Note to Our Readers

Chuck takes the opportunity to write a second blog this week—posted below—in order to free up Jan’s time for the final work on preparing her next book, the second year in The Recapitulation Diaries series. The Edge of the Abyss will be published in 2 volumes. Volume One is near completion and will be released in paperback as well as Kindle format. We will let you know as to availability in the upcoming weeks.

The Edge of the Abyss continues Jan’s personal process of recapitulation, filled with, yes, those gritty details but also plenty of magical encounters and experiences in dreaming and waking life. As she takes her journey to freedom, the intent of recapitulation clearly and quite remarkably meets her own intent to change.

As many of you already know, Jan’s books are not self-help. They are realistic portrayals of what it means to take a deep inner journey with intent to change. They are memoirs of the most poignant kind; real, deeply intimate, and often challenging, but full of wisdom and insight that could only be gained in the unfolding of the journey itself. They are books about a healing journey, illustrating the value of undertaking a shamanic process of recapitulation in combination with psychotherapy as a means of total healing from severe, life-inhibiting trauma. They show how one woman gained back her power and learned how to truly live.

Readers have found everything from comfort and validation in her journey to the incentive to take their own deeply challenging journeys. Many others have gained valuable insight into and greater understanding of what victims of sexual abuse have endured and continue to endure from the lifelong effects of early trauma. For the professional, Jan’s process is an invaluable guide to an alternative treatment that goes far beyond what is currently offered.

We will keep you informed,
-Chuck and Jan

Chuck’s Place: Seek Refuge In Intent

Most people think,
Great God will come from the skies,
Take away everything
And make everybody feel high
… -Bob Marley Get Up, Stand Up

We must do the freeing ourselves... - Photo of carved wooden Buddha by Jan Ketchel
We must do the freeing ourselves… – Photo of carved wooden Buddha by Jan Ketchel

For the Shamans of Ancient Mexico the calling of INTENT is the channel to the power to change the self and the world. If calling intent is a prayer, it’s a prayer of conviction: I INTEND THIS! But it’s also a prayer of humility: Though I state my intent with command, I accept the response I receive.

Perhaps my intent is an ego intent, misaligned with spirit self. I must examine a non-response from intent with humility. I do not attach to the outcome of my stated intent, that is control. I am beckoning power, I must accept with equanimity the response I receive. Perhaps my intent requires that I linger longer where I no longer wish to be. Perhaps I have more to learn before it’s time to awaken from this dream.

Intent insists on strength. We must come to intent as adults. Intent cannot advance us if we beckon with begging, pleading hands. In this case, intent will contain us in our begging stance until we are able to stalk—to truly embody—the shift we seek.

Intent requires that we use our words. Thinking an intent is not calling intent. We must verbalize, with clarity, our intent. Stating our intent establishes a link between a definite being—a being embodying its right to ask—and the power of intent to fund the intention.

I must prepare the ground for intent. Have I done all within my power to receive the fruition of my intent, or am I asking intent to do the work I rightfully can and must do myself? How can intent bring me fulfillment if I have not faced my recapitulation? If I am not ready to open and free myself from the restricted beliefs I hold of myself, how can intent present me with new possibilities that would simply not be possible for me to embody?

I’m ready for new life when I’m willing to shed the old through a completed recapitulation. Until I’ve completed my recapitulation I am not even aware of the beliefs and habits that bind me. How can intent free me when I am not free to go forward?

Finally, a personal note of caution. Intent is real and it’s powerful. Do be careful what you ask for! As a young child I beckoned intent on a Good Friday. Intent responded with a force barely containable in my young body. I opened a portal that day that, quite frankly, I was never able to close. Though I wouldn’t have it any other way, I caution: Use extreme sobriety when beckoning communion with infinity!

We must prepare our humanness to ride freely on the wings of intent. To seek refuge in intent we must assume full responsibility for our lives. That’s the ticket.

With the intent of affection,

Chuck’s Place: Love & Affection

Bring the heart out of the shadows of love and into the light of true affection... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Bring the heart out of the shadows of love and into the light of true affection… – Photo by Jan Ketchel

The other night we watched Bruce Wagner’s 1998 film I’m Losing You. It packs a shamanic wallop. We’re left with the emptiness of a group of characters ruthlessly chasing love amidst a harrowing set of losses, exposing the love compulsion at its most hideous. Most disturbing is the power of that compulsion to preempt a genuine participation in life and relationship. Last night we watched another movie with a similar theme, the 2011 film, The Newlyweds.

I know the world that Bruce Wagner was immersed in when he wrote the novel, in 1996, upon which the screenplay and movie I’m Losing You are based. I was totally consumed by that same world, the world of Tensegrity and Carlos Castaneda. Bruce, alias “Lorenzo Drake,” was in the inner shamanic circle, and in fact married the nagual woman Carol Tiggs. This was at the time that Carlos was mercilessly poking fun at the search for love that dominated our world. Carlos would constantly point out that we seek love, but underneath we are really merchants caught in the contract of what we are getting from, or what we are owed in, our loving interactions.

