Tag Archives: archetypes

Chuck’s Place: Father, Mother & The Road to Maturity

The Archetypes as they might appear…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Father’s sperm sows Mother’s egg. Mother’s body fleshes out Father’s spirit. All human life issues from this primal happening. The basic archetypes of mother and father traverse the full breadth of human life, from creator to created to beloved.

Children first encounter these powerful building blocks of human life in their personal parents who generate, sustain, and protect their lives. Freud enshrined this primal nursery scene of dependence and love upon omnipotent parents as the core playing field of life, such was his conviction of the immutable powers and attraction of one’s family of origin.

Jung went on to demonstrate how the mother and father archetypes are projected beyond parents onto gods, the sun and the moon, kings and queens, presidents, authority figures, friends, lovers and spouses. As children grow, the numinous energy of the mother and father archetypes extend into encounters with people and objects in the world beyond the family crucible.

With the dawning of adolescence and the emergence of sexuality young people begin to experience desires and compulsions that generate fixations of falling in love. The object of these projections, the one wanted, is imbued with the numinous energy and need that harkens back to the primal archetypes of life: Mother and Father.

This numinous energy projected upon a desired other may be experienced as ecstatic bliss, terror, anxiety, paralysis or even aggression, the drive to conquer that which feels too powerful. Way beyond adolescence we may still tremble at making contact or feeling worthy enough to approach the one who embodies the god/goddess energy of these projections.

In ancient times rights of initiation to facilitate an individual’s ability to mature into an adult capable of making contact with a coveted other were commonplace. The Dionysian Mysteries of Ancient Greece and Rome were just one of the many cults serving this function.

In our modern rational world, we no longer value the transformative power nor the necessity of formal initiation rites to facilitate the maturity needed to take on the deeper challenges of meeting and fully connecting with a blessed other. The task of initiation in the modern world takes place in the inner sanctuary of the human psyche and body, often through the guidance and support of a knowledgeable therapist.

The call to initiation is frequently encountered in the anxiety, terror, longing, and excitement—all numinous energy—of a potential relationship. The stages of the initiation process are directed by the problems encountered in approaching a relationship.

Often, the first problem is the power of the projection itself. The desired other may be experienced as a god or goddess whose glow is so powerful that you feel unable to actually look directly into the solar rays experienced as emanating from this human form. Perhaps the heart pounds so hard it can be heard out loud; perhaps the vocal cords seize up, unable to make a sound. These are the presenting problems.

Perhaps this desired person appears in a dream with a loving, welcoming smile and you are drawn into sensuous embrace. Upon awakening you feel warmed, in a state of grace. Perhaps you spend the day immersed in the communion of the dream-memory, generating more and more fantasies of delight. Perhaps this secret romance goes on for weeks, a love affair with an inner god/goddess image in your private world of fantasy.

Suddenly, one night, this dream lover may appear in a new dream with another date. You are no longer desired! The impact: devastation and depression.

What is the lesson here from the god/goddess?

Perhaps you have been lured into the trap of feeling entitled to own this living figure whom you have enslaved in fantasy to attend to your sensual desires. Perhaps the god/goddess is teaching that this is infantile behavior, an adult expecting the one-sided attention appropriate only in the nursery.

Furthermore, the god/goddess may also be pointing out that nothing has really been achieved, as no real or substantial contact has been made with the human being so powerfully pined for.

Another dream may then issue forth that signals you to be a hero, to cross a raging river despite the odds. The prompting of such a dream might be challenging you to be your own hero, to shield your eyes from the overpowering projection of the god/goddess and actually make small talk with the real human person of interest, to go beyond your comfort zone and put it out there.

And so, the initiation proceeds with the waking task to approach the desired one, as well as the private task to cease indulging in infantile fantasy and face the reality that genuine contact with a human being requires getting to know them, in a down-to-earth way.

The various tasks of initiation are many sided and are determined by the specific needs of each individual unique personality. The temples of initiation are alive and active within our own inner beings. We encounter the gods and goddesses of those temples in many of our human relationships.

If we remain uninitiated we will experience ourselves as children, still needing the sustenance and protection of others. This returns us to the vicissitudes of Freud’s Oedipus complex, projected onto our adult relationships, which will continue to present us with all kinds of challenges.

Best to take up the journey of adulthood, launched successfully by an active engagement of ego with the vicissitudes of the primal archetypes that guide us all on the road to maturity.

That’s what it’s all about, folks!


A blog by Chuck Ketchel, a man of knowledge; one who knows that he doesn’t know

Chuck’s Place: Letting Grow

When it’s time to leave the nest, it’s time to leave the nest! In this respect our ancient ancestors, much closer to inner nature’s wisdom, obeyed two major rules: the incest taboo and puberty initiation rites.

