Chuck’s Place: New World Family

Everything is changing now, including what it means to be family... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Everything is changing now,
including what it means to be family…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

My lifetime symbol in the Tarot deck is the Hierophant, card number 8. Lifetime symbols reflect the central archetypal myth and challenge to realize during a lifetime. I am struck by the emphasis of this card on the value of family.

When I reflect on my personal history in this lifetime, it is noteworthy how many conventional rules I’ve been willing to break in the service of revisioning family to fit our evolving needs. I know I was drawn to Carlos Castaneda’s shamanic line to service this intent. Carlos ended the limited shamanic family of his ancient line. Like a true socialist shaman he freed all the secret teachings, all the secret practices, for anyone energetically ready or inclined to take perception to new levels. He ended secrecy and selectively of apprentices, launching shamanism as an equal opportunity employer. The time of shamans is over. Everyone needs to become their own shaman now and take their own soul retrieval journey. Castaneda knew this. That was the ending and the evolution of his line.

Carlos’s shamanic line also put a premium on releasing energetic agreements that bind one’s energetic potential and limit fulfillment. This practice is called “erasing personal history,” not to be mistaken as erasing the truths, in fact, recapitulation insists that we fully face our personal history. However, in recapitulation we also are charged with withdrawing our energy from old energetic agreements and attachments, especially those that go back to our families of origin, where we innocently assumed roles and beliefs that overshadow our lives. Whether meaningful and truthful or not, those roles and beliefs must be dissected and questioned as to their true relevance and usefulness in our evolving lives, as beings totally separate from our families of origin.

In erasing personal history, we free our own energy as well as the energy of those whom we have been attached to, allowing all of us to grow and evolve without the limitations of old needs, expectations, or conventions ill-suited to evolving beings. From my perspective, this is caring for family at the deepest level, loving deeply, while simultaneously freeing all to fully become who they truly are capable of being, with no expectation to turn back and asking nothing in return. This is the empty-nester who frees all to new life, and enjoys new life as well!

We are in a new world now. However, the old world lives on, posing as new. Fiercely unwilling to die, it constantly tries to reassert itself, tempting us with new tools of communication, inviting us into the new family home of cyberspace. The internet now offers us a new family—with the possibility of unlimited connection—but it also pounds us with all the old tricks, enticing us closer with promises of more, unrelentingly targeting the rabid consumers that it knows we are, gathering marketing information to sell its wares. Of course the internet is much more than this, but it still dominates with an old world economy, one ill-suited to serve the true needs of our interconnected world. It has opened the doors to greater communication and connection yet it lacks selflessness—keep in mind that this true new world family does not discriminate. Tribalism, filial piety, paternalism, self-interest, must all be revisioned away from the bindings of specialness and entitlement if we are to truly evolve.

We all belong to the new family tree of energy and transformation... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
We all belong to the new family tree of energy and transformation…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Decisions and actions must flow from the place of right action to serve the true needs of our real family, our world family. Decisions that serve the self or one’s own family interests to the detriment of others is an old world order that literally poisons the environment and melts the polar ice caps. This old world order is slipping away because it is not sustainable—don’t be fooled by the bravado of those who tout its sustainability, it’s simply the last stand before the inevitable fall.

The call to change and evolve is not about fighting the old world, it’s about staking a personal claim in the new world. Every decision we make and every action we take determines which world we live in. The new world is still a world of family, but it’s a one-world family. This is one of the worlds that Carlos Castaneda’s shamanic process of recapitulation allows us to join. Through the deep process of erasing personal history we offer ourselves the possibility of new life, as, in shedding the old world of self, we naturally experience our interconnected oneness; the new one-world family.

When we turn off the water, decide to walk, refuse to invest in profitable but destructive stocks, charge a fair fee, are guided by our hearts and synchronicities, eat local and real; when we give service without discrimination as we are energetically able, and as is energetically appropriate to those who cross our paths, we assume our rightful place as full citizens in our brave new world; a world where no one is more important than anyone else. As a steward of the Hierophant in our time, I offer this message: family does matter—the one-world family!

From the new world,

In loving memory of Pete Seeger, the man who gave so selflessly and tirelessly that we might all join this new one-world family.

A Day in a Life: A Brush With Vibrancy

In honor of one of the greatest troubadours... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
In honor of one of the greatest troubadours…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

I grew up not far from Beacon, New York, the home of Pete Seeger. My dad would point out a certain road leading up the mountainside whenever we passed it. “That’s where Pete Seeger lives,” he’d say. I knew who Pete Seeger was. Somehow, I’d always known. I knew he was an activist and a pacifist, but most of all a musician.

