Tag Archives: archetypes

Chuck’s Place: Animal, Ego & Heart

From trunk to heart…
– Photo by Chuck Ketchel

Modern civilization values highly its rational ability to be in control of its animal self. But what happens if a seventeen-year-old teenager drinks too much and the desire body of his human animal self takes charge of his decision making ego and aggressively tries to rape a girl? Should he be held accountable for his behavior?

Most people would say yes. Some would blame alcohol excess, hormones, or the seductive impact of the girl. Few would simply dismiss the encounter.

Our civilization’s approach to reckoning with its animal self, with its powerful instinctual energies, is to expect its mental body, the ego, to keep its animal self in line. This is particularly emphasized at a level of society that values perfection as a major qualification to  become, say, a Supreme Court Judge.

Civilization, as is now clearly being revealed in such highly regarded moral institutions as the United States presidency and the Catholic Church, has quite overinflatedly judged its prowess at containing the impulsive instinctual side of its animal self. Repression or suppression does not transform or raise an instinct to mental obedience, in fact, quite the contrary. The animal, tucked away in the shadows behind a squeaky clean persona, gains in energy and waits for its opportunity to pounce, a frequent occurrence at a college frat party.

As Robert Monroe, in energetic form, recently explained to Jan: “Always the sexual drive is dominant in men, and when present needs to be dealt with.”* Dealing with it in a blackout state is often highly traumatic to the recipient of its fury and can haunt a woman for a lifetime. Is there an alternative way for men to elevate their animal drive to human consideration?

Jung discovered mental programs that attempt to govern our animal impulses and contribute to our humanness, allowing us to rise beyond the nature of our primate relatives. Perhaps the most primary is the incest taboo, which is essentially universal, spanning all peoples on our globe. Though in many cases this innate taboo fails to control men’s sexual drive, it nonetheless has allowed for the stabilization of the family unit as a relatively safe building block for civilization.

Other innate archetypal programs that address the instinctual energies of adolescent males are the initiation/puberty rites of many ancient civilizations that, when properly enacted, result in a real transformation of the irresponsible/dependent child into a respectful mature adult. Modern civilization has either watered down these rituals to the point of meaninglessness or abandoned them altogether, with the result being a preponderance of uninitiated men, inadequate to safely channel their sexual drive.

Effective initiation in our time is largely a solo journey, as our civilization has largely locked the minotaur of its sexual self away in the labyrinth of the repressed unconscious, preferring to project its darkness on the evil other, who should be removed from our borders. This of course allows the real shadow to act out with impunity at the highest levels.

Perhaps the reinstitution of group puberty initiation rites will someday happen in some modern but meaningful form, but for this to happen society will first have to face the true status of men’s beleaguered sexual instinct and be willing to seriously address its  need for transformation and integration into humanness. There are signs of this today in the consciousness raising effect generated by the Me Too movement with its takedown of exploitative men. But it cannot solve the transformative/maturity issue at the crux of the problem, to say nothing of the grey area of human sexual exploration that can hardly be deemed abusive.

Nonetheless, the transparency of Me Too is shining a needed light on the sexual shadow that leads to a more honest reckoning with the massive hidden acting out of men’s inadequately matured sexual instinct. Punishment, however appropriate, will not result in transformation.

Real human maturity requires the heart. Maturity below the heart stops at power and control; truthfully, right where we are now. To rise to the heart, we must advance beyond the compulsive entitlement of our narcissistic instinctual desires. In a country that now sets the standard for the world as me first, instinctual drives are unlikely to rise to the level of combining sexual drive with true human love and consideration for another. We just aren’t there yet.

Nonetheless, the rising feminine, be it in the Me Too movement or in political activism, is being mostly promulgated by the ultimate feminine herself, Gaia, Mother Earth, who is absolutely insisting that mankind take respectful care of her body and come together as an interdependent whole to face the real deficits in human maturity by rising to the true heart of the matter.

Let’s see what happens,

Chuck

*Jan wrote a blog about this encounter on The Recapitulation Diaries Facebook page.

Chuck’s Place: Innate and Spirit Entitlement

In balance… within and without…

All newborn babies turn their heads toward the nipple and make sucking movements. This is an inborn program called the rooting reflex that prepares the baby to procure nourishment in the form of milk from the breast. Jung called these universal inborn mental programs, that orchestrate such necessary adaptation and survival behaviors, archetypes. At nature’s insistence newborns are born with an entitled energy to suckle nurturance from the breast.

