469. January 8th…There’s really something to the symbolic nature of good signs

“Forest” 2011

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”  ~Victor Frankl

I heard birds for the first time this morning…chattering about the feeders by the Pyracantha bush…near my window…perhaps they are announcing a sign…a change is on its way…faster than expected…

seems signs are everywhere and they only matter if…they do…I am a believer in signs…jinxs…and how some small action may very well change the entire course of my life…maybe something as simple as…putting on my right shoe first….(which by the way…never happens and never will)…but if it did…everything would change…and I know that with certainty…that I guess is habit…perhaps driven by an OCD component…but nevertheless….a reality in my world…one I pay close attention too…

I’m sure we all have signs…we pay attention to…they reveal themselves…give us a little insight…and maybe just point a direction…and we just might go that direction or not…I think signs are based somewhere in intuition…we have the information…yet have not formulated the situation…so anything is really possible…but our intuition much like an itch we cannot reach…nags until relief arrives…and once satisfied…we move on with a little bit more information about what may be…

I visited my father’s grave some years ago…when I arrived….the grave was covered with black crows…my first response was…”Oh no Alfred Hitchcock“…the crows were moving around rapidly…Cawing..wings flapping…the scene was surreal to say the least…when I stopped the car…I immmediately thought this was a bad place to die from fright…and how would the phone call sound to my family that the grounds keeper had found my lifeless body laying on my father’s grave…and crows were using it as a roost…you can see how quickly the surreal nature became solidified as truly surreal…I went to the grave…all the crows flew off…I didn’t grip my chest…fall dead on the grave….and all was fine…but…there was a sign…and that was my father had something to do with crows…and crows had something to do with my father…now when I see a crow…I always say…”Hey Pop…how’s everything“…and it works…I’ve a friend…when she finds a penny…this is a message…from her mother…one she needs to listen too…and she does…

we have signs presented to us…as well as signs we present…to others and the world…both while we are living and when we die…I think when we die..we cease in one way and very much begin in a different way…a way that may  live on via sign…many Japanese poets..and Zen monks…wrote Haiku moments before they died…there was left a visual of what their last few thoughts were…and in some way those thoughts may also have been the way they return to those who knew them well…our death signs are important and remind people of us…and relationship

our life signs…are what we truly know…and the signs we display…may only be seen by those who can see our signs…or are looking for our signs…and for what ever reason a sign is seen…there is a connection that makes that relationship maybe not so mysterious…more of a knowing type of connection…that with care and time may very well produce the life altering results…I know this to be true…

signs are truly miraculous…they are there when we need them…they bolster our faith in things…help us to believe in what may sometime be questionable…and offer so much more than imagery or sound or a feeling…it is a type of proof…a way of paying attention…one that becomes a series of events…a different way of understanding…

I’d be very interested in what signs you experience…does someone who has died reveal themselves to you in a certain way…does a particular sound become something other than a sound..or a fragrance…speaks…loudly…please let me know…

“Black frost. The ground is hard, the air tastes bitter. Your stars cluster in evil signs.” – Georg Trakl




  1. Is it not intensely interesting that human beings have an insatiable appetite to believe the unbelievable? Illusion and self deception lift us like wings above all the other earthbound experiments of life “in” matter. Only humans do things, “Naturally”, that do not make sense.

    Did evolution save us from an early prototype of intelligence by giving us the ability to be suggestible and hypnotizable? Today, is that ability part of what Carl Sagan called “excess evolutionary baggage”? Equipment we must carry around despite it’s counterproductive effects on us in modern times.

    Is that the rub? To be the most intelligent MUST we simultaneously be also the most stupid?


  2. I am certain my belief is a derivative from some combination of determinism and fatalism with the idea that in any given paradigm there is a reality that what is taking place is directly related to and partially determined by a previous event or events.

    So now then the conversation quickly shifts to the idea of “Objective knowledge”, and if it is true and possible, some perhaps all of what we learn we can develop without static from those around us and are solely responsible for learning what we learn…but if impossible we are fated to learn what we learn by what has already been learned and seems to parallel an evolutionary like theory of progression and the sustainability of learning.

    I am very drawn to the philosophy behind “Solopsism” within Objective Knowledge and the ideology that any learning outside of oneself is unjustified yet for me to migrate to it reeks of a vegan….that likes a good burger…occasionally

    I think we must be the most stupid to be be the most intelligent, why else would we access every possibility we can to prove that what is consistently true is also consistently false…

    But really are we any less mystical than when amulets and bags of herbs hung around our necks to protect us from something…or maybe made us invisible…I think we’ve traded that in for something else….something much more alarming than a few bones and ground up red powder….


  3. Love this post. I’m a full~on believer in signs. I usually feel mine as nudges from the inside or a glimpse of something, a beach for example. I don’t know what they mean, I just follow the pointers.

