During the past nine years that I have been recording and reflecting on meaningful coincidences in my own life and the lives of others, I’ve come to see these seemingly miraculous events as natural phenomena available to anyone who is willing to pay attention. Along with other natural occurrences such as dreams, imagination, precognition, and intuition, they help align us with our soul’s path. When approached with reverence and a sincere desire to connect to inner symbols that reflect our highest purpose in life, synchronicities open up new vistas of inner knowing. They infuse consciousness with new meaning and further the growth of Self. Marie Louise von Franz writes in her essay in Jung’s Man and His Symbols that “synchronistic events, moreover, almost invariably accompany the process of Individuation, but too often they pass unnoticed, because the individual has not learned to watch for such coincidences and to make them meaningful in relation to the symbolism of his dreams” (pg. 227).
A synchronicity is by its very nature infused with symbolic meaning. An event of synchronicity is more than a mere signpost. It has the symbolic potential to connect mind and matter to the larger meaning and mystery of life. Jung has defined a sign as having no meaning or function beyond imparting information or pointing us in a certain direction. A symbol, on the other hand, is large with meaning – more than we can know consciously. One of the most striking examples of symbolic meaning found in everyday things is expressed beautifully in the first stanza of William Blake’s Auguries of Innocence: “To see a world in a grain of sand/and heaven in a wild flower/Hold infinity in the palm of your hand/and eternity in an hour…” I cannot hear or read those words without being drawn into the deeper secrets of the phenomenological world.
What makes our meaningful symbols so important as agents of personal development and growth? Jung tells us that they illuminate unconscious content that when integrated into consciousness, makes us more whole and balanced as individuals and promotes the growth of Self. A symbol cannot be coaxed to give up its meaning through critical thinking alone. We must work with the imaginal on its own turf, sending feelers deep into the ground of our own imagination and intuition. This can be done through the creation of art, poetry, myth and story, and, of course, when journaling and reflecting on a symbol over time, as I did with one that kept recurring in my dreams.
As I’ve mention before, the year before my husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer, I began to have dreams about losing my purse. In the dreams my purse was lost or stolen, and I spent restless nights trying to locate the culprit to get it back. Sometimes, the purse was found, but the contents were taken out and all of my important identification, credit cards, and money were gone. In one dream, I found a Trickster character with identification he’d taken from my purse, but before I could get it back, he ran outside, tore it up into millions of pieces, and scattered it to the winds. At first, I had no idea why these variations on the lost purse theme were recurring in my dreams. Then, in an unfortunate event of synchronicity, my actual purse was stolen. A few months later the dreaded diagnosis was pronounced, giving my husband six months to live. I began to see the connection between lost purse and loss of identity.
I continue to have lost and stolen purse dreams seven years after my husband’s death, but the symbols have begun to change from complete loss of identity to redefining myself in unique and hopeful ways. I have even been given dream helpers to reconnect me to my lost “possessions.” In one recent dream an eight-year old girl retrieved my lost purse and brought it back to me. While contemplating this dream symbol of the young girl, I brought back viscerally to the imaginative child I once was – something I have been writing about in journals and essays and have been opening to for many years.
I recorded the dream that I titled “The Child Brings the Woman’s Purse Back to Her” in my journal
I am at a public place where music is playing. I get up to dance and come back to our table. I look for my glasses, at which point I realize my purse is gone. I look around, but don’t see it anywhere. A young girl around 8-years old, wearing glasses herself, brings my purse, intact, back to me. I thank her and ask her if there is anything I can do for her. She says, “No, thank you. All I have ever wanted is spirit in my life.” (End of Dream)
I was excited about this dream, remembering the spirit-filled child I was at 8-years old. Around that time my parents joined the Catholic Church, and it wasn’t long before I was planning to become a nun when I grew up. I’ve since left the religion of my youth, but my dream child’s words ring true for me today: All I have ever wanted is spirit in my life.
One of the ways I find synchronicity journaling spirit-evoking is being shown our connection to the numinous quality and mystery of everyday things. Also, I discovered that committing to paying attention to meaningful coincidences as they related to my dreams and visions was just what I needed to re-seed my passion for reflecting on and writing about such things. The book I’m currently writing, “Synchronicity Journaling: Working with Dreams, Visions, and Meaningful Coincidence,” was born of that commitment. It is my belief that as more people begin to honor their meaningful coincidences, dreams, and visions through the process of reflective journaling, new seeds of growth will be sown in their own hearts and imaginations and that will blossom in myriad ways out in the world.
Copyright © 2014 Jenna Farr Ludwig. All Rights Reserved.