Finding Meaning in Coincidence & Synchronicity

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  • By Phil Blackwell
Four dice on green table

Interviews and insights from scientists to psychics

The Oxford English Dictionary defines coincidence as:

“A remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection.” [Source]

But, there are two words within this definition that leave its true meaning open to captivating debate and discussion:

1. ‘Remarkable’: Prone to subjective judgement - what is remarkable to me, may not be remarkable to you.

2. ‘Apparent’: A word with synonyms including, ‘supposed’, ‘presumed’, ‘alleged’, ‘professed’, ‘claimed’ and ‘purported’.

Is it possible for an event, or concurrence of events, to be found universally remarkable? And, is it possible for an individual's perception of apparent connection not to be influenced by personal beliefs?

Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung, addressed the idea of meaningful perception - and added another layer of complexity to coincidence - when he coined the term, ‘synchronicity’. Jung described synchronicity as:

“The coming together of inner and outer events in a way that cannot be explained by cause and effect and that is meaningful to the observer.”

In other words, synchronistic events are a chain of unrelated and disconnected coincidences with the collective power to profoundly impact the lives, relationships and emotions of those who experience them.

Questions of why and how coincidences happen have fascinated history’s most celebrated philosophers, scientists and psychologists for thousands of years, but what do people think today?

We’ve interviewed experts from a variety of conflicting and complementary backgrounds to present the most diverse and insightful collection of coincidence theories online.


About our interviews

Contributors to this article were interviewed in September 2016, unless otherwise stated. The questions posed were both general to the theme of coincidence as a whole, and specific to the role of coincidence in the subject’s own work, industry or area of expertise.

We have tried our best to incorporate a balanced sample of opinion and have not edited the answers received in any way. As a result, there is some inconsistency in the length of responses, but we believe this is necessary in order to present all views objectively and without judgement.

Contributors

Our interviews are clustered into sections of similar themes (in brackets below) to assist with navigation.

If you are not currently featured and would like to contribute, or would like to expand on your current contribution, please email phil@lindar.com.


Maths & Statistics

Calculator with number 23 coincidence

Professor David Spiegelhalter

Winton Professor for the Public Understanding of Risk at Cambridge University

understandinguncertainty.org / @d_spiegel

David has amassed an incredible collection of over 4,000 coincidences from the general public as part of the Cambridge Coincidences project. He is also the creator of Huntrodds' Day - a celebration of chance and coincidence on 19th September.

As one of the UK's most respected statisticians, David has appeared as an expert on multiple television shows and hosted BBC Four documentary, Tails you win: The Science of Chance, in 2012. David has also been elected President of the Royal Statistical Society, and will take up the position in January 2017.

Rather ironically, David states that coincidences "don't happen to me, as I am spectacularly unobservant and unfriendly."

OB: You describe Huntrodds' Day as a celebration of chance and coincidence. Why do you think people find coincidences so fascinating?

DS: I think we all find it very difficult to accept things happen for no reason: so when we see a surprising concatenation of events, it provokes an urge to understand 'why'?

OB: What are your top three tips for people looking to experience more coincidences in their lives?

DS: Be observant and mindful. Talk to strangers. Be curious.


Professor Joseph Mazur

Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at Marlboro College​

josephmazur.com  / @joemazur3

Described as ‘always entertaining and frequently insightful’ by the Wall Street Journal, Professor Joseph Mazur is an expert in unpicking the maths behind the miracles.

His latest book, FLUKE: The Math & and Myth of Coincidence, was released in March 2016, and uses entertaining anecdotes to help readers to understand the true nature of chance. 

OB: Why do you think people find coincidences so fascinating?

JM: The short answer is that they give us some comfort in this scary, large world of ours. We crave some kind of validation for existential significance, individuality, and human connectivity. Coincidence stories give us that validation. It's normal to feel comfort in our home neighborhoods, and most coincidences can be broken down as surprising connections with objects that are familiar in our neighborhoods (neighborhood being uses metaphorically here).

"Coincidence stories thrill and enchant us, because their root contents have some mixture of an enchantment that connects the familiar with the unfamiliar."

