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Synchronicity


Jung spoke of oracle cards as being in a relationship of synchronicity with the archetypes of the major arcana. I'm wondering if anyone out there has any clarifying information on this phenomenon. Thanks.
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He defined synchronicity as an 'acausal connecting principle'. I have understood that to mean two things that happen at the same time but with no way to prove that they're connected on the physical plane. So in this case I would guess that he means That the oracle cards are reflecting an archetypal reality.

I suppose that's another way of saying that the oracle cards work for us, in the sense that they reflect the reality around us.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alta View Post
He defined synchronicity as an 'acausal connecting principle'. I have understood that to mean two things that happen at the same time but with no way to prove that they're connected on the physical plane. So in this case I would guess that he means That the oracle cards are reflecting an archetypal reality.

I suppose that's another way of saying that the oracle cards work for us, in the sense that they reflect the reality around us.
Thanks for your reply Alta. I think the concept of psychic energy is the connecting principle. Archetypes are psychic energy deep down in our unconscious, and I think the images in the major arcana connect with them in a synchronistic way. I'm still researching this, will let you know if I come up with anything of interest.
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I hope you will forgive me for hijacking your thread (although it already appears to be quite dead, as expected).

Alta's characterization of Jung's concept is simply the best characterization that is possible without going into to exhaustive detail. Do not assume that Alta's truncated response implies a superficial understanding of Jung's concepts because that is not accurate. Her truncated response actually reflects a deep understanding. To some extent the truncation is necessary due to the intricate complexity of this topic as well as the horrendous misunderstandings and distortions that occur when attempts are made to apply Jungian concepts to Tarot.

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Originally Posted by Ruby Jewel View Post
Jung spoke of oracle cards as being in a relationship of synchronicity with the archetypes of the major arcana. I'm wondering if anyone out there has any clarifying information on this phenomenon. Thanks.
Jung never mentioned Tarot, with the exception of:
Quote:
Originally Posted by C. G. Jung
If one wants to form a picture of the symbolic process, the series of pictures found in alchemy are good examples, though the symbols they contain are for the most part traditional despite their often obscure origin and significance. An excellent Eastern example is the Tantric chakra system, or the mystical nerve system of Chinese yoga. It also seems as if the set of pictures in the Tarot cards were distantly descended from the archetypes of transformation, a view that has been confirmed for me in a very enlightening lecture by Professor Bernoulli.

Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, CW vol 9 (I), par. 81
(CW stands for Jung's Collected Works.) In contrast, Jung did speak fairly extensively about the Yijing (aka the I Ching), which I would consider to be the spiritual ancestor, so to speak, of Tarot. In fact, he wrote an introduction to Richard Wilhelm's translation of the Yijing, The I Ching or Book of Changes, which is (arguably) the de facto standard translation of the Yijing. In addition, Jung co-authored Richard Wilhelm's translation of the book, The Secret of the Golden Flower - A Chinese book of Life, which is a book I would highly recommend to anyone regardless of their interest in Tarot, the Yijing or Jung's concepts.

Marie-Louise von Franz's book, Divination and Synchronicity: The Psychology of Meaningful Chance is likely the best introduction to Jung's concept of synchronicity within the context of divination. Marie-Louise von Franz was a student of Jung and a prolific writer about his concepts. Although I occasionally disagree with her I always enjoy and respect her perspective.

The reason that Jung's concept of synchronicity can only be explained with a truncated and thus overly simplified definition or an exhaustive explication is because Jung's concept requires an examination of the Weltanschauung that accompanies the concept, which I will translate here as the nature of reality. Since some may argue that my translation is an invalid objectification of the word, I will note that the translation is purposefully chosen to undermine the subjectification that is inherent to the common English translation, which is also equally invalid.

I do not necessarily recommend Jung's paper, Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle, which is in CW 8 and is also available separately because I think this paper is possibly Jung's weakest work and is thus not especially interesting. Regardless, it still deserves to be mentioned. I would instead recommend the book, Projection and Re-Collection in Jungian Psychology: Reflections of the Soul by Marie-Louise Von Franz and William H. Kennedy. Although this book has very little to do with synchronicity directly, it is an extremely good and very accessible explication of some of the Jungian concepts underlying synchronicity.

