Synchronicity & Coincidence

Synchronicity & Coincidence

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

My dad is in his mid-80s and a retired, life-long farmer.

Not your “usual suspect” when it comes to people who dip their toe into mystic ideas.

But the way that he has been subtly steering conversations in that direction lately has made me realize 3 things:

  • Growing in age may result in more questioning of “everything is explainable through research that has already been done.”

    (Hasn’t society always thought that? “But now we really know it all!” Yet it was only 162 years ago that Ignaz Semmelweis first described germ theory and was persecuted for this “ridiculous idea.”)

    Perhaps the more amazing breakthroughs you witness in your lifetime, the more you realize how little we already understand.
  • Growing in age may result in greater feelings of oneness.
  • My stereotypical ideas of who is and isn’t drawn toward mysticism are too narrow.

One of the stories my dad has been sharing begs the question, is there more behind our experience than mere coincidence?

Staying in touch with friends, even ones he has known his entire life is something my dad is fantastic at.

Last year he kept thinking about one such friend - someone he hadn’t connected with for a while.

He hadn’t talked to him in a few years, but he kept popping into his mind for days.

While speaking with one of their mutual friends on the phone, my dad shared his plans to go back to his hometown next week and pay this man an overdue visit.

He couldn’t, his friend said.

They buried him earlier in the week.

And as you can probably guess - buried him the day my dad began thinking of him.

We all have our own version of this story.

Humming a song that’s not even that popular anymore, and turning on the radio only to find it playing.

Deciding that day to change jobs, only to strike up a conversation with a stranger at the DMV who has the perfect opportunity for you.

And one from my archive: My husband and I "randomly" reminiscing about his late grandfather and one of his friends - one that was a real character

Someone we hadn’t seen for years and who didn’t live in our community, only to find ourselves right behind him in line hours later.

These are not life-altering, earth-shattering experiences, but ones that give us pause.

They nag at us.

How is this possible?

Those moments defy what we know about the way the world works.

Even if we brush them off as coincidence, they leave behind question marks in our minds - tiny whispers of doubt about what we are supposed to believe.

This phenomenon has a name, synchronicity.

Coined by Carl Jung, he describes them as “meaningful coincidences.”

He worked to define this universal, but generally ignored, experience.

I knew what the word synchronicity meant, but not much more, so I dug deeper.

In this newsletter, I am going to share what I learned:

  • What synchronicity is and how the concept came to be
  • Why it may feel hard for us to buy into
  • Ways we can be more open to synchronicity in our lives

What is synchronicity?

Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung developed the concept of synchronicity in the early 1900s.

It is the experience where two or more events are linked in a way that defies the odds of chance.

Jung had a notion that all of consciousness is connected.

In a web that isn’t visible, our minds are part of a larger something.

Because of this connectedness, he believed phenomena like telepathy could exist.

Synchronicity played a role in this connection.

Happenings in this web we can’t see influence what we do see.

Jung even wondered if synchronicity was responsible for the Big Bang and fostered interconnection in the universe.

​Was synchronicity, Jung wondered, a phenomenon that existed on a universal scale?

"It would be very difficult to explain why the universe should have begun in just this way, except as the act of a God who intended to create beings like us. In fact, if one considers the possible constants and laws that could have emerged, the odds against a universe that has produced life like ours are immense."

​— Stephen Hawking

Jung describes a powerful synchronistic experience he witnessed while working with a client struggling with repressed trauma.

Her inability to trust the signals her unconscious was sending her was hindering her progress.

Jung was using dream interpretation to try to tap into her suppressed feelings with little success.

In one pivotal session, she was recounting her dream about a golden scarab beetle.

There was a tapping at the window.

​It was a golden scarab beetle, which Jung caught in his hand and brought into the room.

This was the event that helped this patient see the importance of exploring her unconscious and sparked progress.

As much of a breakthrough as it was for this patient, it also was for Jung.

But, it was another patient who helped him push his research of synchronicity further.

Physicist Wolfgang Pauli won the Nobel Prize for his work on the behavior of electrons within the atomic structure.

He described the neutrino before it was possible to detect with the technology available.

He was a genius.

His personal life was a wreck.

Pauli’s father suggested he work with Jung and their sessions began - focusing on dream interpretation.

They realized they shared many similar viewpoints and interests.

Two worlds converged and found common ground - their collaboration began.

Their work wove together physics and ancient symbolism.

It culminated in the publication of “The Interpretation of Nature and the Psyche,” which dove deep into synchronicity.