Almost all coincidence stories have roots grounded in the surprise of two or more familiar events (or objects) colliding in some unfamiliar space. And that’s just it: coincidence stories thrill and enchant us, because their root contents have some mixture of an enchantment that connects the familiar with the unfamiliar.

When we travel, we are not aware of taking along some parts of our neighborhoods. Our friends and close acquaintances would generally travel to roughly the same places as we would, simply because they generally share similar interests. So, in some sense, we are unaware that we are traveling with some parts of our own neighborhoods.

All very good stories contain some element of surprise. Some surprises are mild and some strong. Most stories have very rational causes. Those that do not are suspiciously implausible and casted off as bad fiction. But coincidence stories go one step further. Their causes are non-apparent. So, there are two elements that define all coincidence stories, one emotional and one rational. Add a non-fiction element to the list, and you have evidence of reality, a very powerful story grip. Those three elements taken together bring the story to a higher level of human touch and connection.

Imagine what surprise and non-apparent cause would have meant to our primal ancestors who went out to hunt far from their caves, always having to be aware of any surprises that might leap out of nowhere. Those were the first stories ever told in primitive languages, and they surely involved surprises with no apparent causes. They were the first coincidences.


Professor David Hand

Senior Research Investigator and Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at Imperial College, London

improbability-principle.com

We first spoke to Professor David Hand OBE earlier this year in our quest to understand why so many Britons have a poor perception of probability.

David’s book, The Improbability Principle, explains how five distinct laws, combined with human cognitive bias, can influence the likelihood - and perceived likelihood - of any unlikely event.

It is conceivable that a person's understanding of probability and chance could direct affect how remarkable they view a coincidence to be. Many of our questions to David centred on the various external factors that could influence perception - we’ve included his most relevant answers below.

You can view our full interview with Professor David Hand here. 

OB: Does the intense media focus on rare events offset people’s prior perception of their rarity to such an extent that they believe something to be more likely than it actually is?

DH: The impact of the media is quite large and does change people’s perception of risk. I suppose one of the best examples of distorted impression is the period after 9/11. People stopped flying because of fear that a plane might be brought down, and switched to cars instead. But this caused more deaths on the roads. Flying is statistically a much safer form of travel but people’s irrational fear moved them out of planes and into cars, from a safer to a more dangerous situation. 

"Raising awareness of probability could affect how open people are to creating fortunate circumstances and luck"

OB: Does the positivity/negativity of an event affect how people perceive its likeliness to happen?

DH: Studies have shown that people are more averse to losing something than they are gaining something equivalent. You would probably be more upset about having £1000 taken away from you than you would be pleased about having £1000 given to you. Losses and gains have to be put in context. It’s irrational for a poor person to spend £2 on a lottery ticket, but rational for a billionaire to do so.

Also, I think it’s important to recognise that when you buy a lottery ticket, you are buying a dream. You’re buying an experience - analogous to buying a cinema or concert ticket. 

OB: How do you believe people's behaviour would be affected by a greater understanding of the laws of probability?

DH: I think that raising awareness of probability could affect how open people are to creating fortunate circumstances and luck. There are classic studies along these lines, showing that outgoing people tend to be luckier. In fact, of course, they are simply putting themselves in more situations and giving themselves more opportunities for good things to happen. Understanding how you can affect the odds can be empowering and motivational. 


Science & Psychology

Calculator with number 23 coincidence

Bernard Beitman, MD

Visiting Professor at the University of Virginia and author of Connecting with Coincidence

coincider.com / @DrBeitman

Bernard Beitman, MD, describes himself as the first psychiatrist since Carl Jung to systemise the study of coincidences.

In the spirit of synchronicity, Dr Beitmnan’s latest book, Connecting with Coincidence, explores the personality traits and situational factors that contribute to meaningful coincidences and serendipity.

You can read his latest thoughts on his Psychology Today blog, and even assess your own openness to coincidences by taking a short survey. 

OB: Why do you think people find coincidences so fascinating?

BB: Because they are unlikely, surprising, possibly useful, provide support for dearly held beliefs (especially belief in God and randomness), and suggest that there are yet to be accepted ways to understand the nature of reality. 

