“Power resides where men believe it resides.” -Lord Varys
The idea that a prediction will completely shape a person’s life has provided a lot of literary inspiration. Blockbusters including the Bible, Harry Potter, The Immortalists, and very recently The Song of Ice and Fire…even George R. R. Martin could not have predicted how his life would be shaped by “Game of Thrones.”
When you take the idea of someone forecasting your destiny and apply it to your own life, would you be okay with it? Christians believe in God’s plan and pray for guidance to fulfill it, but there is the gift/potential curse of free will, wherein you have power to make your own choices both good and bad. We do not know the plans God has for us until He has revealed them. Therefore not knowing in advance is of great advantage.
So what if you knew your prophecy in advance? Harry Potter learned of his prophecy, which was held in a translucent ball in a giant storage room in the Ministry of Magic. When he learned it, it changed his perspective but he stayed with his mission to destroy Voldemort. In his case, he knew he had a 50/50 chance of surviving a final battle with his enemy.
There are several prognosticators in The Game of Thrones, including Maggy the Frog and Melisandre. They both tell central characters like Cersei Lannister and Arya Stark their prophesies. As you see as the hit show draws to a close, many actions may be taken upon hearing your destiny:
Evaluate the prophecy – You are welcome to deny the predictions and do your best to determine your own destiny. You can do what you think is right and what happens at the end is simply what happens. It would take a pretty strong sense of character to accept a prophecy as well as the sacrifice of what it takes to fulfill it. Obviously, Jesus could do this but generally speaking, this is not a trait most humans could accept and sustain. In the book, The Immortalists, each of the main characters knows the date of the end of his/her life, or at least the date given by a fortune teller. Are those dates accurate or did the characters believe the fortune teller so much that they made their prophecies come true? By the end of the book, three out of four characters died on their given dates and the context was compelling that they were driven to fulfill what they had been told.
Consider a misinterpretation – Who told you about your future? Were there motives that shaped the teller of the prophecy? Maybe it means something besides what you think it means. As a viewer of “Game of Thrones,” we can consider how a prophecy is delivered – dreams, pieces of information, words – to determine how much of it we believe. Another aspect to consider is who else believes in the prophecy about your life. That would affect relationships and decisions. In the Harry Potter series, Harry and his friends know he is the one to face (multiple times) and ultimately challenge and defeat Voldemort. When that information spreads, it affects everything.
Realize parts of the prophecy later in life – Some literary devices show prophesies coming full-circle. For those who, later in life, remember predictions of their future, it can hold significance for decision-making. Arya Stark, in season eight, remembers meeting Melissandre many years ago and confirmed her predictions. Did Arya take those predictions into consideration her whole life? We won’t know, but they are certainly fueling her to end the wars.
According to Lord Varys, the influence of a prophesy is not what the prognosticators make it out to be. “Power resides where men believe it resides,” is his famous quote and he does not believe a forecast determines power. A man decides what he must do and how he will fulfill his dreams and goals. The idea of freewill (choice) is what provides the power, not a forecast given by someone else. The final episodes will reveal if Cersei continues to live in the shadow of her prophecy or if she can apply her powerful quote, “Power is power” to her own life.