synchronicity


In 2019 I started keeping a coincidence diary—writing down odd linkages as well as the occasional synchronicity. Some of the stuff in this diary is very odd indeed, although much of it is quite mundane. Sometimes, however, patterns emerge even with the mundane coincidences. For instance, they tend to come in clusters. I’ll have a number of them for a month, then nothing for months, then another cluster. And when I reread them as a whole (as I do now and then) even the mundane ones are like a short walk through an uncanny valley. Some in the paranormal field also believe that the more you write them down, the more you will have—but that could just be a matter of perceptive, or paying attention.

I was rereading my diary this morning because I’ve had a string of coincidences in the last week and a half centering around this old post from 2016 about the firewolf in (allegedly) Native American Indian traditions. About a week and a half ago, some random stranger left a comment on that post on my website, telling me about a dream of a fiery wolf he’d had and how my post was just what he needed to read. Which was nice, but I didn’t think much more about it than that. I wondered how he’d found me, so I googled “firewolf” and got a bunch of stuff on a firewolf gaming system, so I tried “firewolf dream” and my post was third on the page. Which was also interesting and nice. A few days after that I was searching my Dreamwidth blog tags on a completely different subject and that post came up in the search. Which was interesting, but not that unusual. Then a few days ago, I read a tweet from an English artist I follow. She had done and posted an illustration of a firewolf. When I asked her where she had heard the story of the firewolf, she referred me to a traditional Jewish storyteller. Apparently, it’s one of their fairytales, a tale of redemption.

So, none of those incidents taken individually are all that odd, but strung together in a short period of time, they take on a different meaning and make me wonder what the Big U is trying to tell me. Skeptics would say that the only meaning is the human capacity to notice coincidence, but that’s no damned fun. I prefer other explanations, as illustrated by another entry in my diary, one that starts out quite mundane then takes a slight turn:

9/9/20: Last night I was watching the 1975 film version of Three Men In A Boat on YouTube and the character played by Tim Curry mentions “housemaid’s knee,” a term I’d never heard before. Today while listening to a Weird Studies podcast on the subject of synchronicity they mentioned housemaid’s knee. At the end of the podcast they said that even mundane coincidences are a way of letting you know that you’re hearing the music of the universe.

Yes, that’s better.

Here’s another, somewhat odder, and another in a string of PJ seeing things (or not seeing things) that makes me wonder about the Big U’s sense of humor. My BFF and I had been watching episodes of Hellier S2 in tandem, she at her house, me at mine. Mothman has become a sort of running joke between us ever since we watched Hellier S1 and I sent her a copy of John Keel’s The Mothman Chronicles to read. (The bracket text is me interjecting.)

2/17/20: I was watching the local news around 5 p.m. Sometimes they use live remotes as a background for the anchors. This time they had a shot of downtown L.A. with two large skyscraper office buildings in the middle distance, shot from the upper floors. As I watched, something dark with flapping wings flew out from behind one of the buildings headed towards the other. Just before it got to the other building it flipped in midair and flapped back the way it had come—but it suddenly disappeared about midway. I jokingly texted my BFF “I think I just saw Mothman,” and told her what I’d seen. I didn’t hear back from her until 7:04 p.m. At just about the time I’d texted her, she’d been walking with her husband [and not reading texts, just walking] and taken a really nasty fall and had to go to urgent care. Fortunately, nothing broken but she got pretty banged up and had a black eye. We were joking that Mothman had been warning of her personal mini-disaster [since some people believe he’s a harbinger of disaster]. I’m willing to believe what I saw was a trompe l’oeil or floating eye smuts or some sort of camera distortion, but the timing was still weird.

I haven’t even mentioned some of the weirdest coincidences in my diary. Maybe someday. And coincidence, of course, is in the l’oeil of the beholder sometimes, but the contemplation of them certainly makes the universe a more interesting place.

This post is long and a mixed bag of things. If you’re only interesting in Hellier, you can skip everything past the picture of The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns, and Fairies.

I did a marathon watching of all ten hours of Hellier Season 2 on Friday—as after cooking two large meals that week and housecleaning, I wasn’t up for much more than viewing and eating leftovers. It’s currently available for free on Amazon Prime (as is Season 1), and in a couple of weeks will also be available for free on YouTube.

I rather wish I had watched it at a more leisurely pace because I got rather tuckered out there at the end. I’m still trying to process it (and have been rewatching it slowly for the past few days) and I might have processed it better if it had been in smaller chunks. Or maybe not.

