Parapsychologists use the term for "meaningful coincidence." It happens to everyone, more often than we realize. Synchronicities are not "mere" coincidences, random accidents without significance.
For example, at the beginning of his international career, long before he became "Sir" Anthony Hopkins, he got on a subway in London after a fruitless search for his missing copy of George Feifer's novel, The Girl from Petrovka. The actor looked down, and there on the seat was the book. It was Hopkins' own, which had been stolen two years earlier. Anthony Hopkins' experience is a typical incident of synchronicity.
Most people pay little attention to meaningful coincidences, ordinarily dismissing such events as amusing examples of statistical probability. But the apparent and assumed separateness of things in the so-called "real world" momentarily yields during a synchronous episode. Then the curtain of consensus reality parts, and we personally glimpse a vast, otherwise unseen network of inter-connecting unity beyond, behind, within and at the same time supporting our existence. Trying to explain irrational experiences with the rational mind (or subconscious experiences with the conscious mind) is hazardous, at best. Properly nurtured, synchronicity is a personal connection with the creative consciousness that pervades everything -- from the merest incidents of our individual lives to the swirl of whole galaxies.
Synchronicities are epiphanies, our personal experience of spiritual vitality and reality. This was the function of the Ancient World's so-called "mystery cults," where initiates were brought along an educational path toward achieving genuine mystical experience.
Frank is the editor of Ancient American magazine.