Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A to Z: Oracle

Do you really want to know what your future holds?


The temple of the Oracle at Delphi
had its heyday in the 8th century BC.
Humanity has been fascinated with the divination of the future since day one, probably a product of the stress of our world's--and our own--unpredictability, matched with a discovery that some things could, indeed, be predicted: the rising of the sun, for example, or thunderstorms at certain times of the year, or failed crops under some circumstances.

This Mayan "calendar" isn't a
calendar at all, but more like a
Zodiac wheel. The "real" calendar
comprised three wheels.
In our age, when technology rules, when science is master of everything, you'd think divination might have gone the way of dragons and women with a headful of snakes instead of hair. Instead, at the turn of the millenium we had predictions on everything from Armageddon to Y2K. Last year some cuckoo preacher spread "reliable" intel that the world would end in May. Today, we have "scientists" proclaiming that, according to the Mayan calendar, the world will end in December.

Tarot and horoscope hotlines are the most profitable--even more so, I suspect, than porn ones. People that claim to "know" the future, whether via time travel, astral trips, or simple visons, draw huge followings.

Let's set skepticism aside for a moment, forget about whether any of this is or is not real. Imagine it is--imagine you can know, today--right now--what your future holds. The day you're going to die. Who you'll marry, or how many children you'll have. When the Iraq war will end. Whether that choice you're making right now is the correct one. What, and how much, you'll regret on your deathbed.

The Delphi Oracle at work,
depicted in a ceramic plate.
Would you want to know?

Here's the thing: as much as the future and its unknowability baffles and frustrates us, it's also the very same reason we have hope. It's no mistake that the one little critter that Pandora managed to catch back as she slammed her fateful box shut was hopelessness.

It's not money that makes the world go round. It's not love.

It's hope.

P.S.--I'm guest-blogging today over at Deb O'Neille's blog, Writing Against The Wind, on Critique vs. Cheerleading. Come take a look & join the conversation!


  1. Very good post, it really makes a person think. Now that you mention all of those things I'm not sure I'd want to know my future. I'd rather be surprised for good or for bad when the moment comes than to know everything that will happen. Can't wait to read the rest of your A to Z posts!

    Just a Nice Girl

    1. Thanks, Jennifer! Glad you liked this post. I agree--I think, all things considered, I too prefer to keep the future "future" :)

  2. Hope keeps us going. I hope I'll finish my book. I hope it will be good enough to be published. I hope someone will find the message hidden in the words. I hope my husband will be around for many more years--and I hope he'll conquer his bad practices and we'll live together in harmony. Amen!


  3. "Hope is the thing with feathers."

    I am glad we know as little as we do.

  4. Great O post today! There have been times in my life when a quick glimpse of some happy would have been nice. I'm sure we've all had times where even hope is just not there.

    1. Absolutely, Jenn... Hope isn't as ubiquitous as we'd like, and sometimes a crystal ball would not just come in handy--it would keep us going. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. >>It's not money that makes the world go round. It's not love.

    It's hope.>>

    Loved this!

    1. Glad you liked it, Donna! Thanks for the visit!

  6. Great post!

    I think the most I would want to know is whether I am on the right path, whatever that means (I'm assuming a path that will make me happy and fulfilled or have me do whatever the right thing is). But then I'd only want to know if I still had a shot at changing things if I were, unfortunately, on the wrong path. If I'm on the path to misery and can't change anything, then any hope I could have would be squashed.

    1. Kristin, you're so right--I'd also only want to know only if I could "straighten" stuff out. If not, I'd much rather keep hoping instead of knowing for sure I was wrong.

  7. Good post, I would definitely not want to know! Hoping is best.


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