I did manage a brief Amazon review:

Season One of Hellier was a perfect little gem of high strangeness, evoking that tumbling feel of falling into a storm of the synchronicities. That storm continues in season 2, tumbling harder and stranger. It has the authentic feel of lived experience rather than staged paranormal TV. We ride along with the participants, feeling their puzzlement and insecurities, their disbelief and belief, and watching as things shift and shift again. If you are looking for pat answers and highly manipulated content, this may not be the series for you. But if you have realized that asking questions is the most important thing, Hellier will give you that thrill of late-night discussions with friends trying to figure out the mysteries of the Universe.

My head’s so full of Major Stuff that I can’t talk about because, spoilers. I may post again in a couple of weeks after people have had a chance to watch. For now, I’ll just say that at the end of episode 9 I used some sweetgrass oil, just in case, and drew a protective sigil on my TV screen before watching episode 10. Also, as soon as those damned tones started I got nauseated. You’ll know the tones I mean if you watch it. The same thing happened with a recent “Haunted Salem Live” sigil experiment done by Greg and Dana Newkirk. So. Mass initiation or suggestibility? I’m still not sure. And that’s in the true spirit of Hellier, I think. Questions are more important than answers.

There are very mild spoilers in the following. Skip to *** if you don’t want even that.

I will say this, and with all due respect to Tyler Strand, I do believe the carving he saw on the tree was not a green man but Odin. Which suggests an entirely different focus of worship in North Carolina than in…that other place. And does nothing, of course, to negate the strangeness he experienced. And speaking as a geezer, if some odd young man showed up at my door going on about strange things in the woods, I might also have called the police. It doesn’t mean abominable practices were going on there, just that whatever or Whoever they worship, they probably figured it was none of his gods damned business.

***Okay, it’s safe now.

After viewing Hellier 2 there were many books I wanted to read and reread. I already had, and had already read, many of the ones they recommend: Passport to Magonia by Jacques Vallee, The Trickster and the Paranormal by George P. Hansen, Daimonic Reality by Patrick Harpur, The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns, and Fairies by the Reverend Robert Kirk (written in the 17th c. and widely referred to in paranormal circles), and others. I thought it might be time to reread Kirk again, since it’s really just a tract, not a long book, and it fit in with some of the research I’ve been doing lately for my current novel. Somewhere in this house I have a 1991 reprint of Kirk edited by RJ Stewart but of course I couldn’t find it. I once had a very neat filing system for my books, but that was before the chaos of the last house move and the caregiving years that followed, alas.

I notice that you can even buy this Andrew Lang edition as a Kindle book now. I love living in the digital age. But since I spent beaucoup $ in the 70s xeroxing this at the UCLA Research Library, I don’t think I’ll spend anymore money on it. I’d forgotten that I’d filled it up with pink highlighter. It was interesting to see that I didn’t find all those passages relevant anymore, although some overlapped.

Back in the ancient days when I was a student at UCLA, they had two original copies of The Secret Commonwealth, the original 1815 imprint from his 17th c. manuscript, and the 1893 Andrew Lang one, in the open stacks of the Research Library—a holdover from the days when Thelma Moss ran a paranormal research program there. Research libraries were the only places you could find these back then.

I’ve thought about those books since and wondered if anyone had the sense to put them in the restricted access area of the library or if, Rev. Kirk-like, they have subsequently been kidnapped by the fairies. Or other beings of more malicious intent. Somebody I know may have mentioned their rarity to one of the librarians, who didn’t seem that interested. Probably thought that someone a pedantic busybody or just another arsehole student trying to tell her what to do. I appreciated having easy access to them, but also know it’s a very sharp 2-edged sword: not even the Library of Congress can protect against theft, individuals deciding their wants are more important than access to that cultural heritage for the rest of us.

Ah well.

Below are some notes and quoted passages from the current reread. Some are relevant to Hellier 2, some relevant to my current research, but I thought someone might find them interesting.

The Rev. Kirk says that females rarely have the second sight. That’s a 17th century male elite conceit, I believe. If women spoke of having second sight back in that day they would likely be burned.