This handsome dude is off to make it on his own…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

The incest taboo is nearly universal in our species. Perhaps its most important function is to create a limited situation that forces the child to leave home and grow up. If the option remained available to have all needs met at home, including sexual needs, a regressive potential in humans to stay in the family home, safe and satiated, would clearly result! The human animal must leave home to mature.

The puberty rites of our ancient ancestors survive mostly on a symbolic level today, in religious traditions such as confirmation and bar/bat mitzvahs. The difference between ancient initiation rites and those practiced today is that our modern practices end with the newly initiated continuing to remain in the family home as children, cared for by parents. In ancient times children returned to their villages as adults, often never to return to their family home, in many situations never to speak with their parents again. These children really became adults. The community recognized, treated and expected them to be adults.

Our modern world, with its lengthy process of education, often extending into the late 20s and early 30s, dissociates young people from nature’s deepest push to become independent citizens truly capable of standing on their own. Furthermore, with such emphasis on family ties and closeness throughout life, emotional ties are encouraged to deepen within the family, dampening truly independent maturity and self-sufficiency out in the world.

Letting go is painful, both for parents and children. Parents must suffer the terror that their children might get hurt or not be able to hold their own in the world. The guilt and fear that they didn’t do enough or did things wrong can be overwhelming, yet when it’s time for the children to go parents must be able to close the door and suffer the separation.

Children too must face life out in the world on their own, learning how things work through trial and error, for truly very few people navigate life unscathed. With our modern cultures so devoid of true initiation rites young people seek all sorts of self-imposed initiations. The tattoos and piercings so prominent in our modern world are such self-imposed surface symbols of initiation, images born from deep within the child’s own psyche of ancient practices now manifesting as mere outer stylings. Often young people go deep into the challenges of addiction, also reminiscent of the fierce challenge of ancient puberty rites, which sometimes ended in death.

Sometimes children find themselves arrested for drug related crimes, resulting in imprisonment, a situation that forces both child and parent to be initiated into a world where there can be no parental savior, where the young person is challenged to survive on his or her own inner resources on the road to separation and adulthood.

In my personal experience, the underlying loving connection and parental protection that I bestowed upon my children may have contributed to both of my sons challenging themselves with every parent’s greatest terror, heroin and crystal meth. It took years of rescuing, countless near-misses with death, and plenty of emotional exhaustion for me to finally cut the cord and let nature take its course.

With one son, I had no contact for three years. We are connected again; the addiction has passed and love indeed survives, but the separation truly was an initiation rite. I suffered inordinate amounts of pain but never backtracked, regardless of the fact that each moment might have been my son’s last.

What has emerged is a mature adult who stands on his own. I notice that we meet now as if we shared no past. There is no sentimentality of childhood. We meet as equal adults, beings who barely know each other. The emotional attachment of parent to child has transformed; it has completely evolved into mature love.

We cannot get away from nature’s archetypes. Eventually they will play out in some form of modern drama, even as we humans continue to ignore and confound our own deepest nature. Perhaps we will find our way back to the ancient imperatives within us, to new puberty rites that are better suited to our times. The whole issue around addiction might lose its grip if we truly submit to initiation by nature’s design.

Really letting grow ultimately means releasing all of our attachments in this world. If we can’t let everything go when we die, we sow the seeds of karma, because how can life proceed into new journeys if we refuse to let go and move on? Not an easy life challenge, but it must be why we are really here in Earth School, to love, to attach, and to allow love to mature and transform when it is time to grow and move on.

Honor thy parents, teach your children well, let go and let grow,


Chuck’s Place: The Great Ego Reformation

The birth of “I,” nature’s seedling of evolutionary advance, finds itself now on the brink of a great correction, the positive outcome of destruction. And what is it that needs reformation in nature’s great experiment, the ego? The answer lies in its reorientation.

Time to return to the Tao... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Time to return to the Tao…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Ego had its traumatic birth as it was cast from the Garden to find its own way. Estranged from the immediate guidance of the great archetypes—instinctual ways of successfully living through millennia—it was forced instead to chart its own course, a mighty tall order indeed for such an inexperienced infant.

Ego, in its infancy, has no choice but to inflate itself: “I can handle this. I am equal to the situation. I can figure out a better way.” These were the attitudes ego had access to, lacking the old automatic connection to all-knowing nature. Ego had to pretend or, with science, definitively believe that it could unlock and direct the mysteries and treasures of nature to better advantage. How better illustrated is the culmination of this ego inflation than the party of little Nero’s we see strutting their stuff in the current political circus? Unfortunately they only mirror the true state of the collective world ego that tends to project its shadow onto those who willingly parade as fools.

We all share in this ego dilemma and this is our advantage: as within, so without. We, each and every one of us, share in this inflated ego dilemma and, therefore, are all equally able to participate in the great ego reformation that will accompany our deeply transforming planet into new life.

