Synchronicity can be a kiss from the universe, or a secret handshake, or a slap in the face. It can also tickle like a fox’s whiskers, or its brush.

In California this week, I am feeling the play of fox magic. I sat down to lunch at a fine resttaurant in Novato called The Wld Fox. At the moment I was handed the medu, adorned with the fox’s face, I received an email from a friend in Europe with whom I had had no contact in nearly a year. She attached a photo of herself holding a baby fox.

In Sonoma that evening, I stopped at Ledson’s Hotel, which prides itself on its selection of area wines, to see what they were pouring. When I remarked that I am a teller and lover of stories, the young sommelier asked me if I would like to hear the story of his last 24 hours. Certainly.

He recounted how after taking his finals the previous day, he discovered he had two flat tires. He’d been feeling good about how he had done in the exams, but this did not seem like a great omen. He went round to see a friend he knew could donate a couple of old spares. The friend was out so he waited on the porch. When the friend came home, he annunced he had just won a prize in the state lottery – for hundreds, not millions, of dollars, but he was in generous mood and proceeded to buy the soon-to-be-graduate two new tires instead of giving him hand-me-downs. The day expanded into a night of conversation and intreesting self-revelation that made the bartender realize, “My greatest education is coming through the book of experience.”

He was proving to be a grand raconteur, but my attention was distracted by the accents of the couple seated next to me at the bar. When I asked, they told me that they were from Melbourne, Australia, my place of birth. They were in process of touring North American in a Mustang convertible.

The sommelier had given me a lovely red wine to taste, called Mes Trois Amours. An edgy name, again suggesting that fox energy was in play. I confirmed that I’d like a full glass. When I took my first sip, he was quick to ask how I liked it. He had just realized that he had inadvertently poured a different wine from the one I had sampled. I decided to stick with the unplanned selection when I saw the label. This pinot noir was a Zina Hyde Cunningham. The last word, Cunningham, threw me back into one of my foxiest dreams, from a few years ago.

In the dream, I made my way through a passage called The Cunningham Steps. The steps rose and descended at crazy angles, sometimes missing altogether. They led over a chasm between city buildings, like a bridge. At first attempt, I could not complete the crossing. I had to reenter the dream in order to accomplish that, in a lucid dream adventure.

When I managed to get over the Cunningham Steps, I found myself at what looked like a jolly upscale English pub, with a sign that read, The Huntsman’s Arms. When I entered, I realised at once that this was no ordinary hostelry. The publican was a red fox, dressed in a natty tailored green jacket. The hunting prints on the wall showed a fox in similar rig hunting humans. The patrons of this pub, I realized, were humans who had recently died. It might take them a while to wake up to their new condition. A liminal, foxy environment, indeed.

In the Sonoma hotel, I sipped my Cunningham pinot noir, and thought about all that the fox – who knows when to hunt and when to hide – brings into play. Fox is a natural shaman of the animal world, and an ally of shamans from way back. The oldest archeological evidence we have of a shaman in Western Europe is the remains of a woman who was buried, 30,000 years ago, in the territory of what is now the Czech Republic, with a red fox in her hand and the tools of a healer and diviner laid out around her within a mammoth-bone crypt.

Then it was time to go round the corner to Readers Books, where a fine crowd was gathered for my talk on how to manifest our life dreams with the help of night dreams, synchronicity and the practice of imagination. As I write this piece, an email comes in from a woman who attended that talk.  She just “had” to forward a message from her daughter, who had decided, spontaneously, to send her a dozen “fun” photographs – of foxes. The pictures aren’t viewable in the version of this email that I received. “Uh-oh, Fifefox has crashed”, the daughter notes at the end of her email.

Fox, the master of camouflage and disguise, may have taken to cover here. But I know he or she will be out again…and receive instant confirmation from my friend Valerie, who reports (from my home territory in upstate New York): “Last night we heard the fox cry and our cat came tearing in the house as soon as we opened the door to look out, she was watching from the porch. Fox really is in the field.”

More on the fox and foxy encounters.

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