Tag Archives: Carlos Castaneda

Chuck’s Place: Erasing Personal History

Erasing personal history…
-Illustration © 2023 Jan Ketchel

At one point, Don Juan Matus abruptly threatened the continuation of Carlos Castaneda’s shamanic apprenticeship by challenging him to immediately disengage from all his attachments and habits of daily life, thus erasing personal history, a prime tenet of a shaman’s advancement. For instance, Carlos was encouraged to immediately dissolve a lucrative tie dye tee shirt business partnership, which he did within a few hours.

Erasing personal history means ending the control of an identity, rooted in past associations, that continues to define one’s present life activities and sense of self. When I was in Castaneda’s world, I experienced people taking this insinuation to change to the extreme, completely leaving their daily lives, even changing their names, to free their energy to be employed in a totally new way.

This radical form of dissociation from the past is more a metaphor than a practical and effective form of achieving desired change. As a therapist, or spiritual guide, I approach such an intent for new life through the experience of changing one’s past self, and thereby, altering one’s present and future selves. Changing one’s past self is indeed erasing the hold of one’s personal history.

To change the past self we must fully revisit it. The power of suggestion is extremely powerful and can indeed change the present self, at least temporarily, through the power of dissociation. However, our wholeness requires us to fully associate with ourselves, which requires full acceptance, not dissociation, from our past self, and all it has experienced.

When we encounter our past self we must be willing to feel the fullness of everything it has experienced. This includes its feelings, bodily sensations, and beliefs, particularly around powerful experiences that overwhelmed its capacities and froze its further development.

The presence of the past self’s frozen state is experienced in what is called a trigger. When we are triggered our past self eclipses present self adaptation, as we become locked in our frozen past. Often, we expect others to respect our triggers, controlling their speech and behavior so as to protect us from experiencing the sting of our triggered, unsettled younger self.

Relationships are often tasked to avoid each other’s minefield of triggers. Sometimes this is considered an act of true love. How ironic. For triggers, once resolved, are the gateway to new and fuller love of self and other.

When the present self is fully able to be present to the experience of its past self, we begin to change the past. For one thing, this very act of showing up establishes a new fact of the past: Whatever was experienced in the past no longer has the power to shut one down.

When the present self is fully present for the past self it is also no longer alone. This alters its isolated experience of the past, as the present self becomes a true traveling companion to the past self’s journey.

When the past self relives its frozen moments, it is encouraged to  express its innate reactions that were previously suppressed. Words and agency come on line and metabolize a prior silent scream. The body breaths deeply as it expands beyond its habitual, frozen in time, stance.

In a dream, I am back in an old neighborhood under great siege of winter storm. I am confronted by an intimidating, rageful acquaintance. His threatening silent glare intensifies as his eyes bulge. I force myself to speak, refusing to accept this frozen encounter. A portion of my past self is changed in that moment.

Dreams often present us with dramas that are permutations of our frozen moments. With consciousness we can send our present ego self into dreaming with the intent to act where we were once previously frozen. Ego advance in dreaming generalizes to ego advance in waking life.

Often, the cognitive understanding of frozen moments in time is highly distorted for defensive reasons, or developmentally hampered by the age at which the traumatizing event occurred. The developmentally matured and advanced present self can be extremely helpful in broadening the scope of the past self’s experience by exploring factors unavailable to the younger self. This can considerably alter the past self’s identity, which then contributes a changed foundational stone to the present self’s state of being.

A fully transformed younger self no longer lives in the prison cell of its frozen past. While this in no way erases the facts of its prior experience, the younger self is no longer emotionally or cognitively conditioned by it. Its freed energy is liberated to rejoin its wholeness of being.

Thus, the past becomes fully recovered, resolved and revitalized for new life. The fully matured past self delivers its evolved gift to the present and future of self. This is how to truly erase personal history.


Toltec Wisdom

Don Jose Ruiz really touches on the interconnectedness of Toltec Wisdom, and all wisdom traditions, to the world dream of now. We highly recommend taking some time to listen to Mark Certo’s Interview with him on the Expanding on Consciousness Podcast.

