I sat this morning editing the final version of Jan’s soon to be published The Recapitulation Diaries—Year One: The Man in the Woods. I encounter this dream. With Jan’s permission I include that dream here followed by her reflection upon awakening.
October 21, 2001
“I dream a strange dream about a bodiless head that rides on a small electronic platform that looks something like a large gray plastic model of an aircraft carrier. The features on the face are hard and set, metallic looking, the eyes glaring. I’ve stumbled into a large empty apartment building, unaware of its presence and apparently I’ve disturbed it while wandering around in this vast space. The head on the platform bolts out from underneath a pile of debris where it has lived for a long time and skims along the floor, the face mean and angry. It pursues me around the empty building for some unknown reason. Eventually I turn and attack it and the head falls off the platform. It crashes to the floor and explodes. I’m surprised to see that it’s no more than a pile of fluff, nothing but bits of paper and plastic.”
“In the morning I wake exhausted, tired of feeling so empty, so hollow. The crazy head chasing me doesn’t make me feel any better, but it does make me think that perhaps the praying mantis picking at my head [an earlier dream] was trying to alert me to something besides just the memories. Perhaps I’m not supposed to go after the head, not just supposed to dig through my head for the memories, after all. The head doesn’t really hold anything inside, as this dream shows; it’s just a lot of stuffing. Where do I look then? Where do I go for the memories if not into my head, into my brain, to the place where memories are supposedly stored?” [End of excerpt from book.]
Moments after reading this I opened Carlos Castaneda’s The Wheel of Time, in anticipation of writing my weekly blog, to the following:
“The internal dialogue is what grounds people in the daily world. The world is such and such or so and so, only because we talk to ourselves about its being such and such or so and so. The passageway into the world of shamans opens up after the warrior has learned to shut off his internal dialogue.” — p. 117
Jan’s dream and subsequent reflection illustrate that the mind, the home of the internal dialogue is merely fluff. The internal dialogue upholds the world that we all agree upon, with the consequence being, the creation of a consensus reality. To create a world is indeed a magical act, however, the truth is that it’s just an interpretation of energy spun by the internal dialogue.
Internally, Jan had upheld a world through an internal dialogue that created a story about her past that did not represent the truth of her experience in childhood. She was at a stage in her recapitulation where she needed to free herself of her mind. In order to do this, she had to confront her fear, which had allowed her internal dialogue to spin reality to protect her from painful truth. By confronting her fear and shattering her mind she was soon to free-fall into deeper truth. To discover these truths, as she reflects in this excerpt, she had to go outside the mind and allow her body to reveal the truth unfiltered by the mind. As Carlos points out: the passageway opens once the internal dialogue is silenced.
What keeps us attached to the internal dialogue is fear. We must be willing to confront our fears to get to deeper truth. Confronting the fear does not mean that the fear goes away. What it does mean, however, is that we insist upon pursuing the truth regardless of the fear. Fear continues to be present but it doesn’t stop the journey.
In recapitulation we intend to learn the truth. We don’t attach to the internal dialogue but go directly to the body for a full accounting of life lived.
The sun was shining, seemingly brighter and earlier than normal after a couple of days of overcast skies and thunderstorms. I was eager to walk in it’s first light.
“Don Juan says never carry anything in your hands when you walk,” Chuck reminded me, so I put my tiny digital camera in my pocket, wondering if I’d encounter something special, beautiful, or profound to photograph as we walked.
After we’d walked along for a while, talking quietly, I noted that there wasn’t much happening in the world around us. It wasn’t presenting its usual natural wonders, nothing to take a picture of. It seemed quiet. One car passed us. Then a bicyclist passed by, head down. Slumped over the handlebars he seemed focused on the front wheel endlessly turning as it rode the pavement. I recognized him as someone we pass often at that hour. He always seems depressed, never utters a greeting, never looks up, focused only on the road in front of him. Other than that I noted again the quiet of the morning. But then, at the same time, we both saw a rabbit, the first sign of real life. We smiled and acknowledged that nature does not disappoint.
Then I realized that I’d been like the man on the bike today, my head down, my eyes on the road ahead of me. As I’d taken each step I’d been aware only of what lay at my feet: the color of the pavement, the interplay of shadows and light, the leaves, bark, twigs and branches that came down in the violent storms that came through yesterday afternoon. The rabbit reminded me to look around, to lift my head from the path and see what else was available in my world at that moment.
Now the walk was different. Suddenly I was engaged in what was happening around me. Suddenly the perceived dull and sleepy world was alive and I was too. I noted how mistaken I was in my assumption that not much was happening. I recalled the first sounds we’d heard upon awakening in the morning, the baby foxes yipping and yelping in the backyard. I remembered the male bluebird who sat outside our window on the railing of the deck, letting us know that he and his mate have returned to the nesting box nearby for a third time this year, another egg-laying in progress, life giving new life.
