Are There (Hidden) Archetypal Patterns in Our Lives? — Part 5, All Sorts of Gemini
This article can be read in its own right for anyone interested in the subject matter — weird coincidences in relation to twins, whether in the literal sense, the astrological sense of people born at the same time, or the strange phenomena of people who seem to be living ‘twinned’ lives, even when there is no obvious connection between them. It is also, however, the last in a series discussing strange patterns and coincidences in our lives. Part 1 gave an overview of the issues, and provided some examples with discussion. In part 2 I discussed coincidences/patterns involving names. Part 3 discussed number coincidences. In part 4 I turned to the subject of weird coincidences in relation to astrology, as described by the late Dennis Elwell in his book The Cosmic Loom. The five parts in their entirety represent the latest chapter in a book of mine, discussing whether there might be any truth in astrology. (For a guide to everything which has preceded, with links, see the bottom of this page of my website.)
The idea, as elaborated by Elwell, that seemingly unrelated people (Princess Diana and Marilyn Monroe, Diana and the Archduke Franz Ferdinand etc.) can in fact be connected (‘twinned’) with each other through astrological signposts leads me on to my next section. I shall return to that theme later, having explored more conventional types of twins.
Stories about twins should be the most important source of material when exploring the validity of astrology, in that the two people concerned must have a relatively similar birth-chart, and should therefore provide significant evidence either for or against. There are three separate categories worthy of investigation: twins as normally understood; identical twins; astrological twins, that is to say, children born at the same, or very close, time and place to different mothers. From this category one can isolate the phenomenon of ‘time-twins’ — not necessarily born in the same place — which has been the subject of significant research, for example The Astrology of Time Twins by Peter Roberts and Helen Greengrass¹.
Before we raise our hopes of enlightenment about astrology too high, however, it should be pointed out that true astrological twins are rare, so that there is not much evidence from this source, and that there is often a significant delay between the birth of natural twins. The birth-chart changes every four minutes and, according to West and Toonder: “Ten minutes’ difference in birth can mean that the ascendant of one twin is placed in a different sign from the other, and with it all the ‘houses’ change as well. On the other hand, the ten or even twenty minutes’ difference in birth hour can make almost no discernible difference in the horoscope if the ascendant falls in the middle of a sign”². Although the majority of twins are born within an hour of each other, twenty-five per cent take longer³, which means that the horoscopes will often not be as similar as one would like.
One would assume that it is better to have identical birth details, but even if we go no further than the first example in the Roberts/Greengrass book — in which two women were born four and a half hours apart, one in England, the other in Holland — there are extraordinary coincidences in the details of their lives. They originally got to know each other by becoming pen-friends. It was not until several years later that the English woman visited the other’s house. When she did these coincidences were noted: they both:
- were wearing the same colour blouse and trousers
- had a copy of Kipling’s poem If on their walls (one office, the other lounge)
- wore glasses, so similar that they got them muddled
- took the same (surprisingly large) shoe size of 7
- made their own personal Christmas cards
- owned a blue and white figurine of a woman holding a goose
- had had to have treatment for trouble with their hands
- had a nephew in the army. (The list is described as seeming “to go on and on”, so there is presumably more.)
This pair are by no means precise astrological twins, so one question we have to ask is whether the closeness of birth time is the reason for the similarities in life-patterns, or merely one manifestation of the fact that two lives are ‘twinned’ in some way that we do not really comprehend, but about which I will offer a hypothesis later.
Michel Gauquelin (a scientist and statistician who investigated whether there was any truth in astrology, discussed in an earlier article) also recognised the relevance of the issue of twins to the question of astrology’s validity. He cites a study by a Dr. Kallmann of the Psychiatric Institute of New York who examined 27, 000 pairs of identical twins over a period of thirty years, concluding that “every being has inside him a clock set at the moment of his birth which predetermines particularly illnesses and accidents”, in other words, there is a strong tendency for identical twins to share certain similar life-patterns. He mentions one of Kallman’s cases of twins separated at birth and raised in two different countries, who nevertheless both chose a military career and at their retirement had both reached the same rank of colonel. However, Gauquelin will not hear of any astrological explanation in such cases (at least at that point in his career; there was a later conversion), saying that the “same heredity luggage” is responsible. He nevertheless declines to explain how the rank of colonel or the timing of accidents can be written in the genes. As evidence he says that “non-identical twins who are born from different eggs…show considerable differences of character and of subsequent destiny, unlike the usual case of identical twins”⁴.
