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On Synchronicity and Meaning

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    Lately there have been some conversations about the meaning (or lack thereof!) of life and on synchronicity. A quote of Campbell’s that has been raised more than once in this context is

    “People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life…I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”

    –Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

    While the quest for the meaning of life (or conversation thereof) has taken place (wonderfully) elsewhere in our forums, space here in this thread is reserved for the topics of the meaning of life (or again, lack thereof) and on the theory of synchronicity and/or their interrelation and correlation.

    Synchronicity is a term and theory developed by analytical psychologist C. J. Jung. Jung defined synchronicity as an “acausal connecting principle,” that is a “meaningful coincidence.” Right away, I will give an example before going on with further definitions. One morning one summer I was writing in my notebook journal on my front porch and just when I had a particular enthralling thought, a large monarch butterfly landed on the handle of my front door. I marveled at the butterfly and then wrote my thought down, and just as I moved on to the next thought (one perhaps not so seemingly numinous), the butterfly moved on too–it flew away, onto its next “thought” also. This event is acausal because no actual cause for it could be proven. Any such attempts to prove a cause here would be an act of application of faith, such as someone responding with, “God acts in mysterious ways.” A  Zurich-trained Jungian analyst and psychotherapist in private practice in Melbourne, Australia, Frith Luton, describes synchronicity as “an essentially mysterious connection between the personal psyche and the material world, based on the fact that at bottom they are only different forms of energy” (retrieved from

    There are many ways in which this phenomena can occur, and I will list some of them below.

    The subject of synchronicity  in regards to the question or search for meaning is often overlooked. Even though Sting/The Police had an album titled Synchronicity that reached the masses of popular culture, many people do not really “stop” and think about it as a phenomenon that seems to takes place so frequently when indeed if you did “stop” and think about it now you might recall many events of seemingly uncanny coincidence that happened in your life just this week. It is a good example of a psychological theory of Jung’s (as well as “complexes”) that has become an everyday expression–perhaps so everyday sometimes that the larger/true/deepest meaning(s) of the term are in the shadows. The Shadow pun is intended here as the Shadow has been another recent discussion in the forums and also because it can sometimes seem that what emerges from the inner world (of psyche) to manifest in the outer world of actual matter strong enough for any one of us to ask, “What is the matter? What is this weird transcendent event going on here where the inner and outer worlds/realities seem to meet as if physically appearing out of nowhere for some seeming reason?”  might seem to occasion from out of the Shadow of the unconscious. It is as if the puppet master of the working of the earth or Nature knew what I was thinking when the butterfly appeared.

    I am stopping temporarily here for now because in the past couple days I keep losing my internet connection (which is perhaps an act of synchronicity or perhaps not because this type of disruption is common where I live. I will add more in a bit–this is just part one of this introductory post. Please feel free to start responding to this introduction of this topic–I look forward to it. Meanwhile, below is an article of Jung’s for any who would like to read it.

    Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle 



      While Marianne is preparing the second part of her excellent set up to this extremely wide ranging topic on the relationship of synchronicity with meaning has with existence I going to take a bit of a detour and add: story, intuition, and mystical to the mix by recounting an experience I had a few years back that pulled me into the meaning of timelessness of existence. (Mouthful huh?)

      By this I’m asking the reader to imagine looking back over their life to the people, things, and relationships they have had and within the context of a reunion of old friends considering what the impact of such a moment might have on them within the context of how they might view their own life. (Another mouthful; hmmm; what is he asking?)

      So let’s for a moment consider “why” this idea of meaningful coincidence; this mystical: “by-chance-occurrence” that you encounter unexpectedly out of nowhere; that’s known at least in some instances as: “synchronicity” should happen to “you”. So now I’m going to share a story that rocked my world in a way I could never have imagined and still astonishes me.


      (From: “The Story” thread in the old retired CoaHO back in 2014.)

      “When I left this discussion the other day I went to hangout with a group of old friends who have been getting together once a month to reminisce about our youth and kind of reconnect. It’s a small handful really; that meet at the same place where we all use to gather. And during that period 4 decades ago it came to kind of represent a symbol of the times for the city back-in-the-day; where once dozens of young people; then later sometimes even hundreds collected at the ” in place ” or ” hot-spot ” to be immersed within a festive atmosphere that provided the chance to seek adventure and life-possibilities. Many cities had a place like this; and yes there were drugs and the usual hair styles and clothing one associates with that era; but it served as more of a refuge and not the sort of wild ” bacchanal ” that was the impression given by the media for hippie groups of the time; And we were a rather free-spirited and rebellious bunch that were exploring the social boundaries of a conservative straight-laced community that wanted things kept as they were. Social change was in the air; and ” the times they were a-changing ” as the saying from one of Bob Dylan’s songs went. And what’s interesting about this gathering now that we are starting to evolve into the ” Autumn of our lives ” is that it provides a kind of long-range retrospect for us that gives one a sense of how the life-choices that you made worked out; not only for you but your friends as well. The first one of these events that started this regular get together had a very ( mystical ) moment as you will see for at it’s conclusion it was almost as if there was an otherworldly presence involved.