I’m Losing You glowingly highlights that even in the midst of extraordinary opportunities to avail ourselves of the shaman’s greatest wake up call—to use death as an advisor—we are trumped by the flyer’s mind that seeks refuge in a zombie-like pursuit of love.

After the movie, I dreamed of being on an old treelined parkway rest stop on Long Island in between the northbound and southbound lanes. Traffic streamed by in both directions without letup. I was crouching at the curb of the north side picking up garbage. I came across an old, well-worn, 33 RPM album entitled, “I Love You.” I picked it up, read the label, and then pushed it vertically into the mushy sod so that it stood up straight in the grass. I then walked over to the picnic area in the grassy median where two tables had been pushed together. People were anxiously awaiting their reserved time to have their children’s birthday parties there. One parent was haggling over not paying 18 dollars for an extra umbrella for the table. The sense of the scene was that it was a pedestrian, quick drive-thru birthday party factory.

My dream seemed to validate the well worn love recording at the energetic highway of our lives, with its cookie cutter rituals defining our behaviors.

Carlos stated that the Shamans of Ancient Mexico saw that love had been co-opted and corrupted by the flyer’s mind of self obsession. (See last week’s blog Don’t Ask Why.) Those shamans linked instead to affection, an independent wave of energy accessible to all, our true birthright. Once accessed, affection naturally flows through us.

To access such affection, Carlos suggested that we learn to love by giving with a blank check. That is, affection means giving without ever expecting a return on the investment: Giving without attachment to the outcome. This kind of affection takes the “me” out of the equation. You owe me nothing in return for my gesture of affection. I give it freely, no strings attached. I require not even an acknowledgement. You truly owe me nothing.

This is the true nature of affection: Selfless love, conscious acts of affection without self-reflection. I feel it; I give it; I don’t look back.

With affection,

Readers of Infinity: The Pragmatist’s Way—One Step At A Time

Today, I asked Jeanne: What message is most important for us to receive today? Here is her answer:

Are you ready for the energy of spirit?  - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Are you ready for the energy of spirit? – Photo by Jan Ketchel

If you open to the world of energy you must be prepared for it. If you wish to invite intent into your lives you must be shored up with practical knowledge of how the world really works. You must be a strong pragmatic adult, but you must also be innocently open so that your experiences of a new reality will not be dismissed or denied.

In order to prepare, one must work hard to stabilize the self in the world you now inhabit. Determine within your own lives, My Dears, what this means to you and how you intend to go about it. Some things to keep in mind as helpful goals and objectives are the following:

Choose a path that will work for you, that is resonant with your inner spirit. This may take a while, but if you listen to your heart you will know when you have found it. You may even already be on it and not even know it. Keep in mind that life itself, your daily life and the life you were born into, is part of this greater path. The spirit’s path may be as simple as walking in nature or communing with a pet. It may suggest meditating, listening to music, breathing, dancing, just sitting quietly in calmness. In spirit will you know this path, for your spirit will be the communicator. Your spirit will take the path. Your spirit will guide you and speak to you of having found the way. This path will lead to others as you take it, each new path an off-shoot, but always resonant and connected to the original path—simply the next step. In spirit communication will you know where to go—your OWN spirit, by the way, not through or with someone else’s spirit. I speak only of your own inner spirit. No one can really make the connection with this inner self, except you. Someone else may provide structure, and this is good. The best guide is a good listener who will help you hear what you are saying, will point out the obvious, and will ask you what you want to do next.

Study the reality you are in...  - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Study the reality you are in… – Photo by Jan Ketchel

Know your present reality well. Study how it works and how you respond to it. Notice your habitual patterns of behavior, your tendencies, and your patterns of abuse, reaction, complacency, and inertia. Notice how you attach and how you reject. Notice how you allow and disallow; how you follow and refuse to follow. Know your strengths and your weaknesses, your inflations and your follies. Above all, be perfectly and ruthlessly honest with the self. Notice how quickly you lose all that you gain. Do not be discouraged, just keep going.

Absolve the self of so-called sins. With compassion for the self and others move forward. With love allow yourself to take your journey, even while you allow others to take theirs. Be responsible for those in your care and learn from them. Whether they are lovers or foes, whether you are duty-bound or acting out of love and compassion does not matter—they all have something to teach you.

Be impeccable in how you treat others. Treat all beings equally, with love, kindness, and compassion, with respect and understanding that all are on journeys of evolution. All are great. All are fallible. Even you. Even the most lowly creature and the most profound of scholars are innocent beings—some aware, some not, and which ones are aware you may never know, so treat all equally.