I will require a couple digressions before defining what synchronicity actually is. The reason that this question can be answered definitively is because synchronicity is a scientific concept. That is what Jung intended it to be and so that is how I will define it. And that also leads to my first digression.
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Science and Mysticism


Too many mystics try to co-opt scientific theories or principles in an attempt to justify absurd metaphysical speculations. I use the word absurd because this methodology always distorts the science as well as often distorting the mysticism as well.

This is typical of a mystic that has acquired some knowledge of the generally accepted interpretation given to a particular scientific theory or principle, but the mystic does not have a working understanding of the underlying science that they are attempting to co-opt. As a consequence, a distortion of the underlying theory or principle is inevitable, which then simply serves to prove the (obvious) ignorance of the mystic.

I will use Einstein's theory of relativity as an example of the type of distortions that arise. The uneducated (or uninitiated) often interpret the theory of relativity to imply that each of us perceives the world differently and our perceptions are all "true" and thus "everything is relative". But this is actually the exact opposite of what the scientific theory actually implies. The distortion arises because of the colloquial definition of the word relative. Einstein's theory, the scientific theory of relatively, does not preclude an absolute objective, deterministic world. The scientific theory simply asserts that our perceptions (or observations or measurements) of "the world" are relative in the sense that a person may perceive two events as occurring simultaneously and another person may perceive those same two events as occurring in sequence (i.e. not simultaneously). As a result, a mathematical transformation must then be applied to "harmonize" (for lack of a better characterization) the two events; a transformation that explicitly considers the relativity of the perceptions of the two events.

That is certainly a drastic oversimplification, but all that is required for my purposes is that it be understood that the scientific theory of relatively, does not preclude an absolute objective, deterministic world. As a matter of fact, up to his death Einstein persistently refused to accept quantum theory because quantum theory explicitly adopts a fundamental indeterminism, due to Heisenberg's uncertainly principle, and Einstein stubbornly refused to believe that "the world" was not ultimately deterministic. That is the source of Einstein's famous quote that "God does not play dice!"

Even though Einstein was eventually forced to acknowledge that quantum theory "worked" and that he could not come up with a better theory, he continued to assert that, at best, quantum theory should only be considered to be a provisional theory. This is because he thought that the search for a better theory should never be abandoned. According to Einstein, a better theory would obviously be a theory that does not accept the systemic indeterminism that is inherent to quantum theory.
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The Cartesian Philosophy of Mind and Matter


This digression is far more intricate in the sense that it is far easier to understand what it is and thus (or as a result) it is also far more difficult to see precisely what is wrong with it.

The fundamental separation of "the world as it is" and "the world as it appears to us" (or the world in our mind) may be attributed to Descartes and his well-known philosophical assertion Cogito ergo sum (I think therefore I am).

In the book, The Secret of the Golden Flower - A Chinese book of Life, Jung wrote that Wilhelm's translation of this Chinese alchemical tract contained the key that Jung required to resolve a systemically important problem. That problem may be identified (or misidentified as the case may be) as the problem of consciousness, which is intrinsically interrelated with what is known as the mind/body problem.

A proper examination of this issue of consciousness, although it is of fundamental importance and, indeed, it could be said that it is the highest and holiest Arcanum, is far beyond the predetermined scope of this discussion. Therefore, I will proceed by employing Immanuel Kant's characterization of space and time in The Critique of Pure Reason as a useful analogy.

Kant characterized space and time as synthetic a priori judgments. Characterizing them as synthetic implies that space and time are not “external constructs”, but are rather “constructs that exist within our mind”. And characterizing them as a priori implies that these constructs are forced onto us, so to speak. Hence, Kant's characterization of space and time may be interpreted to mean that the concepts of space and time are constructed in our minds as a necessary and immediate response to sensory stimuli. Or, in other words, space and time do not exist "out there", but are rather principles constructed by our minds that our minds then employ in an attempt to comprehend the influx of data received by our senses.