      Our gathering took place at a replica of the Greek Parthenon on the steps where we use to rendezvous and it was during a ” cultural arts festival ” this happened. And we were there surrounded by thousands of other folks in the park; ( complete with bands and booths that had absolutely nothing to do with us ); while trying to navigate to our little spot to meet and recognize each other; now sporting greying hair and all the attributes that age bestows with meds and walkers and bags of assorted foods and beverages to share. As the faces and stories began to connect and wipe away the mental cobwebs of confusion; the laughter and flow of conversation mixed old times with our new life realities and some of the former bonds began to restore themselves and the old sense of familiarity returned. The minutes became hours and the glow of the afternoon was all to soon about to pass when one of the group asked for a special moment to gather around at the other end of the steps which was our special spot. ( Then he told us his tale and what he wanted us to do ).

      A lot had happened over the last 40 years and one of our friends had died. The story went that when he had passed his ashes had been given to this fellow since he wanted no burial and no real instructions for where his ashes were to be spread. They had been kept all these years in a drawer for safe keeping until the right time, place, and moment presented itself and he would know what to do. Of course none of us but our friend were aware of any of this and he said for some strange reason remembered ” The Urn ” as he was about to leave his house. So as we were gathering a small group of much younger folks; ( about the same age as we were back then had been watching and were intrigued by the incense and our makeshift ceremony we were in the midst of performing and very respectfully asked to join in. As we pause for a moment of silence and the poured ashes drifted into the wind you suddenly were overcome with this feeling that this was exactly what was suppose to happen and the way it would have been planned for it was one of his favorite places and we were all there to see him off. And as we talked about this we looked at our new young companions and explained who he was; for a short instant it felt as though perhaps he was there with us and had been honored and that a torch had been passed of youth’s promise of adventure.

      I thought about the poignancy of that moment for days after that and the odds against it’s mystery ever happening. I don’t recall how we were told this fellow had died and we were not necessarily extra close friends; but everything seemed so right the way it had all unfolded being the ” Free Spirit ” that he was. And although the times were so very different back then and so much has happened over the years I like to think that each of us in our own way have lived much of the promise of our moments there and found our way through our lives; though who can really say otherwise since our stories are not yet finished.

      So to close my story there is one last thing I am reminded of when looking over my life that Joseph Campbell’s work has helped me try and come to know. Joseph mentions that the authorship that composes one’s life comes out of their own intent; and Carl Jung tells us that through the various life stages we tend to look at things from an ever-evolving point-of-view. And as Clemsy suggests: ” We are who we are at the moment we engage “. But as Cindy’s work with Jung has helped me to see; it is the self’s journey toward ( wholeness ) that we are seeking; along with Joseph’s reminder: ” that it is the privilege of a lifetime to become and realize who you truly are “. We are all on that journey in one form or another I think; and to be surrounded by others of like mind is truly one of the best things that one could wish for.”


      Now I could go on and on about what this is suppose to mean concerning the nature of existence; but my point has to with “synchronicity” so I’ll just mention what blew me away was I was left with this question of: “why did this happen and why was I there to witness it?” All I can say is Joseph mentions that every now and then you may stumble upon this sense of “profound mystery” that myths are the vehicle of. I barely knew this fellow and had no prior knowledge this event was going to take place. But what it did impress upon me was the sense of asking myself: “What questions does this experience raise to me about the meaning of my own life in the grand scheme of things?; “What does this tell me about all these big questions that people ponder?” And when I think about things that happen out of nowhere; things that seem to tell me or ask me or pull me in a certain direction for some unknown or coincidental circumstance that seem to point in a certain direction this is what I come away with.

      Now I’m still trying to locate another even better example of meaningful chance that had a huge impact on my life in a much more explainable way; and if I can find it I’ll post it later after someone else has had a chance to jump in on this topic. I think Shaaheda has something she is working on to contribute; and I know Marianne still has more to add on this as well.

      Marianne; your setup was a great startup for this topic. Well done and looking forward to more!



      I’ll begin with James’ last sentence, which is, “Marianne; your setup was a great startup for this topic. Well done and looking forward to more!” Yes indeed Marianne, your introduction of Jung’s “Synchronicity: An Acausal  Connecting Principle”  set me on a road to getting his book and reading it but it was not easy, still reading and trying to make sense of it.  James your conclusion is what I had in mind even before reading your post….synch or no?)


      Jung’s idea that data that appears irrational should not be dismissed, gave birth to the concept of ‘synchronicity’. He described synchronicity as a ‘meaningful coincidence’. He writes that he came to understand the concept fully by reading Wilhelm’s version, and defined synchronicity as a “phenomenon that seems to be primarily connected with psychic conditions, that is to say with processes in the unconscious.” (Jung, C. G.. Synchronicity: 08 (Jung Extracts) (p. 95). Princeton University Press.)

      Another way of explaining the “meaningful coincidence” is that synchronicity occurs when one’s  inner landscape (A)  meets an event in outer space (B) when there can be absolutely no causal connection between A and B. What caused this connection? Per  Jung,  A and B are connected through meaning.