The Scots would have themselves, their crops, and their livestock blessed every 1st Sunday of every quarter of the year because the Fae changed their lodgings then and evil things might befall them, and seers might have terrifying encounters. The Rev got rather shirty over the fact that these same Scots were not seen the rest of the quarter in church.
The Fae often show up as doppelgangers or what Kirk calls co-walkers, "haunting him as his shadow, as is often seen and known among Men (resembling the Originall) both before and after the Originall is dead."
If invited or "earnestly required," the Fae may speak with men. Otherwise, they can’t be arsed. The Rev. Kirk may not have stated it quite that way.
The Fae make "semblance to devour the Meats that it cunningly carried by, and then left the Carcase as if it expired and departed thence by a naturall and common Death." Cattle mutilations? Modern fae must be more clumsy. Or playing a different game, perhaps? Making themselves known as opposed to sneaking around and hiding? As if they need the attention now as much as they need the Meat.
"They speak but little, and that by way of whistling, clear, not rough…. Yet sometimes the Subterraneans speak more distinctly than at other times."
"They live much longer than we; yet die at last, or at least vanish from that state. ‘Tis one of their tenets, that nothing perisheth, but as the sun and year everything goes in a circle, lesser or greater and is renewed and refreshed in its revolutions."
If invoked by magic means "they are ever readiest to go on hurtful errands, but seldom will be the messengers of great good to men."
A seer who invokes them by magic "is not terrified with their sight when he calls them, but seeing them in a surprise frights him extremely…. For the hideous spectacles seen among them; as the torturing of some Wight, earnest ghostly Looks, skirmishes, and the like. They do not all the harm which appearingly they have power to do; nor are they perceived to be in great pain, save that they are usually silent and sullen."
"They are a people invulnerable by our weapons…these people have not a second or so gross a body at all to be pierced; but as Air which when divided unites again; or if they feel pain by a blow they…quickly cure it."
" they are not subject to sore Sicknesses, but dwindle and decay at a certain Period, all about ane Age. Some say their continual Sadness is because of their pendulous State…as uncertain what at the last Revolution will become of them…"
"The extraordinary or second sight can be given them by the ministry of bad as well as good spirits to those that will embrace it."
The Rev goes on to talk a whole bunch of hunting for treasure, Bible stuff, cunning folk magic. Which is interesting, but nothing I need to take notes on for my writing at the moment.

*
I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not young enough to be absolutely certain I know the truth. The shades of grey multiply with each year. But that’s okay. The things that important are beyond those kinds of thought processes. We can feel around their edges, if we try real hard and remember they’re always changing shape anyway.

*
I’ve been sick for the last few months, all sorts of unusual gastrointestinal and stomach issues, about every two weeks, interspersed with bouts of feeling absolutely fine. I finally went to the doctor last Friday. He thought it might be pancreatitis brought on by a medication he prescribed just about two months ago, because that’s one of the rare possible side effects. I’m not sure about that because people are usually hospitalized for pancreatitis and he didn’t suggest that. True, I resisted going to the doctor all that time–because that’s just what I do. I finally took myself off that medicine in late June. I’ve been gradually improving, sort of, although I’ve been sick again for the last 4 days. Each bout of this is milder than the last, but I am definitely sick of being sick. I think doc was mostly baffled by my symptoms but agreed with my decision to take myself off the medicine. He is having blood and other tests done, but no results yet.

*
Today’s Google doodle is quite wonderful–and quite emotional for me. Maybe it’s because the moon landing was one of the seminal events of my young life; maybe it’s because we had hope then that the world might come together now that we could see how tiny and fragile our Earth was. I’ve never had that kind of hope again–well, maybe for a short time when the Berlin wall came down. Hope is as fragile as our Earth suspended in the immense blackness of space.

I should also add that I had that kind of crazy hope again when President Obama was elected. But.

*
I bet the phone answering system in Heaven is Hell.

*
Great article by Maria Popova at Brainpickings: The Banality of Evil: Hannah Arendt on the Normalization of Human Wickedness and Our Only Effective Antidote to It

*
Best fortune cookie fortune I ever got? After a long dinner conversation with my artist friend about whether we should continue to pursue our art or give up: “Art is your fate, don’t debate.” My friend got the same fortune. We told a mutual artist friend about it and went back to the same restaurant, partially because of the food but partially because of the fortune. We got the usual run-of-the-mill fortunes but our other friend, who had also been questioning whether to give up the art, got “Art is your fate, don’t debate.” #Synchronicity

*
That feeling when you listen to a piece of music you loved in your youth that you haven’t listened to for a long time…but it no longer works. #NotOdeToJoy

*

*
The Universe is infinite, yet small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.