OB: Do you experience many coincidences yourself? If so, what is the most incredible coincidence you've ever experienced?

BB: Yes, many and quite frequently. At age 9, to find my lost dog by getting lost myself was hard to believe and seemed perfectly normal. At age 31, to be uncontrollably choking while, unknown to me, my father was choking on his own blood and dying at the same time.

More recently to be writing about human GPS (our unrecognized ability to find our way to places where we find people, ideas or things we need) and wanting some conventional science support. I turned to the New York Times online and found an article about human GPS based on rat findings in the entorhinal cortex and hippocampus. The researchers were a few years later awarded a Nobel Prize for their work. 

"'Meaningful' has two major meanings in coincidence studies: how is it useful to you and how do you explain it?"

OB: What are your top three tips for people looking to experience more coincidences this Huntrodds' day?

1. Believe they happen - they occur in all parts of your life: relationships, health, money, job, ideas and spirituality. 

2. Do something out of the ordinary (take a different way home, begin a conversation with a stranger)

3. Listen to your intuitive pull to go this way rather than that way

OB: Your book, Connecting with Coincidence, talks about recognising meaningful coincidences and synchronicity. How can people quickly distinguish between what is a meaningful coincidence and what isn't?

BB: Use your intuition and the emotional charge a coincidence gives you. "Meaningful" has two major meanings in coincidence studies: how is it useful to you and how do you explain it? One or both may be involved. 


Martine Dubin

Founder, Creative Director & Executive Producer at Martine Dubin Company

www.martinedubin.com / @MartineDubin

Media entrepreneur, Martine Dubin, is chairman, CEO and Executive Producer at the Martine Dubin Company. 

Her shows connect audiences with some of the most exciting thought leaders and include collaborations with notable influencers including mind-body pioneer, Deepak Chopra, and Astrologyzone’s Susan Miller.

Martine remains at the forefront of digital media with her two digital broadcast networks, NEWSWIRE.FM and HEALTHWIRE.FM, available in over 200 countries. 


OB: Why do you think people find coincidences so fascinating?

MD: Coincidences add a special value to your life, a surprise you did not expect to receive, bringing you happiness & awe. That coincident reminds us of the synchronicities, the unknown, or some refer to it as the light, that lies right between our realities.

OB: In 'The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire', Deepak Chopra uses the term 'synchrodestiny' to describe a way of living life with an appreciation of coincidences and their meaning. Do you believe that every coincidence has a deeper meaning or are some coincidences simply random events with little or no further consequence?

MD: All coincidences have a deep meaning when you clearly understand them. Understanding the deeper meaning, becomes a little note with directions to follow for a full life’s journey. Simultaneously it’s a confirmation that your journey is on the right path, your destiny.

OB: Do you experience many coincidences yourself? If so, what is the most incredible coincidence you've ever experienced and what effect, if any, did it have on you?

MD: One Christmas I flew from my home in LA into NYC for a couple of meetings, before heading to Europe to enjoy the holidays with my parents & brothers. Due to severe storms in Europe the week leading up to Christmas Eve, my flight was canceled and I was stranded in NYC.

Actually within 10 minutes of the flight cancelation, a dear friend from DC randomly called to check in with me. I told him what had just happened. He suggested to come visit him in DC, spend Christmas Eve with friends at his home, and fly from DC to Europe on Christmas Day. This adjustment in my travel plans would allow for the weather in Europe to clear up a bit.

I took his advise, spent Christmas Eve among friends at his home, and met my husband, and now father of my children that night. Love at first sight growing into a lifetime partnership that would not have happened on Christmas Eve if it wasn’t for the snowstorms and flight cancelations and airports closing in Europe. A true Christmas miracle and example of an incredible coincidence!

OB: What are your top three tips for people looking to experience more coincidences?

1. Look for coincidences: They are most often hidden.

2. Understand the message given to you with the coincidence: A coincident is a learning experience.

3. Make note of your coincident: The more you catch and record you coincidences, the more you will understand the patterns, the more you will receive them.

