Analytical psychologist Carl Jung was the first to introduce synchronicity as a concept, variously defining it between the 1920s and 1950s as an “acausal connecting principle,” “acausal parallelism,” and perhaps most popularly as “meaningful coincidence.” It serves as the unifying force behind most, if not all, of what is considered paranormal, parapsychological or psi phenomena, which is to say the effectively hidden connections that allegedly weave together all that is.
During high school I got my first whiff of what synchronicity was, though it was not until I spoke with my friend Channing that I learned of the word or how the particular manifestation that I had been experiencing at the time had plagued others in frighteningly similar ways. It began when I had written in the editorial of the online magazine a few friends and I had begun publishing at the time. In the editorial I had made the passing comment, more or less just another bitter and sarcastic comment of mine, on how I expected to be dead by age 23.
Shortly thereafter the number began to appear everywhere. I grabbed a bottle of cooking oil at work and the number was magic-markered on the white cap on top. One of the manager’s children approached me later in the day and had the number on his shirt. I’d look at the clock and see that it would be 5:23. The next time I’d look, it’d be 7:23. I’d get an order at a restaurant and my call number would be twenty-three.
Only after this began happening did I learn through Channing that others have had the same experiences with this number. In his 1977 book Cosmic Trigger, Robert Anton Wilson writes of the experience where, it would seem, all this shit with the number 23 started:
“In the early ‘60s in Tangier, Burroughs knew a certain Captain Clark who ran a ferry from Tangier to Spain. One day, Clark said to Burroughs that he’d been running the ferry 23 years without accident. That very day, the ferry sank, killing Clark and everybody aboard… In the evening, Burroughs was thinking about this when he turned on the radio. The first newscast told about the crash of an Eastern Airlines plane in New York-Miami route. The pilot was another Captain Clark and the flight was listed as a flight 23.”
Burroughs went on to keep a list of strange coincidences, discovering along the journey that 23 ended up in quite a bit of them. When Robert Anton Wilson heard about this, he began documenting such coincidences as well. The 23 synchronicity was also eventually incorporated into the Principia Discordia, a book that inspired Discordianism, an intentionally-disorganized pseudo-religion borne from the minds of certain members of the drug culture in the sixties. They worshipped Eris, the goddess of Chaos, who is associated with the number five and, by extension, 23.
Though I initially treated it as a joke, over time it’s humorous aura evaporated and it began evolving into a far more sober curiosity and concern. Though many insisted I had been unconsciously hunting for the number — that I was unconsciously seeking it out, remembering when I saw it and forgetting when I did not — my experiences often suggested to me that it was this vile double-digit that was doing the stalking. There were times when the synchronicities got so high and so fucking ridiculous that this explanation seemed quite difficult for me to swallow in all seriousness.
I revisited this synchronicity with numbers yet again roughy a decade later, when I finally began attending college, and it was at that point that it became quite apparent to me that the number 23 itself did not bear any cosmic synchronistic property. After reading up on Douglas Adams, who once attested in his books that the meaning to life was 42, I began seeing that number everywhere as well. And after reading up on the Eastern mala, which traditionally has 108 beads, and watching the television show LOST, which deals with synchronicities involving all the aforementioned numbers and then some, I began seeing the number 108 everywhere as well.
And there was, of course, the fact that this phenomenon proved to extend beyond numbers. This I came to realize shortly after 23 started haunting me. I began to notice that despite the fact that I would talk to different people who did not talk or even know of one another, they would nonetheless bring up the same subjects with me, suggest the same things, make the same observations, pose the same questions, indicate the same ideas, reference the same sources. In rebellion against any semblance of rationality it often seemed as though some force behind existence was pointing towards or away from a particular direction through use of countless tiny fingers: call them omens, warnings, signs.
Sometimes I’d be innocently thinking of someone I haven’t thought of or seen in a very long time and within the day I’d bump into them or they’d call me or otherwise reach out to me. On other occasions, I might think of someone — a girl — not so innocently. Though it had, like that evil 23, first began as a joke, I noticed more and more often that when I had a particularly powerful sexual fantasy about a girl while masturbating that she would contact me or cross my path within a day or two — even if I had not seen that girl in months or years. Though relatively rarely, in a few instances the girl in question confessed to having had a dream of me, often sexual in nature.
For a long while, I thought that telepathy stood as a sufficient explanation across the board with respect to my whack-off voodoo, and in many cases I think this still stands as a worthy explanation. In other cases it just didn’t seem to fit the bill. During college I had milked the man-meats to the thought of a girl I had not seen in a good while and the next day, as I was sitting at a table, she had walked by me on campus — but I was fairly certain she had not seen me, and so it seems unlikely that she had sought me out. I had a hard time chalking that up to mere telepathy. Nor would telepathy account for my synchronicity involving numbers.