*
SOCIAL EXPERIMENT: Someone on Twitter posted, “If you come across this tweet, reply with the grade you were in when you had your first nonwhite teacher.” Oh God. I can’t remember even one, even in college. THIS IS SO BAD.

*
People are surprised that a large segment of the public are credulous and strenuously resist logic. Even a casual reading of history shows this has always been so. The difference now is that we have entire news outlets and social media sites promoting the lack of critical thinking.

*
Everyone is a conflicted human being. We have to admit that to ourselves or risk getting ourselves into a lot of trouble.

*
It’s interesting: Because I just write and push through without editing to get words on the page, my first drafts always have a lot more of my working class origins in them. I leave some of that language in if it suits the character, refine it if not.

Hellier, the Planet Weird original YouTube series: Mothman Prophecies meets Deliverance meets Carl Jung meets Finding Bigfoot. This is more of a philosophical paranormal series so if you’re looking for the brainless demon chasing of Ghost Adventures, this will not be the show for you.

I liked it, binged it yesterday. I started watching in broad daylight, just to be safe and to make sure I could sleep comfortably. (Huh.) There definitely were some creepy parts, but this is more a show about curiosity and exploration of the subterranean realms of the human psyche and the world-beneath-the-skin of this world. And synchronicity. A whole lotta synchronicity. (I watched the last two episodes in full dark and my sleep cycle was not disturbed.)

If you’ve ever been caught up in a synchronicity storm, as explored in this show, you’ll find Hellier more credible. Even if you haven’t, it’s a fascinating piece of filmmaking. Despite my casual linkage above to other things, it’s also a unique piece of filmmaking, as passion projects often are.

So, if you’re in the mood for something to expand your mind and your horizons rather than the idiotic pap of most paranormal shows, you might like Hellier.

I was once close friends with a paranormal researcher. I never went on any of his investigations with him—mostly because he lived 2,000 miles away—but he would discuss his cases in detail with me. I was a sympathetic and avid ear, frankly. Much younger and with my youthful sense of invulnerability still flapping around the edges of my psyche, I took a deep dive into the subject. Then weird synchronous shit began happening to me. Nothing as weird as the things that happened to him, nothing horrifically spooky, just fricking weird. But as I wasn’t even directly involved in his cases, it did rather freak me out.

“Oh yeah, that kind of thing goes on all the time,” he said. “It’s mostly harmless if you don’t give it energy.”

Which was not reassuring. It harkened back to something a witchy woman said to me when I was thirteen and another batch of synchronous shit started happening to me. “It can’t hurt you if you don’t let it.” I backed away from it then, shut it down with extreme prejudice, and the things stopped happening.

When it happened again in conjunction with my friend, I told it very firmly to go away and leave me alone, and it did. I’m sorry, I am not profoundly courageous when it comes to these things. I prefer to channel it into art, if you must know. Art is a buffer zone between the realm of the trickster—where this stuff stops and ends, in my opinion—and about as much as I can handle, in those days and in these.

Weird things continued to happen to me, but rarely with the sense of something focusing on me that happens in the middle of a synchronicity storm. That attention is what keeps me from sleeping at night. I continued to be friends with my paranormal researcher for some time after that, but eventually we drifted apart for reasons that had nothing to do with synchronicity or paranormal research or the trickster. (Or did they?) I still think fondly of him and those discussions because it expanded my mind and my psychic horizons.

Even if I was too much of a wimp to fully commit. I’m happy with my decision. And, really, I think “it” is, too.

I’ve been feeling sorry for myself the last couple of days for various reasons. Just this morning I was lying in bed doing a “poor me” routine in my head. I eventually told myself to put a sock in it and get over myself. As I swung my legs out of bed I noticed a stamped envelope sitting on the floor next to the bed that I’d swear wasn’t there before.

Let me back up a bit first before going there.

A few nights ago, I had a dream about my cousin S. We had a “misunderstanding” not quite a year and a half ago and haven’t spoken since. I love her and regretted things were that way but I didn’t know if I should contact her. I didn’t know if she’d welcome contact. So, I took the easy way out and stayed silent. It’s not as if I have a lot of relatives left in this world. I’ve got really good friends, for which I’m very grateful, but not that many relatives left that I’m close to. Oh, there are legions of cousins and even a niece or nephew or two but I hardly know them. They’re virtually strangers. But S. has been in my life most of my life. This dream reminded me of that.

