Monday, September 13, 2004

Synchronicity

Carl Gustav Jung's a scary man. As a literature undergrad, I took a course on Jungian criticism, and the ideas I came into contact with - his belief in the existence of archetypes, the notion of the shadow - unnerved me so much I lost at least one night's sleep over them. No doubt Jung would've said I'd experienced a sense of the numinous.

My fascination with Jung carried over to my interest in Joseph Campbell's work on mythology, which I've already blogged about earlier. That, in turn, led to my interest in divination, and in my collection of tarot cards. Tarot cards are about the only thing that I can say I have a collection of: between K and I, we have about 10 decks of cards, ranging from the Vertigo Tarot (based on the Sandman comics, and illustrated by Dave McKean), the gorgeous Cary-Yale Visconti deck (a birthday present), to my latest aquisition, the Victoria Regina Tarot, which is truly a work of art (bought for the engravings more than anything else).

Which brings me to synchronicity, which was Jung's way of explaining coincidences. I brought the Victoria Regina Tarot to the game on Sunday, and when a friend and I opened the as yet un-shuffled deck, the first and last cards were The Magician and The Fool. He shuffled the deck, played around with it a while, and at one point, spread the cards out on the table. I reached in and picked one from the middle. It was the Magician. He reached in and picked one from the middle. It was ... you guessed it, The Fool. Jung would've called it synchronicity, a scientist would've called it coincidence, and an occultist would probably read something into the nature of the two major arcana cards that we'd picked out. I'm somewhere in between all of that - as a wargamer, I've seen a lot of strange unstatistical results, and my friends know me as someone who believes more in luck than in statistics.

(In case you're wondering, I do have my own peculiar beliefs about divination systems like tarot cards. I believe they don't tap into any spiritual power, but to something more powerful - the unconscious. Each of us has, buried somewhere in our minds, a fairly reliable inner voice that has most of the answers to our problems and queries, but which we filter, censor, and edit that voice of instinct until it's unrecognisable. Also, we don't really like some of the answers that we instinctively know are right. Things like the I Ching and tarot are means of allowing that voice to slip past our rational censoring mechanisms, and express its messages to us. In effect, the internal, personal and often emotional wisdom is re-packaged as an external voice, which satisfies our need for affirmation and is deemed more palatable and reliable because it comes from someone/thing else. Yes, this theory is a wierd mixture of rational thinking and pop-psychology, and is probably more indicative of the fact that I came into it from via Jung, rather than via astrology, but it satisfies both my logical and illogical nature. And a man has to collect something ... = )

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