As I recapitulated these earlier experiences, I studied again the bike rider, envisioning his riding posture, his energy stuck in his routine of riding along the same route each day, not noticing what else was around him. Unable to lift his head, I wondered what plagued him, and what he might be missing that could set him on a different path. I found myself empathizing with his dilemma, whatever it might be, for I too fall into the same patterns, ride the same road, only taking in the next step as I watch my foot hit the ground in front of me. Little changes, and even less is noticed, if I do not lift my eyes from the path in front of me.
This is what happens to all of us as we live out our lives, staying within our routines, caught in the endless turning of the wheel, whether it’s the endless wheel of work-worry-sleep, followed by more work-worry-sleep, or if it’s simply the daily routines we set out for ourselves. Even as we act out the habitual must-dos that really lead us nowhere, underneath it all we really do know that we need something else to make our lives meaningful and happy. But how do we step off the wheel? Today, I was reminded that if I just look up and away, in an instant the world becomes an entirely different place.
Once we set the intent to recapitulate, we can fall into the same kinds of habitual patterns, get stuck on similar wheels. Our personal dilemmas and deepest issues can overwhelm us. We can get caught in feeling sorry for ourselves, feeling neglected, abandoned, sad and depressed as we revisit our past and confront how we have lived, whether by choice or by circumstance. As we’re drawn back to recapitulate, we may forget to take in the world around us. Even while in deep recapitulation we must lift our heads and be in the world, for in my experience, it’s the world around us that offers us the help we need to interpret, to guide, to revision ourselves, as well as offering us the means to resolution. It’s also only in the world around us that we will find the means to relieve the stresses and intensities of doing deep inner work.
It’s also the world around us that offers us the opportunities to stretch our legs, so to speak, to experience ourselves as changing beings. As we recapitulate, we’re offered the chance to show ourselves and the world just how much we’ve changed, by refusing to do things the old way. As we face daily challenges in our old world, we’re offered the opportunity to test the new perspectives gained through the hard work of recapitulation. There is no better test ground or world in which to advance than the one we live in. This is the place we must do our evolutionary work in, and recapitulation is evolutionary work.
After the sighting of the rabbit I knew all I had to do was look up and allow the world to greet me with whatever it had to offer. As the second half of today’s walk progressed I lifted my eyes from the road and began to notice all the edible wild foods growing alongside the rural road we walk along, the prickly lettuce, the lambs ear, and plantain. I lifted my eyes higher and noticed that swallows now line the wires near the wetlands area where a few weeks ago the red winged blackbirds sat, sentinels guarding their nesting flocks in the tall grasses. As I walked even a week ago they’d dive down at me, warning me to keep away. They’ve moved on now, leaving the swallows their old perch. The world is constantly changing, I noted.
I heard the croak of a raven behind me and, looking higher still, I saw a tiny bird attacking him high in the sky, keeping him from raiding a nest no doubt. The hungry raven was no match for the tiny sharp-beaked bird and he flew off, cro-cro-croaking his guttural cry.
“What does that mean?” I wondered, for I find the raven most significant in my own world.
“Cro-Cro-CROAK! Cro-Cro-CROAK! Cro-Cro-CROAK!” replied the raven in answer to my question.
I repeated this phrase to myself a few times before I finally got the meaning of the raven’s call.
Don’t Forget! Don’t Forget! Don’t Forget! he seemed to be saying.
Don’t forget to use the world around you every day as you go through life. Don’t forget to lift your eyes from your well-worn path, from the routines, and notice what else is available to guide you along. Don’t forget that everything is available, possible, a guiding force, a messenger, a reminder. Don’t forget that as you recapitulate you learn new things about yourself and that you may not be as stuck and unavailable to change as you may think. Don’t forget to exercise the new you in the world. Don’t forget to actually put to use the new ideas, thoughts, and experiences you’ve been having. Don’t forget to trust your journey as perfectly right for you. And overall, don’t forget to allow yourself to experience the world differently.
You already know that the world is not as you at first perceive it, the raven reminds. This is what you learn all the time, but can you allow yourself to actually participate in that different world that you have worked so hard to enter, to understand, and to embrace?
The world of nature and the personal world we each live in, offers us everything we need to grow and change. To recapitulate or not is our personal choice. However, in my experience, everyday life is offering us opportunities to recapitulate and to use what we learn about ourselves all the time. We just don’t know this until we decide that it’s so, when we set the intent to re-experience how we’ve understood the world. Sometimes all we need to jump-start new life it the realization that we’re eager for a new perspective because the old one just doesn’t work for us anymore. That was my walking experience this morning.