When I got up the morning after the dream I did a lot of thinking. I very much believe in dreams as messages, both from the deeper core of who we are and from that part of us that is connected to the larger universe. I thought this dream might be something of the latter. I thought I had to reach out, but I wasn’t brave enough for an email and most especially not a call. I texted S. and asked how she was doing. She texted me back and we chatted a bit. No mention was made of the misunderstanding (for which I am grateful—not that brave) but at least we talked and were friendly.

I really don’t want to lose contact with her. I really want her to know that she means a lot to me. Maybe I’ll work up the courage to say/do more later, but for now I’ve done what I could.

So, that envelope on the floor this morning. I recognized it before I picked it up and it did startle me to see it. Inside was a letter from my aunt, S.’s mother, who died of breast cancer some years ago. She wrote it while going through chemo and although she did have a lot to say about how miserable she felt, her pluck and sense of humor also came through strongly. She faced that trial with courage. It did give me some much-needed perspective.

The thing is, as I said, I don’t remember it being there the night before. And coming as it did so closely on the heels of that dream about S.…It was too much of a coincidence for me to pass it off as coincidence. I had pulled some books out of the bookshelf near the bed yesterday that hadn’t been moved in quite some time, so maybe the letter had been tucked in with them—although I can’t imagine why I would put it there. It was a precious letter to me. And, anyway, I only put that information here in the spirit of full disclosure and for those who need the comfort of coincidence to get them through the day. For me, it was no coincidence.

Now, what was my aunt or the universe was trying to tell me? That’s a bit murkier. Was it a rebuke for not contacting S. before, for the misunderstanding, for not having the courage to communicate more? Was it a thank you for doing what I had done? Was it reinforcing the “get over yourself” for feeling self-pity? Was it a reminder that I needed to finish that story based on my aunt? Or was it just a general “hey there”?

I’m afraid figuring that out is beyond me at this point, though I’ll work on it. That’s the thing about “communications.” They are often quite murky. It’s part of our process to figure them out on our own, I think. We learn more that way, I guess. But dang.

Maybe the message is as simple as don’t take things for granted. Don’t take this life for granted. Get on with what you’re meant to do in this life and be good to the people you care for because it and they can be taken from you at any moment. Use the gifts you have been given. That’s the true mission for any of us in this world. That, I believe, is what the Universe truly requires of us: use it or lose it.

My morning commute is seven miles from front door to workplace garage. Being Los Angeles, that seven miles is fraught with many traffic headaches. Most mornings it takes about forty minutes—but there have been many notable exceptions.

Today was one of those. My commute took one hour and fifteen minutes. For much of that time I was stuck on the Lincoln Boulevard hill down from the Westchester plateau. There really are only three ways down from the plateau and I was on the wrong one. Construction on the Ballona Creek Bridge near Marina del Rey had reduced four-lane Lincoln to one-lane Lincoln. Even at the top of the hill I couldn’t tell where the problem lay as I was behind a large truck and in the lane next to me was a bus, both effectively blocking my view. I was stuck in the second lane because I knew the first lane was blocked ahead from previous commutes, and I couldn’t get over to the right because everyone in those lanes was just as blocked as I.

So I called work and told them I would be seriously late and tried as hard as I could to go with it and remain calm. Mostly it worked. I thought thoughts, I listened to music, I tried to stay positive, I amused myself by thinking of a guy on the elevator last night who escaped with his life because I didn’t possess an ice pick.

And so I sat for close to an hour. About a half hour in, I noticed a dragonfly, about five inches long. It flew back and forth over the hood of my car six times, not more than a couple of feet from my windshield. Knowing that dragonflies are very symbolic critters, I wondered if it had some message for me?

“This too shall pass.”
“Hello from Mom and Dad.”
“Pay attention, mortal.”
“Concern yourself with what’s important.”
“Which way to the wetlands?”

And in fact when he flew over my car the last time he headed purposefully west, towards the wetlands.

According to http://bit.ly/1RnTHQA

“The dragonfly totem carries the wisdom of transformation and adaptability in life. As spirit animal, the dragonfly is connected to the symbolism of change and light. When the dragonfly shows up in your life, it may remind you to bring a bit more lightness and joy into your life. Those who have this animal as totem may be inclined to delve deep into their emotions and shine their true colors.”