"I have experienced that children, especially little ones, are full of messages and coincidences they share with you."

OB: How can a person take advantage of coincidences to positively influence their love, health and happiness?

MD: Life is full of coincidences, just not always as clear and upfront as you imagine. Sometimes they happen right as you pass by, or camouflaged by distracting circumstances. For example, I have experienced that children, especially little ones, are full of messages and coincidences they share with you.

Always keep your eyes and ears open, and listen clearly to catch the messages given to you all day long. The more you catch them, the more you will receive them and walk through life with a lit-up path ahead of you. 


Religion

Jesus walking on water miracle

Justin Brierley

Senior Editor of Premier Christianity Magazine

www.premierchristianity.com / @UnbelievableJB

Writer, editor, podcast host and conference producer, Justin Brierley, creates programmes and content that brings ‘theology into the real world’.

Justin's radio show (available as a podcast), Unbelievable?, includes intelligent debate and fundamental questions on Christianity from the perspective of both Christians and non-believers.

We contacted Justin to discuss his views on coincidences and miracles after reading his brilliant interview with Derren Brown on the Premier Christianity website. His comments include an incredible first-hand account of a possible miracle by Alex Humphrey. 

OB: Why do you think people find coincidences so fascinating?

JB: I think people find coincidences fascinating because we are wired to look for connections and purpose in life. We find coincidences hard to write off as chance. As a Christian at one level I believe in 'coincidences' but at another level I also believe in a deeper purpose and pattern, so that life is not ultimately random. 

OB: Do you experience many coincidences yourself? If so, what is the most incredible coincidence you've ever experienced and what effect, if any, did it have on you?

JB: I can't claim to experience that many coincidences. Off the top of my head, my maternal grandparents met at Oxford, so did my parents, so did my wife and I. But that probably owes a lot more to environment, upbringing and academic expectations than coincidence, so it hasn't had any effect on me!

"I feel confident that, in ways I cannot fathom, God's ultimate purposes are being worked out even through seemingly small, chance events."

OB: Many sceptics argue that religious miracles are simply the result of unlikely coincidence and circumstance. In your opinion, is it possible to distinguish between miraculous coincidences and coincidences of pure randomness? Do all coincidences have meaning on a higher level?

JB: I think that there are certain aspects of an event that would mark it out as more miracle than coincidence. So if someone prays for someone with cancer and they go into remission that could be a coincidence - I guess it would depend on the circumstances. But there are miracle claims which have added elements which I think make it harder to see as chance. Eg. My friend Alex's eyeball miracle from the Derren Brown article.

Read the full story of the eyeball miracle.

In his case, there was not just the prayer and (as he claims) the miracle of an eyeball growing back, but they also prayed in advance to see an eyeball grow back. So even if (somehow) the sudden appearance of an eyeball could be explained naturally, it coinciding both with the moment of prayer and the prayer the night before seems to move it from coincidence into a highly ordered set of events. 

As far as whether all coincidences have meaning on a higher level, I believe the Bible verse which states “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose" (Romans 8), but that doesn't mean I invest every single coincidence with divine meaning, just that I feel confident that, in ways I cannot fathom, God's ultimate purposes are being worked out even through seemingly small, chance events.

OB: What are your top three tips for people looking to experience more coincidences?

JB: Um... Not sure really. If coincidences are just coincidences (or chance) there's not much you can do to produce them (except for try to be aware of them happening around you).

If you mean what would be my tips for people looking to experience God's purposes and miraculous events in their life. I would say: pray, ask God to be with you and speak to you in the day, stay open to his guiding and try to respond if you think oh are being called to do something. You might end up looking silly, but who knows what could happen? 


Paranormal

Ghost in rocking chair

Paul Stevenson

Owner & Editor of Haunted Magazine

www.haunteddigitalmagazine.com / @hauntedmagazine

Paul is the owner and editor of Haunted Magazine, a free digital magazine about all things ghostly, spooky and go bump in the night.

Taking a fun and fresh approach to the mystery of the paranormal, Haunted Magazine delves deeper into some of history’s most intriguing stories, including Jack The Ripper and The Enfield Haunting.