Entitlement has its roots in nature itself. The energy that the archetypes are naturally endowed with is the energy of entitlement. When an archetype is activated it is potentiated with powerful energy, the energy of entitlement, that allows it to achieve its fulfillment.

The entitled energy of the hunger instinct fuels our ability to work and accumulate goods, property, and money, allowing us to meet our most primal of needs. This instinct is quite primitive and has its roots in narcissism, with the primary focus given to the satisfaction of the body’s primary survival needs.

As we grow, our narcissistic fixation naturally enlarges to include the family, a unit dedicated to survival as a group. The family carves out its ownership of its living space, not to be transgressed by non-family members without an invitation. The family is poised to accumulate for itself and defend its ownership against the competing needs of others. Thus, there is a legitimate basis for entitlement in human physical existence: survival.

Jung observed that archetypes also give rise to spiritual values in humans. This spirit instinct in human beings often comes to life as a result of sacrifice. The initiation rituals of yesteryear that brutally tore the young from their entitled dependence upon family and sent them off to experiences outside of the known and familiar—the world of mother, father, and extended family—are one example of such sacrifice.

Through the archetype of ritual sacrifice, youth became adults and took on greater responsibility for the group beyond family of origin. Vestiges of theses archetypal strivings are seen today in the stylized piercings, tattoos, and drug adventures of young people seeking to cross the bridge to adulthood through some kind of self-initiated ritual sacrifice.

When spiritual values emerge they signal a maturity that takes into consideration the needs of others, beyond the narcissism of me and mine, awakening an energy of compassion that extends to all living beings. This spirit entitlement employs its energy to consider and care for everything beyond the self. Spirit orientation is in opposition to the hoarding attitude of the narcissistic orientation. Spirit employs its personal energy to care for the greater whole and accepts itself as part of that greater whole. Spirit orientation acts to extend entitlement as a broader human right.

Narcissistic orientation bemoans having to give away that which it needs and wants. Spirit, on the other hand, can tend to neglect, negate, or even denigrate the needs of the physical body, its working vehicle for this life.

I would propose that we are presently in an energetic World War between these two instinctual orientations: body instinct and spirit instinct. The current world leader, our own President, exemplifies entitlement at a very primal level. That is, its inherent right to consider only the needs of itself over the needs of the more inclusive world. The degree of support accorded this leader reflects how accurately he taps into the narcissistic underpinnings of survival at the primal, animal, level in all human beings.

What has given rise to our current state of world affairs is a breakdown in the application of the technology of sacrifice to effect spiritual transformation. At one extreme is a failure of the institutions of the modern world to provide effective rites of initiation at key stages of life. Without these rites many people fail to individuate into true adulthood and thus remain fixated at a child’s level of orientation toward the world, entitled and demanding.

At the other extreme is a total renunciation of the body for the benefit of the spirit. One example is the requirement of celibacy in the Catholic priesthood; sacrifice the lower for the sake of the higher. Though this technology of sacrifice was successful in establishing a life oriented toward altruistic concerns, it has created a tremendous body-shadow backlash. Just look at the incidences of sexual abuse among the ranks of the Catholic priests. The entitlement of the repressed sexual instinct has emerged from hiding, deviously preying upon the young and innocent.

In the political arena we see a similar eruption of repressed primal instinct asserting its entitlement to accumulate resources for itself only, casting out the unfamiliar ‘other’ to fend for itself. This is the shadow of American altruism, bursting forth now with a vengeance.

The determination of this entitlement is expressed in its blatant use of lies, misinformation, and manipulation as a necessary and acceptable means to care for its basic needs. No amount of reason or scientific proof can shake it from its deeply seated conviction that it is entitled to care only for its own needs.

At present the lines are firmly drawn between body and spirit, it’s either one way or the other. There is no room for compromise, as each side is absolutely in touch with their inalienable right of entitlement. And they are both right; we are animals and we are spirits. Perhaps the ultimate solution is encoded in the axiom: as above so below. The needs of the body are as important as the needs of the spirit, the needs of the self are as important as the needs of the planet.