      Jung believed that many occurrences labeled as “coincidences,” are not actually due to chance. Instead, he believed that these occurrences are directly related to the observer’s mind, and serve to provide powerful insight, direction and guidance. (carl-jung-synchronicity)

      Phil Cousineau in his book, “ Soul Moments: Marvelous Stories of Synchronicity–Meaningful Coincidences from a Seemingly Random World” writes on Jung, “By the end of his life he was convinced that Synchronicity was such a potentially powerful experience it should be taken as seriously as dreams, as messages from the unconscious world, and an example of “individuation,” the unfolding of the unique life of each soul.”

      Phil’s book is full of powerful stories of wonder and  of unimaginable coincidences that change people’s lives permanently. He writes, ” in these remarkable stories, we learn of newfound respect for connection to a life greater than one we have been living and that the mystery of our lives can be revealed with the asking of the fateful question, What is the meaning here? “

      My personal  synchronicity-story is profoundly inexplicable and intensely meaningful, where my inner world (A)  witnessed  an event in outer space (B) that had no causal connection whatsoever, yet, there is NOTHING as meaningful as that event B — a coincidence that stirred my soul and  asked for me to  pause and take a look at the mystery of my own life.

      Sorry, I won’t be able to write that story today but  one day, I might,  and  won’t have to explain all that which appears as mere fantasy, strange, unrealistic, and incredible to many.

      Some of the stories in Phil Cousineau’s  book connected me with Peter Fenwick’s stories on Near Death Experiences.  Phil writes, “It often seems that even inanimate objects cooperate with the unconscious in the arrangement of symbolic patterns. There are numerous well-authenticated stories  of clocks stopping at the moment of their owner’s death; one was the pendulum clock in the palace of Frederick the Great at San Souci, which stopped when the emperor died. Other common  examples are those of a mirror that breaks…..”

      Similarly, Peter Fenwick says (in his interview with Peter McNay)

      Peter:  So deathbed coincidences are enormously interesting.  The next thing – this is the last thing that happens – is the phenomena at the time of death are amazing, absolutely amazing.  How people could not talk about it and just negate it is amazing once you start looking at the range of the data.  First of all, clocks do stop.  Yes, clocks stop!  Only these slow pendulum ones?  No, even the electronic clocks; they will flash the time of the person’s death.  Amazing.  You get alarms going off in the hospice; you get mechanical malfunctions – the television set- all at the time of death.

      In his splendid essay called “On an Apparent Intention in the Fate of the Individual,” Schopenhauer points out that when you reach an advanced age and look back over your lifetime, it can seem to have had a consistent order and plan, as though composed by some novelist. Events that when they occurred had seemed accidental and of little moment turn out to have been indispensable factors in the composition of a consistent plot. So who composed that plot?”

      from Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth (pp 283 -4) (1988)





      To James (post response# 5339)

      It seems so weird to give a tale (a moment) of synchronicity a number–but maybe the idea of “number” (#) is fitting, also, as I could have in parenthesis put “synchronicity # 5339) lol. Not to make it funny that the event he describes is about death but that why not since Campbell says to participate equally in the joys and the sorrows of life. (Someone else can find the exact quote to include in response if they want to.)

      James, your story here is so touching and I was completely absorbed as I read it, as if there to feel your experience that day with the ashes in the wind. What “really got” me in your story was that the group of younger people were there as the now older group that you were in administered the ashes to the wind. It is as if the group you were in from the old hippies and now older people today had come full circle with death and rebirth. It was probably such a synchronous time for the youths there also–I can imagine them feeling it as numinous–I know I would…and as for myself, I would be on the older end of the spectrum now also and it does feel numinous to me if I had been there from that end also.

      Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful story. Yes it is so poignant. Looking back towards the end too of your post where you write,

      what this is suppose to mean concerning the nature of existence; but my point has to with “synchronicity” so I’ll just mention what blew me away was I was left with this question of: “why did this happen and why was I there to witness it?” All I can say is Joseph mentions that every now and then you may stumble upon this sense of “profound mystery” that myths are the vehicle of. I barely knew this fellow and had no prior knowledge this event was going to take place. But what it did impress upon me was the sense of asking myself: “What questions does this experience raise to me about the meaning of my own life in the grand scheme of things?; “What does this tell me about all these big questions that people ponder?” And when I think about things that happen out of nowhere; things that seem to tell me or ask me or pull me in a certain direction for some unknown or coincidental circumstance that seem to point in a certain direction this is what I come away with

      I come to ask myself these same questions now in a long line of questions in search of meaning for life…answers to our big questions, I am thinking, are similar to the modus operandi in synchronicity in that we cannot prove our answers. We can say the point of life is to be happy, we can say the point of life is this or that, but how ever would we prove it? So then at times a moment or event such as the one you had here happens that touches upon those big questions. I think that synchronicity can do that to a person, to us (people in general perhaps): to make us feel closer to the other side of the “veil”–to for a moment “walk the edge” between the two worlds; I always have imagined/believed that it is possible this is the way the shaman sees the world, with and through the eyes of synchronicity–to see the manifest world around the individual as symbol is to read the symbols and see “into” things (of psyche–it is sometimes said that shamans were the first depth psychologists or analytical psychologists in their own way) and this way of seeing, of reading the symbols, is often like noticing an “omen”–but not all synchronicity experiences are that potent or obvious–some are also so subtle. We all do this at times, and artists are contemporary shamans too in that sense  as many people including scholars have noted.