Paul also presents Haun7ed LIVE on Facebook, bringing live coverage of ghost hunts to audiences from the comfort (and safety) of their own homes. 

OB: Why do you think people find coincidences so fascinating?

PS: Coincidences aka Luck aka Good Fortune are all very similar and we all experience them at some point in our lifetime. I think we find them fascinating because they're a break from the norm, something different, something unexplainable, to me, and I am no expert or university scholar, it's the brain, bored from the daily routine of life, having a laugh and playing some games with us.

OB: Do you experience many coincidences yourself? If so, what is the most incredible coincidence you've ever experienced and what effect, if any, did it have on you?

PS: Trying to rack my brains as to how to define them. I suppose one strange coincidence is that I am friends with three other people who are involved in the paranormal, we work together on several projects and we all have twins. Also dreams, things that stick in your mind, I am not a gambling man but when I go to the races, I look for names that have a meaning to me, my kid's names or something spooky, if it wins, and they have done, I guess I find that a strange coincidence. 

"If we all see a ghost is it mass hysteria, is it coincidental that if one person hears something, we WANT to hear it so we DO end up hearing it?"

OB: How would you describe the relationship between the occurrence of coincidences and supernatural phenomena? Do you believe that some coincidences are the product of paranormal activity and intervention?

PS: Good question, the thing about the supernatural and the paranormal is that there's no proof as to the existence of them at all, we chase ghosts, we use computerised, electronic gadgets in our efforts to prove something that might not exist, is it coincidental that people do this because we want to or are we all drawn by powers beyond our explanation. If we all see a ghost is it mass hysteria, is it coincidental that if one person hears something, we WANT to hear it so we DO end up hearing it? The mystery and magic of it is why I ghost hunt, not to prove its existence. 

OB: How can people use and learn from the coincidences they experience? In your opinion, is it possible to make a distinction between a paranormal coincidence and a coincidence of pure randomness?

PS: Can we learn from them, can we use them to our advantage, if their very nature is to be a chance situation, a denominator of luck, can they be manipulated? I am sure they can, somehow, but I will leave that to the experts? Take Bingo, you get a card, you get your "dobber", you have the same numbers as everyone else, you can't guarantee you'll win, but if you keep saying it and saying it and you do win, do you never remember the times that you did say it and you didn't win? Of course not? Take mediums, psychics, you pay for a 30 minute reading, you come out thinking WOW, they said this, they said that, but I bet it is only a mere 2 minutes of the reading that you remember.

People can be manipulated to believe in coincidences, look at people like Derren Brown. Paranormal coincidence is random, of course, you can visit the same location five nights running and get something completely different every time BUT let's just say that the same thing happens what happened the night before, the banging, the noises is it something different? Jeez, I don't know.

OB: What are your top three tips for people looking to experience more coincidences?

1. Go with the flow, don't plan to experience more coincidences, if you do, you'll miss them as they will gel and interact with your normal routine.

2. Be adaptable and flexible, What happens in most people’s lives is beyond our control. Think about it, no matter how carefully you design your life, you cannot know how that design will be affected by a single random event. One small detail can and will change everything.

3. Be realistic YOU ARE NOT IN CONTROL, cause and effect are merely an illusion. Why don’t people believe in coincidence and chance? Because they feel it takes away from their achievements. They want the world to think they did it all by themselves. It also makes them feel safe to think they are in control. If you think luck doesn’t play a role in your life, you’re kidding yourself. WHAT WILL BE WILL BE!!


Entertainment & Fiction

Open books on table - Fiction Synchronicity

John Ironmonger

Novelist & Author of 'The Coincidence Authority'

notablebrain.blogspot.co.uk / @jwironmonger

Nothing is random in fiction. Unplanned events and fortuitous twists are the result of careful plotting on the part of the writer.

Nobody knows this better than author, John Ironmonger, who devoted an entire novel to the mystery of fate and circumstance: The Coincidence Authority (released as ‘Coincidence' in the US).

John and his wife also claim to be the only living Britons to have seen a Javan rhino and her calf. A lucky coincidence indeed.

