Synchronicity. Encounter with Numinosity.

The philosopher Heidegger said,

”There’s what I want to think about, and then there’s what wants to be thought.”

Its a single line that could keep you busy for a lifetime.

For instance, what about what I want to write about and what wants to be written? And who am I if I am merely penning what has already crowded its way to the forefront of my neo-cortex?

What are the implications for self-realisation if my idea of what it might mean is undercut by that which wants to be realised? What if enlightenment was something that came knocking at your door? What if it barged in?

I was a nineteen year old special forces…

be polite now..


We had been sent on a mission to mop up some ‘auxiliaries’, fighters who’d annoyingly swopped sides and traded in their AK47’s for G3 semi-automatics and a hot meal.

It wasn’t very well thought out. They had a habit of defecting back again or just doing their own thing and had become…an embarrassment.

Six of us were sent in, concealed in the back of an armoured vehicle. The plan was explained en route. Lure them out of the bush with bully beef and cigarrettes and, ahem, ‘resolve’ the diplomatic….problem.

I had a small niggle about this. When we arrived at the RV the niggle had become an itch and the itch a gnawing pit of dread in my gut.

…in cold blood?

I began to sweat and moan. The officer was calling the Auxiliaries out of hiding. Soft thump of cigarrette cartons landing on the dusty ground. I heard voices, the crackle of dry undergrowth, figures moving slowly through the rifle slits, men with carelessly shouldered weapons.

…in cold blood?

The officer motioned us with a hidden hand. Sweat dribbled into my eyes, grime everwhere. The bottom of the truck was covered in bark and dirt from a fuel run earlier.

A woodlouse suddenly barrelled its way across the floor towards me, his feathery antennae working furiously, as if in desperate communication. Despite his tiny size he seemed to fill my entire field of vision.  My bootlace trailed on the ground. He clambered up it with great effort, struggling to get up, as if the smallest advantage was worth any sacrifice, his now whirring antennae a dance of petition.

…in cold blood?

The woodlouse began to absorb my entire attention. He became Woodlouse, his whole purpose to convey something terribly important and it was as if, for just a moment, the waving of his antennae breached the divide between us.

…in cold blood?

The order was given. The firing and the screaming began. Woodlouse clambered further up, waving, waving, hallooo, halllloooooo.

..not in cold blood.

When it was all over I was still sat in my seat, unused belts of ammo trailing from a cold gun. The silence was eternal. I kept my eyes on Woodlouse who had climbed back down a bit but twiddling victoriously.

Woodlouse. Burrowing creature of the underworld who creates rich humus out of dead wood.

The officer and I looked at each other for a veeeery long time, his brain cluncking between the options of handing me down a juicy 128 days in detention barracks or an even juicier yet unfortunate accident. Woodlouse sat firmly on my boot giving courage and filling me with the strangest sense of calm. Nobody said a word.

Of course, you could say that I just projected my conscience onto the woodlouse but that was not my experience. When I read Jung years later saying that the soul is mostly ouside the body I understood what had happened. I had been redeemed by something beyond my own consciousness.

”Something in the outer world crstallizes or confirms an inner process.” Jeanne Lloyd.

In a moment of urgency, inner and outer had ‘lined up’, or perhaps revealed their inner unity.

“Synchronicity is no more baffling or mysterious than the discontinuities of physics. We must regard them as creative acts, as the continuous creation of a pattern that is not derivable from any known antecedents.” C G Jung. 

During the time I was in analysis I got befriended by badgers. They came to me in dreams. Once I was in the woods and one came right up to me and musked my boot.

So, I dreamt that I was sick and two men with the heads of badgers tattoed their print on my chest and sucked out poison through it via a blue golf tee. It was a great relief.

I had a session the next day. On the pavement immediatly in front of my analyst’s gate, in two up two down suburbia, was a blue golf tee.