If we explore some of the evidence related to the ideas that Gauquelin expresses here, we might be a little more cautious. With actual twins he makes a distinction between the ordinary and the identical, in order to emphasize the genetic factor and to deny the possibility that ordinary twins can share any patterns. Yet both types can provide excellent material. The cases are especially interesting when the pair are separated at birth and meet several years later, having been unaware of each other’s existence. Here are three examples from The Best of the Fortean Times:
- “Jacqueline and Sheila Lewis were adopted at birth by different families, and neither knew the other existed. Twenty-seven years later, they were admitted to Southmead Hospital, Bristol, on the same day with the same hereditary skin disorder, and put in the same room. They soon discovered they were identical twins and that Sheila’s husband had died on the same day, two years earlier, that Jackie had divorced her husband”
- Twin girls born in 1939, named Barbara and Daphne, were adopted and lived separately, then met for the first time in 1979. “Both their adoptive mothers died when they were children; both had worked in local government offices; both miscarried their first babies, then each had two boys followed by a girl — though Daphne had two more children later; and both had met their husbands at town hall dances when they were 16. They both liked carving, though Barbara uses wood and Daphne soap; and they were wearing identical white petticoats at their reunion”
- In July 1979 twins Ruth Johnson of Lowell, Massachusetts and Allison Mitchell Erb of Mount Vernon, Maine, “met for the first time since they were adopted 26 years ago. Each is a hairdresser with a daughter called Kristen, and each has one other child. The previous June they had both watched a television discussion on the right of adopted persons to discover their origins, and both started to search for the other”⁵.
What are the possible explanations in such cases? The first is a good example of Kallman’s conclusion; the twins are identical, and indeed a clock would appear to have been set at their births. I assume, however, that he did not locate the site of this clock in the body, and was referring merely to the extraordinary timing accuracy involved in his case-studies. The skin disorder is presumably genetic. Some geneticists speculate about the possibility of genes being responsible for an enjoyment of activities such as carving and hairdressing, but if this is the case, the genes responsible have not yet been identified. But what could be responsible for drawing people to the same room, for the choice of petticoat, for the choice of daughter’s name? Genetics seem out of the question. I would also suggest that celestial mechanics are an equally unlikely explanation, although that is presumably what astrologer Michael Harding (from earlier articles) would offer. In such cases, based upon my own experiences, I always suspect the involvement of a hidden intelligence organising behind the scenes. The only suggestion that I can come up with apart from this is some form of unconscious telepathy. It is quite possible that twins have a stronger psychic connection than other people. This might be responsible for the choice of names of children, and, given that the two women knew they were going to remeet, such a factor might also be responsible for the choice of petticoat.
The next category to investigate is precise astrological twins. In The Case for Astrology² there is significant discussion of this issue, the authors concluding that there is evidence that some astrological twins, born from different eggs to different parents, share the same destiny:
“Babies born at the same time often share features in common. With amazing frequency, time twins will have the same name, will marry wives or husbands with the same name, will work at similar occupations, succeed or fail in similar ways and die of the same or similar causes” (p140). The authors provide some photographic evidence, including one outstanding example of two girls Jean Henderson and Joyce Ritter, who were born within five minutes of each other in the same nursing home on February 20th 1947. They look like identical twins, (although it has to be said that the families — who are also not dissimilar — have obviously prepared for the photo, in that the girls have a similar hairstyle and are wearing identical dresses).
The authors of this book, West and Toonder, provide an appendix containing eleven examples of astrological or time twins, which provide interesting material, although they do not all correspond in so many details as the above. Here are three cases:
1. The girls just mentioned, in that they are an example of that rare phenomenon, true astrological twins: “(They) came to live next to each other in White Plains, New York, at the age of six. From this time on not only teachers but the parents of the girls themselves had trouble distinguishing between them… Not only were they remarkably alike physically, but they shared the same likes and dislikes. Both came from families of five children. Both had fathers who held similar jobs at the same airport”.
2. I include this one because the subject is described as “the most famous time-twin”. He is “Samuel Hemming who was born at the same time on the same day as George III of England (June 4th 1738). Hemming and George III looked very similar and their lives ran in close parallel, though on their respective levels. Hemming set up his ironmonger’s business on the day George succeeded to the throne. Both were married on 8 September 1761, both begot the same number of children of the same sex, both became ill and had accidents at the same time, and both died on 29 January 1820 of similar causes”.
