Jung and The Tarot – Part II – SYNCHRONICITY



What is Synchronicity

Jung coined the term ‘synchronicity’ to describe simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related but have no apparent casual connection.

In his book “Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle,” Jung wrote:

…it is impossible, with our present resources, to explain ESP, or the fact of meaningful coincidence, as a phenomenon of energy. This makes an end of the causal explanation as well, for “effect” cannot be understood as anything except a phenomenon of energy. Therefore, it cannot be a question of cause and effect, but of a falling together in time, a kind of simultaneity. Because of this quality of simultaneity, I have picked on the term “synchronicity” to designate a hypothetical factor equal in rank to causality as a principle of explanation.

Synchronicity was a principle, which, Jung felt, gave conclusive evidence for his concepts of archetypes and the collective unconscious.  It described a governing dynamic which underlies the whole of human experience and history – social, emotional, psychological and spiritual.

Meaningful Coincidences

Most important is the fact that Jung considered synchronicities to be “acausal”.  That means that synchronicities have no cause-and-effect relationship.  For example: you think about your sister and at that moment she calls.  Or as you are thinking about your high-school friend, you see his photo in the newspaper. Jung considered these meaningful coincidences. Here we need to understand the concept of ‘meaning’.  Let’s say you hear the word ‘bright.’ You might think of the sun, or a bright-sunny day.  Or, perhaps, you think of someone who is very smart. Whatever the case is, the word itself is just a collection of sounds.  It is your understanding of it that give it meaning.

We might wish to divide the concept of synchronicity into three parts:

  1. Coincidence – two or more events that may seem to be related, but in reality, are not
  2. Acausality – Even when events appear to be related, one does not cause the other
  3. Meaning – our minds give sense to something (be it symbol, word or sound)

Tools of Divination

Jung suggested that synchronicity could be responsible for the way that divination tools (like the I Ching or the Tarot) might work. To Jung there was a connection between physical objects (i.e. Tarot Cards) and the images one sees in one’s mind. Because synchronistic events usually entail physical objects, they provide an explanation for the Tarot readings. The problems arise with the fact that synchronistic events are almost impossible to study as their occurrence is random and unpredictable. Therefore, can we say that synchronicity can be harnessed and used by the tarot reader in a conscious, directed manner?

Jung conducted a number of experiments involving ESP and astrology.  He had made observations that the results of such experiments largely depended on the state of mind of their subjects.  For example: if a subject were a skeptic or just uninterested, he or she scored worse than the ones that were enthusiastic about the project. Therefore, it was logical to conclude that to make use of synchronistic approach, one has to be of a receptive frame of mind. This is also suggestive of the fact that Tarot readers need to direct their thoughts along the appropriate paths to get meaningful results.  Think about this: if we’re all part of the collective unconscious, unless we focus on one particular individual and his issue(s), the result can be just about anything – and having nothing to do with the person for whom the cards are being read.


Synchronicity and The Tarot

I usually tell my clients that it doesn’t matter how they shuffle the cards; it doesn’t matter from where in the deck the cards will come from – the ‘right’ cards will come out anyway.  That’s because as a Tarot reader, it is my job to concentrate on the energies surrounding the client’s concern.  It is also my job to give meaning to the symbols and the pictures as they relate to my client. So as long I concentrate my energy and intent in the right direction, synchronicity takes over. Then the picture emerges from the Tarot that illuminates the energy and dynamics at work surrounding a particular situation.


So, in conclusion, we may even say that the Tarot is the very epitome of synchronicity:

  1. Coincidence – the cards that come out
  2. Acausality – the scenarios that emerges from the cards
  3. Meaning – the reader’s interpretation of the spread

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