Did watching the movie Jaws change the beach forever for you? Who doesn’t swim out in deep, dark water sometimes and get that creepy feeling in their feet that something’s under them?

For at least one summer none of us kids went in the water. We just lay on the sand without sunscreen, working on that Coppertone tan. I remember my friend Lauren fell asleep with her arms over her head and got tanned armpits.

Anyway, this summer there are sharks in the water off Long Island. Drones fly over the beach and life-guards on paddle boards patrol for fins breaking the surface.

Symbols and Signs Lurk Around

Symbols and signs are like that – lurking just under the surface. Most of the time they don’t bite, and won’t even come into our consciousness unless we bring out the drones and paddleboards.

Of course you know that the ocean is symbolic of deep emotion, the unconscious, and the links between the life (we think) we’re living and the larger sea we are swimming in, the one that is vast and eternal and divine.

How can we see what swims in our depths and shadows without the guidance of the mythological map-making of Joseph Campbell or a Jungian analyst? Maybe a witch or metaphysician in our inbox?  Maybe meditation and dream work, journaling and introspection?

And what should we do with what we see?

Pay Attention to the Signs

Most meaningful things just seem weird when they first show up. We only figure it out in hindsight, unless we’re really looking for signs. When you get the WTF feeling, pay attention. And if you can’t figure out WHAT it means right off the bat, just log it into the back of your mind. Well, that means something! is good enough for now. Write. It. Down. (Don’t skip this step.) It’s the best use of a journal that I know.

To start to see the signs and symbols in your life, write down:

  • Groups of events, constellations of the weird, things that come in with the same taste or resonance – pay attention to those especially. They mean something.
  • Your dreams and random waking daydreams.
  • Things that give you a sense of remembrance or oddness. For example you look at a pair of shoes at the thrift shop and something pings inside you.
  • Note the things that happen all in the same day, week, month. Things recur and build. They’re telling you the story of you.
  • Look for patterns in all of the above. Do a meta-analysis.

One thing about journaling: if you look back as see mostly the same struggles on repeat, watching for symbols and signs will shift that. You’ll go from the same old struggles to new ones. Different struggles mean momentum: spiritual evolution.

What are the Signs Calling You to Do?

Maybe the signs are about changes you need to make? Or affirmation that you’re on the right track.

When I was a minister signs and magic were everywhere but I was scared to bring them out, to talk about it or to follow them. It felt too woo. Maybe people would’ve said, “Me too!” But I just hid that light under a bushel.

Where are you hiding and when are you really being your woo self? (I know people think woo is derogatory and minimizing of magic, but I’m reclaiming it.)

Usually institutions like the church want to keep a lid on anything magical, psychic, mystical, symbolic, witchy, woman-y and weirdo I was scared. Not of getting burned at the stake but of losing members, not being liked, of being non-biblical, or being called a bad leader. I should’ve faced that shit sooner. I would’ve been able to leave with grace and not destruction.

How do We Pay Attention to Symbols?

When you feel disrupted, sad, stuck; when you NEED a sign, when you aren’t getting what you wanted or expected, when you feel thwarted and are struggling to make sense of the confusion, when you want your life to change or you know it’s about to change, and that strikes fear in your heart, try this:

  • be a child again. Sit and have a cry
  • scribble (pressing really hard) with a black crayon in your journal.
  • remember there’s nothing to solve. Let it unfold without doing much. When you feel like this, doing stuff can really muck things up.

All we ever get are breadcrumbs or shiny pebbles leading us out of the woods. Rarely do answers come crystal clear like a plane with a banner flying over the ocean. Usually it’s the sharks.

Life’s a journey or a scavenger hunt, a game, a play of shadow and illusion. Or maybe life’s a beach. Enjoy!

Here’s a Writing Prompt to Try

Write without stopping or censoring.

This month I experienced…
And I noticed…
I dreamt that…
It was weird that…
I know this meant something (even if I don’t know what)…
If I had to guess, I…
If these things all coming together are pointing the way, I suspect …

Do we ever truly solve anything? Or do we just get to live with a better perspective or sense of humor? I mean, have you ever read a hero’s journey and not wanted to laugh out loud or shake the heroine for all her stupid mistakes?

Sharing Love and Blessed be,

P.S. Do you want to figure out the signs and symbols? You’ve invited to do some dream/shadow/spiritual/symbolic work. Go here and sign up: www.earthandsoulcoaching.com. It’s a dream club.