Acknowledging Fate


The water coursing through the Upper Delaware valley follows this bend, running down out of these mountains on its fated return to the ocean.

With our modern preference which champions the value of freedom, we tend to shy away from the ancient force known as fate, though fate raises clearly clearly out of the unconscious when individuals face a serious diagnosis of one form or another.

“The more one sees of human fate and the more one examines its secret springs of action, the more one is impressed by the strength of unconscious motives and by the limitations of free choice.” Carl Jung


Free choice and fate form a pair of opposites.  To deny one turns it into a devilish power in our life.  Through Jung’s defining fate as unconscious motives we glimpse the importance of applying our intuitive function and attending to the unconscious realm.  In an oft repeated quote Jung says, “When an inner situation is not made conscious, it appears outside as fate.”   

Acknowledging fate is acknowledging the unconscious.  In a beautiful passage talking about difficulties in a marriage, Nathan Schwartz-Salant offers this insight to this practice of acknowledging the unconscious.

“For example, the hypothetical husband-wife, with thir rage-contempt dyad, could transform their relationship by focusing upon the shared nature of their dyad, of Sol and Luna together.  This focus would mean that more and more unconscious material from either person could be tolerated by the other without reacting in angry, defensive ways or withdrawing.  Instead of triggering the other into a reaction, one person;s nastiness through this process could trigger a caring for soul; one;s own and that of the other.  Every upsurge of emotion and argument becomes a prima materia, something interesting to be seen with care rather than something to be reacted to and treated as the enemy. In this way the dragon, representing the unconscious as it is experienced between them, dies repeatedly, and more and more unconscious material can be integrated in the process.” Nathan Schwartz-Salant, The Mystery of Human Relationship, pg, 173

Author: Richard Reeve

I'm the Senior Director of Development at Panthera, a global conservation organization committed to stemming the population decline of cats in the wild. I enjoy rural living with my wife Judith and our two children in the Catskill Mountains of New York.