​Through correspondence, they brainstormed together, and created a visual for their idea:

Jung made it clear at the beginning of the book that these ideas were not an explanation, but the beginning of a discussion.

Even so, many viewed Jung as too “out there" and wondered if, together, the pair had gone mad.

Pauli struggled with an internal tug-of-war between science and spirituality.

He willingly collaborated with Jung while at the same time making disparaging comments about him within the scientific community.

I'm far from qualified to weigh in on whether Jung and Pauli’s ideas were valid, and I won’t try.

But I can say that their work opened a Pandora’s box where people started whispering:

What is this thing I have experienced that has no explanation?

​Why does it seem to defy statistical reasoning that these events lined up the way they did?

“Synchronicity is an ever-present reality for those who have eyes to see.”

​— Carl Jung

Their work brought this phenomenon to the forefront.

It was a permission slip for people to start asking questions about experiences they couldn’t understand - things that made their hair stand on end.

But that doesn't mean this topic has become widely accepted.

Even 70 years later, talking about it doesn't always feel easy.

Sure, people love hearing stories about unbelievable coincidences.

But if the discussion turns to why they happen, some people get uncomfortable.

What is behind that?

​What could prevent someone from being curious about the meaning of these universal experiences?

Why it can be hard for us to embrace synchronicity

We all land somewhere different on the spectrum of how much mystery we are willing to entertain in life.

This is due to many factors, one of which is our own personality.

But there are other reasons that could influence where we land in this question of cause and effect vs. meaningful coincidence.

-East or West: Society will shape how we feel about synchronicity.

Jung wrote that the East sees finding meaning in coincidence as more important than the West.

And that the West is more prejudiced to believe in cause and effect only.

This is simplifying things, of course, and are big blanket statements.

But, the amount of importance society places on the meaning of an event will influence how much importance we place on them as well.

Are “reading signs” built into your culture in some way, or completely dismissed?

This makes a difference.

-Science: I love reading about science and the latest breakthroughs.

It is a perfect tool sometimes used in an imperfect way.

This is because we are prone to arrogance.

Science is a flawless process except it relies on humans to determine what to test and how to test it.

It doesn’t work when we aren’t yet sophisticated enough to understand how to test something.

Or, when we are still so naive about a phenomenon that we wouldn’t realize to test it in the first place.

But we always think we are at “the pinnacle.”

Every time.

History shows how many geniuses have been persecuted for being right.

Another way flawless science is made imperfect is when it is used to silence and control.

Research is dependent on where the scientific community wants to direct its attention.

Narratives the community wants to suppress can simply be shut down (as was the case with Ludwig Boltzmann).

Science is a tool to help us explain the human experience.

Saying “pretend that experience didn’t happen” is not science - it’s abuse of power.

​And another reason why talking about unexplainable experiences can feel awkward.

“Any new experiences are forced to fit into what we already believe to be true.”

​— Larry Gottlieb

-Scared to be seen as silly: Depending on your culture, your family, and your predispositions, talking about synchronistic experiences may seem risky.

We don’t want to be seen as ridiculous or gullible.

Talking about the mysteries of the universe has damaged the reputations of many highly accomplished people - that fear trickles down.

Fear of shame for sticking our necks out there has the power to keep our mouths shut.

-Unsettling: Some of us may struggle with these ideas within ourselves.

It can be unsettling to think that something is going on under the surface, helping to pull the strings.

​While some of us may find comfort in that, for others this may feel too creepy for comfort.

​Because of any of these reasons, we may decide to ignore these experiences or rely on logical explanations, which is everyone's right!

But whether these things are purely cause and effect or more, does it even matter if we're aware of it?

​Can any good come out of looking for meaning in coincidences?

How can synchronicity be an asset?

Whether we're the most mystical person around or the biggest skeptic - it can't be denied that people have been seeking meaning in experiences for all of recorded human history.

Meaning, we must get something out of it.

And we have already written a newsletter that dives into that question!

​So what could we possibly get out of "buying into" the idea of synchronicity?

  • Help us feel a connection to the higher power. There is something comforting about the idea that we are being supported by the divine. Finding meaning can help galvanize us when we need it most.
  • Seek opportunities. If we feel the universe is helping guide us through synchronicity, it naturally leads to being more open-minded about looking for new possibilities.
  • Grow in different ways than we would have otherwise. Feeling like we aren't alone and that we have support can also give us a boost of strength. This can embolden us to seek out the highest version of ourselves.
  • Point us toward clarity when we feel lost. If you see a sign and it offers comfort and direction, would it really matter if it was "real" or the placebo effect? Being open to seeing meaning, as long as it's done responsibly, can help shine a light when it feels like we're in the dark.