Okay. I wouldn’t necessarily count on that. And don’t even get me started on that whole “spirit animal” thang. I mean, I do acknowledge that I’m in sore need of transformation. But the ways of the world are strong.

It is, however, interesting that this should come up now. I was just having this conversation with myself last night. It was a little less poetic, though. More along the lines of “You better get your s**t together, girl, and stop acting like a baby. Things need to change.”

Maybe the dragonfly was a reminder of that, a reinforcer of my own soul’s message to Self. Maybe a coincidence, but it’s no fun thinking like that, unless you call it a synchronicity.

So, a synchronous message of soul to Self, or Self to self, or…

It was a very beautiful dragonfly, all blue and gold. I loved watching it fly.

In April 2008, around the anniversary of the death of my Aunt Maxine, I started seeing 11:11 every day when I looked up at the clock. Not every time I looked at the clock because 11:11 only comes twice a day for those of us on a 12-hour clock, but often I’d feel compelled to look at the clock at this precise time. It went on for over two weeks and became rather unsettling.

What was the Universe trying to tell me? Something significant, or just that random chance sometimes gets stuck, throwing “heads” 85 times in a row?

Then I remembered my Aunt Maxine’s birthday was November 11 and wondered if it was her saying, “Hey, I’m still around. Don’t worry so much.” This was a comforting thought and the creepiness factor went away, although the 11:11’s didn’t. I kept seeing them for weeks after.

So I did what any semi-rational human being would do in such circumstances. I googled it.

Golly. There are a universe of beliefs around the coincidence of seeing 11:11. Yeah, I still (mostly) call it a coincidence, even though my personal anecdote seems to convey meaning, because post hoc theorizing and confirmation bias and because of all the fuzzy and convoluted theorizing I read online.

For instance, there’s this guy:

Um. I did scurry to my tarot to see what card was 11. It’s Justice. I thought, “If it’s the Hanged Man I’m going to mess myself.” Because for me that relates to 9/11 and I just didn’t know if I could stand that. The Hanged Man was 12.

Mr. Fuller is right about it being more important for me to find my own answers, but I looked online for more data points.

Uri Geller has a lot to say on 11:11 but I can’t tell you all of it. I fell asleep about halfway through his article. In all fairness to Mr. Geller, this strange phenomenon happened to me on more than one article on 11:11, which doesn’t always coincide with clear and concise theorizing.

Of course, no consideration of 11:11 would be complete without this:

However, some of the folklore surrounding 11:11 is charming, like the idea that if you look up to see it your wish will come true. Or when you see it repeatedly it means that you are beginning to “awaken” spiritually, and 11:11 is the indicator that you’re on the right path. Some believe it’s a sign that your angels are listening and you should ask for their guidance.

Other beliefs are darker, like the theory that 11:11 is a portend of great earth changes or history on the brink of something momentous…Actually, I don’t want to think on that one too hard, given recent seismic events in politics. I much prefer the belief that when you see 11:11, you should stop and consider the significance and importance of the moment in which you live. Of the moment, in the moment.

But Maxie, if that was you, I love ya, babe.

crow

I love crows. I’m fascinated by them, although I never lose track of the fact that although they are intelligent and amazing animals, they are wild, and they are predators as well as scavengers. They survive in the real world any way they can—picking up road kill and pet food left outside, catching smaller birds and critters to eat. Whatever it takes.

In mythology, crows are often trickster deities. As the name implies, these deities exist to play tricks on humankind, but the tricks have a deeper meaning. They put people on alert to the shifting nature of reality, reminding them not to get so caught up in the surface of things, to not always believe what your eyes tell you. Beware. Be smart. Do what needs to be done. That’s how you survive.

It’s a tricky business when a human strikes a deal with a trickster. You may get what you asked for, but it won’t necessarily be in a form that’s any good to you, or it may come at a time when you no longer want it or need it. Knowing this, I saw a crow outside my window one day at work and thought how lovely one of his shiny black feathers would be in an art piece I was working on. So I thought, what the hell? I’ll ask him. (In my mind, of course, so my officemate wouldn’t think I was crazier than she already thought.)

“Mr. Crow, I would like one of your shiny black feathers to use in an art piece. If you agree to send me a feather, I will burn sage and juniper leaves in your honor.”

I waited for my feather. At lunchtime I even walked beneath his tree looking for it. No feather. I laughed at myself, but that night I burned the sage and juniper anyway. No feather. I stopped looking for it.

