Welcome to Chuck’s Place, where Chuck Ketchel expresses his thoughts, insights, and experiences!
This week Jeanne introduced the “Nanny Goat,” who holds in check the evolving spirit, leaving the self feeling like an inferior worthless child, destined to life imprisonment. Who is this nanny goat, and how do we loosen her grip so that we might obtain our rightful pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?
The alchemists undertook this process quite concretely, attempting to purify matter through a series of complex chemical operations to arrive at gold. They knew, however, that the adept, who performed these operations, needed to be in spiritual resonance with the chemical process. In other words, they had to do the inner work to free their spirit from the clutches of the nanny goat. Furthermore, they had to submit to a lengthy process; they knew there were no shortcuts.
Jung recognized that the alchemists were projecting the contents of their own psyche onto matter, thereby clarifying, differentiating, and transforming their inner experiences. Jung proposed a psychology that identified psychic structures, or inner players. These structures competed and interacted with an individual’s emerging consciousness, seeking to be included in experiences of life. He called these players, archetypes, and they could be both positive and negative forces. Jung would identify the nanny goat as the dark side of a parental archetype, hovering over the struggling child who is seeking to emerge as a confident being, to stand on its own, and find its rightful place in the world. For Jung, it is the challenge of the ego to become the hero who can separate itself from the powerful grip of the nanny goat, individuating into a solid, separate being. Jung, like the alchemists, saw this as a long-term process, requiring patience and perseverance; a process he called psychotherapy.
Another school of psychotherapists, the object relationists, focused more on the child’s internalization of parental relationships. Melanie Klein went so far as to suggest it all began with the breast. There were two, the good breast and the bad breast. In other words, sometimes needs were met, sometimes they were frustrated. The balance of met and unmet needs, or which aspect dominated, determines the quality of parental introjects (internalized parental structures). Is one dominated by the critical, rejecting, controlling, undermining nanny goat, or the benevolent parent who supports and gently urges toward independence; cheering on one’s unfolding powers? Like Jung, the object relationists require a lengthy psychotherapeutic process to free oneself of the dominance of the nanny goat.
The shamans approach this dilemma through another metaphor. In the shaman’s description, we human beings are subjected to onslaughts from energetic entities, seeking to feed off our energy. To achieve this they utilize our minds, keeping us obsessed with self-doubt and fears of annihilation, leading to endless energetic spikes in our emotionality, which they find positively delectable. Here the nanny goat is an entity, parasitically attached to our human form, sucking our blood, feasting off our many varieties of depressions, phobias, obsessions, and desires. Shamans have their own set of practices, called the warrior’s way, which they use to free their energy from alien entities. The major focus of the warrior’s way is physical. When practiced regularly these physical movements and intentions succeed in neutralizing the machinations of the mind, releasing the nanny goat.
The Buddhists are equally untrusting of the mind. They prescribe their own set of “alchemical processes” for purifying the mind of the influences of illusion by practicing years of meditation, leading to detachment. Deep Buddhist practice incorporates three to ten year meditative retreats to free one from the clutches of the nanny goat.
All of these paths, and many more, are valid interpretations of our energetic reality. The path itself does not matter. After all, everything is energy and there are many ways to define the same energetic reality and to find the inner pot of gold. It remains for the individual to choose the path that personally resonates. However, all of these approaches have common features:
1. There are no shortcuts. If we expect a quick defeat of the nanny goat, we remain in its grasp.
2. The adept, ego, child, apprentice, hero, etc. must solve the challenge. Although there is support and guidance, freedom must be individually achieved.
3. The nanny goat is not personal. As Jeanne suggests, it is a boring, repetitive other, which needs to be disengaged from.
Investing in our adult self, finding calm, and choosing the practices that gradually fortify this adult position will eventually lead to the nanny goat moving on to new pastures, no longer finding sustenance in our evolving energy field. But beware, the nanny goat may return, when you least expect it. Don’t get caught in thinking you have failed. It’s only a test. Don’t attach!