Playing with Signs, Symbols, and Synchronicity
Excerpted with permission from Sidewalk Oracles
by Robert Moss | Published 7/1/15 | Updated 1/13/21
Part of the secret logic of our lives may be that our paths constantly interweave with those of numberless parallel selves, sometimes converging or even merging, sometimes diverging ever farther. The gifts and failings of these alternate selves — with all the baggage train of their separate lives — may influence us, when our paths converge, in ways that we generally fail to recognize. Yet a sudden afflux of insight or forward-moving energy may be connected with joining up with an alternate and lively self, just as a sour mood of defeat or a series of otherwise inexplicable setbacks may relate to the shadow of a different parallel self, a Sad One or a Dark One.
It is possible that every choice we make spins off a parallel event track with different outcomes. This is becoming the mainstream view of physics, as in Many Worlds theory. In this multidimensional universe, in our multidimensional self, we are connected to many counterpart personalities living in other times, other probable realities, other dimensions. According to the choices that we make and the dramas that we live, we sometimes come closer to them; and sometimes, in a sense, we step through a portal, we step through an opening between the worlds, we step through an interdimensional membrane, and our issues and our lives and our dramas and our gifts and our karma are joined.
Then there is our relationship to other personalities, living in the past or future, whose dramas are connected to our own and may all be going on simultaneously. I think of a Mongolian warrior shaman who appeared in a recent dream, standing at a threshold. Behind him is a vast plain — a plain of battle, a plain of struggle. He is wearing a long, heavy coat of skins and furs. His headdress is a helmet with furs. He has bronze shaman’s mirrors and metal charms all over him. I look at this man in my dream, standing in the threshold between his reality and mine. I know that he is living at least eight centuries ago, yet we are connected now. We know each other. We are connected in a multidimensional drama, and this may generate events in both our lives that will appear as “chance” to those who cannot find the transtemporal pattern.
Such connections may be triggered by travel. You go to a new place, and you encounter the spirits of that land — including personalities that may be part of your own multidimensional story.
Jane Roberts’ account of how this works, in the Seth books that she channeled and in her own Oversoul Seven novels, is the clearest and most coherent that I have so far discovered.
Part of the secret logic of our lives is that we are all connected to counterpart personalities — Seth calls them “probable selves” — living in other times and other probable universes. Their gifts and challenges can become part of our current stories, not only through linear karma, but through the interaction now across time and dimensions. The dramas of past, future, or parallel personalities can affect us now. We can help or hinder each other.
In the model of understanding I have developed, this family of counterpart souls is joined on a higher level by a sort of hub personality, an “oversoul,” a higher self within a hierarchy of higher selves going up and up. The choices that you make, the moves that you make, can attract or repel other parts of your larger self.
The hidden hand suggested by synchronistic events may be that of another personality within our multidimensional family, reaching to us from what we normally perceive as past or future, or from a parallel or other dimension.
“The poet marries the language, and out of this marriage the poem is born.” This beautiful, passionate statement was made by W.H. Auden, and it takes us right inside the crucible in which all creative action is born. It’s sexy, it’s spiritual, it makes your heart beat faster, it puts a champagne fizz of excitement into the air. It suffuses everything around with incredible light, so you feel you are seeing the curve of a flower stem or the bubbles in a glass for the very first time.
Such depth, such passion, such focused rapture is not only the province of poets, though we may need poetic speech to suggest what and how it is. Are you with me now? I am talking about you, and me, and the creative leap we can and will make as the year turns. The essence of the creative act is to bring something new into the world. You may have no earthly idea, at this moment, about how exactly you can do that.
So let me offer some eminently practical guidance, based on what Auden said about the roots of creation: start by marrying your field.
What is your field? It’s not work in the ordinary sense, or what your diplomas say you are certified to do, or how you describe yourself in a job résumé — although it can encompass all of those things. Your field is where you ache to be. Your field is what you will do, day or night, for the sheer joy of the doing, without counting the cost or the consequences. Your field is the territory within which you can do the Work that your deeper life is calling you to do. Your field is not limitless. You can’t bring anything into creative manifestation without accepting a certain form or channel, which requires you to set limits and boundaries. So your field is also the place within which the creative force that is in you will develop a form.
