Mark Grant holds a bachelors degree in International Studies, with minors in Economics, Political Science and Sociology from the University of Oregon in the United States. He studied Law in Canada, but after successfully completing his first year decided to travel the world instead.
Two of his main interests are mysticism and spirituality, which is reflected in many of the places he has been to, including Giza, Luxor, Mount Sinai, Old Jerusalem, Nazareth, the Parthenon, Lourdes, Mother Teresa’s missionary, Sai Baba’s ashram, a cave where Doubting Thomas lived for five years, Nara, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Diamond Head, Glastonbury, Stonehenge, Chitzen Itza, Palenque and more. This is his second book.
In the early 20th century the famous Swiss psychiatrist coined the term synchronicity to describe what can be loosely defined as meaningful coincidences.
This description is somewhat misleading because there is cultural bias in which ‘coincidences’ are seen by definitions to be inherently random or ‘chance’ manifestations. Synchronistic or ‘synced’ events are described in such terms because they are perceived as being most likely due to something ‘other than’ chance.
Synchronicity has become a relatively familiar term, perhaps mainly due to the popularity of a best-selling album of the same name that was produced in the early 1980s by a British band known as The Police. And while synchronicity is seen by many as a fascinating subject, it remains a fringe one that has underperformed since Jung introduced the term in the 1920s.
And if it’s so interesting, then why hasn’t synchronicity gained more traction over the first century of its existence?
One reason is because synchronicity has largely been treated as a personal study. Those who follow ‘syncs’ tend to do so only as that applies to their own lives. It can be a challenge for others to even want to try to ‘get’ those pictures, and context must first be presented (or already known) in order to recognize, let alone appreciate, why a so-called sync is seen to be meaningful.
Then there’s the matter of why such episodes should even be seen as being possibly due to ‘something other than chance’. The mainstream Western world mindset is highly secular and skeptical. Personal anecdotes – if they can even be confirmed – tend to not unfold in terms that enable one to measure their true probability or improbability.
For that reason many reflexively presume that syncs must be nothing more than anomalies, the result of confirmation bias, or some such thing. All of these explanations lead to back the same mundane explanation, that the results ‘must’ be (or are almost certainly) due to chance. “Move along folks, move along. There’s nothing here.”
A Tale of Two Synchronicities provides a way around these difficulties. While partly a midlife memoir that discusses how synchronicity has manifested in the life of the author, its other side moves the discussion forward by focusing on epic events and monumental moments that are meaningful or noteworthy to many millions of people. These ‘group-level’ public manifestations of synchronicity are what the author calls ‘macronicity’ or ‘macrosyncs’.
To a significant degree most of the macrosyncs presented provide a way of weighing the persuasiveness of the default ‘chance’ interpretation. This is because the majority of them occur in the theatre of ‘big-time’ sports – where certain types of events can be isolated. The A-list events include but are not limited to: various Super Bowls, World Cups of soccer, Olympic Games, the National Hockey League of North America, major American college football and more.
The first advantage is that these events occur in ‘big-time’ settings are on the public record. It is also beneficial that soccer goals are a highly specific type of recurring event. The serious skeptic has a vast body of data to work with. And if a certain soccer goal is seen occur in timely, meaningful and apparently highly improbable fashion, the next task is very straightforward. Will a significant number of other soccer goals – however ordinary, and preferably randomly derived – feature data that is comparable (in volume and quality) to that which made the so-called macrosynced goal seem ‘meaningful’.
To cite a somewhat useful analogy, imagine that an individual enters a Poker game that some friends have been gathering for once a month for several years. Suppose that this newcomer knows nothing about the game of Poker. All of the others sitting at the table are seasoned players, including the current dealer (who has also joined this setting for the very first time).
Suppose the newcomer receives a Royal Flush on his first hand. Not knowing anything about Poker he has no cause to believe that anything special has happened, and this is because he knows absolutely nothing about how ‘chance theory’ applies in this case. He might assume that his hand is entirely normal because only sees five cards, just like every other hand that was just dealt. The others at the table know how chance applies. Because of this they would either consider that result to be a minor miracle or a far more mundane ‘act of intervention’.
The chance explanation would not persuasive in this case because Royal Flushes come along about once every 649,740 times – unless, of course, something or someone intervenes in the laws of chance in the meanwhile. For this reason the seasoned players at the table will likely be very suspicious of the dealer, that other newcomer.
And this speaks to a fundamental way we are wired to interpret some events are: the more improbable an event is, the less likely it is to be due to chance.
There’s another way of gleaning a sense of the credibility of the default chance explanation. Suppose that our newcomer received a ‘Two-Pair’ hand instead of a Royal Flush. With five people playing in our hypothetical game we can expect to see this result about once every four times cards are dealt in randomly controlled setting. The default chance interpretation is highly persuasive in this case because it can be easily demonstrated, even if one doesn’t know the exact odds.
