magistrate: The arc of the Earth in dark space. (Default)
You know, I'm agnostic-skeptic when it comes to omens and signs. I think most of the weird coincidences we see are just coincidences, and not actually that weird. It's just that we notice them, and the billions of tiny co-occurrences that don't hold any special similarity go unnoticed because there's no reason to give them any attention. "I wrote a blog post about gluten-free desserts, and then I turned on the radio... and there was a story about an embassy bombing!" ...okay? That sort of stuff happens all the time, with overwhelming frequency, yet it's always the "I was thinking about quitting my job, and a copy of the newspaper classifieds blew onto the sidewalk in front of me!" events that get all the attention. "What are the odds!" As it turns out, just what it took for the event to happen, and all the dreg is still there in your peripheral vision.

But, you know, that doesn't stop me from going after the "signs" and "omens" that do crop up in my life. It's a magical-consciousness thing.

By which I mean: in my low-key, homegrown magical practice, a big central philosophy is bricolage: "to make creative and resourceful use of whatever materials are at hand (regardless of their original purpose)". So when I write a post about being afraid to move forward and then the next day I wake up to a Live Your Legend mailinglist email about how the biggest threat to your success is quitting, and once you get that under control, all the other risks are small potatoes, I still interpret it as basically a message from $god*.

*Here I'm using the PHP variable syntax – $variable_name – to indicate, basically, "god-of-choice". God is another thing I'm both faithful and agnostic on.

And that's because I've taught myself to glean meaning and inspiration from things. Meaning, motivation, inspiration, and direction are things I need in my life, and I know that I sometimes have to be creative in fulfilling those needs. So when I see a coincidence that I can use to feed into my motivation – in this case, it's a "sign from the universe not to give up" – the framework of my thinking goes something like this:

Something called itself to my attention. => Is there meaning I can ascribe to this? => Is the potential meaning helpful or harmful? Can I interpret it in a way that makes it helpful? => If it's helpful, DUDE! It's an OMEN! If it's harmful, whoo, look at that, it's another wacky coincidence, and I go on my way.

This is a pretty blatant logical fallacy, of course – it's the same sort of thinking that contextualizes a misfortune that happens to someone of $x_particular_faith as a "test of faith" and an identical misfortune that happens to anyone else as a sign of $god's displeasure. But I'd rather look at it as a mindhack. Yeah, it's spurious and completely arbitrary, but I'm aware of it and can watchdog it so its net effect on my life is positive and it doesn't harm anyone else. I can glean a spot of inspiration from my own coincidences, and if I ever come across an arrangement of rocks in a stream that seems to spell out KILL THEM ALL, I'll take a picture and share it on Twitter with a note about how wacky patterns in nature can be.

Date: 2011-10-06 10:03 am (UTC)From: [personal profile] rubyprism
rubyprism: A girl in a fancy white dress has a cat sitting next to her. (Default)
I don't have anything more complicated to say except, really, "me too".

There is not a lot of point in proving things when it comes to spirituality. Either it means something personal to you, or it's spiritually useless. The former case doesn't require anything to be "real", and in the latter case there's nothing spiritual in it at all.

Date: 2011-10-06 06:34 pm (UTC)From: [personal profile] rubyprism
rubyprism: A girl in a fancy white dress has a cat sitting next to her. (Default)
Oh, I'm really the same way, but I think as long as I am valuing the meaning and truth in what matters to me, and not dissing the people who find meaning and truth in those popular holy books, it's okay. People who are able to find something within an established tradition are lucky because their holy things are easier to explain and justify to society as meaningful, and it's easier to go from there to find more writings and things related to it. But... that's how it is with anything that's popular.

Date: 2011-10-11 11:47 pm (UTC)From: [personal profile] dchan
dchan: A kitten clinging to a man's head (om nom nom head)
If I found a bunch of rocks in a stream that appeared to read KILL THEM ALL, I'd probably assume that the person who was there before me had a pretty twisted sense of humor.

But yeah, pretty much what you just said.

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