If you are going to bring something new into your world, find the field you will marry, as the poet marries language, as the artist marries color and texture, as the chef marries taste and aroma, as the swimmer marries the water.
Let’s say that you have a notion that your creative act may involve writing. Maybe you even think you have a book, or a story or screenplay, in you. For you, marrying the field will require you to marry words and be their constant lover. You’ll engage in orgies of reading, have tantric sex with a first (or third) draft. You’ll kiss your lover in the morning by writing before you go out into the world, and when you go out, you’ll gather bouquets for your sweetheart by collecting fresh material from the call of a bird, the rattle of a streetcar, the odd accent of that guy on the cell phone, that unexpected phrase in the ad in the subway car.
You’ll work at all this, because marriages aren’t always sweet. Some days, you may hardly be on speaking terms. Some days, you feel your partner hates you or is cheating on you with someone else, maybe the fellow who just got a piece in the New Yorker or is merely in front of the mike in the neighborhood poetry slam. But you carry on. You fetch the groceries. You tuck your partner into bed at night and promise to dream together.
And out of this constancy — through tantrums and all — will come that blaze of creation when the sun shines at midnight, when time will stop or speed up for you, as you will when you are so deep in the Zone that no move can be wrong. Depending on your choice of theme and direction, you may find you are joined by other creative intelligences, reaching to you from across time and dimensions in that blessed union that another poet, Yeats, defined as the “mingling of minds.”
When the sun no longer shines at midnight, when you are back on clock time, you won’t waste yourself regretting that today you’re not in the Zone. You are still married. You’ll do the work that now belongs to the Work.
The Gatekeeper is one of the most important archetypes that is active in our lives. He or she is that power that opens and closes our doors and roads. The Gatekeeper is personified in many traditions: as the elephant-headed Ganesa in India; as Eshu/Eleggua in West Africa; as Anubis in ancient Egypt; as Hermes or Hecate in ancient Greece. I open all of my gatherings by invoking the Gatekeeper in a universal way, with the request:
May our doors and gates and paths be open.
They say in Spanish, “Tiene que pagar el derecho” (You have to pay for the right to enter). In many traditions, it is customary to make an offering to the Gatekeeper when embarking on a project or a journey. The offering required of us may simply be to check in and show a little respect.
There is a close affinity between the Gatekeeper and the Trickster. A being like Hermes or Eshu may play either role. One of Hermes’ appellatives, stropheos, literally means “socket,” as in the socket of a hinge that enables the pin to turn, and the door to open and close. So we can think of him as a Hinge guy — as in “hinge of fate” — or a Pivot. As he swings, so do our fortunes. Hermes steps through the doors between worlds with a hard-on, as men often transit from the dream world to the waking world and as hanged men enter the afterlife. Hermes is penetrating, and this is the effect of synchronicity. It pushes through, it opens up, and it inseminates.
Trickster is the mode the Gatekeeper — that power that opens doors in your life — adopts when you need to change and adapt and recover your sense of humor. If you are set in your ways and wedded to a linear agenda, the Trickster can be your devil. If you are open to the unexpected, and willing to turn on a dime (or something smaller), the Trickster can be a very good friend.
The Trickster will find ways to correct unbalanced and overcontrolling or ego-driven agendas, just as spontaneous night dreams can explode waking fantasies and delusions. Our thoughts shape our realities, but sometimes they produce a boomerang effect. The Trickster wears animal guise in folklore and mythology, appearing as the fox or the squirrel, as spider or coyote or raven.
Anansi, a Trickster god of the Ashanti of Ghana, brilliantly and hilariously evoked in Neil Gaiman’s novel Anansi Boys, is a spider and also a man. “It is not hard to keep two things in your head at the same time. Even a child could do it.” He makes out that he is the owner of stories. Indeed, to make friends with the Trickster, we want to be ready to make a story out of whatever happens in life and to recognize the bigger, never-ending story that may be playing through our everyday dramas. If nothing goes wrong, it has been said, you do not have much of a story. The Trickster knows all about that.
