited view of that experience.  If we recognize the subtle (or not so subtle!) hands of the Universe at play, however, we are open to the awareness of the “gift” of being fired to allow the new business to come through – hence part of our destiny to see the victory or triumph for the otherwise “victim.”

Our entire lives are patterned in seemingly random events, experiences and relationships, and at every point, we have free will to make choices about the way we respond to those circumstances.  If we keep our heads down and focus only on the literal (or what I refer to as the “ant level”) events of our life with no imagination and no reverence for the possibility that perhaps the Universe is trying to guide us in a particular direction, then we stay stuck in the rut of fate.   If instead we look up from the ground and recognize the symbolic and higher meaning of everything surrounding us (what I refer to as the “cloud level” in contrast with the “ant level”), we become so much more aware of how big and glorious and terrifying and electric and fantastic the possibilities are!   Another example is that a good friend of mine explains he was “fated” to have cancer, but through that experience, he realized his “destiny” was/is to teach others how to live their lives with grace and humble appreciation for the everyday gifts and miracles most of us overlook.

In an archetypal sense, Bella summarizes this distinction perfectly in the last lines of New Moon when standing at the threshold of her front door with Edward, waiting to face the wrath of her father’s fury, she says, “I squared my shoulders and walked forward to meet my fate, with my destiny by my side.”   She is aware on some level that “fate” is the family and human world she was born into and will always love (what is known and familiar and what could tempt her into staying in safe-mode instead of making leaps of faith into the unfamiliar and unknown), but even in the face of those circumstances, she knows her destiny is transformation into an immortal world with her new extended family (taking chances based on faith even when circumstance are riddled with irrational and inexplicable details).

With that simplified explanation of the use of the terms “fate” versus “destiny,” let us consider the Twilight series more deeply.  The books, whether intentionally or not, present a fabulously rich backdrop for exploring how we make choices in fate and destiny, and specifically, how certain archetypal forces and patterns guide us on our journey through life providing clues along the way to help us discern when we are in jeopardy of settling for what is known and familiar, when instead we could open our hearts to the endless possibilities of destiny.  The literal (ant level) context for the archetypal journey of Twilight is a great teen love story, but when we appreciate the series from the archetypal (cloud level) perspective, it is so much more dazzling to see how destiny tempts the characters to come out from the shadows of fear and how they spiritually evolve into whole beings when they make choices grounded in faith.

[From here, you can check out the individual Twilight characters’ archetypal profiles, or you can check out the overall archetypal “themes” in the series as a whole.   Those pages can be considered in any order, but I would probably start with the overall themes, and specifically the concept of Duality versus Oneness –http://twilightsagaarchetypes.com/duality/)

3 Responses to “Fate and Destiny”

  1. Sue Schwass says:

    Hi Jennie,
    When you make the distinction between fate and destiny I think it is helpful to add the idea of shadow vs. light within the archeypes that we are dealing with. For example, Bella’s shadow victim may be working overtime when she sees Folks as such a dreary place. As she moves into her destiny, she no longer feels victimized but sees,as you state, “the exquisite reality ..that could exist for her.”

    Also, to add to your comment about settling for fate, it begs the question, why is this so? I believe it is because when we choose destiny and faith, we know that our lives will change dramactically and we will have to take responsibility for our lives. We will not have anyone else to blame for our situation.
    One last comment here is that it takes a lot of courage to go forward towards our destiny.

  2. Sue, your comments are most welcome and 100% right-on — thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    I want to add a footnote to your last sentence because what you said is so very, very important to understand. You mentioned it takes courage to surrender to our destiny and all of its many mysteries, rather than remaining stuck in what is known and familiar. I had lunch the other day with a very dear friend, and she and I were talking about this very concept of fate and destiny and the courage it takes to open up to the unknown (ultimately to God’s will).

    I told her most people think of those crossroads with only two pictures of ourselves in mind — 1) as someone who is totally prepared to take a leap of faith from the proverbial cliff and who in fact does so with gusto and enthusiasm; and 2) someone who clings to the cliff-edge with paralyzing fear and who never jumps and never makes it to the bottom to see what myseries await.

    I told her, though, there IS a third option. The third option is the most useful in my opinion, and certainly one I employ all of the time when faced with crossroads of fear or faith, and fate or destiny. The third choice is revealed as an option when we understand that we do NOT have to be skilled or experienced dare-devil sky-divers. Sure, it’s great when we have that kind of courage, and in some instances, we do — hallelujah! Often, though, we’re inclined to remain glued to the cliff-top. But all we REALLY have to do in order to overcome our fear of jumping from the cliff is walk very carefully (and as slowly as necessary) to the very edge of the cliff and then lean forward ever so slightly. God and gravity will take over the rest, and voila, our flight begins!! The path may not be as “graceful” as the flight following a running leap, and it may involve a few “bumps” along the way down since we didn’t jump “out” from the cliff, but what ultimately matters is that we STILL had the courage to let God take over.

    It takes courage to lean forward, too! And in leaning forward just a tiny bit so that gravity can grab us into God’s fold, we still make progress on even our scariest of days. So yes, it takes lots of courage to go forward towards our destiny, as you said, but I want to point out that even on days when we aren’t feeling strong enough for the “grand leap of faith,” sometimes it’s good enough just to lean forward – no more excuses for any of us to remain cemented in fear!! Last one to the bottom buys everyone else dinner!!

  3. [...] of God the Father. (For a description of the “ant level” and “cloud level,” please see http://twilightsagaarchetypes.com/fate-and-destiny/.) Carlisle is one of my favorite characters because of what he represents –- his character makes [...]

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