Synchronicity

Sacred Beetle illustration E. J. Detmold

Synchronicity is at the heart of this wild, weird and wonderful work that I do and synchronicity is one of those ideas that folks love to debate, which to my mind, entirely misses the point. 

I just reread Jung’s anecdote of the scarab beetle which is a perfect (and simple) illustration of the power of synchronicity. In a 1951 lecture he mentions,

… a young woman patient who, in spite of efforts made on both sides, proved to be psychologically inaccessible. The difficulty lay in the fact that she always knew better about everything. Her excellent education had provided her with a weapon ideally suited to this purpose, namely a highly polished Cartesian rationalism.

He goes on to say how her treatment wasn’t effective until one day when she was recounting a vivid dream from the night before in which someone had given her a golden scarab (an expensive piece of jewelry shaped like the Egyptian scarab beetle), and as she spoke, Jung heard tapping on the window behind him and opened it to reveal, lo and behold, a scarab beetle trying to get inside. “Here is your scarab,” he said to the woman and,

… this experience punctured the desired hole in her rationalism and broke the ice of her intellectual resistance.  

And her therapy continued with great success. It’s really that simple. Synchronicity isn’t about why meaningful coincidences happen, it’s about how we let them enter us, how these meaningful coincidences free us from a black-and-white, myopic and shallow experience of life. We can brush them off and they’re nothing more than a pesky bug at the window. Or we can allow the experience to open us to something larger and more mysterious where all of our creativity and joy and wonder resides.


”The Sacred Beetle” illustration by E. J. Detmold for “Fabre’s Book of Insects”, 1921

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