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The Robin and the Scarab


What’s tapping at your window?

So what’s with the robins, anyway? Perhaps the collective unconscious knows.

I’m referring to an unprecedented gathering of robins both at my bird bath in Santa Fe and at sister Kate’s pond about 80 miles southwest of here. Neither of us has seen so many before, much less at this time of year. Their unseasonal appearance is the place where the trail to meaning begins.

The robin’s ruddy breast is everywhere associated with the coming of spring and the spreading of new growth, not the onset of winter. Their untimely gathering probably means that deep drought is causing them to migrate in search of food. If the collective unconscious associates them with new growth, perhaps it is we who need to begin to grow to adapt to incoming change.

This reminds me of the story psychoanalyst Carl Jung related in his discussion of synchronicity. He described the latter as a series of coincidences so meaningfully connected that their chance occurrence was wildly improbable. I’m not saying that the robins are such, but on with the story.

Jung had reached a dead-end with a patient. She clearly wanted help but was blocked by a rigid idea of reality imposed by her animus, her masculine side. In his darkened office one day, she was relating a dream in which she was given a golden scarab. Jung heard a tapping at the window behind him. He turned around and saw an insect trying to get in. He opened the window and captured the insect as it flew inside. When he opened his hand, he discovered a common rose-chafer, the closest thing to a golden scarab in his part of the world.

The beetle’s insistence on entering the room as the patient related her scarab dream was such a stunning coincidence that it dislodged her from her “rationalistic attitude” as Jung put it, and her transformation began.

Of course Jung’s presence was essential to the effectiveness of the synchronicity. It was he who heard the tapping, opened the window, captured the beetle, recognized its scarab nature, and also knew that the scarab is associated with rebirth in Egyptian mythology. Someone has to be paying attention for a synchronicity to manifest.

Jung would write at great length of such “non-causal” connections and coincidences that inspired the term synchronicity. However, one must wonder if there actually was cause and if it came from the patient.

After all, she was meeting with Jung because she wanted and needed to change in some way. Perhaps “her soul had voiced its need to grow.” Would she have put it that way? Probably not. The need to grow may sometimes express as boredom, discontent, restlessness, whatever.  But then a door opens, something or someone new comes in, and change begins. It is as though the silent soul has been heard.

I have had at least one wonderful experience of this kind in life and would wish it for others as well. If the scarab story especially interests you the reader, perhaps that possibility is afoot. Perhaps your soul feels a little confined, as in a darkened room on a sunny day. Suddenly you hear a sound and turn toward the light. What’s tapping at your window?

As for the robins as messengers, I personally am fully aware of a need to grow in new ways to adapt to all the change afoot. I have put myself, hopefully, at the place of cause. I will be watching for that open door that constitutes guidance. It’s a rather exciting time and a rather exciting place to be in.

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