When I got my first job at 16, working as a chambermaid, as they called it back then, at the newly constructed Holiday Inn in Fishkill, Pete Seeger was often a topic of conversation among the maids there, most of whom were from Beacon. He seemed to stir ire, and there were many times when I could not grasp how one person could stir such anger in others, nor how people could hate so vehemently someone they had never met. “But he’s a good person, he just wants fairness for all,” I’d say, in my attempts to convince the opposing side. It was my first exposure to virulent hatred for someone who was different, who saw the world in a different way and was not afraid to speak out about it. He thought for himself and acted on it and that, I knew, was good.

Beacon was also where the dentist was, Alp’s Sweet Shop, and Schoonmaker’s Department Store. There was a ferry that took you over to Newburgh on the other side of the Hudson River, which I believe has once again resumed service. We’d ride that ferry pretty often, summer and winter. My dad would take us across, just for an outing. In the winter, we’d huddle outside against the bitter wind watching the hull break through the ice, heading to the Western bank of the river to shop at a big department store I can’t remember the name of; we’d get our shoes there.

Beacon was the home of Matteawan. At the time I was growing up it was a prison for the criminally insane. We could hear the honking siren from our house 15 or so miles away, screaming out a warning of escape. It was a time to lock your doors and windows until you heard the siren again, letting you know they’d found the escapee. Beacon had been a bustling, prosperous city of hat factories, but by the 1950s it was pretty run down, a place known for its rough side, the kids at the high school notoriously unruly. Beacon was where the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Inc., founded by Pete and Toshi Seeger, had its home and the boat would often dock there. It’s where you caught the train to go into New York City and beyond. The station is right alongside the river, overlooking a small park and the murky Hudson River.

I was standing on the crowded train platform one day, in my early twenties, heading back into the city. It was a hot summer day. A damp and smelly tunnel led under the tracks. A young woman came and stood next to me. She waved back to a small group of people standing across the parking lot, next to where the Clearwater was docked. A car drove up and a man got out. He quickly walked over to the tunnel that led to the train platform. Suddenly he was standing next to me too, a tall and lanky man with thinning hair, a big glowing smile on his face. He’d gotten there just in time to say goodbye to, I assumed, his daughter. It was Pete Seeger.

I couldn’t help but listen to their conversation. He was so loving, a concerned parent. Did she have everything, enough money, food? “Call us when you get there,” he said, the words kind of jumping out of him. The conversation was of mundane topics but the energy that the two of them exuded was anything but mundane. They vibrated! They looked directly into each other’s eyes and I felt how much they loved each other, how intensely they knew and understood each other at the deepest level, how close a family they were.

Vibrant energy is inside us all, just waiting to leap out! - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Vibrant energy is inside us all,
just waiting to leap out!
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

The energy between the two of them vibrated so palpably that it flowed right out and filled the air around them. Standing so close I could not but feel it too. I suddenly understood what being alive meant, what loving another being felt like, what being focused and committed meant. I understood how Pete Seeger could captivate an audience and lead a march. His energy leapt out of him much like his words did and it was almost overwhelming.

I perceived Pete and his daughter as joyous people, so happy and full of life. I felt how unafraid they were to be themselves. It was invigorating and inspiring just standing in their presence, feeling their vibrancy, and yet at the same time I felt my own fears, how they controlled and ruled me. I felt how I wanted to be like them, full of so much life that I vibrated in the same fearless manner.

The train pulled into the station and we got on. Pete stood on the platform waving to his daughter as the train pulled out. I felt like he was waving to me too, like he was really waving to all of us, and so I lifted my hand and waved back. He stood there smiling big, his face aglow with the vibrancy of a spirit that had so much to give. A humble man in worn jeans and an old short-sleeved plaid shirt, no one special, just Pete Seeger.

This memory came to me as I thought about Pete Seeger when I heard of his death the other day, and in honor of his passing, I pass it along. That day on the train platform something stirred deeply within, something that would take me years to fully release. And yet, here I am feeling quite alive and glowing myself, having dared myself to think differently and act differently, to confront those fears that at one time kept me so frightened and closed, so quiet and unable to speak or act on my own behalf. It was my personal journey of healing that awakened my own energetic vibrancy, vibrancy that we all have within us.