“Creating an opening for the unconscious and insight into our lives, our connections with the universe, and our essential purpose in life.”

​— Madeleine Dore

But for those of us who feel comfortable exploring such things, how would that work?

​Can we become more open to synchronicity in our lives?

How can we be more open to synchronicity?

We barely understand what this phenomenon is - these “meaningful coincidences” - let alone how much control we have over them.

So trying to figure out how to seek it out lies the realm of pure imagination and instincts.

If we are to believe that there is this invisible web connecting our minds and helping to direct our experience, how could we flow more easily with it?

​I did some research to gather some possible ideas and here is what I came up with:

-Be in the present. When we are stuck in our heads, worrying about the past or the future, we miss what is happening right in front of us.

In the present, we are more aware and more apt to notice things.

If synchronicity does exist, how subtle is it? How loud would it have to be for us to pay attention?

-Be open to change. How much can a plant grow inside of a box?

How much can we grow when we hold to tight to our tried and true routines?

Synchronicity or not, it is much harder to find what we aren’t looking for.

Our dog was terrified to walk on our new wood floors.

We lured her across with a treat, step by step until she got over her fear.

If we want a life with more joy, more purpose, it may be harder to find the bones the universe is trying to throw us if we insist on staying put emotionally, mentally, spiritually, or physically.

​Be more reachable.

“We change and the universe furthers and expands that change. I have an irreverent shorthand for this that I keep taped to my writing desk: Leap, and the net will appear.”

​— Julia Cameron

-Get curious about symbolism.

Carl Jung, along with most ancient cultures, believed in signs from the beyond.

These signs may be situation-specific.

Out of nowhere you think about birdwatching, for instance, and then your friend calls and says “So I was thinking we should go birdwatching…”

I'm thinking you should go birdwatching!

But, there are also many organized systems and practices for reading signs and symbols to explore.

Numerology and tarot are two systems.

If you want more information, we’ve had guest writers on both subjects.

You can learn more about ​numerology here​ and ​tarot here​.

-Check your transits.

Another symbol system is astrology.

And while our natal charts describe the map of our soul, the transits, or currently moving planets, add the dimension of time.

You can think of a transit as “setting the stage” for a field of possibilities to occur.

The time is ripe for XYZ.

Now whether xyz occurs, or to what degree, is influenced by a lot of things, including our own free will.

But many astrologers believe that transits could symbolize those meaningful coincidences Jung spoke of.

When he talks of transits, astrologer Stephen Forrest asks us to look for “synchronistic correlates.”

As in, the Sun is transiting your natal Venus in Libra in the 7th House.

Be aware of potential shifts in the partner department.

Just be open.

If I were to start with one transiting planet to investigate in the context of synchronicity it would be Mars.

Mars moves at a speed where it is fast enough that we’re not waiting years to feel change, but slow enough that we may notice.

This planet represents having the courage to say what we want and striving to go get it.

Transiting Mars = opportunities to seize.

If we are aware of where transiting Mars is in our chart, it may make us more open to recognizing those opportunities, even if they don’t seem obvious.

We may be more willing to follow a curiosity or instinct rather than ignore it.

And you know how that goes.

One thing leads to another, and somehow…

To find out where transiting Mars sits in your chart:

1. Enter your birth information into ​ ​and pull up your natal chart.

​2. Click the button that says “+ With Transits.”

3. Outside the circle of your chart, find the green symbol that looks like ♂.

4. Is transiting Mars sitting right next to one of your natal planets? This would indicate a “Mars moment” for you.

5. Which planet is Mars sitting next to (conjunct)? Which part of you does this planet represent that is getting this boost of courage?

6. What house is this happening in? That shines a light on which areas of life you may need to approach with a more bold and brave nature at this time.

​7. Be open to ways life is sending those kinds of opportunities your way.

​But is this all just a case of “you’ll find what you’re looking for?”

That’s the question Jung wrestled with and one we will each have to consider with ourselves.

So have you experienced synchronicity?

​Until next time, much love,

Love You → Love Others

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Hi, I'm Peggy

I went from lost and desperate to feeling more joy and a sense of purpose. And all it took was a little ancient wisdom! Now my mission is to accompany you on your self-discovery path so you can unlock more happiness and self-love as well!

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