How many times have you seen “angelic” numbers (111, 33) and considered them a sign? Or, a bird sitting at your front porch, a candle flickering, or a cat walking in front of you?
Our human-centric perspective often leads us to believe that we are the protagonists. We assume that the existence of physical reality is there to fulfil our capricious demands.
This isn’t new. We have always believed in omens and signs. In ancient Greece, prophets would look at the patterns of birds and predict the fate of the war. Magi predicted the birth of Jesus Christ by spotting the Star of Bethlehem. Folkloric traditions, that we now call superstition, were prompts for unrelated events, resembling primitive, sympathetic rituals.
We are desperate to believe that the universe isn’t indifferent, that we matter.
Our metaphysical interests continue to dominate our culture. Only now, omens and signs are “synchronicities”—a refined term to describe meaningful coincidences. And the more of them you have, the more aligned you are with the universe in a way.
It’s not uncommon for the spiritually inclined to perceive the mundane, animals and inanimate objects, as a message from the beyond, a symbolic manifestation of what is to come.
But how much of this is magical thinking, a need to believe that good things are going to happen?
Is This A Sign
If you look for it, you’ll find it. We’re excellent at spotting patterns, even when they’re not there!
A lot of weak, causal inferences fall under the human tendency to fill in the gaps when we don’t have enough data. Our intuition filters inputs through our biases and personal narratives. We end up with a distorted view of reality, not less accurate than anyone else’s of course.
This happened at scale during the 2020 Presidential Elections. Elaborate rationalizations and increasingly abstract etiology marked the events of last November and continue to do so to this day.
In your personal life, you might want to reconsider many of the things you interpret as a divine connection or synchronicity, especially when validated by a posteriori knowledge.
Because signs and omens are real. They just happen to be much rarer and more intense than most people assume. While you won’t casually receive nudges from the universe every time you take a walk, it’s important to differentiate a sign from a trick of your mind.
The Rule of Three
We assume that all metaphysical experiences must mystify us one way or another. A relic of the religious undercurrent that removed our personal connection with the divine (whether you call it God or nature) and placed it within the confinements of churches and, now meaningless, rituals. The result is that we expect to feel lost and confused.
Yet, the purpose of a sign is precisely that; to demystify these experiences and give you a clear direction. And the medium these signs are channeled through is our subconscious.
Naturally, the only way to communicate with the unseen part of ourselves is using an array of symbolic events and schemata. But again, you won’t have to look for them, they punch you right in the gut. They won’t be mundane, they’ll disrupt reality.
Recently on Twitter, I said that a candle blowing out isn’t a sign. A candle lighting up is. Unmistakingly a sign! That’s the kind of intensity you’re looking for.
The Rule of Three (omne trium perfectum) is an arbitrary, but empirically validated, rule claiming that peculiar events and sightings should occur at least three times during a week before you can even consider them a potential sign.
Numbers are a great example because they’re practically everywhere. It’s impossible to avoid seeing your “prophetic” combination, especially when looking for it.
But if we apply the Rule of Three, seeing the numbers isn’t enough. They should slowly saturate your life, your dreams, your thought patterns. It should be clear as day, when you reject all logical explanations, that it is a sign.
Does It Matter In the End?
There was a young monk, desperately looking for a connection with God. He’d ask his elders for guidance and pray daily for a sign.
“A ladybug crawled on my window last night. That must definitely be a sign from God”, he said.
“Yes it is”, said the elders.
“I heard three dogs howling this morning. That must definitely be a sign that God loves me”, he said.
“Yes it is”, said the elders.
Years passed and his faith was solidified. He felt the presence of God everywhere he went. One day while working in the fields, he noticed a small cloud covering the sun, following him everywhere he went.
“Is it a sign?”, he asked with a bright smile across his face.
“Does it matter?”, said the elders.
The point of this story is that sometimes the most important sign is our desire for something to happen. We’re just looking for permission to take the next step.