Listen on Apple Podcasts at the link below, or wherever you get your podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/expanding-on-consciousness/id1628153495?i=1000609469850

Don Jose Ruiz, Author of the Fifth Agreement and Teacher of Toltec Traditions— A Mystical Connection to the Infinite Source

“Toltec wisdom is about healing with spirit, and Toltec practitioners serve as an extension of the divine Mother Earth. The fire within is there to protect us from ourselves. Follow that fire. The Toltec of today has evolved as the world has evolved—kept alive not with blind faith repeating traditional beliefs, but by how the world is dreaming right now. There are many challenges to unlearn. Toltec is an ancient common sense where you know the truth. It’s an autopsy on the illusion of today. Don Jose speaks of two types of consciousness: personal consciousness—a personal dream—and impersonal consciousness. A field of interaction includes all life on Earth and all life in the cosmos. “We have the ultimate respect for the ultimate dance of detachment, which dances with the angel of death in the music of life. And from this point, we live with gratitude, not with a fear to hold on and miss everything that is around us.” ” -Expanding on Consciousness

Chuck’s Place: The Way Of The Mandala

The Way…
-Illustration © 2022 Jan Ketchel

The appearance of a penny on the street in a dream is a healing trail marker. Follow that coin! A four-sided rectangle, a box, or simply the number four showing up in waking life, or dream, may be another communication from our High Soul that we are involved with something that furthers our intrinsic unfolding of Self.

The circle and the square, separate or in combination, form a mandala,  the archetype of wholeness. Our individual mandala blueprint, at the core of our Soul, attracts to us the raw material circumstances and relationships needed to fully realize our wholeness in this life. The mandala archetype is the central organizing archetype for all life.

Jung pointed out that the primary atom for all organic life is carbon, whose outermost ring has a valence of four electrons that form the chemical bonds to create the basic building materials of life. Thus, at the material level of existence, the mandala is the central organizing blue print for physical life.

Our inner mandala, operating at the spiritual dimension of our life, accentuates activities we are engaged in, with synchronicities or images of mandalas, as suggested in the dream images mentioned above, when we are heading in the right direction or when we need a course correction in our decisions and behaviors.

Sometimes a broken, messy, round public toilet of a mandala appears in a dream. In this case, we are shown that our path to wholeness requires that we face that which we seek to flush away and be rid of. Our mandala of wholeness forces us to face that which humiliates us, as it refuses to allow us the release of repression. The mandala will insist that we claim and own all of our wholeness, regardless of how bad it smells!

The precursor to the number four, on the number line, is three, which, as a geometric image, forms a triangle. A triangle has integrity but is a volatile energetic force of change, like the Bermuda Triangle.

In the shamanic lineage of Carlos Castaneda, the leader, or Nagual, was always a human being with four energetic compartments, until Carlos came along. Though he was pointed out as the next Nagual, he had only three energetic compartments, foreshadowing the coming of great change for his shamanic line.

In fact, Carlos ended his shamanic line’s traditional transmission of knowledge to simply a new generation of selected leaders and apprentices. Instead, he unwrapped the secret, sacred technologies of his lineage and freely offered them to anyone interested in learning them. In Carlos’ new world, everyone needs to become their own personal shaman, taking the soul retrieval journey of their lifetime.

Carlos correctly read the energy of the need for total transparency as our evolutionary destiny. The days of the witch hunt and the need to hide shamanic knowledge from the Conquistadores has ended. The modern era needs all the sacred knowledge of yesteryear to correctly navigate the profound changes of our time.

Carlos’ decision allowed me access to the practice of recapitulation, with its ancient shamanic roots, as a complement to the use of EMDR in modern psychotherapy in the treatment of PTSD. Carlos, with his energetic configuration of three, freed ancient shamanic wisdom, allowing it to find new manifestations in the healing of our world.

The number three seeks its mandalic completion. The Christian male God triangle of Father, Son and Holy Spirit points to the need for Mary, as Goddess, to square its mandala. The struggle to achieve this configuration, in many spheres, is the story of our time.

The Catholic Feast of the Assumption never granted Mary true Godly status. The best it could do was offer Mary continued existence in physical form in heaven. The masculine gods of our time continue to devalue, control and exploit the feminine.

The feminine, in the energetic manifestation of the energies of Kali and Isis, are agents of change, using nature and climate change to point humanity toward squaring the mandala, with the inclusion of the feminine principles of relatedness and interconnectedness, to restore order and balance to the world.

Masculine and feminine energies are present in all life. Jung called the feminine energetic compartment in men the anima and the masculine energetic compartment in women, the animus . As individuals, we are all tasked with squaring the mandalas within ourselves by integrating these primal masculine and feminine energies within our own psyches into fruitful evolution.

Women can be animus dominated and as devaluing of the feminine as abusive, controlling men. Men can be anima dominated, overwhelmed by moods and resentments that dominate impulsive decisions.

All people are charged to follow the way of the mandala now, as it seeks resolution, inwardly and outwardly, in true integrated wholeness.

Tracking the Mandala,


Chuck’s Place: Sorcery & Crazy Wisdom

Wholeness: engaging the light & the dark…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Carlos Castaneda said that if anyone opened to the energy of the Shamans of Ancient Mexico they would be inundated by their influence. The modern day shamans of his line acknowledge that all their knowledge comes from this ancient heritage; what has changed is their intent in how they use that knowledge.