OB: Your book, The Coincidence Authority, explores the role of probability and chance on our everyday lives and interactions. Why do you think people find coincidences so fascinating?

JI: We've all inherited an ability to see patterns within random shapes. We see whales in the clouds, or faces in the wallpaper. I think a similar thing is happening when we come across a coincidence. We're looking for meanings that aren't really there. The event is so unusual we want there to be a meaning. So we create one. It's a human weakness. 

OB: Coincidence is a mechanism often exploited in fiction as a way to get characters out of trouble. In contrast, you embrace coincidence as a central theme of your story. Why do you think readers are more willing to accept the occurrence of coincidences in real life than they are in fiction? And, were you conscious of this while writing The Coincidence Authority?

JI: I get irritated by outrageous coincidences in fiction along with everyone else - especially when the characters seem to barely notice or acknowledge the coincidence as it happens. In The Coincidence Authority, the central character, Thomas Post, is a mathematician who studies coincidences. He believes he can explain any chance event. I wanted to explore what might happen if someone like this (like me essentially) was to come across coincidences that were way off the scale.

I hoped that readers would allow me a few breathtaking coincidences to drive the plot - although I was conscious that I didn't want to annoy readers (like me) who have a low tolerance to these things. In the end, we discover, along with Thomas that some of the biggest coincidences might have another explanation. I think this is something we always need to look for. 

"I get irritated by outrageous coincidences in fiction along with everyone else - especially when the characters seem to barely notice or acknowledge the coincidence as it happens."

OB: Do you experience many coincidences yourself? If so, what is the most incredible coincidence you've ever experienced?

JI: I often tell the story of an unlikely encounter I had with the writer Jared Diamond. In 2012 I was doing some research for a novel (Not Forgetting the Whale.) The story hinged upon an unlikely combination of geopolitical events that might lead to the collapse of civilisation. To get to grips with the subject I bought an excellent book called ‘Collapse’ by Jared Diamond, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author who has made a lifetime study of these things.

After reading the book I composed an email to Jared Diamond. I wanted to explain the ideas in my novel to see if he thought it was realistic. I tried to guess his email address, but all my attempts failed. So I gave up and went on holiday. We were off to Indonesia to look for the world’s rarest rhinos. In a remote forest in Sumatra we found ourselves staying at a tiny eco-lodge. There were two other tourists there – bird watchers – and we shared a table at dinner. One of tourists was an American. And blow me – it was Jared Diamond.

And if you think that’s a coincidence, then figure this one. My novel, The Coincidence Authority was published in the USA (as 'Coincidence') the same month as David Hand’s ‘The Improbability Principle'. It tells the story of a London based mathematician who is making a study of coincidence (like David). The female protagonist, Azalea, teaches at the same university as David’s own wife. And the mathematician shares the same birthday as David. And I promise – I had never come across him before.

OB: What are your top three tips for people looking to experience more coincidences?

JI: Unlikely things happen to us every day. We just don't notice them. What are the chances that I would meet a complete stranger sitting opposite me on the tube? A very high chance, you might think. But what are the chances of meeting the exact stranger that I do meet? We're still strangers, but it is still a chance encounter, and a very unlikley one. The odds are about the same as meeting the next door neighbour from your childhood.

We don't notice events that have a low probability because we are surrounded by them all the time. We only notice events that see, to us, to form a pattern. So a neighbour on the train seems more remarkable than Archie Samuels on the train because you've never met Archie before. But Archie is as unique as your neighbour. Once we start to look beyond the simple patterns that we layer onto events, we can start to see how remarkable everything is.


Psychic & Astrology

Crystal Ball - Psychic Coincidence

Sally Morgan

Television Psychic, Medium & Author

www.sallymorgan.tv / @SallyMorganTV

Sally describes herself as “an ordinary woman with an extraordinary gift”. Her high profile career as a psychic and medium has seen her star in various self-titled television programmes.

These include: Sally Morgan: Star Psychic on ITV2, The Psychic Life of Sally Morgan on Sky Bio, and Psychic Sally: On the Road on Sky Living.

