Sidewalk Oracles: Playing with Signs, Symbols, and Synchronicity in Everyday Life by Robert Moss (2015)

, 21 Apr 2018

Sidewalk oracles are simple and fun ways of gathering intuitive information to help you navigate life by posing a question to the Universe to get guidance on any matter or let the Universe get you some items of information about matters that concern you.

Moss is a storyteller, a wonderful speaker, and has the virtue of mixing entertainment with academic and practical knowledge through his personal journey as historian, journalist and shamanistic dream-work master. His style is unique, and mixes chit-chatty sort of writing when he narrates episodes of synchronicity, with an erudite knowledge of folk culture and mythology and more serious writing when deals with those.  Personally, I like the way Moss uses antiquity Greek-derived words to describe intuition and divination; it's something unique to him, and his chosen semantic field gives an elegant varnish of luxury antique to his writing.

Synchronicity is something difficult to explain if you haven't had a direct experience of it. In this book, Moss is able to define and describe synchronicity in a way that is easy to understand by lay readers, so they get to know how synchronicity manifests and how it feels. Moss calls synchronicity kairomancy,  making magic by seizing special synchronistic moments, and includes any form of divination you might want to use.

Moss provides readers with a historically sound and beautiful contextualisation of synchronicity, not as something 'invented' by Jung, but as a concept that is intrinsically linked to very ancient cultural beliefs from around the world. Thus, "A wall around Jung Tower" is a voyage to the China of the Tao and the Book of Changes (I-Ching), to Australia and the Aborigines' dream culture, to the Native Americans cultures, and to the Nordic realms of the Wyrd.

Section three contains the twelve 'rules' of kairomancy: 1/ You attract what you believe, feel or think. 2/ Oracles speak best when you have a query or worry in your mind but aren't looking for anything specifically or focusing on it intensely. 3/  The law of spiritual gravitation or attraction. 4/ We live in a conscious universe where everything is alive, connected and spirit. 5/ Pay attention to recurrent themes, symbols, images and events that keep popping up in your life. 6/ Coincidence multiplies when we are travelling. 7/ For every setback there is an opportunity, sometimes the breakdown comes before the breakthrough. 8/ Called or not, the 'gods' are always present. 9/ Our paths constantly interweave with those of numberless possible parallel selves and the spirits of the land. 10/ Marry your field, i.e. your creative force, whatever that might be. 11/ Dance with the trickster, that power that open doors in life when we need to change and recover our sense of humour to counterbalance any over-controlling ego-driven agenda. 12/ The way will show the way. There is also one oath for the kairomancer: being open to new experiences; available to set aside and step out of boxes; being thankful for secret-hand shakes and surprises; and being ready to honour our special moments by taking appropriate action 

Section four is the core of the book, seventeen side-walk oracles, which can be summarised as follows:
1- Play Sidewalk Tarot. Pose a question on which you need  guidance, chose a frame time, the number of cards you want to get or let the Universe decide on how many, and see what pops up. One card is enough, though. Anything that enters our field of perception any of our senses is considered a card in play. It might be a recurrent sound, smell, logo, dream, or event. 
2- Walk a dream. Take the images of any dream significant to you and see what happens in hour awaken life that comments, highlights, or brings meaning to the symbols or stories from your dream.
3-Keep a journal, totally secret, in which you note your synchronicities, odd happenings, symbols unique to you, dreams, serial events, patterned findings or events, items of personal superstition, and so on. You'll be able to use it as your personal oracle deck and as a repository of information to consult with.
4- Listen to the first sound that comes from silence or the shapeless noise in a street, and see what they tell you.
5- Bibliomancy -- open any given book, at random, and blindly put your finger on a line in the page, and see what that line or paragraph says and how it relates to your query or your life.
6- Play with shelf elves, i.e. pick up those books that appear around you, fall on you, you stumble upon, and notice those that disappear, and see whether the title or the book itself help you with your queries. 
7- Notice your chance encounters, see how your energy relates to that of those people, and if something shifts in you when you have them close.
8- Notice your slips of tongue, screw-ups, typos, and memory lapses and see what they are trying to tell you.
9- Notice which song is playing in your head or you are singing over and over, and how it makes you feel, what it says about your mood and life. Change it consciously if it is not helping you. 
10- Notice any déjâ vu moments, already dreamed moments and already lived moments, record them and see what followed each of those moments.
11- Imagine that your feelings, worries and troubles are a real person knocking at your door, open it, and establish communication wit them and decide whether you let them in, out or send it elsewhere, what they are trying to tell you, what you want to tell them, and so on. 
12- Notice a situation you have already been in life before and apply what you learned from the past to avoid making the same mistake.
13- Be aware of which superstitions or omens you believe in personally and don't disregard them. When they reoccur, note them down and see what happens after the event. 
14- Listen to your body (your gut feeling, changes in your energy), notice and record any relevant episode that follows. Develop your own code of positive and negative body signals.
15- Participate in a dreamwork circle to share your dreams and get feedback on them, so other people can help you decode those symbols or dream fragments that aren't clear to you. You can play the game with anything, like some serial events, weird happenings, a synchronicity, and so on.
16- Create a card deck with synchronicities, dream fragments, odd events, funny stories, coincidences, the song line that is in your head. Then shuffle the cards and ask the oracle for guidance. You can play it in group or individually and apply similar rules to those used in dream circles.  
17- Write a message or letter to a person close to you whom you haven't seen in a while and want to talk (it is OK if is not a close person, too) do not send it, and see if the person contacts you, come across you, and gets the message in your letter.  

There is a tendency amongst New Age writers to trivialise synchronicity, so readers get that this is a sort of 'small world' coincidence, nothing remarkable to write about. I believe that many of the examples that Moss gives in this book help readers to see what synchronicity really is. However, at times the examples he uses are also so generic and trivial.

I found sections five and six enjoyable but totally unnecessary, I would rather have a short and sweet book than one with too many examples.  "On Other Planes" is a collection of personal examples of synchronicity while flying. They are really great for a live event, for a blog or newsletter, for a book that already has many examples before getting here, not so much. The same can be said of section six, with endless examples of the fox as archetype of the trickster, sometimes not clearly related to sidewalk-oracling at all, at least to me.

Just a note. Masaru Emoto experiments on water, which Moss mentions in the book, were heavily criticised by the scientific community, so ignoring what the flaws of the experiment were, it is just biased writing.  

Overall, this is a short enjoyable book, well structured and very practical, with a superb introduction on synchronicity and personal stories galore, perhaps too many. 

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