And the title might even be a bit of a misnomer, because synchronicity by definition isn’t so much what you do, as much as what you’re aware of.
As a Cliff’s Notes primer for those of you who haven’t been exposed to this term before, or who might have a less-than-crystal-clear notion of what it means, I’ll do my best to give you the rundown. The concept and reality of synchronicity is one of the most intriguing topics I’ve found in my spiritual journey. The phrase was coined by Carl Jung, who called it an “acausal connecting principle.” We generally refer to it as a “strange coincidence,” as a series of events that happen without any apparent or specific cause-effect relationship, yet when taken together are meaningful in their own right.
Why do I love synchronicity? For the same reason I love tarot. Because for me, it’s evidence that this world works on a larger invisible plane than we’re able to perceive in our everyday “normal” consciousness. And because it’s mysterious, and inexplicable, and because it’s magic. Personally, I can always use more magic in my life, and I’d venture to guess that you wouldn’t turn away what David Spangler calls “everyday miracles” either.
Let me tell you a couple stories to illustrate what I’m talking about.
The first occurred nearly one full year ago. The long and poetic version of the story can be found here. The short version is that I was taking a weekend away, all by myself, and as this tends to encourage reflection, I ended up finding myself in tears on a park bench. I had hit a sort of personal rock bottom, knowing that what I was doing to try to “find love” and make myself feel lovable, was absolutely NOT working. Desperation, I’ve found, is often a starting point for recovery and is what often pushes us to ask for help from the Universe, a higher power, God, or whatever you want to call it. So there I was. Finally admitting I was powerless to change things, and that what I had been doing up until now was self-destructive. So I just let go. I asked the Universe to please, please, please, help me heal. Help me see what I need to see. Help me stop begging for love from the wrong type of man. Please, please show me that I’m not as desperately alone as I feel.
I needed to catch a bus to the train station, so I walked to the bus stop and started to wait. After a couple of minutes, a guy in a decorated golf cart drove up and looked like he wanted to talk to me. I pretended not to notice, and then realized it was the restaurant owner I had had a lovely conversation with the day before. He asked me where I was going. I said the train station. He said he had some time before he used his decorated golf cart as a makeshift wedding car (this was a very small town in Italy, mind you) to pick up a couple after their wedding, as that was what he did as a side gig on the weekends (!) and he could take me.
Suddenly, I didn’t feel so alone in the world anymore.
Within the next week, a series of other “strange coincidences” occurred.
I went for a drink at a bar with a friend, and sat next to a woman around my age who was visiting Rome and leaving the next day. We chatted and exchanged information. She was a writer, I’m a writer, she might be writing a story on expats, I live in Rome, etc. Come to find out though, she is also a well-known relationship expert whose blog deals specifically with empowering women to love themselves and not settle for trying to fill up a hole inside by desperately searching for a partner. She had written a book on this very topic. I downloaded it on my Kindle. It was exactly what I needed to read in that moment. Our friendship has deepened over the past year and is a blessing in my life.
A couple days later, I got a completely unsolicited email in my inbox. I had only had 3 boyfriends prior to meeting my husband in my early 20s. This email was from a man I had dated briefly one summer in a state across the country where I was working an internship. We had met synchronistically a few months previously at a conference in Atlanta, GA, had a lovely little fling, and turned out that he lived in Michigan where I was planning to stay with my relatives for the summer. After 14 years, he had “found” me online and was just writing to say what a special person he had always thought I was, and to thank me for having been a part of his life, because he had fond memories of our time together.
He and I ended up conversing online for a few months and as it turned out, he too had just gone through a separation and had a daughter about my son’s age. We discussed how difficult it is to build self-esteem back up after a divorce. He continued to reinforce that I was a special person who deserved a kind man who would appreciate all I had to offer, and not to settle for anything less, and I served as a sounding board for his initial difficulties in navigating separation with a child in the middle.
I could go on. But these are just a few of the more striking occurrences in almost immediate response to my “breakdown” in the park.