Sally has also written three best-selling books and is currently appearing throughout the UK on her Call Me Psychic 2016 tour. To keep up with demand, Sally employs a team of psychics to deliver instant readings and advice over the phone.

SM: I have always said there is no such thing as a coincidence. I believe in destiny. Things in our life are pre-set and we are meant to meet the people that become important in our lives. When people say it’s a coincidence I always believe it preordained, it’s meant to be and everything does happen for a reason.

I do not believe in luck, I think having a positive outlook and thinking optimistically, even in your darkest moments, can mean that you create your own good fortune and positive outcomes arise out of negative situations. If you are born with a negative disposition then you always feel as if you are not lucky. We tend to use more energy worrying than we do in being positive, I much prefer to look on the bright side of life!


Trish MacGregor

Astrologer & Author

www.trishjmacgregor.com / @trishmac

Together with her husband, Rob, award-winning writer, Trish MacGregor has published over 100 fiction and non-fiction books. Trish is a passionate student of synchronicity and collects stories from readers on her Synchro Secrets blog.

Her writing also covers topics including meditation, dreams, animal symbolism and ghosts, UFOs and just about anything else that goes bump in the night. Trish's latest book, 'The Biggest Book of Horoscopes Ever', provides monthly astrological predictions for all 12 star signs for the next three years.

OB: Your blog focuses specifically on the celebration of synchronicity. Why do you think people find coincidences so fascinating?

There are often aha! moments with synchronicity, something that stops you in your tracks and prompts you to ask: Who or what is orchestrating this stuff, anyway? How could that just have happened? Synchronicities, whether they’re huge or small, make us feel that we’re connected to something mysterious and larger than ourselves.

OB: What is the most incredible coincidence you've ever experienced and what effect, if any, did it have on you?

Some of the best have happened while I was traveling. The one that leaps immediately to mind happened in Venezuela, where I was born and raised. In 1988, my husband and co-author, Rob, and I were in Maiquetia, the Caracas airport, and we headed to customs and immigration when we were suddenly surrounded by soldiers with machine guns. Colombian drug dealers had begun using Caracas to export cocaine and the government was cracking down.

The soldiers were particularly interested in the man in front of us, a tall, middle-aged Venezuela in a dark, three-piece suit, who carried a briefcase. The air was thick with tension as they demanded that he open it up. He slowly unlatched the briefcase and the soldiers leaned forward to see what was inside. 

We were standing right behind him and had a good view. His briefcase held just one item, a paperback copy of one of my novels, Fevered. I was so shocked, I nearly tapped him on the shoulder to share the synchronicity with him. But I’d written the novel under a pseudonym, Alison Drake, so even I’d told him the author was standing behind him, I couldn’t have proven it. The synchro also had a trickster element to it in that the title perfectly described the tense atmosphere at that moment.

OB: Why do you think readers are more willing to accept the occurrence of coincidences in real life than they are in fiction?

In real life, you feel a sense of awe and mystery. Perhaps the synchro confirms something for you or offers insight, guidance, even a warning. But in fiction, the reader may feel the author is cheating. Take the above scenario in the Caracas airport.

Let’s says the protagonist, a novelist, is in Venezuela to meet with an informant who’s going to give her the inside scoop on a drug cartel. The informant is a fan of her novels. She has no idea what he looks like and when he gets cold feet and doesn’t show up at their agreed upon location, she decides to return to the U.S. When the man in front of her opens his briefcase and she sees her own novel inside, she knows he’s the informant.

Even though stuff like this happens in real life, in fiction it seems too easy, an improbable shortcut.

For clues about what may be coming up for you, look back about twelve years... What was going on in your life then?

OB: You've just released a book called 'The Biggest Book of Horoscopes Ever'. How would you describe the role of coincidence in astrology?

I first read Carl Jung’s theory of synchronicity in his 1949 introduction to the Richard Wilhelm edition of The I Ching, an ancient Chinese divination system. Like all divination systems, it consists of patterns created by the toss of coins or yarrow sticks and is intrinsic to the moment in which the question is asked.

