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Harnessing The Power Of Synchronicity At Home

Harnessing the Power of SynchronicityWe have all experienced coincidences that stopped us in our tracks. Perhaps you have dreamed of a friend or former lover, only to run into him or her unexpectedly the next day. Or perhaps you have acquired some new piece of knowledge, only to encounter a situation that required you to use that knowledge shortly thereafter. At first, we may dismiss the potential significance of such coincidences as the effects of biased subjectivity in conjunction with the inherent ambiguity of the event. But sometimes there occur coincidences of such an insistent and precise thematic or symbolic nature that the rational mind truly boggles.

As within, so without 

Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst C. G. Jung (1875–1961) gave us the concept of synchronicity, which he called “an acausal connecting principle.” He posited the idea in order to account for repeatedly observed, uncannily thematic coincidences between inner states and outer events. Specifically, he applied the idea to arresting coincidences that could not be satisfactorily or convincingly explained via traditional notions of causality, rooted in a mechanistic view of nature. Jung gave the following example to demonstrate the principle:

By way of example, I shall mention an incident from my own observation. A young woman I was treating had, at a critical moment, a dream in which she was given a golden scarab. While she was telling me this dream I sat with my back to the closed window. Suddenly I heard a noise behind me, like a gentle tapping. I turned round and saw a flying insect knocking against the window pane from outside. I opened the window and caught the creature in the air as it flew in. It was the nearest analogy to a golden scarab that one finds in our latitudes, a scarabaeid beetle, the common rose-chafer (Cetonia aurata), which contrary to its usual habits had evidently felt an urge to get into a dark room at this particular moment.

The question remains, though, what could possibly explain such phenomena? What could cause the physical world to mirror a psychological state that has no known means of exerting influence upon the composition or configuration of the outer world?

Synchronicity and the archetypal perspective 

Jung suggested that the synchronistic principle rested, in turn, on the archetypal principle. Among Jung’s most famous ideas, the archetypes are self-governing, self-determining, and self-evident primeval forms in the psyche that shape and motivate all human experience and behavior. Warrior. Lover. Messenger. Mother. Hero. Servant. Villain. Healer. Teacher. Father. Trickster. Victim. These are but a few universal and timeless examples, which are themselves derivative incarnations, manifestations, or emanations of the ineffable, imperceivable reality of the archetypes. It is the archetypes that determine and delimit which thoughts can be thought, which feelings can be felt, and which experiences can be experienced in the first place.

Based in part on his observation of synchronicities, Jung thought the archetypes structured and animated not only the human psyche but also the natural world. Philosopher and cultural historian Richard Tarnas explains:

Because synchronicities seemed to reflect and embody the same archetypal forms that Jung and many others came to see as basic underlying principles of the human psyche, the occurrence and recognition of such meaningful coincidences gave a crucial new dimension to the archetypal perspective. The empirical conformity between the event occurring in the external world and the archetypal quality of the internal state of consciousness suggested that the active archetype could not be localized as an exclusively subjective intrapsychic reality. Rather, both psyche and world, inner and outer, were informed by the archetypal pattern and thereby united by the correlation.

In sharp contrast to the modern worldview, Jung ceased to regard the outer world as merely a neutral background against which the human psyche pursued its isolated intrasubjective quest for meaning and purpose. Rather, all events, inner and outer, whether emanating from the human unconscious or from the larger matrix of the world, were recognized as sources of potential psychological and spiritual significance. From this perspective, not only the individual psyche and not only humanity’s collective unconscious but all of nature supported and moved the human psyche towards a larger consciousness of purpose and meaning. Each moment in time possessed a certain tangible character or quality which pervaded the various events taking place at that moment.

Is your head spinning yet? If yes, that is quite alright! That dizziness might just be the mythopoetic nature of the unconscious breaking through the arid logic and monochromatic rationality of day-to-day, ordinary consciousness. Lean into it! Because ultimately the value of contemplating the role of synchronicity in our lives has to do with its ability to bring into focus usually-hidden contents of the unconscious—perhaps the greatest source of wisdom, power, vitality, integrity, and spiritual enrichment available to us.

Harnessing the Power of SynchronicityHarnessing the power of synchronicity: It’s in the cards

While the discussion so far might lead you to conclude that synchronicity is the exclusive province of abstruse philosophical or psychoanalytic seminars, I assure you it can easily be harnessed at home with the simplest of methods and tools. While there are many tools that make use of the principle of synchronicity, one tool that I consider to be among the most accessible (and the most fun!) is oracle cards.

Oracle cards are simply decks of illustrated cards, occasionally emblazoned with brief text and typically accompanied by a palm-sized guidebook that elaborates upon the primary imagerial theme of each card. They are easily purchasable at both brick-and-mortar and online retail stores. Oracle cards are to be distinguished from tarot cards, which are generally used and interpreted in more fixed, conventional, and systematic ways.

The most straightforward way of using oracle cards involves asking an open-ended question about the meaning of an event or experience, shuffling the cards, and drawing one or more cards from the deck. The cards drawn serve as the “answer” to the question you have asked; in other words, they reveal something of the esoteric meaning or symbolic import of whatever external event or experience you have queried. If we assume that the principle of synchronicity is operating everywhere at all times, then we can trust that the cards drawn cannot but be the cards that most closely correspond to the meaning of the event or experience about which you have inquired. 

Besides their typically swoon-worthy illustrations, the beauty of oracle cards is, that there is no right or wrong way to use them. You can draw one card, you can draw three cards, or you can draw nine cards. You can ask a specific question, or you can simply ask, “What do I need to know about the meaning of this event, situation, or relationship?” The principle of synchronicity ensures that no card will be drawn that is not, on some level, a thematic or symbolic “match” for that external condition or circumstance. Consulting the accompanying guidebook is not required, but I find it can further stimulate one’s imagination and lead to the production of additional associations, connections, and insights. 

A one-card drawing for this blog post

To demonstrate how you can approach oracle cards simply and easily, I have completed a one-card drawing for this very blog post. I used Kyle Gray’s 44-card deck Angels and Ancestors, gorgeously and evocatively illustrated by artist Lily Moes. 

First, I shuffled the cards two or three times as I meditated on different versions of my basic question: “How may I approach the task of composing this blog post in a way that serves the highest good of its readership? What message shall I impart? What is the fundamental meaning of this task?” Without further ado, I plucked a card from the deck. I drew the “Father Sky” card, which depicts an eagle soaring through a lightning-banded sky, and whose brief subtitle reads, “Trust in the unknown.” What message could have been more appropriate for a blog post about the principle of synchronicity? Plus, the image of the eagle suggests the advantages of seeing from a higher, more holistic perspective, while the image of the lightning connotes “flashes” of insight of the sort that synchronicity tends to produce.

In conclusion  

In my experience, oracle cards are a fun and approachable way of getting in touch with the “inner knowing” of the unconscious. The more we can balance our habitual conscious attitude with content from the unconscious, the more psychologically integrated, the more whole, the more empowered, and the more charismatic we become. Paying attention to and even encouraging synchronicities through the use of a tool such as oracle cards is one way to do just that.

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