Guide those in your care with gentleness and awe, awe for their journeys. Be non-judgmental, even as you wish to be free of judgment from others yourself. Allow the self and others to fail, this is how you learn. Allow the self and others to struggle. Allow the self and others to go off the path when necessary so that the way back may be discovered. Allow the self and others to embrace results and advances, but do not get caught in inflated ideas of the self. Encouragement is always good.

Maintain a positive outlook. If you are naturally pessimistic, find out why and what that means to you and use it to your advantage. This same kind of examination for all energy types must be explored. Find out what energy type you are and use it as both your challenge and your catalyst. Find out where your talents lie and use them until you find some new ones.

Each day dawns anew... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Each day dawns anew… – Photo by Jan Ketchel

Always advance. Even if you cannot see the road ahead of you, know that it’s there waiting. Each step into the darkness is just like a step into the light—in both cases you are blind. Allow your inner vision to guide you. Hold fear in check. Hold the big baby inside you in check. Hold the ego in check. Find your way through practical navigation of the life you find yourself in. This is where you are. Begin there. Look around and discover something that you did not notice before.

Do a reality check several times a day. Say: Okay, where am I? And then decide what to do next based on your reality and your spirit’s intent. Don’t know your spirit’s intent? Don’t worry—just follow the path that opens before you. Eventually you will know that your spirit’s intent is to evolve. Just what this means for each of you will be unique, and how you discover it will be unique as well. How you experience it will be unique. How you grow will be unique.

If you are truly ready for the journey of your spirit, or even if you don’t know if you are ready but you hear the call, I suggest you pay attention. Heed the call and begin your journey with one step today. It will be the first step on a journey of greater fulfillment. One step at a time is the pragmatist’s way.

Chuck’s Place: Don’t Ask Why

According to whom? Photo by Jan Ketchel
According to whom? Photo by Jan Ketchel

The Shamans of Ancient Mexico were tenacious in their disciplined effort to retrieve their energy and free themselves from the constraints of the social order. These shamans saw the social order as the indexing arm of the interpretive system of our minds, which is both inherited and reinforced through the process of socialization we are all born into. These preset indexing categories interpret and define our fixed reality and deprive us access to our full birthright—access to unlimited worlds of possibility.

The Shamans of Ancient Mexico discovered that our interpretation system is completely restricted by a biased obsession with self. This constriction manifests in a lifetime obsession with worthiness, attractiveness, lovability, ranking, valuation, and validity.

As a psychotherapist deeply engaged in the intent of healing, I realize that all of these human concerns are profound challenges that require examination and action if we are to free the self from their restrictive reach. I have benefited from the perspective and methodology of the Shamans of Ancient Mexico to free the self to move into its own deeper potential.

The shamans define discipline not as a compulsive commitment to self-improvement routines, but as a persistent and unbiased examination of the self. They suggest that we not begin our inquiry into the self with the question, “Why did this happen to “me?” To those shamans this question is likely to trip us into a victim index of interpretation with follow-up statements like: “It’s not fair!” “I didn’t deserve this!” “I’m entitled to _______!” “I’m so bad!” “I’ll never be good enough!” “It’s my fault!” These statements are likely to further drain energy by entrenching the self in a depressed mood of hopelessness, futility, and surrender. Of course many of these statements may have some validity. However, they tend to bias the self toward an entrenched victim interpretation of reality that can see no world of possibility beyond this fixation.

Examine what is... Photo by Jan Ketchel
Examine what is… Photo by Jan Ketchel

The shamans suggest that we begin our inquiry into our lives with the questions: “What is the situation that I am in?” “What do I need to do to change it?” “What can I learn from the situation I find myself in?”

Beginning the inquiry from this different perspective avoids the trappings of self-pity or self-defeat that the why question is likely to trigger. Such unbiased examination remains descriptive and factual, freed of judgment. Such examination is objective, focusing on what is, not whether I’m good or bad for being in it, whether I’m being punished or rewarded, whether I’m worthy or unworthy, whether it’s fair or whether I deserve it, whether I’ll ever be loved, etc. Those kinds of judgments have no validity in an inquiry into reality that seeks only to know the true nature of what is.

From the perspective of what is, I can examine my life as a being born into a family of characters who socialized me within the greater macrocosm of the social circumstances of the time I was born into, further elaborating that socialization process. From this perspective, I can see the pitfalls of that socialization and identify the opportunities available for learning to extricate myself from the limits imposed by the experiences of that socialization process. From this ability to know reality unfiltered by the judgments of worthiness, fairness, etc., I can retrieve my energy previously encased in such judgments and engage in actions to free myself from the bondage of a constricted reality.

Change what is and become fluid... Photo by Jan Ketchel
Change what is and become fluid… Photo by Jan Ketchel

From this linchpin, I enter the fluid possibility of expanded reality—a life open to fulfillment in unlimited possibility—beyond the why, into the what is of the infinite.

What is,