      And James, as you have mentioned in conversations (here in forums, or elsewhere?) before, synchronicity in dreams is another thing I would like to address in part two of my intro–but please, continue onward with your posts and responses and experiences, everyone–because my part two is simply another response to the topic simultaneous to yours (and meaning all of ours). So we will go on to discuss dreams–I have another monarch butterfly tale to tell that was synchronicity operative in my dreams that I will tell when I continue with part two of my post. I have a bunch of  dream journal collections of my dreams that were synchronicity in various ways–I tend to be a symbolist both in dreams and in my awake-world–I love (as any Jungian does!) to read archetypal symbols.

      I enjoyed your post so much and best to you always James,

      ~ Marianne


      Hi Shaahayda,

      Thank you for your post. You note some great points from your readings you mention here on dreams and yes in death experiences as you quote Fenwick, ” the phenomena at the time of death are amazing, absolutely amazing” and there are Jungian studies on these types of incidences and reports about them as well. I can equally say (though not in # of reports or incidents) that I have had these experiences also, and am not hesitant to discuss/admit to them (!) as you and I have discussed before; I have appreciated you  telling me about Peter Fenwick with whom I tend to agree, although I do have to say I am not as familiar with him as you are, though have followed these concepts elsewhere and have long tended to “believe” in them as another form/type of synchronicity. Also, you brought up some great statements of or about Jung and his theory of synchronicity, such as how he believed it was to be regarded as importantly as dreams and the like. Myriad books exist on these topics. Maybe a reading list can be composed and also let us all try to find quotes and passages of Campbell’s that correspond to our findings on synchronicity. James did bring up some good ones as did you with the mention of the classic essay of “On an Apparent Intention in the Fate of the Individual,” by Schopenhauer, who was a great influence on both Jung and Campbell.

      Thank you for your post, and best to you always, Shaahayda,



        Okay I have a small disclaimer to add to this post before going any further. This will be a “collaborative effort” between me and Marianne and should be considered: “a work in progress” so to speak because some editing on my part may be required before it’s completed. Marianne and I have been in collusion about setting up her part II and my role I feel is to “compliment” her thoughts on this; and our separate experiences concerning synchronicity may be quite different; so here goes.


        In discussion earlier she asked me to post part of a conversation we were having which starts here:

        “Also the Paranormal aspects surrounding Jung are something that definitely need to be brought out in more detail I think because this dimension is a major connection in many ways between Eastern and Western understandings regarding their ancient philosophies; especially in relationship to nature. Anyone who has been exposed to things like Tai Chi, medicine, acupuncture, to name but a few can immediately see this connection in a way far different than the west; and the idea of harmony is a major factor in how these things operate throughout these mindsets and how they interconnect with Chi and nature’s way. The Tarot and astrology provide similar mystical functions in regards to one’s interaction and their “Karma” as one work’s through various life situations to come to their fully balanced potential in another way concerning relationships and life course and what they may encounter. Divination is a huge overriding factor in one determining these how these outcomes will play out; both in the decisions they make and their interconnection with others. To me this is one of the dimensions Joseph is talking about when he mentions putting yourself on a kind of “Track” that takes you where your heart and mind want to go. (Can this be seen as part psychological; you betcha); but this is not my area of expertise except some of these things definitely played a role in certain parts of my own life when trying to chart my course through it; so to speak.”


        Now Marianne may see this quite differently and that is to be expected; but if I understand her thoughts concerning Joseph on this then the part about an individual’s life trajectory would play into my quote here:

        “To me this is one of the dimensions Joseph is talking about when he mentions putting yourself on a kind of “Track” that takes you where your heart and mind want to go. (Can this be seen as part psychological; you betcha); but this is not my area of expertise except some of these things definitely played a role in certain parts of my own life when trying to chart my course through it; so to speak.”


        Now I’m going to let her speak for herself in the next part since this was what she requested that I add and it’s her voice I’m listening for; not mine.


        PART TWO

        Here is my “Part Two” to my intro/post and in collaboration with things James discussed in his post # 5348 above. I first have to say I find resonance with all the thing James writes above and which we have discussed in chats and also with Shaahayda, and Shaahayda and I have been in chats about these sorts of topics from way back also. Today I have written what I was planning to say in a rather casual way by making a list as I would do if composing an outline for a paper…

        I was going to try to finish the introductory Part II sooner than now, but was out of town yesterday first East and then West, spanning a large distance of my neck of the woods in the state I am in—and pun there is intended, I could have just said Ohio, but as for the state I am I think it is called exhaustion, haha! I mentioned this to James and Shaahayda to please just go ahead and post and not wait for the part two I am writing.