Where might there be adjustments to bring these two into better confluence?  As the Pope laments the abuses of his church he might consider the fact that nuns have probably almost never committed sexual abuse, despite their same commitment to celibacy as their priestly male counterparts. If the technology of celibacy is to be maintained, perhaps nuns should be invited into the priesthood to lead the way.

On an individual level, we are invited to truly tune in to the wants and needs of our animal selves, as well as our spirit’s longing for greater wholeness with the universe. For instance, the practice of sacred sex joins body, spirit, and other, in joy, pleasure, and union at a physical/spiritual level.

On a planetary level, the Earth’s body has taken the lead. We are in the beginnings of massive transformation at a planetary level that will force us to be more in step with the true needs of the Earth’s body and atmosphere. For humans this is a spirit/body reconciliation. Respecting the body of the planet is both a spiritual love, moving beyond just the narcissism of self, as well as a deep connection to the physical: self and planet.

The key to reconciliation of our warring instincts is recognizing the legitimacy of entitlement for both body and spirit. Behind the off-putting extremism of today’s headlines are individuals identified with either one orientation or the other.

Can you outwardly appreciate the one-sidedness of your neighbor, but also its legitimacy, in some form? Can you inwardly recognize the one-sidedness of your own orientation and, yes, validate it in some form too? Can you give value and a place to the opposite side, whether it be body or spirit? That is the way to become an integrated, balanced whole being.

Balancing,

Chuck

Chuck’s Place: Fixation

In contemplative silence we build our well…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

What does it mean when you simply can’t get it out of your head? It might be a thought, a desire, a hunger, a person, an object, or an incident.

The energetic charge of our fixations is experienced as strong emotion and mental perseveration. This is the fire of an activated archetype outwardly projected and inwardly fixated. Some deep need is stirring and we are drawn involuntarily to its projection, the flame of our fixation.

Projection is automatic, that is, unconscious. We don’t choose to project, it happens to us. We are not at fault, for instance, if we are attracted to the wrong person. Attraction happens. Nature is ruthless in pursuit of its aims, in this case, blindly bringing a couple together for union.

Caught in the flame of desire the ego is overwhelmed. The intensity of the energetic charge may at once be both threatening and exciting. After all, archetypes transcend our civilized exterior; they reach down to the primordial core of our being and flood us with bursts of living energy. How do we keep ourselves afloat in such a precarious state?

In the hexagram of The Well, the I Ching makes clear that we all need to partake of the living water that lies beneath the surface of the Earth. The well is the human connection to that living energy below. Humans must build the well. Psychically, the ego is the well. As humans we are charged with building and managing our relationship with our archetypal core, what Jung called the collective unconscious.

In the case of fixation, the ego builds its well through its response to archetypal activation. A hasty reaction may be equivalent to jumping in the well and drowning! An overly suppressive reaction may refuse the bucket that brings up the living water from below.

Often the ego lends its mental manipulative powers, such as through rationalization, to further the aim of the archetype while naively assuming it is doing ‘the right thing’. Only deeply contemplative inner truth will reveal the right action called for.

Often the ego protects itself from rejection and defeat through rationalization turned against the self in some cognitive permutation of unworthiness. Perhaps this is a necessary defense, as the ego hones its ability to regulate the impact of archetypal energy.

We too easily forget that the ego, with its consciousness, is a very recent acquisition for humankind. Before its arrival we shared, with all other animals, life completely directed by archetypes, with no conscious choice available. No wonder we are so flustered when an archetype is activated. How fragile our conscious footing amidst such intensively charged directives!

The ego can choose to bear the tension of the archetype. In recovery programs guidance is given to examine people, places, and things. In early recovery, particularly, the archetypal energetic power of the desired object is respected by avoiding known associations to it. Further, one turns to a trusted sponsor, the program, or a higher power to strengthen one’s resolve to bear the tension vs succumb to habitual addiction.

Spiritual traditions all stress restraint, sacrifice, and detachment as the technology to manage archetypal fixation. Unfortunately, this technology, valuable as it is, does not address the need to fully partake in our humanness while in human form. Yes, we are spirit beings, but we are spirit beings in human bodies with deep archetypal roots in this Earth. We must build our wells to draw our nurturance from that underground river of living energy.

If we can’t bear the tension and either jump into the well or refuse the call we needn’t judge ourselves negatively. All experience accrues, adding to eventual ego enlightenment. When we are ready, when the ego has been sufficiently moulded to be in the truth, we can align our intent with that of the heart, our personal conduit to our higher spirit.