So what is needed for this reformation?

We may be the “brains” of the planet, but we certainly have not acted with much intelligence. Our orientation has primarily been narcissistic and dissociated; narcissistic in our tribal self-centeredness and dissociated from the greater body that supports us: Planet Earth.

As the brains of the operation, we must first re-associate with the rest of the greater physical body of earth and accept that we are in and part of that body. The Hindus and the shamans agree: until we die, our subtle energy body—the brain or spirit—is inseparable from the physical body. Though we certainly can journey beyond the body while in this life, it is only in death that we truly do part. Consequently, our intelligence must be focused on the needs of the body, individual and worldly, while we are here. Actions and decisions must be in conformity with the true needs of the body and not separate from it.

This is the essence of Taoism: actions that flow with the natural course of the river. Spirited attempts to change the course of a river for private enterprise violate the needs of the greater whole and represent the actions of an inflated, dissociated ego.

In the river of Tao... as within, so without - Photo by Jan Ketchel
In the river of Tao… as within, so without
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Reconnection to the deepest rivers of the archetypes—the instinctual ways—ready to once again serve the true needs of the greater, full Self, is the new orientation that collective ego is flowing towards, albeit through Mother Earth’s initiation of environmental upheaval. Surrendering to the truth is the only intelligent option, and it is the option survival is moving us towards.

We are all participants in this great ego reformation every day, in every decision we make. This is true democracy. Every life counts, every decision counts. Every right action, however minute, accrues in the world bank of survival and transformation. All donations greatly appreciated.

On my way to the bank,

Chuck’s Place: Puer Times

Skeletal underpinnings of dark and light... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Skeletal underpinnings of dark and light…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Deep in the background of our psychic being lies the archetype of Puer Aeternus, literally translated, eternal youth. Archetypes are the skeletal underpinnings of our psychic life. Puer is the archetype of Spring, of redemption, of new life freely flowing and flourishing. This archetype is the adolescence of our lives, young energy seeking to expand its wings into deep and meaningful life, but it also instigates the breakdown and dissolution of old attitudes that must be released to allow new life to take root.

On the shadow side, the Puer archetype can refuse to grow up, to embody. This is the man or woman who can never commit—always seeking someone or something new that captures the eternity of youth and, once it has captured it, escapes, refusing to get old, insisting always on staying open to new, fresh possibility.

Dionysus is a Puer god; wine, women, and dance are his elements. On the one hand, wine opens a direct channel to communion with God in the Catholic mass. On the other hand, remaining immersed in this magical solution prevents ever planting one’s feet solidly in an embodied life in this world. Icarus, though not a god, was a Puer who insisted on flying higher and higher toward the sun, ignoring his wax wings, thereby melting them and falling to his death. Here the Puer inflates so far above earthly reality that his only salvation lies in the death of his hubris, the seed of his redemption.

We live in Puer times because our world desperately seeks renewal. At the same time, we have gone out of balance and tipped over into the dark side of this archetype now. We have regressed into an infantile Puer, failing to promote new life, even proper care of the planet that provides and sustains life. This Puer partakes greedily of life, to the detriment of all of life.

In our times, we see the Puer in the high times of addiction. Like Icarus, the addict seeks the highest transcendence beyond embodiment in search of the key to earthly failure. Unfortunately for many addicts, they share the fate of Icarus, falling hopelessly to their deaths, redeeming neither themselves nor the world.

Beyond the addiction to substance, the world seeks transcendence in fantasy—Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens to the highest movie reception ever. Political races are now MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) competitions where we root, like Romans in the Coliseum, for our favorite gladiator to score and finish off the opponents.

We are all in search of the redeemer. What hero will emerge to save the world?

Nature in the throes of change... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Nature in the throes of change…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

As we pass through the Solstice now—nature’s promise of new light and life, and the Christian myth with the birth of its Redeemer having sprung from this deeper archetype of new life—we are asked to face the time of darkness with deep patience. As I suggested last week, we, all of us, are in Gaia’s womb now, as the world undergoes massive transformation.

Would that we could forestall the destruction that befalls us, but humankind’s power of decision making outpaced its respect for its true origins, Nature itself. Nature birthed consciousness to better and more efficiently advance the course of evolution. We have taken the reins but treated Nature as a disposable slave. And so Nature is calling in her experiment, and reshaping its ways. It’s the only way.

The Puer, that in actuality is our immature world ego, is suffering its own death and resurrection as Nature moves us toward a renewal of life. We, all of us, are the redeemers who, shaken from our hubris, will embody new mature life that furthers the true needs of survival and evolution.

I celebrate the acceleration of change in the times we live in. We are indeed on a cosmic ride of deliverance. I celebrate love as the energy and guiding motif of our renewed world.