        Here is the (or a sort of) LIST:

        1) Divination is by Jung explained (not as causal however—but as coincidence!) as synchronicity. Throwing the coins for Chinese form of divination The I Ching (to which Jung wrote the intro of the Wilhelm’s edition), reading one’s Tarot cards or having them read, and astrological coincidences of the birth chart of daily predictions are all forms of synchronicity. To understand this better, I refer the reader to the following books,

        –The Tao and the I Ching are “forerunners” to Jung’s theory of synchronicity as mentioned in the book, Psyche and Matter, by Marie Louse von Franz, p. 210.

        –Another forerunner according to von Franz as mentioned in the same book above (ditto or ibid!) is the “Hippocratic ‘sympathy of all things,’ which Hippocrates observed in his own day as a “breathing together or flowing together of all things, even the smallest in the cosmos.” You can read about other examples of this sympathy in the rest of that paragraph, again on p. 210.

        –Synchronicity: Through the Eyes of Science, Myth, and the Trickster, by Allen Combs and Mark Holland, is an excellent book on the subject. On the back cover, a blurb explains that it is “An accessible and Intelligent Exploration of the Intriguing Phenomenon of Coincidences.”

        And in the forward, Robert Robertson wrote, “Synchronicity makes the points at which the personal and the transcendent come together in each of our lives.”

        –Here I would like to add that it is this feeling of experiencing something numinous that seems to make an occurrence of synchronicity feel like a monumental, often life-changing (as Shaahayda and James have been discussing), and mystical experience (which accompanies so frequently “transcendence, as it can feel as if the veils between the outer world (of matter) and the inner world (of psyche or what we also call “psychic”—all acts of divination are “psychic” because they come from psyche—we tend to think of “psychic” as meaning “mediumship” and ESP but all acts/states of psyche are “psychic,” just in different ways.

        2) Synchronicity and the New Sciences are a vital and exciting understanding of the full extent of the notion of synchronicit, as you will also find in the book I mentioned directly above,  Synchronicity: Through the Eyes of Science, Myth, and the Trickster, by Allen Combs and Mark Holland. This book provides an easily comprehensible view to so many aspects or facets of the gem that this theory of synchronicity is. The doorway to the new physics was opened by Einstein and his theory of relativity and suddenly the world and universe was not as people previously perceived it to be. We can read more about it in this book (“Extra! Extra! Read all about it!)

        In the Myth chapter in the Combs and Holland book referenced above, Hermes and the imagination comes into play. And as Hermes is a messenger between gods and from gods to “hu(men)/humans, I would here like to include a message I received in a dream that was another occurrence of synchronicity I had (in the first post I did as intro on synch, I wrote about an event I had with a monarch butterfly in my awake-world; here is one from my dreaming world, with important messages from my unconscious psyche to my awareness—as if these things wanted to be known somehow—or as if my inner knowing was pressing it into my consciousness from my unconscious knowing. This is the power of Hermes!


        In one dream I had of a monarch, it was flying towards me with what would normally be grace yet in this dream it was flying in slow motion as if an invisible hand was directing it to me like a conductor of an orchestra directs music. It seemed it was being either pushed or pulled–but definitely led–to me as if by some magnetic force. The monarch then landed on my lips and wanted to enter my mouth to be inside me.

        At first I was taken aback, and startled, I closed my mouth which I had opened in astonishment so that it would not end up in my mouth and so that I would not swallow it. I did not want that experience and I did not want it to die by my ingesting it.

        However, at the time I was guided by a great dream and one of my Jungian dream teachers to go ahead and let the butterfly in and see what happened–in a session of Jungian Active Imagination which is in some ways similar to meditation sometimes.

        When I did as was suggested, I realized that the butterfly and I had had two different interpretations of its activity. By entering through my mouth, it was not going to be ingested in my dream the same way we would ingest things in our regular waking world. It was the spirit of the monarch that wanted to enter my being. I was then able to dance the monarch dance to in spirit fly with it for the healing of its medicine.

        I found out later I had a serious stomach ailment I could have died from and indeed had been dying from slowly. The dream told me about my stomach ailment that needed attention and medicine in the ‘real’ world. The butterfly symbol wanted to help me with my digestive system—or give me the message I needed attention and here I did not want to ingest it! The thought of ingesting it according to the laws of the physical world in our everyday lives averted me from letting the butterfly do its medicine. I had to get used to the idea of being able to work with the medicine of the monarch this way. I had worked with my dream world before, but this was a new type of experience for me from which to learn more.

        This monarch waited for years of my lifetime for me to engage it in my imaginal world–it had been there since my childhood. In fact, it was my childhood friend, my cousin, who in the dream held out a small jewelry treasure box to me and opened it when the monarch flew out; together, when we were children, we would watch and chase the monarch butterflies along the banks of the lagoon off the lake. We were always delighted to see them. And finally, the monarch was delighted I could work with it as a totem in this dream.The dream was perhaps also telling me to pay heed to a treasure of an experience I had when younger that was key to my later development of this issue—I was to look back at my childhood for hints and to a particular occasion with my cousin in my dream.