From this place of heart centeredness we know the truth and allow ourselves to be in the Tao. Being in the Tao means knowing that our lives are unfolding to express and fulfill all that we are and that projections are stirrings to find outlets for that fulfillment. However, often projections are simply reflections, not what is actually needed. The heart, in its quiet calm, will tell us the truth.

Aligning with this truth we have the certainty that life will bring to us the real deal. And with that we will be led to draw the water from our living well, our fixations realized in their highest form.

Constructing the well,

Chuck

Chuck’s Place: We Can’t Escape the Archetypes

Archetypes are nature’s prompts to action. In the animal world archetypes are the counterpoint to inertia. When the archetype is activated the target image, goal, and energy for action appear: the sleeping cat suddenly pounces!

Archetypal horse in nature…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Although the human animal shares with all of nature its pre-programmed reactions to life, these archetypal calls to action are often muddled by consciousness, which allows for freedom of choice. As the #MeToo perspective has charged, sexual arousal needn’t result in automatic behavior. Consciousness can restrain, reflect, and negotiate versus simply act out an archetypal impulse.

The archetypes in nature can be opposed and transformed by human consciousness. This evolutionary power of choice is facilitated by the prefrontal lobe hegemony of the human brain, particularly the left brain that organizes what it perceives and experiences into a logical space-time order. This thinking function has the ability to override nature.

The power to act upon its own decisions is associated with the ego, the center of human consciousness. As powerful and advantageous as it may be to oppose nature, it comes at quite a cost. At the level of the brain, the ego tends to dismiss the wisdom and fuller interconnected knowledge of the right brain, the seat of our vaster spirit selves, that perceives and lives outside the confines of space-time in infinity. This greater center of knowing could be and often is a valuable contributor to the ego’s decision making processes.

However, as is quite evident in the time we live, the world ego seems to have reverted to a more primitive #MeOnly perspective that completely dismisses our interconnected reality and chooses to act on its personal survival and needs alone. For many, this is a most satisfying respite from the altruism born of a higher interconnected concern for world survival. For others this is nothing less than a total disintegration of civilization, our collective effort to function cohesively as one world.

Ironically, the world ego is now actually being controlled by deeper archetypal forces that are colluding with the ego in a major world ego inflation. World leaders are emboldened and possessed by their primitive instincts to care only about themselves and their own national interests. What is emerging is a rapid takedown of the morals and principles that have held the world together.

Perhaps this is the result of nature, having been opposed for too long, exacting an exaggerated compensatory reaction to a spirit driven world. Even Obama questions if he came too soon.

The archetypes have destructive sides. Life in space-time begins and ends. Archetypes usher life both in and out.  One only need consider nature’s storms that destroy communities and nations in a heartbeat. This destructive side of archetypal nature is ruling the behavior and decisions of many world leaders at present. Nature is exacting some kind of correction upon the human race under the guise of supporting individualism.

The ego inflation of humankind will likely be leveled by nature’s actual storms and the emotional storms of egos possessed by destructive archetypes. The silver lining to this correction is an evolutionary push to more fully explore and inhabit spirit centered right brain interconnectedness. It’s time for left brain to consider, support, and serve its fuller energetic self, the hard drive of which is centered in the right brain. This is the conjunctio that is necessary as we move forward: left and right brain in complementary communion.

We are the progeny of nature. Nature had long ago decided that it was time to broaden from natural selection and the natural domination of archetypes to allow for more efficient guiding decisions from consciousness. Nature is now correcting for its creation, an inflated ego far too dissociated and negating of its all-knowing inheritance. Destruction will lead to evolved life.

As we move into the future now, we will more deeply inhabit our right brain, with all its interconnected knowing, with our left brain, providing time-space orientation and making decisions based on our true interconnectedness. Now that’s progress: ego and archetype, consciousness and interconnected all-knowing on the same team.

Integrating,

Chuck

Chuck’s Place: Numinous Encounters

Encountering the numinous…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

The heart pounds so hard it must be audible to others. The muscles seize in momentary paralysis. The face flushes, the throat tightens, the breath is halted, the body vibrates. This is divine encounter, a  numinous experience.

