Synchronicity and How the Tarot Works


Justice – Tarot

One of the first stories in psychotherapist Robert Hopcke’s There Are No Accidents: Synchronicity and the Stories of Our Lives involves the Tarot so – as you can imagine – I was immediately drawn into the book.

His client Bobbie, who came from a very Christian upbringing, began describing dreams that Hopcke recognized as filled with Tarot images: an Empress on her throne, an Emperor with a scepter, a Fool at the cliffside. Due to her church’s influence and her own skepticism, she just couldn’t bring herself to buy a deck or tell anyone besides Hopcke about her dreams. But the dreams kept coming, including a dream right before her birthday with an elaborate Tarot spread of 13 cards. Following her birthday, she walked into a therapy appointment holding a Tarot deck and quickly saying, “I didn’t buy it.”

Her husband, who was even a bit more conservative than Bobbie, had been walking by a bookstore, saw a Tarot deck in the window, and said to himself, “I need to get this for Bobbie, they’ll help her.” Tarot was now part of her life. I smiled while reading this story of synchronicity.

Hopcke’s basic definition of synchronicity is that it is a meaningful coincidence. He offers 4 characteristic of synchronistic events:

  • They cannot be traced to a cause and effect chain of events, but spring from extremely improbable circumstances.
  • They create a deep emotion experience.
  • They are often symbolic in nature.
  • They generally occur at transitions points in our lives (p. 23).

He also uses story after story to show how it is our inner state (that includes feelings, dreams, intuitions, longings, ect.) connected to external events and the meaning we make of these two realities brought together that add up to a synchronistic event. Sitting with the feelings and images of the synchronistic event is the well from which insight, growth and change spring.

Hopcke’s constantly refers back to our meaning making as the heart of synchronicity, and in different places in his analytical offerings on synchronicity, he returns to the idea of wholeness. He writes, “Synchronistic events urge upon us a view of the world as a unified field in which one’s own experiences and actions are fundamentally connected to the experiences and actions of others” (p. 29).

And Hopcke, drawing deeply from the work of Carl Jung, identifies wholeness as one of the most important mode of perception that we humans seek. Jung, writes Hopcke, identified wholeness as “the ability to perceive the fundamental unity of the disparate parts of our experience. [In synchronistic experiences] the perception of wholeness derives not from our ego, our conscious sense of self, but instead from the way in which the meaning unites all of who we are, parts of experience we were unaware of, potentials we have that have lain dormant or underdeveloped, elements of our personality that we didn’t know existed” (p. 188).

Meaning and wholeness are core human desires. Synchronistic events accelerate our movement toward both. Surely, we’d seek to keep our feet on the gas petal for forward movement, but, unfortunately, being unresponsive to cause and effect, synchronistic events seem to come at their own pace.

But Hopcke points out that throughout time and across cultures people have actively and purposefully invited synchronicity through tools of divination such as throwing sticks to select a hexagram to explore in the I-Ching, opening the Bible at random to read a passage, casting an astrology chart, and, of course, reading Tarot cards. In all these practices, a tradition developed over time brings us specific aspects of a philosophical / spiritual system to intersect with our personal experiences and help us toward meaning and wholeness.

I have certainly experienced the Tarot as such a tool that aids me – actually even pushes me – to better understand my life and to bring that understanding to action in my life and world. When I approach the Tarot with openness and intention, the cards and their images certainly move me toward the kind of meaning making that Hopcke describes. After a reading I feel lighter and more resourceful. I hadn’t thought of it as feeling more whole before reading this book, but, yes, this is a very apt descriptor.

And it is uncanny how cards will come up over and over again for me. This past week in three different times working with the cards, the Six of Air and the Sun from the Gaian Tarot have come up for me. (But, I can’t tell you the last time I saw the Seven of Air.) This past Saturday when these two cards came up right next to each other, I finally noticed how both the woman on the Sun card and the yoga class members in the Six of Air were throwing their arms wide open to the sky. Yes, I do need to throw my arms open to the emerging new in my life and step out of constriction. The cards kept coming up until I got that message!

Hopcke, like his mentor Jung, doesn’t posit a cause or ultimate source for the workings of synchronicity and I appreciate this. I believe that we are all bound together and these ties could be described as an energetic connection of field that contributes toward cards coming up over and over again for me. But maybe you don’t believe that. And it doesn’t actually matter. What matters is that working with the cards (or your chosen divination tool), helps you and me to make meaning of the events of our lives, cultivate a greater sense of wholeness, take on the challenges and changes that are presented to us, and be inspired to live to our highest potential.

What are your stories of synchronicity and its impact on your life?

Are you interested in cultivating synchronicity? Or do you already, how?

Leave a Comment

July 20, 2010, 1:11 pm Paris

Synchronicity? You mean like…

The final card of our exercise together on “What should I do with the time that is opening up in my life?” was the Queen of Cups, and the week before, I shipped out a custom Tarot painting to the first buyer of my wife’s new home-based business. It was the RWS Queen of Cups?

Or announcing that I’m going to work on developing the psychic side of myself, whatever that means, and the next day finding Psychic Empowerment by Joe H. Slate, Ph.D., sitting on a table at the Goodwill in Pittsfield?

Or saying that I hadn’t seen a bear in the first five years of my living in Charlemont and the next day, I sat and watched one frolic in a grassy field waving his paws in the air and scratching his back on the ground for nearly ten minutes?

Or mentioning to my wife that I should probably sell the extra Bohemian Gothic Tarot deck that I have, and the next day Joellen mentions that she’s looking for one?

Or mentioning to you that I was in search of a Tarot de Marseilles deck that had to be used and then rediscovering Grandma Germaine’s deck and copy of Pul Marteau’s Le Tarot de Marseille.

July 20, 2010, 2:25 pm Carolyn

Paris, I’d say that you are pretty clearly in a synchronistic flow! Ah and I love hearing the backstory to deep meaning behind the Queen of Cups coming up on Saturday.

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