Other instances were even more difficult to define specifically. One morning in the Spring of 1999, before my first move to the college town in May, I woke up and recalled a few details from a dream. This was what I often refer to as a “busy dream,” as it was long, drawn out, and involved many characters and a lot of activity. All I could remember specifically, however, was a scene in which I was driving my car into the parking lot of the library of a nearby town I visited nearly every day. In the midst of pulling in, I spotted Felicia, a girl I hadn’t seen since the end of high school two years ago. Her and I rarely spoke, she was not a part of my circle of friends, and to be honest, I never thought much about her. For some reason I tried hiding my cigarette from her as I drove passed, anxious for some reason about her seeing me smoking.
Since the dream fragment didn’t really seem to be anything important, I paid it little mind. I woke up and went about my usual, unemployed daily activities: I hit a few restaurants in the aforementioned town, drank some coffee, smoked cigarettes and wrote. As I circled the town square, not thinking of the dream at all, I saw the library and, on a whim, decided to pull in and do some research on dreams, which I had been researching at the time. As I was pulling into the parking lot, my stereo blasted my dubbed version of Sad But True off Metallica’s self-titled “black” album. After walking into the library, I found my eyes directed at the front desk, where I saw a familiar blond haired girl. I suddenly made the connection with the dream and thought it funny that the girl looked an awful lot like Felicia. As I walked closer to her, I realized that it didn’t just look like her, it was her. Mind blown, I approached her, breathed deep, swallowed, and tapped her on the shoulder. She looked at me. It was indeed Felicia. I greeted her and she asked how I was. A casual conversation ensured, but I could sense that she was put off by my approach and strange attitude, so I cut it short and went about my way.
When I was alone and found my place in the library I let myself digest all of this. My dream of the library that morning might have subliminally prompted me to actually visit the place, as would the fact that I was currently researching dreams. Even so, how in the hell would I, at any level, know that Felicia, a girl I never knew well and had not seen in two years, would actually be there?
Upon finally returning to my car and starting it up, the song that had been playing when I pulled in continued: Sad But True. It struck me that this song was about the dark side, our inner anti-ego, which resided and presided over the unconscious, dissociated aspects of our minds — essentially about what Jung called our Shadow. Might my shadow the puppet-master behind the curtain, busily pulling these synchronistic strings? Subsequent episodes of weirdness not limited to synchronicity have provided further suggestion that this is the case.
Another mystifying sequence of experiences involved what I have come to call the deathbunnies. On July 17, 1999, after I had moved into the apartment with Sandra that May, I was driving my car and, for some unknown reason, reflecting on an incident that had occurred one evening the year before, in the summer of 1998. Channing and I had been hanging out and he had just driven us back to my parent’s house, where I lived at the time, and we spent some time getting deeply involved in conversation while meandering about the front yard.
We had been gawking at a picture in a CD he had bought that depicted a woman clad in black, surrounded in snow-white bunnies, and then had gone on to talk about our hopeless plans to date two girls we were interested in, who happened to be friends themselves. We considered the hopeful though remote possibility that down the road at the house of the girl I liked they might be talking about us in a similar fashion when something peculiar happened. This rabbit jumped between us — though to our eyes the speed and height at which it jumped, it’s abnormally long legs and relatively small body, assured us this was no ordinary rabbit. In addition, it both appeared out of nowhere and vanished in just the same way, and in the aftermath we just stood there, spooked, amazed and incredibly curious.
After we began speaking again, confirming to ourselves what had just happened, we engaged in speculation. Channing pointed out the previously unacknowledged associations we both had between bunnies and women, at least on that particular evening. Not only had the strange rabbit appeared just as we had been talking about women, after all, but there was that CD image we had been collectively entranced by.
Later that evening (or morning, as the case likely was), after he had left, I decided to drive to Dairy Mart in a nearby town to get a cappuccino. Right after pulling out of my driveway, I decided I wasn’t up to driving there after all, however, so I quickly pulled down a nearby dirt road that led to Hades Hollow park. I figured I’d drive around the block, listen to some music and smoke some cigarettes. Halfway down the road, I saw something dart out of the darkness and under the wheels of my car, feeling the hearing that horrible noise as I rolled over it. This disturbed me greatly, for save for finding a bird stuck in the grill of my first car some years back, I had never killed an animal with my car, or at all, for that matter. The thought of having killed an animal, or perhaps having merely hurt it and leaving it there to suffer, struck such guilt in me that I had to stop the car, turn around, go back and look at it to make sure it was dead, to ease my conscience. There was no mistaking the corpse for what it was once it was illuminated by my headlights. However normal in physiology, it was undoubtedly a bunny.
