[Editor's note: BFG, a moderator for Dragonmount's Wheel of Time Discussion Board, is doing a guest blog for "WoT If?" this week.]
WARNING: A Memory of Light spoilers throughout.
Foretelling appears to be a very rare Talent that allows glimpses of the future; rare enough that Elaida gains status though her Talent for it is weak. However, there are a lot of Foretellings that occur that precipitate important events that otherwise would not occur. So perhaps they are methods of correction similar to ta'veren.
There are two Aes Sedai whose Foretellings are crucial to the successful outcome of the story: Gitara and Elaida.
Without Gitara's Foretelling, Luc would not have travelled to the Blight on a mission apparantly important to the survival of the world. Although the reason for this is not made clear, I believe the importance of Slayer is to prepare Perrin in the world of dreams (the second time that Perrin needs to be there for Rand).
Also without Gitara's Foretelling, Tigraine would not have abandoned Andor, precipitating the War of Sucession and eventually House Trakand's rise to power and also Rand's eventual birth on Dragonmount; the rise of House Trakand is of almost equal importantce (after all, we know that the Dragon Reborn is not the only thing necessary for the Light's victory).
Elaida also has a Foretelling about the Royal House of Andor, which could equally relate to both House Trakand or Tigraine. Elaida interprets it to mean that House Trakand is important and ensures that she aids them to gain their trust so she's in a position to influence events later, however as the Foretelling is made before Trakand assumes power, it could still relate to Tigraine.
Gitara then has an additional Foretelling resulting in her death, when she sees Rand's birth. This precipitates Moiraine's search, the death of Tamra, and eventually the Black Ajahs actions, etc....
Chapter 2, "A Wish Fulfilled"
"He is born again! I feel him! The Dragon takes his first breath on the slopes of Dragonmount! He is coming! He is coming! Light help us! Light help the world! He lies in the snow and cries like the thunder! He burns like the sun!"
So all these Foretellings precipitate action that otherwise would not occur, or at least it's difficult to imagine a sequence of events that would result in the same outcome. But what of other forms of prophecy?
It's possible to argue that the entire Karaethon Cycle acts in part to prevent the stilling of the Dragon Reborn. It also directly causes his flight to Tear and everything that happens subsequently, aids his acceptance of the importance of the Aiel, directly influences his actions regarding Callandor, helps inform his ultimate plan for taking on Moridin, etc.... These events all seem to be almost a blueprint to what needs to occur for the Light to win, Rand refers to them in a similar way, and in many ways the Foretellings are acting in a similar manner. What do you think?