Something unknown is doing I don’t know what .

yet there is some poetry in the fresh game, the new beginning, that is teeing off.

Several years later I got the tattoo of the badger’s print done as it had been in my dream. Shortly after I was coming home late at night on my motorbike and as I turned into the drive understood that there was a badger waiting for me at the bottom of the garden.

Badger. Burrowing creature.

It was pitch black and 100m away but I clumsily made my way down to the boundry fence and there she was. I walked right up to the fence as she snuffled up and down. Her partner 60m away, bolted .

We are more than we can conceptualise.

”Morphic fields extend beyond us linking us to the objects of perception, affecting them through intention and attention.” R Sheldrake.

The content of synchronicities are always unique but there is something that seems common to them. They have to do with the re-enchantment of life, an aliveness that comes from going into the unknown, from crossing some kind of threshold of Being, or perhaps simply by allowing oneself to be.

We do have this idea that enlightenment comes from all kinds of strenuous effort and sometimes that is needed but so is it true that sometimes what is required is simply to get out of our own way and allow realisation to unfold by itself.

My dear mentor Chuck Schwartz once told me,

”Whatever the specific meaning of synchronous events there is also the more general sense that you are on the right track.”

Synchronicities are expressions of the dreamlike nature of reality,

”In a night dream, the dreamscape is reflecting the internal psyche of the dreamer. The dream is not separate from the inner world. Nor is our waking experience separate from what we normally call reality”. P Levy

So, what about if you’re not at all sure if you’re awaake or…


Most of the time we at least think we know and are comforted by that. Sometimes, you can have lucid dreams and go about introducing yourself to figures of the inner world. But what do you do if..

you’re not quite sure…?

I’m in a garden and can’t quite decide one way or another. No lizard men… an acid test, usually. I look at the hairs on my arms, the whorls in my fingerprints, the grain of the brickwork in the garden wall. Then I pick up a sprig of three red leaves and hold it up to the light marvelling at the intricacy of their veins and the incredible colours.

Then its real whether you can find the seams in the universe or not, matey.

What a relief, and coughed up a kilo of broken glass.

better out than in…

Next morning I’m off to work down Commercial road in the East End of London, cash in hand casual work in an Indian gift shop. In the middle of the street is a sprig of three red leaves, but plastic and very unreal looking..

..laughed all the way to work.

When we step out of creed and dogma, braving the prospect of making our own way through the dark forest all manner of things happen to act as markers on the way,

”choreographed by the great pervasive intelligence that lies at the heart of nature, manifest in each of us as intuitive knowledge.” D Chopra.

When I was twelve I was sent to a foreign boarding school. On the first day my rugby boots were thrown around the dorm, mocked for their cheap brand and inferior stitching.

It was bad enough, but the really important piece of it was that it reminded me of a forgotten story my father told me long before. Remembered, suddenly and entirely. How his father had been shot down over Turin in 1942 , the rear gunner of a downed Lancaster. The RAF gave my father a bursary to a foreign boarding school where he was mocked for his clumpy shoes…

and how he’d never send me to such a place.

‘An you fink,

‘Ang on a frikkin minit.

Who’s life is this anyway?

Let alone what it might mean.

Something  comes out of the blue with your destiny in one hand and the burden of generations in the other.  Einstein’s anonymous god, a sometimes dark and unwanted co-incidence that nevertheless brings sudden, mercurial insight.

Published by


Psychotherapist/writer/artist/ author of, 'Going Mad to Stay Sane', a psychology of self-destructiveness, about to come into its third edition. Soon to be printed for the first time, 'Abundant Delicious.. the Secret and the Mystery', described by activist Satish Kumar as, ' A Tao of the Soul'. This book documents the archetypal country through which the process of individuation occurs and looks at the trials and tribulations we might expect on the way. In the meantime..... Narcissisim is the issue of our age. This blog looks at how it operates, how it can damage and how we may still fruit despite it.

Leave a Reply