Though I cannot be certain at all why I was reflecting upon that experience that day in July, in the midst of doing so a baby bunny ran across the road right in front of my car. I was sure I had missed it, but was unable to ignore the strange coincidence, giving what I had been thinking about. Further down the road, perhaps some fifteen minutes later, it happened again, and this time the thing had just been sitting in the middle of the road. This was also dodged near death, however. I failed to note my destination when taking notes about this instance, though I did note something daunting on my drive home. In two different locations on the same road — the same locations that I had seen the two rabbits, for all I know — there were rabbit carcasses, each being pecked at by three crows.
Within a day or two, I walked into the apartment to find a lit fish tank on a table in the living room. Confused, I approached it, only to find a baby bunny inside. Soon I learned that Sandra had run over it’s mother while driving her cousin, Terra, and they were doing their best to nurse it back to health. Upon checking the tank when I awoke on July 20th, I found it dead.
Synchronicity is not always predominantly mystifying in character, however; sometimes, it can be downright annoying, as was perfectly exemplified in an experience I had in October of 2000. Though it may have no bearing on the incident that followed, I recorded in my notes that the evening previous I had listened to the “Alpha-Theta Train” program on my Mind Gear PR-2X mind machine — a device that utilizes pulsating light and sound to alter brainwaves through a phenomenon known as entrainment. After waking up, I had tried print something out on my computer and it refused to do so, which left me incredibly irritated to begin with on my way to work. As I drove, I put in a random mix tape. It turned out to be Metallica, which I was not in the mood for at all, so I ejected the tape to put in another and to hear what was on the radio in the meantime. To my dismay, the radio was playing Metallica, which only served to reinforce my annoyance. I put in another tape, hoping that it was Stone Temple Pilots, as that was the band I was in the mood to hear, but it turned out to be Godsmack. Agitated, I took out that tape to put in yet another, thinking that perhaps something better might be on the radio this time. Unfortunately, it was Godsmack. This pissed me off more than it amazed me. After parking my car to write this all down, I was listening to Oleander on cassette, which was finally getting on my nerves, mostly because I was still unable to find a tape with Stone Temple Pilots on it, so I ejected the tape — only to find Oleander playing on the radio.
Over the years it has also come to my attention that the broad-spectrum weirdness in my life often comes in waves which peak in intense clusters of experiences. These clusters can span over the course of months, weeks, and in some cases, even days. In September of 2002, I had just such a cluster of odd synchronicities.
On the first if the month I was driving home from work, for some reason thinking about the Hermit card of the Tarot deck as I made my way. Upon arriving home I was blown away to discover that my mother had bought a deck of Tarot cards that very day. The following day was even more replete with weirdness. I awoke from a dream in which I had put on a jacked made of newspapers. After exiting my room I found that my father was wearing a T-shirt with a newspaper on it. Unprompted, he also told me about film he had made of when I was a kid in which I was rolling around in newspapers lain about the floor. Later, when at work, I also noted that I had not seen a particular regular at the fast food joint in some time. Shortly thereafter, he strolled on in through the door.
Upon waking up on the third, I went downstairs to find mom and some lady talking about yellow finches. Just as they were in the midst of talking about it, a yellow finch stopped at the bird-feeder in our backyard. I then got in my car and left to go to a restaurant to write. As I was driving, a yellow bird flew in front of me quickly. I hoped that I hadn’t hit it, but upon looking behind me I saw a yellow dot in the road. At work, I find the health department had come in. I had just thought about them yesterday.
Some synchronicity would fall into the category telepathy, others more likely constituting clairvoyance, precognition or retrocognition. In other cases it seems as though the mind’s capacity to influence probability is being demonstrated — what parapsychologists refer to as micro-PK. When we typically think of psychokinesis (PK) or telekinesis, as it’s sometimes called, we often envision bent spoons and levitating objects. This is known as macro-PK, but this is not the form of PK given the most attention by parapsychologists in the laboratory. They are instead focused on what is known as micro-PK, which they define as the deliberate or unconscious ability to influence the probability of events to fall in favor of a designated target. After determining the statistical likelihood of all available outcomes of a tossed die, a flipped quarter, or the results of a random number generator, in other words, they would then instruct their subjects to attempt to sway the odds in a statistically significant fashion through intention alone. Such experiments were statistically successful in defying the odds.
For some time it has seemed to me that if what is apparently occurring in micro-PK experiments were to occur on the macro level, what you would observe would not be macro-PK, but something altogether different, suggesting it might be an entirely distinct psi ability — the ability to manufacture coincidence. If conscious intent can cause a rolled pair of dice to have a greater likelihood of coming up as a pair of sixes, might conscious intent also be able to affect the probability of events on a grander scale?