Soul Journeying: Transforming Fate Into Destiny by Alberto Villoldo, Ph.D.

Though the two terms are often used interchangeably, there is a difference between fate and destiny. Among Eastern traditions, fate is known as karma, and destiny is known as dharma. Fate is a course that has been predetermined by our family, our history, our genes, and our emotional wounds. We speak about the fate of nations with a sense of inevitability. We sometimes hear of two persons meeting, or of a relationship breaking apart, and say that it was "fated to happen." In many native cultures, there are two kinds of illnesses identified by healers: those that come from God and those that come from man. Even though they may have identical symptoms, if an illness is seen as coming from God, there is nothing the healer can do other than to alleviate the pain.

Fate is the predetermined and inevitable series of events that happen to someone. Fate seems unavoidable, and stalks us at every turn in our lives. We leave one spouse and end up in the same relationship with another person. Fate is also deadly; it has the same origin as the word fatality. Destiny, on the other hand, is the purpose and calling of one's life, and it can be discovered and realized. In the Eastern traditions it is known as dharma. The early Greeks believed that fate is spun from a certain thread, and that once it is woven into an entire cloth it becomes irreversible, while destiny is a powerful force or agency that can actually intervene in the course of your life, to reweave the cloth of your fate. I believe that destiny can also happen without divine intervention. This requires that you heal your past wounds and respond to the calling you were born with. You then can steer the course of your own life.

Destiny allows you to transcend fate and to live free from negative emotional and genetic programming. By stepping into your destiny, you can free yourself from an inheritance of breast cancer or of heart disease. You can free yourself from an emotional history that causes you to continually remarry an updated version of an unsuitable spouse. Destiny allows you to navigate life instead of stumbling through it. When you step into your destiny, you can participate consciously in your own growth. Destiny tracking is practiced by native cultures throughout the world. These indigenous people perceive nature as a vibrant, pulsing field of energy.

The wisdom keepers and high shamans of the Americas are known as the Laika. The biologists and the Laika have different understandings of evolution. Biologists believe that evolution happens only between generations. That is, our children may be smarter and healthier than we are, but it's too late for the current generation to change. Science believes our genes cannot be altered, that we are all bound to inherit certain traits and tendencies from previous generations, so that if a genetic predisposition runs within your family, your children's fate has been sealed. The breast condition you inherited from your mother is waiting to express itself, and the heart condition passed down from your father will spring up like a jack-in-the-box down the road. But the Laika understand that evolution happens within generations and that you can actually uncoil the layers of your genetic code to re-inform your DNA.

I believe that we can change our destiny so that our children will inherit the healed traits that we develop in our lifetime, as we uncoil the genetic code another strand. Through learning to journey, you can track a destiny in which you heal and age differently, in which you avoid manifesting the ailments of your ancestors or reliving your childhood traumas. Journeying can guide you to grow new bodies informed not only by who you have been in the past, but by who you are becoming 10,000 years from now.

The Laika understand that you can make the journey toward your destiny over the course of many years of your life (or over many lifetimes), or you can travel through sacred territories and mythical landscapes in a much shorter time by using the process of journeying. Journeying states have been cultivated by mystics, monks, saints and yogis. Soul retrieval journeys to the lower world where you journey to find the original wounding and reintegrate the lost soul parts is different than the kind of journey you would make to rewrite your destiny. The soul retrieval journey is a healing journey and as such, it is essentially about the past. The journey to the upper world is associated with the time to come. It is a journey to install possibilities that can guide you to better health, longevity and to a rich and meaningful life. You also discover how to get rid of your limiting beliefs that hold you back from your destiny and how to reinvent your body, breaking free of the patterns of aging and disease that have haunted our ancestors, so you learn to heal, age and die in an empowered way.

Alberto Villoldo, PhD, anthropologist, psychologist and author of "Shaman, Healer, Sage," has investigated the traditions of the Andes and Amazon for more than 25 years. Dr. Villoldo founded the Four Winds Society which trains practitioners in energy medicine. Based on his new book "Mending the Past and Healing the Future with Soul Retrieval," (Hay House; 2005; $13.95;, the Four Winds also has a second training school for practitioners who wish to specialize in Soul and Destiny Retrieval. For more info,