This practical test is the one that serious skeptics may wish to take on for what follows. One reason why doing so may be worthwhile goes as follows: While we can all imagine how easily a Royal Flush could show up in any card game for reasons ‘other than chance’, it’s a much different thing, explaining how similar results might occur in a setting where two groups of people seek to impose their desired outcomes at the same time and in full public view.
A couple of things about meaning should be addressed before we turn our featured example. Public events have nothing to do with the tired explanation that so-called examples of synchronicity must be due to confirmation bias. Macrosyncs have a way of showing up on their own, independently of wishful (or skeptical) thinking. As we shall see in the following example, the best ones feature various meaningful associations.
Nor can it be argued that such events are ‘meaningful’ only in terms of the individual perceivers’ experience. Take for example the year 2012, as it applies to Great Britain and the Commonwealth of Nations. In that year Queen Elizabeth saw in her 60th year as Britain’s reigning monarch. The various celebrations that took place that year are all the hard evidence need to prove that it is not invention on this writer’s part to say that this event was ‘meaningful’ to many, many millions of people.
Speaking of meaning, all of what follows proceeds from what was, in fact, the crowning goal of England’s top-flight soccer league season in 2012. This goal displays a number of features that symbolically ‘speak to the occasion’ in terms that relate to the significance of the Diamond Jubilee celebration, to Queen Elizabeth and the British Monarchy.
Furthermore, this monumental moment delivers timely, improbable and relevant (or meaningful) associations in two fundamental ways. At the primary it does so ‘within’ the context of the actual event. At the secondary level it does in ‘relational’ terms by linking to related events of consequence through ‘meaningful durations’.
Keep in mind, as you read along, that what follows is only one example of several that are presented in the actual book. On that note we turn again to A Tale of Two Synchronicities, and to what a portion of the chapter entitled The English Case of Man v. Man.
After rising on the morning of May 13th in 2012, over on North America’s west coast, I settled on the sofa and flipped on the television. While sipping my first taste of coffee I heard an announcer say that the English Premier League – the world’s most watched soccer league, apparently – had just concluded its 2011-12 season. Apparently it was an unusually spectacular ending. And I might not have paid much attention, but as the announcer went on he said something that left me suspecting that a major ‘shouter’ had just occurred Across the Pond. (A ‘shouter’ is an event that is sensational and features hints of synchronicity, by displaying at least one obviously meaningful and improbable element.)
So, I began digging around. And surely enough the ending was superlatively sensational. The London Telegraph wrote that the final day of play featured ‘the top flight’s most dramatic finale ever’. Other sources would speak in similar terms, like espnfc.com which described the ending as ‘one of the most dramatic days in Premier League history’.
The conclusion of the Premiership’s 2011-12 season turned out to be a tale of two matches. Going into the final day the Manchester City Citizens (hereinafter referred to as ‘City’ or ‘the Citizens’) and the Manchester United Red Devils (‘United’ or ‘the Red Devils’) were tied for first place. As there are no playoffs in the Premier League, the championship had to be decided that day through two separate matches – the one involving City and Queens Park Rangers and the one between United and Sunderland.
Near the very end, and as hundreds of millions of people around the world looked on, Manchester City prevailed on what was a very unusual (that is, an improbable) soccer outcome. The Citizens claimed their third all-England title by scoring two goals in extra time of their match against Queens’ Park Rangers. (This is a very rare occurrence at elite-level soccer and one that happened the previous October, when City and United played in the notorious Demolition Derby.)
So, City won its first all-league title in 44 years (on the 44th and final shot of that match and the entire Premier League season). Looking further into the past I learned that City had won their very first all-England title only a couple of weeks before Britain celebrated the coronation of King George VI. And that grand event took place less than a month after England’s new champions had entered their 44th year playing under the moniker of Manchester City.
King George’s reign lasted for just over fifteen years until he passed away in his sleep on February 6, 1952. When that happened his daughter, Elizabeth, automatically ascended to the throne.
And in 2012, the year when City claimed its third all-England title in ‘most’ dramatic fashion Britain and the Commonwealth of Nations were celebrating that particular event, the ‘accession’ (or the ascension) of Queen Elizabeth II.
The ‘Diamond Jubilee’ celebration commemorated the fact that 60 years had passed since Elizabeth’s accession on February 6, 1952. It was a very big deal, a year-long affair with celebrations occurring in various Commonwealth nations.
So, the ‘most dramatic final day’ in Premier League history, or certainly one of them, happened to take place in a year when there was a major celebration that was foremostly about Queen Elizabeth and what took place on February 6, 1952. And when we project forward from that date to when City won their third title we arrive at a total duration of 22,012 days. This forges our next meaningful ‘relational’ connection by capturing the year of the Diamond Jubilee.