To say any more would be redundant because everyone has some kind of understanding of the basic idea being presented here. All that is required for my purposes is that it be understood that this separation of mind and matter is a long-standing issue with deep roots and that it is a problem that spans physics, philosophy, mysticism and religion. It could also be said that the mind versus matter problem is a principle that has been constructed in an attempt to comprehend the nature of reality.

In conclusion, I will employ Paul Christian's ternary categories to attempt a general characterization the issue. The mind/body problem exists in the physical world, the Cartesian philosophy of mind and matter exists in the intellectual world, and the problem of consciousness exists in the divine world.

The problem underlying the physical mind/body problem is the question of how our minds are able to conjure this qualitative world of experience that we all live in from the quantitative objective world that we all exist in. This issue may be best illustrated by the ongoing debate about Strong AI and thus also by the Chinese room thought experiment that was elaborated by John Searle in his paper, Minds, Brains, and Programs (1980).

The problem underlying the intellectual separation of mind and matter is really a problem for physicalists/materialists as well as empiricists and positivists. If everything is physical/material and the mind is not physical/material then is the mental to be construed as a separately existing reality? Of course, if the mental "exists" then it is physical/material. Thus, the real problem is how to subsume all talk of the mental within the context of existence and thus to fully contain the mental within the physical/material. The modern solution to this problem is an attempt to characterize the mental as "emergent", which is to say that the mental is not actually physical/material, but "emerges" from the physical/material and thus it is not inherently separate from it.

The problem underlying the divine consciousness problem is essentially the question of whether a thing or a substance or a whatever-it-is that is called consciousness is actually real. Is consciousness really nothing more than a stubbornly persistent illusion that has no actual reality at all? Since this problem raises what is mental to a thing-called-consciousness many, if not most, modern scientists will simply dismiss the problem by characterizing it as a subjective fantasy and thus not-a-problem.
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The Definition of Synchronicity


Before Jung's scientific concept of synchronicity can be precisely defined, I will require a definition and a metaphysical model. The definition will make apparent the need for the first digression and the model will make apparent the need for both digressions.

I will define what is scientific as simply the recognition of some phenomenon along with the subsequent attempt to identify and define that phenomenon. This is a definition that was much more prevalent and widely accepted, more or less, at the beginning of the 20th century than it is today. The name that is sometimes given to what is considered to be scientific today, at least by those who wish to deride it, is Scientism. The label Scientism represents a science that has fully embraced rational reductionism in an attempt to firmly and conclusively establish the dogma of materialism or physicalism, which is the dogma that asserts that the physical world is the fundamental ground of all reality.

Scientism was not foreign to the science that existed at the beginning of the 20th century it simply had not yet become the established dogma. Although I would go so far as to say that the dogma underlying Scientism is the natural evolution of the dogma that embraces and seeks to firmly and conclusively establish the dogma of the absolute existence of the metaphysical idea of some external objective, deterministic world. This dogma, which is to some extent related to what has been called "the clockwork universe", was quite prevalent and widely accepted, more or less, at the beginning of the 20th century.

It is within this context that the metaphysical model of a dual-aspect monism may be introduced, which is described in the book, The Pauli-Jung Conjecture - and its impact today, edited by Harald Atmanspacher and Christopher A. Fuchs. In essence, a dual-aspect monism proposes the existence or reality of an underlying monism, which may be characterized as the alchemical Unus Mundas, and that monism gives rise to two distinctly different aspects of itself as mind and matter.

(The Pauli-Jung Conjecture contains the correspondence between Jung and Wolfgang Pauli who, after being a student of the psychiatrist Jung, became a strong proponent of Jung's philosophy. Wolfgang Pauli was a famous physicist who, along with Heisenberg and Bohr, was a principal proponent of quantum physics in opposition to Einstein.)

With the definition of what is scientific along with the metaphysical model of a dual-aspect monism, the definition of Jung's concept of synchronicity immediately follows. In essence, synchronicity is when “some event” occurs in our inner or outer world that has a direct and obvious correspondence with “some event” in the other world. Synchronicity then proposes that those events are actually connected even though they are clearly not, and cannot be, physically connected via a casual relationship. Within the context of a dual-aspect monism, synchronicity may be characterized as asserting that all reality occurs at the level of the Unus Mundas and those occurrences gain expression or manifestation in either one or both of its aspects. In other words, the inner and outer worlds are not actually distinct realities, but are merely distinct expressions or manifestations of the one underlying reality.