    The part about your dad’s grave and you and the crows made me laugh. Crow medicine has to do with Law/s. Very cool. Great post, lots to sit with here.



    1. For me…there is no religious context and whether they are inwardly derived…I don’t know…I suppose what ever I am looking for I will find…I certainly associate what I construe as a sign…by definition as having more meaning than what it appears as at “face value”..and with really nothing more empirical and significant to it other than something like a day I remember as a birthday…yet nevertheless I remember it…as a birthday…


      1. Ok, so the signs have personal, significant meaning. Do they have spiritual origins? Do they represent a connectedness for you?


      2. I would have to say more often than not…there is a spiritual origin…much like the result of meditation or doing form in martial arts…a finish for an action…but I have turned left just because…or changed shirts…as a suggestion might have dictated it…and arbitrary as it may sound…end result is always benign

        there is a level of intuition that is well aligned with what presents itself as a sign and what many people are open to see…they see….my connection to a sign is via the particulars of when…where and how it was presented…as I’d said…what ever I’m looking for…I’ll likely find…and my receptivity is what keeps me believing/connected to something…

        How about you? are there signs in your world? and if so how do you interpret them…how do they fit with what goes on in your world?


      3. I believe there are symbols. Complicated symbolic interpretation is one of the great separators between human beings and the rest of the animal kingdom.

        These symbols don’t appear to be doing much for you if they are benign. I find that while I use symbols, I appreciate their dominion is the realm of my brain, where I have essentially fantastic, symbol-discovering and symbol-knowing software. I’m a symbol-maker myself of course, as is everyone else.


  4. OK you two birds. I need some clarification of terms here. What is the difference between “religious context” and “spiritual origins”?

    [Robert writes] ..”what ever I’m looking for…I’ll likely find…and my receptivity is what keeps me believing/connected to something…”

    This is all paranormal stuff, right? Instead of it being a public and culturally sanctioned religious activity…. it’s your own little “private” religion… right?


    1. I had this exact conversation last night…thinking of you…sure it is the paranormal stuff no doubt and by no means a culturally sanctioned religion…undeniably one i have developed to keep me between the lines and out of the ditch…sort of spirituality with roots in Eastern philosophy…a touch of martial arts…with a Karmic outcome…

      I thought about spirituality vs religion…and I think there is a spiritual imperative to being religious…yet there does not necessarily have to be a religious imperative to being spiritual…perhaps the interpretive nature of spirituality…allows the practitioner a broader view with much less dogmatic fluff to help eliminate the confusion and inflexibility…of a well organized religion…


      1. OK Robert, you have to give me some kind of an idea (in your mind/dictionary) of the difference between religion and spirituality. Is “spirituality” JUST a religion of your own that isn’t culturally sanctioned?
        ALL this stuff I think accepts some kind of a reality… or “gives” some kind of a reality to the paranormal. No?

        [this is heavy stuff] (you write)… …”yet there does not necessarily have to be a religious imperative to being spiritual…perhaps the interpretive nature of spirituality…allows the practitioner a broader view with much less dogmatic fluff to help eliminate the confusion and inflexibility…of a well organized religion…”

        It’s that very “dogmatic fluff” that keeps the sleeves of our shirts short enough to keep them from being tied, against our will, behind our backs. Step “outside” the rule box far enough with your “flexibility” and they have safe places to put you.

        Another name for schizophrenia is…… “a private religion”.


      2. hello mrs. neutron. How’s the weather?

        As I take it, spirituality does not need any relationship to religious experience, even if it is a completely internal, singular one. Atheists for instance, can have spiritual experiences.

        Spiritual experiences in this instance may just be a perception of the world which is significantly different from one’s normal perceptions. Looking at the stars and beginning to appreciate just what they are, and the vast calculations involved, or trying to “figure out” quantum physics, would be what I would call spiritual experiences to some degree.


    2. Freeze 43….a left turn and a shirt change are not signs/symbols that alter my world enough to be considered “significant”…as far as signs effecting me…they do greatly….I am a painter…and the vast majority of my work is drawn from and about and around signs…I and am very content to let what presents itself do just that without the need to necessarily decipher the meaning….and often the meaning presents itself when it does…as needed…

      In every martial arts form I know of…there are well hidden movements…those movements are often disguised to represent something else…yet when the practitioner has developed a clear and natural understanding via repetition with the form, the small begins to reveal itself…and like signs…the hidden meanings in form only have value if the practitioner is seeking to find out more than just the movements…yet the lack of finding anything more doesn’t make the form less…nor the practitioner less of a practitioner…

      I incorporate signs every day in my life…I look at the natural environment in the desert…I live in…I draw everyday….these are the reminders and very significant in how I live my life with what signs I migrate towards and feel comfortable with…my rituals if you will…


  5. Hi freeze…. It’s freezin, but, nothing on the ground.

    Your definition helps me a lot with regard to you. I think different people must have different definitions of “spiritual”. I think religious people see religion as spiritual activity while nonreligious atheists, for example, might see smoking a joint or having sex as “a spiritual experience”.
    I think the definition must perhaps be considered VERY elastic. Perhaps SO ELASTIC that it fails the test of helping us understand one another. When someone says to me, “I’m not religious, but, I’m a very spiritual person”, I have no idea what the hell they are talking about.