It does so against a greater-than Four-of-a-Kind chance unlikelihood. That is, there are only 19 ways in 90,000 that ‘2012’ can show up in five-digit strings, ranging from 10000 to 99999 (as x2012 or 2012x).
So, this most extraordinary day in English soccer happens to deliver a very relevant, timely and improbable ‘2012’ connection.
And since Elizabeth’s status as Queen invokes a strong matriarchal association, it’s also worth mentioning that the conclusion of the Premier League’s ‘Diamond Jubilee’ season took place on Mother’s Day.
Turning again to the climax of the 2012 Premier League season, we’ve noted that Manchester City won their first all-England championship in the season when Elizabeth’s father ascended to the throne. This adds to our growing picture because the father-daughter connection is a very strong and highly exclusive personal relationship.
Facing City that day was Queen Park Rangers – whose name can be construed as another allusion to Elizabeth. This one’s also easy to look past, but QPR is the only one of the 20 Premier League teams that provides a ‘queenly’ or monarchial association by name.
However, it may be more appropriate to consider England’s top four divisions since the Diamond Jubilee celebration infers a timeline of sixty years. Every year in English soccer a few clubs move up and down from one division to another, if they finish near the bottom or the top. So there can be very significant movement over time, and to illustrate this point in the year of Elizabeth’s accession Queens Park Rangers were in the fourth of four divisions. When the four-division standard is applied QPR becomes the only one of 92 clubs in the Diamond Jubilee year that deliver a relevant queenly association by name, or even one that explicitly relates to the monarchy.
At this point we may recall that mechanism which seems deeply engrained in the human mind: as improbability rises, the chance explanation becomes proportionately less persuasive. When a certain threshold is reached it becomes reasonable to explore alternative explanations. That said, it should be noted that since Jung introduced synchronicity nobody has been able to prove what causes syncs, if they are due to something ‘other than chance’. However, one popular explanation is that they represent signs which are discreetly and seamlessly installed by what must be an extremely advanced agent.
And if what we have considered so far is a ‘designed’ result, then surely an obvious place to look for more such information would be to the crowning goal of the 2011-12 season. But let us be very clear about something as we move forward. In settings where the laws of chance do in fact prevail we must not expect to see any more meaningful and improbable associations. This is true because by definition, because we should not expect to see the ‘improbable’ occur.
Nonetheless, the player who delivered the crowning goal of the Premier League’s 2012 season, Sergio Agüero, delivers three very timely associations that are clearly relevant to Queen Elizabeth, the Diamond Jubilee celebration and the Monarchy.
For one, he was born on June 2nd in 1988. That would be thirty-five years to the day of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation. The coronation refers to when Elizabeth formally assumed the throne, after a customary period of mourning following the death of King George VI. So, ‘within’ the climax one sees a very unlikely symbolic reference to Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, while the timing of this event points ‘relationally’ to the accession in highly appropriate and improbable ‘2012’ fashion..
Incidentally, Agüero means ‘omen’ in Spanish. According to the Oxford English dictionary omens can be signs that portend future events of great importance.
On that note we turn to what happened a few weeks after Sergio Agüero delivered the final goal of the 2011-12 Premier League season
According to the British Monarchy’s official website Britain’s main Diamond Jubilee’s celebration was held on a “spectacular central weekend” which began on Agüero’s 24th birthday.
So far, our Premier League hero delivers in two ways that clearly relate to 2012’s wider significance. As for the third, in order to complete the trifecta we must turn to the origins or the near origins of English history.
The Kingdom of England is said to have been founded on July 12, 927. That was when Æthelstan became what modern historians regard as the first King of England.
However, to the English 927 seems to take a back seat to 1066. In that year William the Conqueror fought King Harold of Norway at the Battle of Hastings on October 14, 1066. As bbc.co.uk writes, “William was victorious and on Christmas Day 1066, he was crowned king in Westminster Abbey. A Norman aristocracy became the new governing class and many members of the native English elite, including bishops, were replaced with Normans.”
The English seem to favour 1066 as the starting point for many things. For example, many media sources including the BBC speak of Elizabeth II as being the 40th monarch since William. They tend to not mention her position relative to Æthelstan. Perhaps 1066 is preferred because William’s conquest enabled England to evolve in relatively insular terms, and since it brought about “profound political, administrative, and social changes in the British Isles,” as britannica.com notes.
While the analogy is not a perfect one, in many respects ‘1066’ is to English as ‘1776’ is to Americans. It is much more than a number; it’s a meaningful symbol that resonates strongly in the English and British psyche. And Sergio Agüero won the title for Manchester City with what was the 1066th and final goal of the Premier League’s Diamond Jubilee season.
