We can define synchronicity as “meaningful coincidence”, but we can understand it, I believe, as magic.
For the modern, spiritually-centered person—and especially for witches—the concept of synchronicity is something that mystifies us, but often feels elusive, confusing, or gets reduced to “signs” or “messages” that seem to appear too easily and everywhere. On the opposite end of the 21st century sensibility, synchronicity has become synonymous with irrational thinking, and the undeniable experience of synchronous happenings is dismissed.
But nearly everyone can agree that the true experience of synchronicity is very real and very powerful. To our ancestors, these inexplicable coincidences were be chalked up to miracles or the will of an externalized God, and contemporary science and psychology doesn’t bother to try offer us any satisfying explanations for the magical happenings that have such profound effect on our lives.
But truly, synchronicity is a profound experience that not only deepens our spirituality, but acts as a support and validation for our journeys. And this is the key aspect of synchronicity that we must remember, its effect must be profound.
This was the emphasis psychologist Carl Jung made when he first outlined the theory of synchronicity in the middle of the 20th century as a counter to the governing principle of causality. He theorized that things could be connected without a causal link, without a “this leading to that”. Synchronicities, rather than happening in linearly, happen laterally, across space and time, without anything connecting them though they are very much connected.
As Jungian Marie Louise von Franz writes, “Synchronicity…means a ‘meaningful coincidence’ of outer and inner events that are not themselves causally connected. The emphasis lies on the word ‘meaningful’.” And this is where synchronicity tends to be misunderstood.
Random things that catch our eye, or casual repetitions we might catch throughout the day, are not really labeled as synchronicities. Seeing 11:11 on the clock, or seeing a dove in the sky are not necessarily synchronicities. In order for something to be a true synchronicity, they must infuse in us a numinous awe, a sense of wonder at the magical feeling of the moment. In other words, in order for an experience to be synchronous, it must have a significant psychological impact on the individual experiencing it.
This means that synchronicity, by definition, is a happening that is sincerely both completely mysterious and deeply meaningful to us. And because the essence of synchronicity is, as Jung described, the participation between psyche and matter, between the inner and outer realities, we can see the synchronistic moments of our lives as the externalization of our truths, as messages from our unconscious depths.
And this, I believe, is the heart of our magic. We cast spells and set intentions and try manifestation to bring about the alignment of the inner and outer worlds. And at the core of all of these practices is a fundamental belief: that the world within can cooperate with the world without, and the world without can reflect the world within. This is not a new-age concept. This is ancient. This is the foundation of the hermetic union of macrocosm and microcosm. This is “as above so below”, “as within so without”. This is the heart of magic.
Magic is a word that cannot be defined, at least not in a way that can satisfy everyone. But I think we can understand magic like this: It is the cooperation of the microcosm (humanity) with the macrocosm (the collective unconscious, the cosmos, the divine) to bring about a single unified aim. It is the seemingly inexplicable, miraculous success of our alignment, our truth-seeking, our power. It is the wondrous, exhilarating, synchronous coincidences that revive us, deepen us, guide us to individuation.