Friday, July 6, 2012

All Syncs Not Created Equal

Basic Principles Established in Jung's Theory of Synchronicity

To understand what is meant by synchronicity we can turn to the origin of the word  with its intended meaning, emerging prominently in the work of C.G. Jung. His model of sync was set up as follows:

1. An internal psychic state coincides with the immediate observation of an external objective event without any conceivable evidence of a causal connection between the inner state and the outer event.  

2. An internal psychic state coincides with an external objective event at a distance, with close temporal (time) proximity. 

3. An internal psychic event coincides with a corresponding, not yet existing future that is spatially and temporally separate but synchronized in its content. 

From these three ground rules we derive the basic premise of synchronicity. Moments of this sort are not bound by time or space, but rather, by the psychic contents of the internal state and external events. Nevertheless, events may be synchronized spatially and temporally in such a way that the outer experience is a direct and instantaneous mirror of the internal state.

The next distinction Jung makes in his definition of Synchronicity requires a basic understanding of Archetypes and the principles of compensation. In simple terms, archetypes are the imaginal templates from which outer-objective reality emerges. For example, the archetype of the Hero emerges in countless outward expressions, yet we can always recognize the hero-template in the actions of these individuals' actions. 

Jung describes Archetypal Compensation as the way archetypes express themselves dramatically in order to bring equilibrium to an imbalanced psyche. For example, if one has been particularly limp and immobile, they may dream of a heroic figure, encounter one in their outer world, or step into the role themselves in order to correct the imbalance.

Psychic events relate to synchronicity in the following way:

1. The compensatory activity of the archetype is experienced both inwardly and outwardly, creating a psychological shift for the individual that moves toward a resolution of the psychic dissonance.

2. The compensatory activity of the archetype is experienced outwardly alone, so that the individual may or may not witness the event or attribute any meaning to it, and is not sufficiently affected by the event to resolve the dissonance.

This grants us insight into the way synchronicity operates at the personal level. We are asked to believe that these psychic coincidences are not bound to time or space, though they are not antagonistic to these boundaries either. In whatever capacity we experience synchronicity, it is always to establish a balance in the individual's psyche.

Next, we are told that these events may take a variety of forms depending on a few factors:

1. There is unconscious content (repressed and/or unknown) that is presently moving towards consciousness.  The objective event acts as a compensatory equivalent to that unconscious content, highlighting something intimately related to what we must become conscious of.

2. There is something already dominant in consciousness. The objective event occurs solely to compensate for the conscious contents of the ego. 

With simple language, we are either unaware of something and are meant to become aware of it through the synchronous event, or we are so aware of this psychic state already that it manifests externally as a synchronous event. 

In the case that these external compensatory events are not bound to the immediate boundaries of space or time, people begin describing them with concepts like clairvoyance, telepathy, prophecy, and so forth. 

Synchronous events are acausal and indeterminate, which means that they cannot be traced back to a first cause. Jung fleshes this out on page 12 of his book Synchronicity, where he criticizes Schopenhauer's imposition of a transcendental Will as the first cause of all synchronicity. In its place, Jung inserts the quantum theory of multiplicity and indeterminacy, inviting us to view synchronicity as a dance of Life rather than the plotted scheme of some singular divine entity.

However, the chaotic dance of synchronicity and absence of a singular transcendental will does not negate meaningfulness. Jung explains that this dance is coordinated to compensate for any imbalance in our personal (or in some cases, collective) psychology. Therefore, synchronicities are defined as meaningful coincidence, presumably in contrast to the relatively meaningless coincidence of statistical chance. 

Inner psychic states and objective events that sync up are considered meaningful parallels. Rather than defining 'meaningful' in measured terms, Jung refers to the subject's felt experience of the synchronicity as the ultimate marker of its significance. If it doesn't feel special, it probably isn't. True synchronicities carry a numinous, spiritual charge. 

When the content of the sync reflects backward upon the individual and acts as a doorway into the archetypal level of meaning, then the individual becomes directly conscious of what Jung calls the Collective Unconscious. These are the shared archetypes of the local community and at an even more central strata, the whole human family.

Synchronicity: Solipsistic Indulgence or Useful Function of Human Awareness? 

If it's not already obvious enough, synchronicity deals with events that are simultaneously subjective and objective. The materialist-reductionist dismisses synchronicity as perceptual bias and superstition. The religiously inclined might experience synchronicities as miracles and messages from God. Jung described synchronicity in psychological terms. Robert Anton Wilson, Playboy champion of agnostic relativism, reminded us that the map is not the territory, so that the language we used to describe synchronicity/miracles/perception-bias can never fully encapsulate the actual thing itself. 

We can know more about the actual thing by studying every conceivable perspective and integrating them as operational worldviews. Is synchronicity really just a meaningless coincidence charged with the libidinal energy of infantile fantasy? Perhaps, yes. That does occasionally seem to be the case.

On the other hand, might there be an intelligent organizing force that understands the symbols of our human mind and coordinates external events in such a way that they could impress a powerful message upon the observer? This too seems to be the case at times. 

The latter worldview encourages further inquiry, stimulating a personal quest to observe these 'messages from the creator' and integrate them as powerful life lessons, while the former denigrates the subjective experience in favor of the physical-material observations of external events. 

While scientific objectivism has played a tremendous role in the creation of technology, it has simultaneously cut us off from the magic of the internal journey.  The emphasis on outward action imposes itself at the expense of inner exploration.  