3. …and this one because there are so many corresponding details: “Two unrelated women, both named Edna, met for the first time in a hospital in Hackensack, New Jersey. Both had been born on the same day, and were now in the hospital for their first confinements. Their babies were born within an hour of each other, and both had been named Patricia Edna in advance. Both women were married to men named Harold, who had both been born on the same day. Both men were in the same business, owned the same make, model, and colour automobile. Both couples had been married on the same day. Both women had the same number of brothers and sisters and practised the same religion. Both families had a mongrel named Spot”.
The authors conclude: “It would probably be possible to document several hundred such cases from existing records. But to continue listing them would be tiresome, nor would it prove anything from a scientific standpoint. Astrologers, however, insist that the documentation is now sufficiently strong to provoke the interest of the scientifically-minded. Astrologers are confident that large-scale research would prove beyond a doubt that cases of time twins are not ascribable to coincidence, and that physical and psychological similarities could be expected to recur” (p 257–9).
What can we learn from all this? Firstly, Gauquelin is not as efficient a researcher as he would have us believe. In this book⁴ he is very hostile to astrology. He asks how astrologers explain the different destinies of twins born virtually at the same time; this means that he would be even more sceptical about astrological twins. Yet, as is apparent from the examples I have just given, there is significant evidence that at least some real and astrological twins do share the same life patterns, and this in more details than could reasonably be ascribed to chance. Gauquelin was published in 1966, and West and Toonder followed soon afterwards in 1970. The former is probably the most dedicated researcher into astrology in the history of the planet. Even allowing for the possibility that some of the examples emerged during the intervening four years, how is it possible that he was not familiar with “several hundred cases”? If he was not aware of them, this is incompetence on a grand scale. If he was aware of them, he should at the very least have mentioned their existence, even if he did not believe the explanation was astrological. His failure to do so could only be construed as withholding of evidence.
Secondly, Gauquelin distinguishes between identical and non-identical twins, saying that the former may share life-patterns, but the latter not. He does this because he wants to insist on a genetic explanation. Skin disorders may be hereditary, but is it really plausible that the day of admission, the name of the hospital and the ward, the names of one’s children, the day one loses one’s husband, the choice of clothing on a particular day, parents’ jobs, the timing of accidents, the names of dogs are encoded in the genes? Not even the staunchest defender of genetic theory would make such a claim. On the contrary, far from similar lives being restricted to identical twins, in the case of Joyce Ritter and Jean Henderson astrological twinning actually created identical twins where there was no genetic connection.
If you are thinking, as I hope you are, that all this is beginning to sound like good news for astrology, a note of caution has to be sounded. If there are genuine correspondences as a result of an identical, or very similar, birth-chart, these should occur in all cases of twins, but unfortunately this is not the case. Unless we accept the unlikely conclusion that astrology applies only to some individuals, we have to concede that this is still an open question.
This is the time to introduce a further complication, a fourth category of twins, those people who seem to be living ‘twinned’ lives, even though they are not twins, either actual or astrological, for example:
1) Suzanne Venecek, having been adopted as a child, later searched for her mother Shirley Davis, and found her when she was thirty. As they told their stories, the following parallels were noted: “Shirley’s birthday and that of Sue’s eldest son, Bill, are 9 May and 5 May respectively. Sue’s youngest daughter, Jenny, and her eldest son, John, have birthdays on 9 May and 5 May respectively. Both Shirley and Sue had four children and one miscarriage, and both had two boys and two girls. Shirley had her children in the order girl, boy, girl, boy. Sue had her four in reverse order. Shirley had been divorced twice, as had both Sue and her sister, Terry. Shirley and Terry are both married for a third time, leading Sue to wonder whether a third marriage is in her cosmic script”. The story goes on to reveal significant overlapping of names in the two families⁶.
2) “Mervyn Conway, forty-four, and Glenn Plath, forty-three, lived in the same Queensland town, Bundaberg, for most of their lives without knowing they were brothers. Their mother had been forced to have them both adopted at birth. Mervyn and Glenn met as a result of the easing of disclosure restrictions in Queensland’s adoption laws in 1991. Among the strange coincidences they found when they compared notes: each brother had a daughter named Amanda Lee, and each had lost a brother from their adoptive family in road accidents in the same year 1967”. They had actually been involved in each others’ lives without realizing that they were related⁷.