As soon as I lifted my eyes from the hard gray road in front of me, I discovered a world of wonder. What is recapitulation anyway, but an opportunity to look at ourselves and our world with different eyes. Sometimes we need someone else’s eyes to show us what we’ve been missing. Sometimes we have to dare ourselves, push ourselves to go beyond our routines, ask ourselves to break through our old habits. Sometimes we have to ask ourselves to face our truths so we can move on, without regret, without sadness, simply because it’s time and right to do so. Recapitulation is happening all the time. Do you notice?
By the time I’d gotten home from my walk, I was in a new world. The bluebird greeted me on the deck again, showing me just how much in alignment with my spirit’s eagerness for changing life our natural world really is.
What are you being offered today to change your perspective, your outlook, your inner world, your relationship to self and others? There’s always something out there. What was the first indication in your world today that it’s just not as routine and boring as you’ve perceived it to be? Even in the subtlest ways, nature guides us.
Sending love and good wishes, and I thank the raven for posing ever so briefly so I could snap a photo of him!
Written by Jan Ketchel with a channeled message from Jeanne Ketchel.
Today I ask Jeanne to give us some guidance around the theme of now and what is most important for us to keep in mind as we go into a new week. Here is her response:
Remain optimistic! Imbue the self with positive thoughts and awaken positive life forces within. Even if dire circumstances surround you, either in your personal lives or in the world around you, move forward into your lives, My Dear Readers, with positive outlooks and inner compasses facing the truth of the energetic possibilities of self and world to continuously evolve and change.
In true reality nothing stays the same. Keep this in mind. Life is in flux, constantly changing, even if only incrementally, but this is change nonetheless. How do you think the great universe itself arrived at this reality of now, if not by incremental moves of change? In constantly shifting mode, life evolves.
So it is with all of you. Point your compasses, set your directionals, and make some life-altering decisions this week. Solidify already set intentions, staying more firmly upon your path, for now is the time of trial and testing, meant to more firmly set your agenda.
It may feel like giving-up time, like all-is-lost time, but that time of void, of unanchored free fall will only be momentary, as you use it to gather inner strength, to staunchly refuse the call of the big baby, either in self or others, and to reject the notions of impossibility or failure.
Now is the time of reasserting a deeper commitment to self and to the energy of life as the only reasons for life itself. For how can you expect fulfillment if you do not dare the self to take the next step? How can you indeed call yourself alive if you do not pursue life as if it were your only nurturance—sustenance and life force both?
You are all both the means and the way. You hold within yourself—in body, mind, and energetic spirit self—all that is necessary to truly live. Exploit your energy to more fully embrace life now. At all costs, do not falter or redirect your efforts unless your spirit tells you to. If your spirit is in alignment with your set intent, you are in the company of the proper traveling companion and this is your time of creation and fulfillment.
Just a little bit more of the usual confusion to go through and then you will be sailing into clarity and unwavering steadiness. Re-assert the rightness of your intent. Break no contracts. Live life to the fullest with knowing awareness, sobriety, humility, and deep appreciation for your fellow human beings, who support and fund your efforts to evolve.
Life is about to reveal itself more fully. Are you really ready for what awaits? This is what you must prepare for now: the great awakening moment of truth.
Not yet ready to face it? For those who are not feeling consciously prepared, I suggest allowing the awareness of the world and the universe as your propeller to come into play here. Here is the real truth: You are all going anyway. You are all going forward because the momentum is already in motion. The challenge is to realize it and go with awareness.
Even if reluctant, one can move into new life. Remember what I said earlier? Life moves forward in incremental shifts. Allow the self at least that notion of change and perhaps the journey may be more palatable, with less fear.
You and the universe have already had a lifetime of taking baby steps. You see how far you’ve come? Keep going baby steps or giant steps; it does not matter which. It’s the awareness that you cannot stop the energy of life that counts. Stay connected to that and watch how your intent greets you each day.
Await the wonder of the decisions you made to change to find ways to prove that you are always on the right track. Awareness is all you really need to accompany you. It will supply the answers. And don’t forget: They lie within!
Conserving and renewing energy while in free fall, I sign off; going forward without fear, I hope!
Thank you Jeanne!
Returning from vacation, I consult the I Ching for a picture of Now.
I receive the image of a house whose walls can no longer carry the weight of the roof, now on the verge of collapse.