As Jung wrote, “…whoever invented the I Ching was convinced that the hexagram worked out in a certain moment coincided with the latter in quality no less than in time. To him the hexagram was the exponent of the moment in which is was cast…”

Astrology is also about patterns – the movement of the sun, moon, and the planets. When you drew your first breath, these celestial bodies occupied certain locations in the sky. This pattern is your natal chart, the exponent of the moment you were born, the blueprint of your potential in this lifetime. When astrology is used as a divination system, to make predictions, to see what is coming up for you, the patterns are created by transits - the daily movement of the planets- and how they impact your natal chart.

The Biggest Book of Horoscopes Ever provides three years of monthly predictions for the twelve signs based on these transits to your sun sign . For instance, if you’re a Libra, Aquarius, or Gemini, then you are going to love the period from September 9, 2016 to October 10, 2017. Jupiter, the planet of luck, expansion, and synchronicity is transiting Libra and forming beneficial angles to all three signs. It means you’re particularly lucky during this period. You’re in the right place at the right time, some facet of your life expands, new opportunities are ushered in. You land the perfect job, meet your soul mate, start a family, or win the lottery!

For clues about what may be coming up for you, look back about twelve years - Look back about twelve years – late September 2004 to late October 2005. What was going on in your life then?

OB: What are your top three tips for people looking to experience more coincidences?

1. Recognize that coincidence is meaningful.

2. Be aware that during pivotal events in your life – marriage or divorce, the birth of a child, a move - coincidences proliferate and are deeply intertwined with your emotions.

3. Watch for cluster synchros, when you repeatedly experience numbers, songs, names, objects, animals, books, and symbols . Clusters are the universe telling you to pay attention, that there’s a message for you! 


What do coincidences mean to you?

Do you agree with the interpretations above? Have you experienced a synchronicity that has changed your life?

Share your stories and feedback in the comments below. We'd love to hear from you.

The Eyeball Miracle

NOTE: The story below is the first-hand account of a believed miracle by Alex Humphrey. For context, we suggest that you read Justin Brierley's interview before continuing.

Alex described himself to us as part of the reformed section of Christianity, "not prone to believe in or expect miracles". He has a business management background and has previously studied theology, astronomy and science. Alex also explains that he has never used this story in an attempt to convert somebody to Christianity, preferring to use the Gospel itself as proof of salvation.

Miracle, trick or coincidence? Make up your own mind below...

By Alex Humphrey

It was 11 (almost 12) years ago in Peru. I was 15 at the time and there as part of a mission's trip with my church. I do not know the name of the town or the organisation my church partnered with. I have since moved and no longer attend that church, though I am in communication with some who were present.

The night before the event we were praying for things we wished to see on the trip and a girl asked to see God grow an eyeball into someone's head. Another person asked to see someone come back from the dead (that one didn't happen).

The next morning we went to a local church to preach the gospel and pray for the congregants. There were about a dozen of us (about 5 of whom I am still on contact with) and the rest of the approximate 100 individuals were local Peruvians. While we were waiting for the service to start, a man walked in with his eye missing. It was completely sunken in and scarred shut. The girl who prayed for the healing looked at me and said, "We have to pray for him!". She wanted me to be there because our rule was a girl couldn't pray for a man alone and vice versa.

At the time we were sent out to pray for individuals in the congregation, the two of us walked over to the man and asked him what he would like us to pray for. A translator confirmed he wanted us to pray that God would heal his missing eye. We agreed and placed our hands on top of his missing eye and prayed for him.

At the end of our prayer, I felt something move underneath my hand and I pulled it back to look at what was happening. His previously scarred shut eye was open and underneath I could see the white of an eyeball. The man reached up and touched his eye and said something I didn't understand as the translator had moved on. Another person took our attention away and asked us to pray for them so we did.

After the prayer time was completed, the pastor of the congregation gave a message. During his message the man we had prayed for came onto the stage and gave a testimony about his eye which was translated for me. It was at that time I was told that he lost his eye ball as a child in some sort of accident. As he spoke his eye opened more and more and by the time we left church that day he had two functioning eyeballs where once there was only one.