The fundamental point that is the basis of the scientific definition of Jung's concept of synchronicity is that the definition merely identifies a specific type of phenomenon that is inherent to the reality that we live in and experience. No proof of this phenomenon can possibly exist; it can only be experienced. And it is only in this sense that Jung’s concept of synchronicity can be considered to be scientific.

In closing it should be mentioned that a dual-aspect monism should merely be taken to be some sort of thought experiment and not in any way taken to be an expression of how reality (whatever that is or no matter how that is interpreted or defined) actually is. In addition, I think Jung would agree and would possibly go even further by characterizing any relation between his concepts and a dual-aspect monism as simply some type of failed attempt to make his ideas correspond in some substantial way with the then burgeoning quantum theory. A dual-aspect monism is a useful metaphor that is employed to illustrate the concept, nothing more.

If you want to acquire more understanding of Jung's model of reality I would advise directly reading Jung's works, specifically CW 8, The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche, and CW 9 (I), The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious. (Note that although I may be (legitimately) criticized for postulating an invalid objectification of the model, I will again note that the postulate is purposefully chosen to undermine the subjectification that is inherent to the common interpretation, which is also equally invalid. As a matter of fact, in the book, Projection and Re-Collection in Jungian Psychology, some type of direct relationship or correspondence is postulated to exist between Jung's collective unconscious and matter/objective reality, which may also be considered to be an invalid objectification by some.)

As an aside, when I said that Tarot, through reflection, is capable of showing us what is beyond awareness, it appears that statement may have been interpreted to mean that Tarot reflects what is "inside" us. That is unequivocally inaccurate. I consider the Hermetic axiom, "as above, so below" to be equivalent to and thus also, to some extent, to be synonymous with "as within, so without". I do not think that the objective/subjective dichotomy can be effectively or accurately employed to characterize or limit what Tarot can actually reflect.

The reasons for my implicit derision of the fundamental duality is of no relevance to the definition of Jung's concept of synchronicity and thus will not be addressed. I will only mention that it is based on the simple fact that I find the Western definitions of consciousness to be patently ridiculous, such as defining consciousness as our personal awareness, our sense of “I” (or ego or agency), as our qualitative experience, and so forth. The Eastern definitions are much more rationally and logically tenable as well as being much more intellectually coherent.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSNYC View Post
Too many mystics try to co-opt scientific theories or principles in an attempt to justify absurd metaphysical speculations. I use the word absurd because this methodology always distorts the science as well as often distorting the mysticism as well.

This is typical of a mystic that has acquired some knowledge of the generally accepted interpretation given to a particular scientific theory or principle, but the mystic does not have a working understanding of the underlying science that they are attempting to co-opt. As a consequence, a distortion of the underlying theory or principle is inevitable, which then simply serves to prove the (obvious) ignorance of the mystic.

I will use Einstein's theory of relativity as an example of the type of distortions that arise. The uneducated (or uninitiated) often interpret the theory of relativity to imply that each of us perceives the world differently and our perceptions are all "true" and thus "everything is relative". But this is actually the exact opposite of what the scientific theory actually implies. The distortion arises because of the colloquial definition of the word relative. Einstein's theory, the scientific theory of relatively, does not preclude an absolute objective, deterministic world. The scientific theory simply asserts that our perceptions (or observations or measurements) of "the world" are relative in the sense that a person may perceive two events as occurring simultaneously and another person may perceive those same two events as occurring in sequence (i.e. not simultaneously). As a result, a mathematical transformation must then be applied to "harmonize" (for lack of a better characterization) the two events; a transformation that explicitly considers the relativity of the perceptions of the two events.

That is certainly a drastic oversimplification, but all that is required for my purposes is that it be understood that the scientific theory of relatively, does not preclude an absolute objective, deterministic world. As a matter of fact, up to his death Einstein persistently refused to accept quantum theory because quantum theory explicitly adopts a fundamental indeterminism, due to Heisenberg's uncertainly principle, and Einstein stubbornly refused to believe that "the world" was not ultimately deterministic. That is the source of Einstein's famous quote that "God does not play dice!"