In a dream, I’m stuck beneath the streets of New York City in a narrow crawl space. I look around at the thick wooden beams and wonder at the weight of what is above, the buildings, the restaurants, the parties taking place, all the people dancing. How long can those beams support it all?
The country is galvanized around raising the debt “ceiling.” From all sides there is fear of imminent collapse.
The I Ching counsels shoring up the walls of the house to avoid collapse by giving generously to those below. In the context of a nation, this means to take care of the real needs of the masses, the true backbone of the country.
Ironically, the Tea Party Republicans are agents of change here, bringing attention to the fragility of the economic structure. As with the “ceiling” structure of an overburdened roof, continuing to raise the debt “ceiling” will lead to inevitable collapse.
In the recent past, the Republicans had no problem raising that ceiling five times under President Bush and seventeen times under Reagan. Suddenly though, they’ve elevated it to a monumental crisis under President Obama. Despite the hypocrisy and thinly veiled overt ploy to bring down Obama at all costs, even if it means bringing down the nation itself, the bottom line is: the more you raise the ceiling, the greater you weaken the structure. That is, unless you strengthen the supporting walls.
The Republican strategy is to strengthen the walls by stripping the social supports to the masses while greedily filling the coffers of the wealthy. The slogan is: No raised taxes on the wealthy at any cost!
The I Ching clearly states that this strategy will lead to definite collapse. Synchronistically, we see this illustrated by the tumbling Murdoch empire built upon total greed and corruption. Unless the structure of the nation shifts to truly caring for the needs of the common citizen, the nation will collapse as we see reflected all around the world in the revolutions of the Arab spring.
On a personal level, we are challenged to assess the stability of our own psychic structures. Inwardly, the “roof” of our personality is the ego, built upon the supporting walls of our instinctive selves and the deep well of our spirit selves.
Is the roof of our personality, our ego self, giving generously to the needs of our instinctive self, our body, and to our spirit self, the foundational reason for our current life in this world?
Is our ego in alignment with our spiritual purpose? Is our ego properly nourishing our body as well as caring for the physical environment we inhabit in this world? Is our ego insisting on remaining in the wrong relationship out of fear of loss, abandonment, and aloneness? Does our ego control others overtly or covertly to serve its own agenda? Is the ego willing to face the truths of life lived or does it remain in illusion, inflation or deflation, or comfortably numb in addiction?
If our ego is off on its own greedy agenda, accumulating more and more for itself, overburdening the roof while neglecting the supporting walls of the house, that structure is in imminent danger of collapse; collapse of the personality into depression, or even psychosis.
Inwardly, giving generously to those below requires the ego to serve the deepest needs of the self. The ego, in this alignment with the self, is in no danger of collapse. To the contrary, it is likely to find itself in the place of abundance, generously and gratefully supported by the wellspring of life.
Last night I dreamed of being a child again, in a house where feelings and emotions were expected to be suppressed, kept tightly under wraps, oppressed by the dictum of the dominant force.
In the dream, I recapitulated the process of holding everything in, of tending to my feelings in the ways my child self had found to deal with them, but at one point in the dream I also snapped. I shifted out of the old obedient child self and ranted and raved at the oppressor. Soon I discovered that ranting and raving against the oppressor gave no real relief nor satisfaction, for it did not remove nor change the oppressor. In fact, my railings only sparked the oppressor to rail against me, to make me feel bad for having stepped outside of long upheld expectations, fair or not. In the dream I was made to feel the consequences of my actions, in the same way that my child self had once been made to feel them for breaking the rules.
In the dream, my child self soon realized that I could neither have an effect on the oppressor’s outburst, because the oppressor was not going to change, nor did I want to stay in the subservient role of being oppressed by this unchanging being. I soon turned away, saw the situation in all its clarity and let the oppression go on without me. It was okay to do so. In fact, the dream was a complete recapitulation process.
In true recapitulation fashion, I was able to immerse myself in an old situation, feel every aspect of it, go through all the questions that needed to be addressed—such as: Did I really want to do this again? Did I owe the oppressor anything? Who had originally decided the oppressive rules? Did I really want to uphold them? What is the reason that I am back here again at this time in my life?—and let the dream guide me to understanding who I was then, who I am now, and how far I’ve come.
In the dream, I was able to reassert that I am not willing to be oppressed, by anyone or anything that I do not agree with, that is not right for me. That may sound egotistical, but in reality it is only part of a process of actually learning to shed the ego’s attachments. For in shedding of ego attachments one learns that one does not need to participate in life according to the needs of others, either to be dominated or controlled by them or held back by their fears. In shedding of ego attachments one learns how to become an individual being. In shedding of ego attachments one learns what it actually means to love.
