I got stung by jellyfish yesterday.
Living in a coastal city, I’ve been to the beach my fair share of times. My mother is not much of a swimmer, but she loves the sound of the waves and being near the ocean relaxes her, so whenever she could, she took us. Now, the beach we lived near is kind of hit or miss. One year, it was covered in the corpses of jellyfish and mountains of seaweed. Sometimes, you could even see the tops of them floating over the waves. And yet, despite all of that, I’ve managed to go three decades of life without ever coming into contact with one.
It wasn’t just me, either. My sister and my nephew (who’d never been to the beach before) were unlucky enough to swim through the same swarm that I happened upon. Luckily, as witches, we knew all sorts of remedies and pastes to make to help ease the sting, and within an hour or two, the evidence of the encounter was gone (though my nephew talked of nothing else until he went to sleep.)
It’d have been easy to say, at that point, that this was a sign. The universe was, in some way, trying to tell me that I shouldn’t be in the water. Or perhaps there’s some deeper message that I’ve yet to discover. Could it be the message wasn’t necessarily for me? Maybe I got caught in the crossfire, accidentally intervening in a divine message for my nephew who honestly got the worst of the stinging tentacles.
Or maybe **** happens.
The latter is the most likely answer. Look, I’m not going to sit here and say that nothing is a sign or message from the universe or a deity. But I am prepared to say that not everything is. I don’t know how many times I log into one of my social media accounts and go to the community of witches and pagans I’m a member of only to see people posting pictures of the most mundane things, asking “what could this mean?” Sometimes it makes sense: if you’re doing a tarot or tea leaf reading or if you’re asking for advice on palmistry or some other divinatory practice, sure. But sometimes if the chain on the necklace your grandmother gave you when you were a child breaks, it doesn’t mean grandma’s trying to warn you about something from beyond the veil. Chains break. We can either fix it or get a new one, but it’s unlikely there’s any other message to be found.
I get it, though. It’s real easy to get swept up in it. For a moment, after the adrenaline rush was over and I was sitting on chair covered in paste debating if I even wanted to bother with the new moon ritual after the excitement of the day, I had a brief moment of wondering if it happened for a reason. I’d been so excited for the trip, looking forward to relaxing and grounding myself. There had to be a reason that plan was disrupted. Why me? Why did this have to ruin everything?
Thankfully, the moment past quickly. There was a simple explanation as to why it happened: I was in the water. Jellyfish live in the water. And it hurt briefly, and in retrospect, it wasn’t even that bad. I mean, it wasn’t something I’d recommend, but it’s not enough to scare me from going back into the water. In fact, after I write this, I’ll probably make my way to the beach again. Besides, it was just a moment. Before that, I had found rest and relaxation. I slept well, got up early, meditated with the sunrise, spent hours in the water. Aside from that event, the day was precisely what I hoped it would be. It was ridiculous to say that this one thing ruined the whole trip. I refused to allow it.
Though, maybe that is the sign. Nobody is so lucky as to say nothing bad has ever happened to them. From small to big, we’ve all experienced terrible events that have caused discomfort, sorrow, or pain. It can be something we brought on ourselves, terrible coincidences, or out of nowhere. Nobody is immune. Sometimes, the universe likes to remind us that life is full of the unexpected. Yet, the world still spins, life goes on, and we can let it beat us down or move forward.
My advice would be not to look for a sign in everything. Enjoy the little things and take them at face value. Of course, that’s not to say to ignore the messages that look you plain in the face. If you’re asking for a sign and one is given to you, take it for what it is. But for the most part, accept that, for no reason, things break, stuff goes missing, people say and do things we can’t control, we stub our toes and jam our fingers, and sometimes jellyfish sting you.