Learn to relax on the roller coaster, it’s just a ride.

Merry Everything,


Chuck’s Place: Human Maturity Through Archetypal Encounter

My dear friend Michael Gellert proposed, in his book Modern Mysticism, that Jung’s revolutionary mapping of the psyche was the equivalent of a Copernican revelation of the true nature of the Self. Whereas Freud had mapped a psyche where the unconscious revolved around the ego as its “sun,” Jung placed the ego and the archetypes as planets that revolve around the much greater Self or Soul. Thus in Jung’s cosmology the ego, though a valid planet with consciousness, was nonetheless only one of many planets in the solar system of the Self.

Who knows what you might find in the solar system of the Self... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Who knows what you might find in the solar system of the Self…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Building upon this cosmology, I would place the entire solar system of the Self—ego and archetypes—as the province of the energy body, that which gives access to the infinite part of the Self in the astral world and beyond. After all, the physical body is but a temporary appendage to the energy body, shed at the moment of its death.

The archetypes that revolve around the Self, in company with the ego, are personalities in their own rights, bringing both havoc and ecstasy to the experiences of the ego. When we identify our experiences as “powerful moods” or “overwhelming compulsions;” when we are “beside ourself;” when we feel “a part of ourself” or that “something possessed us,” we are acknowledging the experience of a meteoric hit from one of the revolving archetypes that has grazed the shores of planet ego, shaking it up, leaving reverberating waves of passion in its wake.

The simple truth is, we must encounter and grapple with the archetypes—they are part of who we are. They absolutely demand our attention, which means, they must be lived and integrated into our lives. If we refuse them, we become like the dry drunk who bitterly resents his or her shallow, lifeless existence cut off from the living waters of the Self.

The archetypes are the gods and goddesses of ancient peoples, residing in celestial realms. Jung’s psychic model internalizes these higher powers as entities that reside in all of us in the realm of the collective unconscious, in the same astral realm as the energy body, rather than as separate beings outside of the self.

Encountering the energy, power, and influences of the archetypes transforms our human life. The experience of falling in love, for instance, is nothing other than falling under the spell of a god/goddess archetype. Suddenly, we and our beloved shimmer in radiance, in a passionately-centered feeling of wholeness. This is hardly a human relationship. Real relationships take time and tremendous effort to evolve into a true loving connection.

Instant love and passion are the hallmarks of archetypal fairy dust. Nonetheless, encounters with archetypal energies draw us like moths to a flame. We are helpless in our longing for these encounters, through which we feel truly alive. Our challenge is to withstand the compulsions and emotions that enervate our ego states, as we are drawn to encounter our archetypal counterparts again and again.

If we allow those archetypal counterparts to rule us, we set ourselves up to regularly be drowned in a sea of emotions, or driven to passionate behaviors unfitting our real life circumstances. However, if we can hold our own, and learn to channel their energies properly, we are molded to maturity. These are the true rites of passage that will lead us beyond the powerful grasp of the gods and goddesses of the archetypal realm.

We go to our gods and goddesses enthralled,  like the bee to the golden rod... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
We go to our gods and goddesses enthralled, like the bee to the golden rod…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

When a man projects the goddess Aphrodite onto a woman, he is overcome with awe and invariably shudders in the golden glow of her presence. He is indeed challenged to rise above his adolescent boy self and actually communicate with her. This is a step toward maturity. If she responds to his call, he is flooded with the benevolent, loving care he has not known since infancy and oneness with Mother. All needs and desires are met in this light-filled union. That is, until a real need is expressed by his goddess! Then the light goes out and he suddenly awakens to the power and control of the dark side of Mother. The archetypal fit with his goddess lover goes out of synch and he is left in the desert facing a real human woman, perceiving her as needy and demanding.

He has tasted the nectar of the archetypal goddess, which he now feels entitled to seek again elsewhere, as he is drawn to freedom, far from the gallows of commitment. Here, he is once again challenged to mature. Does he run? Or does he remain controlled by the dark side of the Mother archetype, whom he squarely encounters now in the eyes of his lover? Can he stick around and truly become related to his human partner? This is his next challenge of maturity.

To bear the fears, rages, and longings of the archetypes is to allow the ego to grow beyond the dramas and intensities of simply allowing the archetypes to live through us. Yes, we need their instinctive energies, but we must elevate them through our encounters to an integrated higher human level. In the example I have just given, that higher level is real love that partakes of archetypal energy but is grounded in human reality as a true connection with a human partner.

Human maturity requires archetypal encounters, but beware the energies unleashed when under the lure of the archetype. These are the waves that can pull us down and drag us through the sand of the ocean floor, without any certainty as to where we will land. Nonetheless, if we bring consciousness to bear upon the maya, or illusion, of the archetype, we may indeed find the path to maturity and fulfillment.

Outside the drama,