        In an earlier dream some years before, I had a dream I was in a science lab and had a notebook and pen and camera and around me were a whole bunch of monarchs flying all around the room. This, I learnred later, was an announcement that I was somehow going to work with monarchs. I now often do things to help save the monarchs such as plant indigenous flowers that the monarchs like and also their caterpillars, such as milkweed.

        Other times monarchs come to me in ‘real’ life by giving me an omen of things. Once when I had quit a job I loved for a higher paid position and more hours, when I got to my car to open my driver’s seat door, I looked down and saw a dead monarch at my feet laying right at the door. My heart ‘sunk’ in that moment and I knew my decision was taking me off my path. I eventually was able to make my way back on track.

        Other times Monarch has showed up when I am thinking about something I need to make a decision on (I wrote about an example of this in my first intro-post of this topic); it seems like an affirmation of a particular idea I have when I need to decide. This has happened often. This is called the symbolic life when the world is viewed that way and ancient shamans and artists throughout the ages too have often viewed the world this way in symbols–in an animated sense that the animals “spoke” to them or gave them messages like Hermes/Mercury would–from the anima mundi or world soul. Ancient people had the sense of animism in life.


        You can see (photo not presented here) why the monarch butterfly gets its colors–gets it wings, so to speak! It is like the tiger: orange and black. They also both have white markings. Both these animals (though one is an insect it can still be referred to as an animal for the sake of animal totems) have unusual colors. We tend to think of orange and black as rather odd colors for camouflage, yet these colors work in places where the grass is tall and where there is the play of light and shadow.

        The monarch butterfly shares its colors with the tiger and many who have monarch butterfly totems might also have tiger totems if they are sensitive to color in life. Orange is a common color of the stone amber and black is the color of obsidian, jet, the amber color is a symbol of life (orange or yellow-orange most commonly like the sun) and black is a symbol of the night and mysteries. Tiger eye too is a good stone for those with a tiger totem or wishing to work with the energies of the tiger. But, for now, I am writing about the monarch butterfly as one of my main totems and my experiences therein.

        The colors of the monarch teach us to be able to play and dance in the shadows as well as the light–and about their interplay where there is that moment of transcendence of the opposites, as depth psychologist C. G. Jung described this bridging of opposites. Day and night and where they bridge are times of dawn and dusk. Even when we see a monarch at mid-day or any time in morning or afternoon there is the reminder of the night in its blackness of mystery.

        Aside from universal or common attributes/qualities, how the monarch speaks to you can be also individual. In other words, though we may both experience the universal symbols of the monarch and its effects upon the psyche, my specific individual experience or dream of a monarch can be different from your experience or dream of this butterfly. Of course, butterflies are known for grace, and for liking the nectar or aweetness of life as do bees and hummingbirds. Butterflies are also common symbols in synchronicity for me in any types of dealing with energies that are of Air qualities or air signs such as Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius.


        Book: The Waking Dream: Unlocking the Symbolic Language of Our Lives by Ray Grasse. This book is simple and straightforward.


        We have all heard/read it said that sometimes when we are sick enough to stay home from work or school that our bodies are trying to tell us to slow down. Or how about all the times we hear about a man or woman dying of heart failure—“a broken heart”—soon after the death of his/her spouse? How about someone who had a “huge/generous/burdened heart” in his or her life only to later find out that he or she has/had an enlarged heart? If interested Louise Hays has a lot to say about these matters. It happens all the time in medical matters connected to psychological matters of hysteria when someone in shock over something they have seen or heard suddenly cannot speak or cannot hear, or cannot see. However, sometimes too lack of outer sight might bring more inner sight. We might say that in older age old people cannot see anymore because we think their minds are going feeble; or, we might say that as they age and their vision goes inward into the twilight or dream time more than outward; and here is the myth of Odin noticed, as Odin had to sacrifice one eye at the well in order to obtain inner vision or sacred visions.


        This topic is an unending bottomless pit—or well-spring of refreshment of discovery!

        I had a lot of fun with this topic—thanks to any who have read even just parts of this!

        Nota: Some of this material comes from out of my dream journals, which I mostly did just cut and paste!



        I agree wholeheartedly with all that James wrote above and in such a succinct manner so easily understandable–


        Hello Marianne,

        Just read your fabulous Part II. I decided to read two of the authors you mentioned, 1) Psyche and Matter, by Marie Louse von Franz, 2) Synchronicity: Through the Eyes of Science, Myth, and the Trickster, by Allen Combs and Mark Holland before I move forward with my comments. Marianne, You have provided such a rich biblio on the subject that I would miss a lot if I didn’t stop and look at the reading material right now. So, I have downloaded one and purchased the other.  I am not sure whether or not I’ll get to them if I wait too long.

        My personal synchronistic event can best be described  as you quoted in the forward, written by Robert Robertson, that is, ‘the  personal and transcendent came together” or as Marie Von Franz says in her book, ‘Psyche and Matter’, “breathing together or flowing together of all things, even the smallest in the cosmos.”