Ask and you shall receive: I believe this is true. I believe the Universe hears every request that we make, yet respects our free will, not intervening unless we truly, sincerely, ask for guidance and then “let go and let God.” While I am not a religious person, I do consider myself spiritual. I have so many examples of these types of “strange coincidences” in my own life, that I am convinced that synchronicities are a sign that we are always taken care of, and that there is a higher purpose to our paths in life.
Fast-forward to this week. Once again, I find myself grappling with some of the same issues, but I’ve learned to integrate this into my life and to feel more secure in myself and happy with nurturing myself now. In fact, I’m starting to actively resign myself to the fact that I might not have a romantic partner in my life until I am done raising my kids, and trying to tell myself “That’s ok.” I’m even starting to believe it. But I know it doesn’t really resonate with my giving heart.
Out of nowhere I become aware of a man I went to high school with who seems to be popping up in my Facebook feed all the time. It’s like when you buy a new car and then all of a sudden the only model of car on the road seems to be that one, or when you get pregnant and all of a sudden it seems like pregnant women are everywhere. Suddenly, in the very rare moments when I would scroll my Facebook feed, it was like that’s all I’d see, without even trying. There it was, yet again, one more stunning picture of this man, living his life, looking content, in a great career, with friends, and yet often alone. He posted about going to the movies alone (something I do too). He posted a picture of a lovely dinner he cooked for himself saying “I’ve still got it” and how he laid it out beautifully on a plate for himself on top of a red placemat, with three other red placemats at an empty table. (They always come in fours, don’t they?) I didn’t think much of it and went about my life, obviously, but for some reason this little ephemeral thought energy of him was planted in my mind. We had been passing acquaintances in high school but ran in different circles. We’d become friends on Facebook probably through mutual high school friends but hadn’t conversed directly in over 20 years.
A couple nights later, I dreamed of this man. In the dream I asked him directly, “Why are you single? You’re such an amazing man, you have done so much good in your life, you have a successful career, friends who clearly care about you, and a stable life. And yet I never see anyone beside you. It’s insane! You’re gorgeous, giving, and yet, still single! What is that about?! I don’t get it!” and I continued in my dream to list his attributes and show him how valuable he was. It was one of those dreams that left a lasting impression.
So lasting in fact, that the very next day, before I turned off my computer to go to bed, I had a flash of the dream from the previous night, and on a “hunch” I decided to go for it and just shoot him an email. “Hey! Weird thing. Had a dream about you last night! Crazy, right?”
He responded, we both confirmed that the other was single, and ended up chatting for about an hour. The striking thing was that in response to my first question “Before I say anything, I first need to ask you: are you single?” he confirmed that he was, and then revealed that he had recently been asking God if he was destined to be alone for the rest of his life, and why he was still single. We had a lovely chat, and realized that despite our different backgrounds and vastly different life experiences, our vulnerabilities and doubts were and are remarkably similar. And there was a heart connection. This contact confirmed for me that there are quality men in the world, so I need not harden my heart and “give up” the faith, and it appears that my dream was almost a direct answer to his own question. ALL OUT OF NOWHERE, you see?
This is all very unscientific, of course. And yet, who ever said that miracles could be proven by science? This is magic. This is a side of life that I believe we aren’t encouraged to cultivate or celebrate enough.
All of this to say what? It gave me some ideas surrounding how to encourage and invite more of this synchronistic magic into daily life. These events help us rise above the mundane and be more aware of a higher, more evolved plane of existence that transcends our ego and the everyday concerns that overwhelm us.
Here are my thoughts:
- The first step is to be aware of your life. Start noticing things. Start being more aware of your interactions, of your thoughts, of your inner yearnings, and of things that “come out of nowhere.” Observe them lightly and go on with your life, but observe. Start watching yourself and the world around you.
- In the process of listening to your inner voice, you’ll begin to distinguish when you have a “gut feeling” about something or when you just feel like you should do something. And then, as you begin to trust yourself and your intuition, you can begin to act on those little impulses, and see where they lead.