    [you post]… “Spiritual experiences in this instance may just be a perception of the world which is significantly different from one’s normal perceptions.”…

    I’m thinking mushrooms!


    1. Mrs. Neutron….I’ve not smoked a good Cuban in a long time….

      simply put Spirituality is…much like GOOD Haiku poetry…the description defines everything…every event that describes the time of year…time of day…season…geography…yet never mentions one of these… not once….it defines all the reader needs to get..to…get it…

      where as religion…like poorly written Haiku…tells the reader everything without any chance of translation…imagination…or contemplation…it’s what it says it is…with some cool iconography too…

      I’ve always loved the Justinian mosaic…where Justinian is illuminated impersonating Christ, standing among the priest while his soldiers are holding weapons…this defined the end..before it even had a significant beginning to speak of…
      the start of really really bad Haiku poetry….


      1. I think I understand Robert. But, more and more I am convinced that the word “spirituality” is to all encompassing. I love Haiku poetry. Japanese art and architecture. Spent 20 years (4 days a week) constructing a 2.5 acre Japanese garden. Sold it, along with the house I designed and constructed to finance my early retirement. First day it was on the market 2 buyers got into a bidding war. Sold it to a New York photographer. He never asked to see in the house. As an artist dirt and rocks were my first mediums.
        I don’t have binocular vision. Two good eyes, but, they have always existed independent of each other. All I have ever known of the world is what you see in a photograph. Consider the implications.
        I looked, but, I don’t see you on http://www.theartsmap.com/ . You should really consider “being there”. It is a great resource started by a very good old friend, mentor and patient of mine… http://www.talbot1.com/
        It’s free and you can wile away many hours checking out other artists work… all over the world. If you have any Sherlock Holmes blood you may even find the secret identity of one Mrs. Neutron. But then, of course, your days would be numbered.

        Over the wintry
        forest, winds howl in rage
        with no leaves to blow.
        [Natsume Soseki]


    2. So did Carl Sagan by the way, a strong advocate of marijuana, he had essentially spiritual experiences communicating with his thoughts of dead relatives and so on.

      It doesn’t necessarily need to be drug dependent spirituality though. While I may have ingested drugs, spiritual experiences with them are rare for me (alcohol in particular just makes everything slower). Finding a good place to view a starry, moonless night is a more effective method I’ve found.

      Based on my definition, have you had what I would call a spiritual experience?


  6. Regularly freeze. Based on your definition… sure. But that too is really nothing but chemical (isn’t everything?). Epiphanies, Ah-Ha moments, “Transcendent experiences”… religious conversions all kind of slide into the wide category of “Spiritual Experiences” that must be considered entirely neurological (inside the head) phenomena that are, one way or the other, entirely chemically produced. The only question being, are the chemicals originating outside or inside? Humans have a LONG history of finding any and all chemicals in nature that can produce these effects and an even longer one of producing them (different ones) internally.

    I think many of the chemicals in question also make up part of our neurological reward system. The very stuff that “drives” us. That “spiritual” sensation is pleasurable…. so we seek it and anything that can produce or mimic it in any way.
    Also, in many of its manifestations, it’s addictive.

    I still think “spiritual” is a word that does a very poor job of communicating any kind of real meaning that enables one person to really understand what another is talking about.

    How can a ride on a roller-coaster, a sunset, falling in love, ingesting magic mushrooms and being baptized by dunking in a cold river as the congregation cheers and yells “Praise Jesus” … ALL be called the same thing?

    The REAL uncharted territory is that land between the ears.


    1. I agree that the brain is an overwhelmingly complicated mechanism, easily the most complicated artifact in nature or otherwise. Probably the reason I study parts of it for a living 🙂

      But I don’t think it matters if spiritual experiences are chemically based, as they most certainly are. I made a post about a year back where I argue that just because experiences mean very little on the level of a chemical reaction doesn’t mean they don’t mean a great deal on the level of consciousness, much in the same way specific chemical denominations and equations mean very little when we talk about pure (quantum) physics.

      As for spiritual experiences being all the same thing, while all of the examples you gave have certain similarities, but I agree its a rather ambiguous term. It’s kind of like being in love I suppose, you know it when you know it, and it may not be called love if someone else experienced it.


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