        I’ll just touch a bit upon my personal synch moment. My synchronistic moment occurred in a court room, but NOT, in the various court rooms in the United States. In the US court rooms, I was being dragged into all kinds of civil and criminal litigation — that was my inner landscape, and had just HAD it with defeat and despair. So, I decided to take a holiday and travel away and outside the country, but even in a foreign country, I  ached to visit a court room — Yes, my  psyche and the unitary aspect of existence had an entirely different plan. Of course, I was thousands of miles away from my legal challenges, yet this quote, sums my reality to a “T”, “Synchronistic events … seem to point towards a unitary aspect of existence which transcends our conscious grasp and which Jung has called the unus mundus.”  One world indeed!  A year later and my mind continued to take me back to the court room thousands of miles away. Then another synch moment happened——

        One day, in Esalen, while watching Jean Erdman Campbell dance with Bob Walters, it hit me like a ton of bricks….Impossible, said my rational mind, could be, said the intuitive self, incredible echoed all of me, must have been a miracle in a court room, oceans away. Juan Ramón Jiménez’s (Spanish Poet) poem says it all for me:

        “I have a feeling that my boat has struck, down there in the depths, against a great thing.
        And nothing happens! Nothing…Silence…Waves…
        –Nothing happens? Or has everything happened,
        and are we standing now, quietly, in the new life?”
        I am not sure about the new life that Jimenez imagines, but I am content with “a unitary aspect of existence which transcends our conscious grasp”  .

        With immense gratitude to you and to James, and to Stephen,  and to all others who read this



        Hello James,

        Loved reading all your synch moments. You wrote, ” All I can say is Joseph mentions that every now and then you may stumble upon this sense of “profound mystery” that myths are the vehicle of. I barely knew this fellow and had no prior knowledge this event was going to take place. But what it did impress upon me was the sense of asking myself: “What questions does this experience raise to me about the meaning of my own life in the grand scheme of things?; “What does this tell me about all these big questions that people ponder?

        Another thing is that these moments remind us that we are not one single cell living  in some confined space and time,  but we are larger than life. It also tells us that the best sculptor is the human heart which is a gateway to a new life — a life of wonder and surprises. A synchronistic moment is like a thunder bolt that comes down to shake us a bit and remind us of the oneness of all, as Jung said, “Synchronistic events … seem to point towards a unitary aspect of existence which transcends our conscious grasp — a unus mundus”



        Hey all,

        I was a bit hesitant to answer to this conversation because as much as I like to tone down the scientific approach I also like to tone down the metaphysical (a bit less that one 😉 ). But oh well here goes nothing.

        Sure life it self is a weird phenomenon and nobody can say with certainty what this whole thing is. That being said we have to work with what we have. That is with the rules and laws that at least work in our surrounding environment.

        Meaning and the concept of synchronicity for me has nothing to do with the metaphysical or paranormal. It is simply a creation of our own character and I am pretty sure that Jung and Campbell meant it that way. We are the puppet and the puppeteer.

        I ask what is the importance of making the distinction between Psyche and Matter? Maybe everything is psyche or maybe everything is matter maybe they are one and the same. Also as far as fate goes I am again pretty sure Campbell never meant anything metaphysical, I think, he is just pointing out to the limited control that we have over our unconscious and how it directs our conscious lives and especially if we are not aware of this how it appears as fate.

        Nice experiences to have nonetheless. I had them too when I was a kid. Butterflies would come and fly around me, dogs would follow me for no apparent reason, it appeared to rain when I was sad, etc (I don’t mean to say that these experiences are childish but that it is an experience that happens more when you are a kid). The meaning of these events was always personal, it didn’t matter which event happened to be meaningful only that it was meaningful but after a while they stopped. Two things could have happened here. Either myself was cut off from that transpersonal source or I didn’t need them anymore because I could understand my choices more clearly. I think it’s the latter and that why I said meaning is irrelevant in the other conversation we had, at least it is to me at this point.

        Anyways I guess what I am trying to say goes well with this little piece from the Matrix. I leave you with a quote and a link.

        The meaning that follow one another do not lie in things, but lie in you, who are subject to many changes, insofar as you take part in life. Things also change but you do not notice this if you do not change. But if you change the countenance of the world alters. The manifold sense of things is your manifold sense. ~Carl Jung, The Red Book.



        P.S. I did enjoy Marianne’s Dream interpretation with the monarch. Why not take a similar approach on Synchronicity though?

        I also found this video on synchronicity, very informative.



        Hi Drewie,

        I enjoyed your post and I feel I must respond to dispel any misunderstanding that I might have conveyed in my post regarding ‘paranormal or metaphysical’ events that you allude to.

        I have not spelled out what sort of a miracle I encountered in a court room thousands of miles away. It wasn’t as if I saw angels in the sky or or a fairy godmother offered a golden coach. It was all real flesh and blood situation but the flesh and blood connection percolated in my mind for over an year. A year later in Esalen I made the connection. The connection it was an impossibility, and that’s what I refreferred to as ‘incredible’ ‘a miracle’.  As an example, just imagine, news comes to you that someone you thought died 50 years ago, is alive and well.