Ceremonial Magic as a Semi-Causal Factor in Synchronicity

If the awareness of synchronicity functions as the equilibrating factor of human psychology, it does so on its own and without the need for human intervention. Nevertheless, it has been made clear in the written work of many occult documents that Magic is the art of causing change in the environment through the imposition of the personal will. Should an individual encounter the methods of self-modification and its subsequent effects on the environment, they would be in a privileged position to dispense healing and harmfulness intentionally. 

Here be dragons... The subtle effects of magic on internal and external planes has been studied and practiced for countless generations. Many techniques have been proposed in the literature, in both light and dark spectrums of magical intention. Claims have been made of 'actual' astral entities who dwell in the collective human sphere and will appear to do the magician's bidding if summoned and addressed with the proper commands. Be they angels, demons, or abstract geometric principles, the principles is always the same: Synchronicity can be evoked through an appeal to invisible forces.

In 21st century magical thought, particularly in the Chaos Magick literature of AO Spare, Phil Hine, Peter Carroll, et all, we witness a movement away from the contrived entity-spiritualism of earlier centuries in favor of technical magical practice itself. 

To understand the ways in which altered states of consciousness can evoke synchronistic external events charged with numinous significance, it is my intention to explore the different flavors of synchronicity that I have personally encountered. Having created a few basic categories of Synchronicity, it will be easier to file magical experiments into their various types.  

This research moves towards a scientific study of miracles in human perception. It does not seek to define 'the invisible cause', which history has shown to be a futile exercise in metaphysics, but rather, I aim to study synchronicity itself as a science of acausal events. It is my opinion that a deeper understanding of synchronicity will lead to a deeper understanding of magic and the harmony of inner and outer life, both personally and as a collective.

Critique of a Media-Saturated Synchromysticism

I recently enjoyed a conversation with Alan Green on the radio show 42 Minutes. The centerpiece of our conversation was the problem of media saturation in the synchromystic community and its depersonalizing effect on individual consciousness. 

Through a study of popular memes, synchromystic occulture attempts to draw parallels between two large categories: On the one hand, we encounter an endless stream of references to multimedia and historical events, while on the other, an equally constant barrage of references to the esoteric magical arts. 

The synchromystic game of 'media reflects occult philosophy' stimulates the mind like a piece of candy, and for the newbie initiate, provides some training wheels toward the awareness of the much more fulfilling experience of personal synchronicity. Remember that Jung emphasized the importance of objective content reflecting back upon the issues of the individual. 

However, so long as the synchromystic game remains fixed upon outward works of media and philosophy alone, it fails to bring equilibrium to the psyche of the individual. The observed synchronicity will be playing out at the level of the human collective, while the  individual remains more or less unaffected.

This becomes problematic when a group of 'synchromystics' do not integrate their personal lives into the discussion at hand. Akin to talking about politics or football, the superficial dialogue around interconnected symbols ciphens magical energy from that synchronicity into the communication field, not acknowledging the deeper layer of personal significance that the collective symbolic synchronicities are pointing at. 

There could be a subtle, dehumanizing influence at play when a community lacks the intimacy to connect outer events to personal, individual life events. 

Contact with the magical energy of synchromysticism can provide a rush. The individual may then use this energetic rush to boost their egoic self-image, like a hero who has discovered a treasure, and so they continue on for a period of time accumulating these symbols of synchronicity at the level of human collective, in a vain attempt to bolster a sense of self importance. 

Scientific Inquiry into the Nature of Synchronicity: The Bridge Between Collective Meme Syncs and Personal Miracles

One of the reasons for this schism between highly personal experiences of synchronicity and its polar opposite, the superficiality of connect-the-dots popmedia occultism, may lie in the lack of clear purpose in the community's study. Why are we pointing all of these syncs out to one another, if not to accumulate a wealth of indicators toward an apparently real phenomenon at play in the human psyche? 

If we are already convinced by the reality of synchronicity, why do continue to draw these connections for one another? What is the purpose of the synchromystic community? 

I would like to propose a unified effort toward the elevation of human consciousness through the combined efforts and analysis of the collected body of accumulated work. Synchromysticism has not yet risen to the status of science, there is still a lot of noise in the field and we have not established any clear guidelines around what constitutes a powerful sync and what does not. Perhaps this lends towards greater inclusivity and freedom, but it also denies the real strata that exists between the run-of-the-mill coincidence and the fullblown visionary mindfuck coincidences. 

Establishing some theoretical guidelines around the purpose of synchromysticism and its various levels of significance may help to bridge the language barrier between personal miracles and collective synchronicities in pop culture. The devotional work of creating a unified theory around this research will render individual and collective syncs more similar, and therefore interchangeable in the context of group discussions. 

Granted, many of us are studying and discussing the interpenetration of personal and collective synchronicity already. In doing so, we have found no real need to create additional categories and theoretical rules, which may limit and exclude in its definitions in as much as it includes and unifies the schism between personal/collective syncs. 

The purpose of studying sync and creating a group language for it would not be to reduce it to known parts, but rather, to create permeable boundaries by which to arrange these events. It would require that multiple participants reflect upon all that they have observed about the nature of Synchronicity itself, abstracted from the individual examples as cited constantly on the various blogs and videos which currently define the community. 

Out of this collective effort of self-reflection and experiential dissection, we might discover an emergent group of agreements. We surely would discover disagreements as well, which were not previously apparent. However, despite our similarities and differences, we would at least begin to arrive at a collective agreement upon perspectives and definitions of synchronicity, a field of inquiry which is sorely lacking in the academic communities and which may benefit the fields of psychology as well as magick and spellcraft.