We are most likely to meet the Trickster at liminal times and in liminal places, because his preferred realm is the borderlands between the tame and the wild. He invites us to live a little more on the wild side. He approves when we make a game or a story out of it when our plans get upset, our certainties scrambled.
He insists on a sense of humor.
The well-known psychic and paranormal investigator Alan Vaughan tells a great story against himself about the peril of taking signs too seriously. He read that Jung had noted a perfect correspondence between the number of his tram ticket, the number of a theater ticket he bought the same day, and a telephone number that someone gave him that evening.
Vaughan decided to make his own experiment with numbers that day in Freiburg, where he was taking a course. He boarded a tram and carefully noted the ticket number, 096960. The number of the tram car itself was 111. He noticed that if you turned the numbers upside down, they still read the same. He was now alert for the appearance of more reversible numbers. Still focused on his theme of upside-down numbers, he banged into a trash can during his walk home. He observed ruefully, “I nearly ended by being upside down myself.” When he inspected the trash can, he saw that it bore a painted name: JUNG.
It was impossible not to feel the Trickster in play. Alan felt he had been reminded — in an entirely personal way — that the further we go with this stuff, the more important it is to keep our sense of humor.
A title of Eshu, who is both Trickster and Gatekeeper in the Yoruba tradition of West Africa, is Enforcer of Sacrifice. He is the one who makes sure that the gods receive their offerings. The price of entry may be a story, told with humor.
There is a practice in Ireland called vaguing, which Patricia Monaghan writes about beautifully in The Red-Haired Girl from the Bog. On a country walk, when you come to a fork in the road, you let your body choose which way to go. You will notice that a foot or a leg has a tendency to turn left instead of right, or the other way around, and off you go. Of course, this is practice for a day off, when you do not have anywhere in particular you need to be at noontime and you do not mind being off the maps.
Yet being ready to fall off the maps, and make an unexpected find when you do that, is practice for a kairomancer on any day, even when on a tight schedule. David Mitchell, the author of Cloud Atlas, found a new book was waiting to meet him when he got off a tram at the wrong stop. Mitchell relates that around Christmas in 1994, in Nagasaki, he got off at a wrong tram stop and stumbled upon “a greenish moat and cluster of warehouses from an earlier century.” This was his first encounter with Dejima, a trading factory of the Dutch East India Company, built on a man-made island in Nagasaki harbor. For two and a half centuries, when Japan was closed to the outside world, this was the sole point of contact between Japan and the West.
Twelve years after alighting at the wrong tram stop, David Mitchell published his extraordinary historical novel The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, which richly deserves its tremendous critical and commercial success. Mitchell succeeds in transporting us into the mental and physical worlds of two cultures at the close of the eighteenth century. He is a master of what he amusingly calls “Bygonese,” conveying how people thought and talked in an earlier time in a way that never seems labored or antiquarian. Among his memorable characters, Dejima itself becomes indelible. And he found it by getting lost.
Antonio Machado says it with poetic clarity:
Caminante, no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar.
Wayfarer, there is no way,
you make the way by walking it.
In my workshops, we often sing a song that came to one of my students, a writer from Minnesota, when I led a journey for members of an Esalen retreat to seek power songs, the kind that entertain the spirits and provide wings for shamanic travel. Some of the members of that retreat brought back very old songs in the languages of their ancestors. One brought back “Yellow Submarine.” Some brought back original material. This is the liveliest of those songs, an anthem for kairomancers, imagineers, and sidewalk Taoists:
Make it up as you go along
Make it up as you go along
Make it up
Make it up
The way will show the way
When you get the hang of it, you let the original text go hang. You pummel and pillow-fight with the words:
Make it up
Shake it up
Fake it up
Bake it up
The fox may know the way
The star will light the way
The dream will show the way
The heart will find the way—
The way will show the way
©2015 Robert Moss. All rights reserved.
Robert Moss is the creator of Active Dreaming, an original synthesis of modern psychology and shamanism, and offers workshops on dreaming, creativity, and shamanism throughout the world. more