About three weeks later I was driving down the busy thoroughfare of Olympic Boulevard, late to a doctor’s appointment I absolutely had to make. The boulevard has a wide, parklike strip of green down the middle dividing the eastbound and westbound traffic, but absolutely no parking on that section of the street. I pulled to a stop at a light, not thinking about anything in particular except how late I was and what a hurry I was in. The light turned green and I stepped on the gas—and at just that moment a lovely, shiny black crow feather seemed to appear out of nowhere, blowing along the green strip of grass just beside my car.

In about five seconds flat I had a decision to make: do I stop the car in the intersection and run after the feather, provoking outrage in the cars behind me; or go east to the nearest turn around, come back and search for the feather, provoking the drivers on that side of the boulevard; or do I let the feather go and proceed to my appointment? Most people who have heard this story say at this point, “You should have stopped for the feather!” But in the seconds required to make my decision, I had an epiphany. I had to let the feather go. It was not that I had asked too much of Mr. Crow. He had been willing to give the feather, but wanted me to appreciate his cosmic joke. It was as if he said, “You make the decision whether you want to live in the world, or in the spirit world. The choice is yours, and my feather is the symbol.” On this day, I chose to live in the world, and continued on to my doctor’s appointment.

I laughed long and hard at the splendid joke I’d played on myself. The trickster cannot trick us unless we are willing participants. We are the ultimate cosmic jokers on ourselves. In the years since, I’ve also realized the other part of this lesson is that we sometimes have to let go of our notion that we can control life, nature, the randomness of events. . . anything, really. If we’re going to keep our sanity, we have to reconcile ourselves to this fundamental lack of power, and learn to live with life’s basic unpredictability. We have to be careful not to buy into the illusion of the world, of controlling and bending nature (life) to our will.

And so there came a day I told this story to F. while walking back to Avalon from the Wrigley Monument on Santa Catalina Island. She appreciated the irony and we laughed a great deal when I got to the part where the feather blew in front of my car and I had to leave. At that precise moment, the crows in the eucalyptus trees lining our path joined in, breaking into a loud and raucous cawing as we passed.

And so there came another day when I realized once and for all that a relationship had ended. It was a painful ending to an association that never stood much of a chance, but I’d walked into it with eyes wide shut, believing I could make of it what it wasn’t. On that day, I knew I had to give it up, that it had never really been mine. As I walked back to my car, I thought about the lessons of the tricksters and how very badly I had fooled myself. There on the ground, centered just behind my car’s back bumper, was a lovely, shining black crow feather.

 

Random quote of the day: 

“I don’t believe in magic, but I believe in interpreting coincidence exactly the way you want to.”

—Sherman Alexie, Twitterfeed, 2/29/12

coincidence4WP@@@

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

1. When I heard that WFC would be in San Diego in 2011 I thought, “Oh hell, for sure I can go, even if it’s just to drive down for a day.” Life had other plans, unfortunately. And, truth told, I might not have gone, despite my optimism. Every year I plan to go to Loscon, which takes place about 10 miles from my house on Thanksgiving weekend, aaaaaaaand…I don’t go. I should never underestimate the power of my own sloth.

2. Mom had some scary issues this week, but the doctors think they were due to water retention (always a hazard with dialysis). Since they’ve up the Lasix, the problems have improved.

3. I have injured my knee. My good knee. I pulled a muscle along the side of the knee, which has happened before, but now the joint is stiff and swollen as well. The bad knee, ironically, is doing much, much better. *sigh*

4. I’ve been studying Native American gender identity issues for some time now, but my interest has revived over the last couple of weeks as I’ve worked on the research for The Numberless Stars. I’ve been poking at the cultural mores of different tribes regarding attitudes towards the third sex, the berdache, as anthropologists have labeled them. In the kind of synchronicity that often occurs when I start seriously poking at some research, this popped up on LJ’s little_details. Very helpful indeed. I’ve already ordered the Williams book and one other. Both cheap used copies, of course.

5. TGIF. Putting a hundred extra miles (or more) on the car per week is rather draining, but today all that is required of me is to be at work. Tomorrow I actually get three hours to myself while Mom is at dialysis, and Sunday, the blessed day, I don’t have to go anywhere at all. Chores, sure, but I don’t have to drive anywhere. I try to keep that sacrosanct about Sundays.

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