Even though Einstein was eventually forced to acknowledge that quantum theory "worked" and that he could not come up with a better theory, he continued to assert that, at best, quantum theory should only be considered to be a provisional theory. This is because he thought that the search for a better theory should never be abandoned. According to Einstein, a better theory would obviously be a theory that does not accept the systemic indeterminism that is inherent to quantum theory.
Without having read your entire quote here...as I can see it will take some time to decipher and absorb....I would like to say I really appreciate your taking the time to respond here in such depth. This is a very important subject to me as it is the subject of a conversation that takes place in a 30-chapter novel which is halfway into the final chapter. I am reading Jung's "The Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious" and will look up your references. I have also recently acquired "Mysterium Coniunctionis." And happen to have also Esther Harding's "Psychic Energy." I love that you are in NYC, because I lived there for ten years in the basement of the Jane West Hotel on the corner of Jane and West Side Drive...as an artist back in the 80s. The conversation takes place in Maurizio's coffee shop (believe 8th Ave.) where a friend of mine used to read tarot. This response from you is a good example of "synchronicity"..... I will add also that my interpretation of "weltanschauung" has always been "philosophy of life" so your interpretation sparks a somewhat faceted version that gives a different perspective....as I do not read German. I'm wondering if you are familiar with the translations of Jung by H.G. Baynes....whose translations are quite different from the Bolingen series....much truer to Jung himself. I really dislike the Bolingen series, and actually tossed several of them in the trash a few years back...but now am forced to resort to them once again. At any rate, I will have more to say here. I would even be interested in sharing the conversation in my novel with you at some point if the interest became mutual.

I see you reference #8 of CW...but I do not own Jung's collected works...just the two books I mentioned plus the Baynes' translations of "Two Essays on Analytical Psychology," "Psychological Types," and "Contributions to Analytical Psychology." So, I am wondering to what title "#8 of CW" refers.
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Thanks to JSNYC for these in-depth clarifications. The subject warrants further study.

Quote:
Originally Posted by C. G. Jung
If one wants to form a picture of the symbolic process, the series of pictures found in alchemy are good examples, though the symbols they contain are for the most part traditional despite their often obscure origin and significance. An excellent Eastern example is the Tantric chakra system, or the mystical nerve system of Chinese yoga. It also seems as if the set of pictures in the Tarot cards were distantly descended from the archetypes of transformation, a view that has been confirmed for me in a very enlightening lecture by Professor Bernoulli.

Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, CW vol 9 (I), par. 81
As with many of the more interesting French articles on the subject, Bernoulli's lecture - later published in 1934 - remains completely ignored, even by those who take a Jungian approach to the study and practice of Tarot. And there is more: the handful of early (1940s) English-language articles dealing with same are also sadly neglected, if they have even been published.

Is there anyone seriously interested in this topic, with access to a good (psychological) library, and willing to engage in some further research and exchanges? Feel free to chime in or contact me via PM, thanks.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by _R_ View Post
Thanks to JSNYC for these in-depth clarifications. The subject warrants further study.



As with many of the more interesting French articles on the subject, Bernoulli's lecture - later published in 1934 - remains completely ignored, even by those who take a Jungian approach to the study and practice of Tarot. And there is more: the handful of early (1940s) English-language articles dealing with same are also sadly neglected, if they have even been published.

Is there anyone seriously interested in this topic, with access to a good (psychological) library, and willing to engage in some further research and exchanges? Feel free to chime in or contact me via PM, thanks.
When one looks at the Papus spread in Tarot of Bohemians, it becomes more than apparent that arcanum 13 through 21 are nothing but the Archetypes of the journey through transformation...and further, that the Hanged Man, arcana 12, seeking enlightenment, leads directly into it...."it" being the "night sea journey"...or "dark night of the soul" whichever you prefer. There is nothing enigmatic in that regard as it is all quite obvious in the tarot...which is why we love it so much.
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