Thank you, Pete Seeger, for 94 years of sharing your energy! It was nice to brush up against your vibrancy,

Readers of Infinity: Transitional Companions

What is it that we fear so much? As we transition through our darkness there is always light! - Photo by Jan Ketchel
What is it that we fear so much?
As we transition through our darkness there is always light!
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Here is a channeled message from Jan and Jeanne. We hope that you will find this new audio format acceptable. We ask you to change with us, as we challenge ourselves to change. As a listener rather than a reader, there is the possibility of having a different experience, just as there is a different experience happening for the channeler. Each time you listen you might hear something new, something that you didn’t hear the last time you listened. You might also hear the fire crackling in the wood stove on this chilly morning! We hope these words offer helpful guidance as you go through the week ahead. Thanks for listening!

Chuck’s Place: Screens & Screams

What might we experience if we were to turn off our screens? - Photo by Jan Ketchel
What might we experience if we were to turn off our screens?
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Brilliantly conceived, chillingly real, Her is a movie that captures the virtual world we are rapidly opting to evolve into. This modern day anthropomorphism of the machine takes us beyond the malevolent antagonists of 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Matrix into the essence of relationship itself, albeit between a human being and a computer operating system.

An astute observer pointed out to me that the evolutionary challenge presented to the central human character by the computer operating system in this movie was identical to the challenge Jeanne posed to me when she left this world: Could I stay connected to a being whose fullness far transcended the confines of our relationship in this world? Was I prepared to let go of familiarity and possession? This challenge indeed cuts to the heart of our evolutionary readiness, however, there are far more basic challenges that must be addressed before we are ready for that giant leap.

Having paid homage to our virtual brinksmanship with screens, we must not ignore the screams of our abandoned primordial selves. Scott Stossel, in his article about his lifelong anxiety in the current issue of The Atlantic, reveals the screams of his own two million-year-old being who, Jung pointed out, resides within each member of the human race. This ancient being has no interest in screens and hardly feels at home in this world of modernity. This ancient being rejects crowds, to say nothing of speaking before them. This being is terrified of the dark, well aware of the dangers that lurk in the night. This being is deeply affected by nature’s moods, be they storms, cold, or absence of sunlight. This being likes to hibernate.

This ancient being is full of passion that seeks expression, but feels imprisoned by reason and shame. This being seeks to establish its true place in the world, based on personal power beyond the dictates of democracy and political correctness. This being seeks physical warmth and closeness with flesh and blood human beings; damn those screens!

This two million-year-old being learned much in the way of transforming primal energies to fit the needs of all stages of the life cycle through rituals and rites of passage. In our insatiable lust for screens we have lost access to the wisdom of our two million-year-old selves, but hardly have we lost our deepest of human needs.

What might we discover if we were to go down into our darkness? - Photo by Jan Ketchel
What might we discover if we were to go down into our darkness?
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

The I Ching, in hexagram #48, The Well, sagely advises: “We must go down to the very foundations of life. For any merely superficial ordering of life that leaves its deepest needs unsatisfied is as ineffectual as if no attempt at order had ever been made.”

The screams of our deepest needs call us to turn off our screens and face the true needs and true fears of our primordial selves without judgment. We are asked to accept our truths with humility, to not cover poverty with empty pretense. Acceptance with humility of the truths of our most vulnerable selves links us with the support and wisdom of our two million-year-old being, our real operating system.

In true relationship with this rich self, we are sure to be able to let go of our human desire for familiarity and possessiveness—as Jeanne challenged me with—free to take our own journey in infinity, in fulfillment, wherever we land.

From my two million-year-old self,

A Day in a Life: Beginning

Angry! - Photo by Jan Ketchel
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

A man was angry all the time. He drank every night to numb his anger. He wanted to change so he decided to meditate. His intent set, he got up early in the morning, took a shower and sat at his desk. Before long his consciousness left his body, taking him out of his apartment and the city he lived in. It withdrew further and further from the earth. Soon he was in outer space looking down at the world, seeing it in its entirety as his awareness expanded and expanded. He entered infinity and experienced the endlessness of it and the knowledge that he was part of it all, that all life was energetically connected and infinite. When he returned to his body he was a changed man, his perception of life and the world transformed forever. Even so, he knew that in order to hold onto what he had learned, to keep experiencing himself as infinite, he had to shed his anger. Even though he had experienced the light, he knew he still had to face the darkness within.

Not everyone has such an experience when they sit down to meditate for the very first time, but many meditators eventually have this same kind of experience, the experience of the self as energy, interconnected to and a part of all energy. During such experiences the issues of the self pale in comparison to the ecstatic experience. If we are to truly evolve, however, the angry man was right; we must face our darkness.