In recapitulating one is able to free the self from all the old rules that oppressed, held back, and curtailed the true spirit self, the part of us that holds the desire for life to be fully embraced and lived. In recapitulation one asks the question: Can I allow myself to live my life differently, according to my own needs, desires, wants and to extend those needs, desires, and wants beyond the ego self to eventually fully encompass the spirit self? That is the real challenge in life; to let the spirit self fully live.
In his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, Victor Frankl states: “When a man finds that it is his destiny to suffer, he will have to accept his suffering as his task; his single and unique task. He will have to acknowledge the fact that even in suffering he is unique and alone in the universe. No one can relieve him of his suffering or suffer in his place. His unique opportunity lies in the way in which he bears his burden.” —From page 99.
Victor Frankl spent three years in concentration camps during World War II. His spirit took up an observer’s role, allowing him to have experiences that kept him alive. He took up his own unique opportunity to bear his burden, under the direct eyes of the oppressor. Like a true shaman he took a journey of suffering and returned from it transformed, never having let his true spirit self be defeated.
The Seers of Ancient Mexico would agree with him that we each have a unique opportunity to perceive our world differently and to live in it differently as well, to dare to take the opportunity that life offers to transform ourselves. The Buddhists also see suffering as the means of reaching enlightenment, for only in samsara, the ocean of suffering, life upon this earth, are we offered, with each new lifetime, the opportunity to transform ourselves.
It becomes our task to shift away from the oppressive rules placed on us by society and others in our lives, accept our aloneness as necessary and liberating. This is just the opportunity offered when we recapitulate. We don’t need to go into a concentration camp to suffer and meet our aloneness; we all have enough of those opportunities in our daily lives. This leads me to the next point I wish to make today: Recapitulation happens all the time. We do not need to do anything. Life itself places our recapitulation squarely in front of us each moment of each day.
In my dream, I saw a recapitulation opportunity, but, in a sense, I had to be willing to see it that way and not get caught in feelings of sorrow for my child self, to not fall into depression and self-pity. I was offered the opportunity to remind myself just how free I really am, not only of the past, but of the suffering that once oppressed me so deeply.
It was pretty clear to me that I was being shown an old world, one I have come far from, but one that still exists. In many ways I must still encounter it, even though I no longer wish to live in it. As I did in my dream, in waking life I must remember to turn away from the oppressor, to leave the house that is oppressive because it does not feed my spirit. This must become a conscious process, yet my dream is reminding me that I must not become complacent or smug about it either.
In the house of the oppressor we are confronted with questions that will help us move on to new territory, to new perspectives, to new ideas of self and life. We must repeatedly ask ourselves to go deeper into our aloneness and ask ourselves to truly answer the questions that arise.
Some of those questions might be: Why do I live in the house of the oppressor? Who is the real oppressor? Have I taken on the attributes of the oppressor? What can I do to leave this place that I feel so stuck in? Can I allow myself to leave the screaming oppressor without feeling that I am bad, neglectful, inconsiderate, unloving, selfish? Can I turn away from an old world and allow myself to enter a world of my own creation? Can I keep going into the aloneness that is necessary to encounter all that I must encounter in this life? And, in the end, can I simply love the oppressor for having set me on my journey, and accept that my destiny is now completely in my own hands?
Recapitulation is a tool to use as we set out on our own journeys of individuation. It may take us many years to discover that it is actually what we are supposed to be doing with our lives. It may mean that we must return to the house of the oppressor many times, even when we think we have left it behind for good, because it still holds something of value for us. In the end, can we ultimately embrace our suffering as our most valuable asset? In the house of the oppressor, Victor Frankl discovered the key to man’s inner spirit and to his own future as a psychotherapist and student of human nature.
What value do I find in my own suffering? I ask myself this question each day as I revisit my own past. My three-year shamanic recapitulation allowed me to revisit the first eighteen years of my life and find the reasons for the oppressive qualities I carried with me into life. I saw very clearly where they came from, how I had attached to them, and how I continued to carry them forth. I learned to remove them one by one, freeing my spirit, the true self who lay waiting for me to return and find her.
Here is to taking the recapitulation journey that we do not have to do anything to jumpstart, it is jumpstarted for us each day of our lives, we just have to notice how it comes. How does it come? Perhaps in dreams, encounters, feelings, sensations, memories, thoughts, repetitive behaviors; in our actions, reactions or no actions; in complacencies and avoidances; in our likes and dislikes; in our political and social views and opinions. What is mine and what is not mine? Who am I? Who do I want to be?
I want to be me, and I want to be okay with being me, without worry, without fear, without needing to uphold things I just do not believe in or need anymore. I hope these ideas help make the journey a bit more clear.