In the first example we have a mother and daughter living similar lives, in the second brothers. Could the explanation be genetic therefore? If so, this would support Harding’s and (early) Gauquelin’s line of argument. Again it seems incredibly unlikely that the type of details involved could really be encoded in the genes. Geneticists certainly do not suggest this.
Here is a minor example, which may perhaps be more properly called a coincidence, rather than a pattern:
3) “At noon on Saturday, 11 August 1985, Karen Dawn Southwick, twenty-two, married in a church at Tettenhall, Wolverhampton, England. She was given away by her father, Alfred. Three hours later, Karen Dawn Southwick, twenty-two, married in the same church and was given away by her father, Alfred. It was not bigamy, just two brides with the same full names whose fathers had the same names, who happened to marry on the same day in the same church. The brides’ families are not related and neither bride had met until the local vicar introduced them at a pre-wedding get-together for marrying couples”⁸.
Then there are some other borderline time-twin examples, where the timing is so approximate that it may be irrelevant:
4) “Patricia Kern of Colorado was sent a tax demand for $3,000 from a job she had held in Oregon, a state in which she had never set foot. Inquiries showed that Patricia DiBiasi of Oregon owed the taxes. Both were born Patricia Ann Campbell, on 13 March 1941, and shared a social security number. Both had fathers called Robert, both married military men within 11 days of each other, both worked as bookkeepers and had children of 21 and 19”⁹.
5) The story of two Wanda Marie Johnsons. Both “were born on the same day — 15 June 1953. Both are former District of Columbia residents who moved to Prince Georges. Both are mothers of two children. Both are owners of 1977 two-door Ford Granadas. The eleven-digit serial number on their cars are the same except for the last three digits. Their Maryland driver’s licences were identical because a computer determines each licence number by name and birth date… They both had babies at Howard University Hospital…”, which was where this extraordinary coincidence finally came to light¹⁰. (Alan Vaughan roughly calculates the odds against all the coincidences occurring in this case as 1,000,000,000,000 to 1.)
6) Two women, both called Belinda Lee Perry, were born on the same date, January 7th 1969. “One is a distinctive, blue-eyed blonde, the other an Aboriginal with curly brown hair and dark eyes. It should therefore have been easy to tell them apart, yet various agencies persisted in confusing them — the Commonwealth Employment Service/Department of Social Security, Medicare, the City of Sydney Library, Austudy, Electoral Registration Department. The former describes their lives as amazingly similar. They had both worked for the New South Wales public service as clerks for about 18 months, both worked at Sydney University for about the same length of time, and both enrolled as mature students at the University”¹¹.
Alan Vaughan tells this interesting story about his wife, Diane Dudley:
7) she learnt through a newspaper clipping and a photograph about the existence of another female with the same name as her, and looks, if not actually identical, at least similar enough to be mistaken for her in the photograph. Through a mutual acquaintance she discovered that their personalities were “very much the same”¹². Despite trying to make contact with the woman, she was unable to trace her, and unfortunately therefore birth-time details are not known.
The following is an extraordinary example in that the pattern extends to couples rather than individuals:
8) “Albert Rivers and Betty Cheetham of Swindon shared a table with another couple for dinner at the Tourkhalf Hotel in Tunisia in early 1998. The other couple introduced themselves, Albert Cheetham and Betty Rivers of Derby. All were in their 70s. Having overcome the surprise at their similar names, they kept talking and soon more similarities emerged. The two couples were both married on the same day and at the same time. Both couples have two sons, born in 1943 and 1945. Both couples have five grandchildren and four great grandchildren. The Bettys had worked in post offices in their home towns while their husbands had been carriage bodybuilders in railway workshops. Neither women could show her engagement ring as both had lost them, but they did have identical watch bracelets which had had the same links repaired”¹³.
What could have led to the various coincidental factors in these stories? In 3 there may have been some kind of attraction, clustering effect. 7 sounds like an astrological twin along the lines of Ritter/Henderson. As the other woman could not be traced and her birth-data established, it is impossible to test this hypothesis. In 4, 5, and 6 the first thing we should note is that any astrological significance is confined to the same birthday; there is no suggestion that the people concerned were born at the same time or in the same place. That is therefore one more significant coincidence in these already impressive examples, but it is clearly debatable to what extent any organizing factor could be considered astrological.
Some interesting peripheral observations emerge from these cases. Firstly, it would be interesting to know how widespread the phenomenon is. If in general we do not know about our ‘twins’, there could be thousands upon thousands of such cases. There could be ten men with the same name as me, born on the same day, doing the same job, married to a wife with the same name etc., living within a mile of my house. Unless any of us had the unusual hobby of trawling through the Electoral Register for fun, it is unlikely that we would ever discover this fact, even less likely if we lived in different towns or countries.