That’s what got my attention when I first heard about ‘the most dramatic final day in Premier League history’. I happened to know that 1066 is a highly significant year to the English people. Without 1066 the ending would have seemed like just another sensational event. With both it seemed like a ‘shouter’, and where shouters are seen to occur I have found that there are often various other meaningful associations. So far we’ve seen several.
For the record, since the year of Elizabeth’s accession England’s top soccer leagues have produced anywhere from 931 total goals (in 2006-07) to 1724 total goals (in 1960–61). The overall variance here is 793 goals. No surprise then, that this was the only time that England’s top league delivered exactly 1066. How unusual, and how relevant in very timely way, that this would finally occur in a year when there was such a huge outpouring of affection for ‘the 40th monarch since William the Conqueror’.
Suspecting that there might be more, at some point I looked to Queen Elizabeth’s most recent birthday. She had turned 86 just a few weeks before our featured event, on April 21 in 2012.
Only one Premier League match was played that day. It involved Queens Park Rangers whose relevance to said 2012 festivities has already been noted. As for QPR’s opponent that day, Tottenham Hotspur F.C. were England’s reigning champions at the time of Elizabeth’s accession in 1952. Again, this is the event on which the entire 2012 Diamond Jubilee celebration was based.
Adel Taarabt had scored that game’s only goal. His May 24th birthday triggered another ‘queenly’ association that ultimately led back to Queen Elizabeth in terms that involved Mother’s Day 2012 and one of England’s most seminal documents, the Magna Carta.
Victoria Day is a national holiday in Canada. It’s a tribute to Elizabeth’s great-great grandmother, who was born on May 24th in 1819. I recognized the date because in my original hometown of Victoria, British Columbia there was always a big parade based on this date which marks the unofficial beginning of the tourist season.
Queen Victoria is seen as a relatively prominent monarch for various reasons, including the fact that she stands as Britain’s longest reigning monarch, having been Queen 63 years and 216 days.
If Elizabeth lives to see the day she will match this standard on September 9, 2015. The calendar date leads to when the duration of the first monarchial reign since 1066 was established, as William the Conqueror died on September 9, 1087.
So, God willing, on September 10th Elizabeth will see in her first full day as the longest-reigning monarch in around one thousand years.
Finally, we turn to the Magna Carta. As bbb.co.uk informs, this document “established the principle that the people of England, at this stage represented by the Barons, could limit the power of a King, if he was doing things that were not good for the country.”
Signed in 1215, in its own way the Magna Carta is not unlike America’s Constitution. It was a precedent-setting document that introduced a partnership model between the Crown and the people.
That partnership has endured for some eight hundred years. And on a more discreet level the Diamond Jubilee festivities were a celebration of this partnership as well as a more specific outpouring of affection for Queen Elizabeth II.
To bring this all home, September 10, 2015, Elizabeth’s first full day as the longest-reigning monarch in English history links to the (highly-synced) final day of the Premier League’s Diamond Jubilee season by a very ‘Magna Carta-friendly’ duration of ‘1215’ days.
So, in this setting September 10, 2015 has what may be regarded as a very strong ‘monarchial reign’ flavour.
On that note we turn another seminal event, the English Restoration of 1660. That was when the monarchy was restored under King Charles II.
The ‘monarchial reign’ theme shows up again in regal fashion when we go back in time from Mother’s Day 2012 by a ‘Restoration-friendly’ 1,660 days. Doing so leads to October 27, 2007.
On October 27th in 939 the Kingdom of England’s very first monarchial reign was defined with the passing of King Æthelstan. Multiple sources report that he died at the age of 44.
Finally, staying with the Restoration leads back to Queen Elizabeth, in a consistent manner that alludes (and so appropriately) to the significance of the Diamond Jubilee.
Charles II, the post-Restoration’s first monarch, ended his monarchial reign on February 6th in 1685.
For the sake of clarity, the nearby image presents just some of the meaningful associations that have been discussed in this chapter.
There are several of them, and ultimately they all proceed from the final goal of the Premier League’s Diamond Jubilee season.
Yet all of these many meaningful associations have nothing to do with Goal 1066’s superlatively emotional flavour.
“The only word to describe it is bedlam,” wrote theguardian.com. “Manchester City are the champions of England but where do you start? How, seriously, can it be possible to sum up the raw, shredded emotion of those final, exhilarating moments, the scale of what it means and the sheer drama that unravelled before the party could begin…”
Goal 1066 may have produced one of the most dramatic endings in the entire history of top-flight English football. It’s certainly not my place to say if that’s true, but this seems to be inferred through the following quotation. It references a match that took place before the Premiership came into existence:
“There can be only one other moment to compete with this, and it was Michael Thomas’s title-winning goal for Arsenal at Anfield in 1989.”
On the final day of the Premier League’s Diamond Jubilee season Michael Thomas was 44 years old.
This concludes the English case of Man v Man.
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