Last night I dreamed. I was traveling on a train beside the ocean. There was a voice speaking throughout the dream, instructing, chanting a calming mantra, saying that meditation must happen all the time. From the train window I could see a small island with a Greek style temple on it not too far from the coast. I could see that it was possible to get there and I desired to go, but each time I saw the temple the ocean was churning up gigantic waves, fierce and threatening. Many times throughout the night I rode this train. The scenario was always the same. I’d hear the voiceover, see the temple and wish to be on it, notice the dark and threatening waves impossible to traverse. I’d get off the train and enter a large hotel where a gathering was taking place. A lot of people were there, walking around, keeping their energy to themselves, not talking or interacting. Everyone was meditating where they were. I did the same. Outside the vast windows of the hotel I could see the churning ocean and the temple on the island. The voiceover still said the same thing, “Meditate all the time.”

When I woke up, I knew that the message in the dream was that in order to get to the temple we must endure the struggles that we are faced with, the darkness within—the churning ocean. Just like the angry man who wished to change, deep inner work is necessary in order to attain and maintain the transcendent experience—the temple.

During my recapitulation this was exactly what I learned. In spite of the most amazing experiences that literally cracked through reality and presented me with the most stunning view of my life and the world, I knew I still had to face my deepest secrets and challenges if I was to have full access to my energetic self and be able to actually live as the changed being I was working so hard to become. Having a deep and meaningful spiritual practice was as important as doing my recapitulation and, in fact, became the perfect companion to the shamanic work I was doing. It was essential to the entire process.

I am eating… I am only eating… - Photo by Jan Ketchel
I am eating… I am only eating…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

The true work of recapitulation is reconciliation with the fragments of self, healing the wounds of life, and even lifetimes, so that the true self, the spirit, may finally take its rightful place as the true self in the world. The goal of my recapitulation was to find the means to live from my deeply spiritual self all the time. I could only do that by giving that spiritual self a practice that was as deeply meaningful as the recapitulation. And so, my lifelong practices of yoga and meditation deepened as a result, becoming the prefect companions to my shamanic work.

I encourage everyone to develop a spiritual practice. If you desire to fully experience and embrace your spiritual self, to live as a changed being, from that place of deepest truth, then a spiritual practice is imperative. A spiritual practice will accompany you through life, bringing you constantly back to experiences of yourself as an energetic being, bringing fulfillment of our deepest interconnectedness. (In fact, if everyone was doing a deep spiritual practice all the time our world would surely change, but that’s another blog!) Meditation, as instructed in my dream, can be done all the time. It’s simple and everyone can do it. It doesn’t take equipment or a gym pass. It only takes mindfulness.

For instance, right now I am sitting and writing this blog, but I am also meditating. I am writing; I am only writing. I am mindfully focused only on writing and honing the message of this blog. When I get up, I will focus on getting up. Perhaps I will say: “I am getting up now. I am walking away from my computer. I am breathing. I am walking.”

These are mindful messages to the self that cancel out the constant thoughts that circulate and defeat us. At the same time that I am doing this mindful thought-erasing activity, I am also mindful that at another time I will examine those other thoughts. I will find out where they come from, how they came into my head, who said them to me, and why I still carry them. I will face what is dark and disturbing within myself, mindfully, just as I mindfully remain present in my daily life, focusing on everything I do throughout the day. To have peace of mind, I must constantly and mindfully work on myself. But to remain a balanced and present being, sometimes it’s appropriate to have a calm mind, and at other times it’s appropriate to pay attention to the mind and confront our issues and thoughts. As our mindfulness practice grows we become better able to manage our minds and maturely handle what comes to challenge us.

I am drinking tea… I am only drinking tea… - Photo by Jan Ketchel
I am drinking tea…
I am only drinking tea…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

A practice of mindful meditation is the perfect way to gain balance. To periodically shift our thoughts away from negativity, we simply state what we are doing, over and over again. As the voice in my dream said to me during the night: we can meditate all the time. We might say: I am sitting at my desk working now. I am eating now. I am reading now. I am driving now. I am walking now. I put my foot down, I breathe and I walk, one step at a time, mindfully. I am walking.

A mindfulness practice offers the opportunity to gain balance and calmness even in the midst of turmoil. If we do it often enough, we eventually do it without even thinking. We can turn off bad thoughts by introducing mindful thoughts.

I am good. I am writing. I am breathing. I am love. I am sending you love.

In mindfulness,