Secondly, in the examples studied, circumstances sometimes seem to conspire to bring the ‘twins’ together after a long separation, after which they compare notes. There is nothing especially out of the ordinary in being dealt with by the same hospital or tax-office. I am especially fascinated by two of the examples, however:
a) the case of the Dutch and English women, who managed to attract each other as pen-friends long before the details of their ‘twinning’ emerged.
b) the Rivers/Cheetham case where the couples whose lives had been extraordinarily similar managed to sit at the same table on a foreign holiday. They could so easily have been sitting only two tables away and none of the story would have come to light. How often do we sit unknowingly in the same restaurant with someone living the same life as us?
If there are truly large numbers of such examples, we would expect such meetings to happen occasionally through the normal laws of probability. If there are relatively few, however, even the meetings become totally unexpected, and we have to suspect the involvement of some hidden intelligence, which, on the face of it, wants them to become aware of the twinning.
When I use the expression ‘hidden intelligence’, normally I mean a deeply mysterious energy, with powerful paranormal capabilities. However, in the following story of Karen Setlowe, there is possibly a more recognizable intelligence operating, although even that explanation still stretches credibility.
Karen was an actress who wrote and performed a one-woman show about Annie Sullivan, (Helen Keller’s teacher). Ken Anderson’s narrative ends thus: “In the following years Karen has been asked to perform the play many times throughout America, but, due to various complications, she has only managed a few performances — and each time, by coincidence, on a key anniversary date in Annie’s life. Later she discovered that the initial contact at the party in 1976 she had felt so compelled to attend — and which resulted in her writing her first play, performing her first one-person show, travelling overseas for the first time and obtaining her fellowship for the project — all occurred on key anniversaries in Annie Sullivan’s life”¹⁴.
So here Karen’s life, without her conscious knowledge, was somehow being organised to coincide with dates in the dead woman’s life. In that there are some repetitions of events in this story, Michael Harding might suggest that there are astrological factors at work, but that does not seem to be all that likely, since the repetitions are organised around specific anniversaries. What other explanation could there be? It could be a morphogenetic field, if it can be considered that one person’s life can generate a field, which can then be tapped into later. Again this does not sound convincing, and seems to be outside the scope of what Rupert Sheldrake, the originator of the concept, suggests the nature of such fields to be. In the absence of other explanations, I wondered whether it had anything to do with the ghost of Annie Sullivan, which does actually figure in the story. A young couple had contacted Karen “because they felt their house was haunted with loving spirits and knew that (Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller) had spent some time in it” (p23).
It is difficult to know exactly what is happening in some of these cases. Where the facts are available, there is a trend towards the people involved being born on the same day, which sounds like astrology. The same is true for lots of people, however, and there has never been a suggestion that all of them share similar life patterns. In any case there should be sufficient variation in the charts for each day to make any connections tenuous. I said earlier that some people may be twinned in a way that we cannot comprehend, so that it is possible that we may just have to leave the debate unresolved with the unsatisfactory conclusion that sometimes the universe is just baffling. I hope, however, failing all else, that in this series I have shown that underneath the surface of our routine lives there are definitely some bizarre things going on, and that to attribute many of them to the movements of the planets stretches credibility beyond reasonable limits. In other words Harding’s existentialist astrology is not a likely explanation for them.
I hope you have enjoyed this article. I have written in the past about other topics, including spirituality, metaphysics, psychology, science, Christianity, and politics. All these articles are on Medium, but the simplest way to see a guide to them is to visit my website (click here and here).
1. Pentland, 1994
2. The Case for Astrology, Macdonald & Co., 1970, p 139
3. The Message of Astrology, Peter Roberts, Aquarian Press, 1990, p116.
4. Astrology and Science, Stein and Day, 1970, p44
5. The Best of the Fortean Times, Futura, 1991, pp 20–21
6. The Coincidence File, Ken Anderson, Blandford, 1999, p 37
7. Coincidences: Chance or Fate?, Ken Anderson, Blandford, 1995, p 219
8. ibid., p 119
9. as 5, p 19
10. Incredible Coincidence, Alan Vaughan, Corgi, 1981, p 224. Also, as 7, p 171 and p 210
11. as 6, p 93
12. as 10, p 66
13. as 6, p 99
14. as 6, p 23–4