A man looks at his partner and is overtaken by the beauty of divine glow. So powerful is this encounter with numinous energy that his humanness is overwhelmed with premature ejaculation.

A woman stands before a large gathering. She is there to perform. Looking out at the crowd she is overtaken by the vastness of presence. She straddles anxiety and dizziness. Is she ready to channel the divine through her instrument? Her first challenge will be to steady her smallness in her numinous encounter with the divine as felt through the bigness of the crowd.

An ordinary dream escalates to a nightmare. Before we are able to awaken we are seized by terror as we are cornered by overwhelming odds. Waking with a start, our sleep is finished for the night. Our numinous encounter with the divine terrible leaves us anxiously counting the minutes till daylight.

As helpful as our rational mind may be in orienting us to ordinary predictable life, reason is no match for the power of the numinous. Until the light of day, awakened by the tremendum of a nightmare, we remain in the grip of the monster.

Similarly, in waking life, no amount of reason can free the afflicted from the power of a compulsion. Compulsion is the energy of the numinous imposing itself upon the smallness of ego. Ego can be coached to refuse compulsion’s will, but it cannot escape the resultant crucifixion by anxiety, the consequence of refusing the will of the compulsion.

The smallness of our ego as it is overtaken by the all-consuming energy of a numinous encounter, bidden or unbidden, is the core challenge of this life. For a child, parents loom as the first numinous encounter with a power greater than themselves.

Freud’s vast contributions on the legacy of these early relations attest to the power of these numinous encounters to control and define a lifetime. How are we ever to discover ourselves if the image or actual person of our parents continues to rule and preoccupy life throughout adulthood?

Jung discovered that the numinous character of these encounters originates in the vastness of the collective unconscious, home of the archetypes. Archetypes are the gods of yesteryear that were formerly projected onto Mt. Olympus or some other heaven. Modern humans have conquered space; the gods are now operating internally through numinous encounters within the self, projected outward onto normal humans experienced as gods and goddesses.

The truth is that we are seekers of numinous encounters. They are the experiences of divine communion that lend ordinary life its luster and meaning. They can be found in an impulsive Tinder hookup. They can be experienced in the elevating music of a rock concert or the Philharmonic. They can be experienced in religious or civil rituals, in the union of marriage or the finality of death. They are certainly the draw of most mind-altering substances.

The energy of the numinous at the human animal level is instinct. Animals become instinctually driven to mate, human animals are no exception. The human spirit elevates an instinctual act into an ethereal one. The act of sex can combine with love in union of body and spirit. The projected archetypes of god and goddess imbue the perception of lovers with spiritual depth and awe.

The human challenge is to engage these heightened energy states with sobriety. For some, the attraction to heightened energy is like a moth drawn to a flame. This is addiction, whether it be to substance, sex, a person or the news. The major challenge in addiction is to find a non self-injurious way to numinous encounter. The dry drunk alternative merely relegates one to addiction to negativity, also a powerful numinous force.

The development of control enables the ego to be nourished and broadened in numinous encounter, but not possessed and taken over by it. We start with the reality that we are small and vulnerable, the numinous is large and powerful. No point in inflating, i.e., “I can handle that.” No, the fact remains that numinous anything is more powerful than the ego. Be humble, but be an adult. If the Queen offers an audience with her numinous energy, be the knight who humbly receives her blessing.

The instinctual fear activated by encounters with numinous energy is a natural reaction to the presence of autonomous power greater than one’s ego. Turning to the body to regulate the inner influx of energy is far more effective than turning to the mental plane for support. The mind is likely to be inundated with thoughts that intensify the fear—no help there. A deep breath is a far greater regulator of numinous encounter than rationality, which is already in an experience outside its league.

Pranayama breathing, biofeedback exercises, and the intent to commune in flowing calm are practical technologies for the ego to practice to facilitate its ability to calm and regulate the central nervous system’s ability to go with the influx of heightened numinous energy.

Ultimately, the ego has no choice but to encounter the numinous. Our world now reflects this reality. The numinous is playing outwardly with abandon in the Gotham City world we are now living in. How the collective ego of humankind handles this encounter is a work in progress.

The playing field within the individual is equally as powerful but on that playing field definite progress can be made. Every individual encounters the numinous. Through suffering the encounter and holding one’s own we are nourished and guided to further our individuation and advance the world.

Dreaming it forward,

Chuck