        Hey Shaheda,

        I didn’t meant it was something you said. It was a general comment. It is fine to believe in whatever you wanna believe but my opinion on the subject was this. That I don’t see any link between the metaphysical and what Jung and Campbell said about synchronicity and fate. And like I said I had those experiences too.  I guess I still have them, only these days they come through active imagination by reading mythology and stories.




        Thanks for your response. That’s just it ….it was NOT metaphysical or paranormal, however, how likely is it for  travellers to land in a specific place and time,  that would change their life or at least how they look at it.

        That’s why Mexican poet Jimenez says it best for me

        My boat has struck something deep.
        Nothing happened.
        Sound, silence, waves.

        Nothing happened?

        • Or perhaps, everything happened
          And I’m sitting in the middle of my new life.”
          – Juan Ramon Jimenez

          Drewie; so glad to see you joining this discussion with your own vision of this very unwieldy topic of “synchronicity” that always seems to stirs up healthy debate whenever and wherever it comes up concerning Jung’s ideas. Joseph has probably done more to add some credibility to these ideas I would suspect than anyone. And indeed his phrase: “Follow your Bliss” has a direct connection to this subject; at least for some of us who have been so deeply influenced by his work. So let’s stop for a moment and add a quote from: “Darryl Sharp’s Lexicon”; one of the most trusted sources that Jungians refer to for concise definition:

          Synchronicity. A phenomenon where an event in the outside world coincides meaningfully with a psychological state of mind.

          Synchronicity . . . consists of two factors: a) An unconscious image comes into consciousness either directly (i.e., literally) or indirectly (symbolized or suggested) in the form of a dream, idea, or premonition. b) An objective situation coincides with this content. The one is as puzzling as the other.[“Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle,” ibid., par. 858.]

          Jung associated synchronistic experiences with the relativity of space and time and a degree of unconsciousness.
          The very diverse and confusing aspects of these phenomena are, so far as I can see at present, completely explicable on the assumption of a psychically relative space-time continuum. As soon as a psychic content crosses the threshold of consciousness, the synchronistic marginal phenomena disappear, time and space resume their accustomed sway, and consciousness is once more isolated in its subjectivity. . . . Conversely, synchronistic phenomena can be evoked by putting the subject into an unconscious state.[On the Nature of the Psyche,” CW 8, par. 440.]

          Synchronicity was defined by Jung as an “acausal connecting principle,” an essentially mysterious connection between the personal psyche and the material world, based on the fact that at bottom they are only different forms of energy.
          It is not only possible but fairly probable, even, that psyche and matter are two different aspects of one and the same thing. The synchronicity phenomena point, it seems to me, in this direction, for they show that the nonpsychic can behave like the psychic, and vice versa, without there being any causal connection between them.[Ibid., par. 418.]


          I think one of the most difficult ideas to contend with in most discussions about this idea is: “what directs this phenomena?” Then there comes the second part of this idea of: “why did this occur to me?” Now we get to interpretation of “what it means” which is extremely subjective and personal so we look at symbolism as a reference point. For most people; at least in the west I think is this notion that “Fate” has this mysterious connection to the “other” world; which world this belongs to can start a whole other heated debate inhabited by clerics and scholars alike because each has their own version. And what controls how this influence makes it’s appearance in one’s life is always at the center even up to today with science becoming a big part of the debate. So you have this notion of “God” as the controller of everything and all these versions of what God is, and what costume he or she wears, and whether this deity is real or not; and then there is this idea that things may happen because of this Deity’s desire to communicate it’s wishes in some kind of mysterious way that may have to do with one’s Fate or Destiny. And  as you made reference to in your reply here is a quick definition combining the two terms I pulled off Google from Merriam Webster’s Dictionary that may help keep us on track:

          “Fate and destiny are both words dealing with a predetermined or destined future. … However, while fate is concrete and determined by the cosmos, destiny depends on your choices in life.”


          Now if anyone wants to start an argument with a cleric about whether God actually exists or who is in control of the individual’s fate or destiny then this is a perfect place to start. But Jung looked at this differently; and 2 of his closest friends just happen to be Heinrich Zimmer and Richard Wilhelm who were two of the world’s most highly respected authorities on Eastern religions. Joseph has stated that he considered Zimmer one of his most important influences in his thinking and along with Jung’s influence all this played very heavily into Joseph’s interpretation of myths and symbols so that all these different themes about God and religion and symbols and the individual sense of their own life and brought him to the idea that it is within the individual psyche out which many of these manifestations occur; but may or may not be aware it. But like the idea of this debate between science and God these are not really something explainable in the same sense that the mystic or the cleric or the scientist might be able to provide. So to add to the discussion about this phenomena of “meaningful chance” I’m going to add a short clip from Joseph’s lecture series where he makes the distinctions between where some of these misconceptions may reside. This does not address synchronicity per say; but it will help to add some extra clarity to the role symbols and religion concerning fate and the individual may lie which returns back to your original reference.

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