- Cultivate a practice that allows you to actively and consistently communicate with the Universe and build your “intuition muscle” as you would train your body in the gym. Tarot is the principle tool I use for this, but I also employ my own version of prayer, as well as journaling. Any practice you can use to actively send out your “issues” to the Universe to be healed, and then LETTING GO and letting the Universe bring to you the best medicine it can find.
- Become aware of the responses, and of linking these little miracles back to the original intentions, or to where you’re at in your life. Express gratitude to the Universe for showing you what you needed to see, learn, hear, or become aware of. As these experiences grow, you’ll most likely begin to cultivate a deeper faith in the existence of an intrinsic interconnectedness between all beings, even if it can’t be seen or proven by “the experts” or scientific study.
I’d like to ask the tarot how we can encourage more synchronicity in our lives, by drawing three cards and interpreting them without positional meanings, rather as a free-flowing story. Recently, I’m finding the Motherpeace tarot a lovely vehicle for this type of work.
The Priestess of Wands in the Motherpeace tarot uses her fiery creative energy as a direct channel to manifestation and personal transformation. She can bring her desires to fruition in the material world through her passion and intensity of purpose, and confidently co-create with the Universe. She is truly the master of her own domain, not by working against it, but by walking together with it in harmony. Here we’re being shown that we have to consciously direct our intentions and creative energy towards our purposes, with faith and confidence, as well as a knowledge that we must work together within the confines and limitations of our circumstances, while at the same time not limiting our vision (it shouldn’t be physically possible to walk alongside the lion, and yet this Priestess does so with grace and self-assurance.)
The Shaman of Cups reversed shows us what happens when our inner turmoil causes us to breakdown. In order to recognize and invite synchronicity into our lives, we need to consciously “let go” of the need and desire to powerfully control our emotions and our reactions. We need to give ourselves permission to let our insecurities, vulnerabilities, and “not good enoughs” come to the surface, and flow outward. We have to stop hiding behind a mask of contrived emotions, and allow ourselves to give space to our emotional “junk” even if it means being irrational, exploding, or, like what happened to me, crying on a park bench. Let yourself feel your feelings, even if it means a sort of emotional meltdown or explosion. Only once we allow our controlling ego self to step aside, can we bring about the abundance we desire, making room for the Higher Self get on the job.
We see the 7 of Cups with radiant greenery flowing from a central source into each of the cups, a magnificent white dove rising out of the central cup that the woman balances masterfully on her head. The Motherpeace Guidebook describes this card by saying “The woman is performing magic.” This card represents the gentle and open approach we need to cultivate in order to invite magical synchronicities into our lives. The Guidebook says “She is in the interior realm of dreams, wishes, and possibilities. There isn’t yet a form or substance to what she imagines. This can be a relaxing and inventive time as long as she allows for being spaced out.” We open ourselves to possibilities, we allow ourselves to accept that we might not know what’s best, but that what’s best can take shape nonetheless, without our forcing.
So the tarot here gives us three key components to creating synchronicities in our lives: conscious, vibrant and directed creative energy and purpose; a release, outpouring and purification/need for healing of imbalanced emotions or feelings of inadequacy, letting ego mind step aside and make way for the divine; and finally, an ability to welcome magic into our lives by keeping ourselves open and relaxed and allowing ourselves to “not know” and cultivate faith in the unknown and miraculous.
Synchronicity reminds me of what Michael Harner, founder of Core Shamanism, says in his recent work Cave and Cosmos: Shamanic Encounters with Another Reality. Paraphrasing, he says that the key to being successful in shamanic journeying is being able to find that space between trying too hard, and not trying hard enough. I feel that’s the same for synchronicity and manifestation as well. It’s important to focus your intention. It’s also important to then let go.
Do you have any stories about synchronicity in your own life? Do you have any practices you use to cultivate more magic in your life, and everyday miracles?