The ancient shamans coveted power, and their ability to perform such supernatural acts as defying physical death itself, by remaining in physical form, for centuries. The modern shamans saw this intent as binding one to the physicality of the Earth rather than allowing one to move completely into the energy body and evolve into the subtler dimensions upon dying. Freedom to evolve is the intent of these modern-day shamans.

Don Juan Matus was concerned, throughout his mentorship of Carlos, that Carlos’s nature was too infused with the predilection of the ancient shamans. He foresaw that Carlos might become a Nagual partial to the sorcery ways of the ancient shamans. Those shamans trained their apprentices with the full-on ruthlessness of sorcery.

Sorcery has absolutely no morality, nor compassion, in its training manual. Jan’s Recapitulation Diaries document her, at the time, unknown early life apprenticeship with a dark sorcerer of ancient tradition. The training was brutal, yet her survival and recapitulation advanced her to a complete equanimity of consciousness.

Jan’s early life of abuse was the journey with the ancient shamans, whose throw ’em in the deep end predilection was later completed with the modern shaman’s road to freedom via recapitulation. Being shattered is forced psychic awakening; recapitulation leads to psychic wholeness and keen functionality.

Jan’s journey reflects the pervasive journey of our time: incessant trauma. Complex PTSD is the natural human response to the events, human and environmental, of current life upon the planet. Gaia is challenging us now with full-on sorcery, crushing our left brain’s fantasies of control. She expects a total recapitulation, and right action, for us to be ready to retake the helm with integrity.

Sorcery takes no prisoners. Petty tyrants are not fair. To survive, the ego must learn to be a keen observer, taking action only as absolutely necessary and appropriate. Demanding fairness and entitlement from a petty tyrant depletes energy and puts one at risk. Trauma forces entry into to the subtler dimensions, but even there one must not dally in the safety of dissociation. Mindful presence is the necessary ego state of survival.

Mindful presence must be cultivated out of defensive vigilance, which, if unrefined, depletes energy reserves and forestalls the necessary ability to go with the flow. Edy Eger in her memoir, The Choice, documents the impeccability of her mindful presence during her time in Auschwitz. Nonetheless, her journey remains a work in progress, as the full retrieval of her energy from the traumas of her life is still a work in progress.

As long as the sensational and emotional imprints of trauma remain charged in the central nervous system—in the form of triggers—present life remains partially frozen in the past. A fully clear and present life requires the complete experience of everything, and full detachment from everything, that has ever happened to us.

I experienced the modern shamanic side of Carlos Castaneda. The tools he offered are tools of freedom. Recapitulation is the tool of freedom from the trappings of trauma. I did not experience the fully ancient sorcerer side of Carlos that Amy Wallace documents in her memoir, Sorcerer’s Apprentice: My Life With Carlos Castaneda.

I know too many characters from my time in that world to doubt the validity of her journey. The cognitive dissonance between her experience and mine, made me keep her book at bay for years. She documents experiences that are so anathema to everything I stand for, that if Carlos were still in this world I believe he should be imprisoned. 

At the same time, the validity of the tools he passed on have cracked the nut of total healing from PTSD.  Certainly, Carlos ensured, by his extreme polarized ego states, that he would not be venerated beyond this life. The value of his tools are in their utility, not in their association with him.

Buddhism has its own brand of sorcery. Chogyam Trungpa, Tibetan refugee, teacher, scholar, founder of the Shambala Training method and Naropa University, had a similar shadow life to Carlos Castaneda’s. This included sexually abusive and inappropriate behaviors.

Many in the Buddhist world have been so positively impacted by Chogyam’s teachings that they accept the cognitive dissonance of his shadow behavior as “crazy wisdom”, essentially appreciating his sorcery activity as a deeply challenging but valid form of teaching.

As with Carlos, if Chogyam were still alive in this world, he too should be prosecuted for unlawful behavior. Tricksters have their value in teaching but they are not above the laws of this world. At the same time, spiritual advancement requires that we totally accept every experience we have ever had, regardless of how beautiful or horrific it might have been.

Though we may subscribe to the highest level of morality, life itself is amoral. Though rising in the subtler dimensions requires progressively deeper refinements of love, we will not progress on that journey if we cannot accept every experience of our lives with equanimity. If we can’t find our way to love with that which is most horrific, its mastery defines our karmic destiny.

Sorcery and crazy wisdom are indeed expressions of the dark side of the force. Encounters with the dark side are required Earth School courses. Achieving wholeness—the coveted diploma from Earth School—requires that we know and accept everything we have ever done, or that was done to us, with equanimity.

With gratitude to the dark and the light—the wholeness,


Chuck’s Place: Just To Love With A Blank Check

Just to love…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

I was present when Carlos Castaneda stated:  “If you truly want to love, love with a blank check.” For many years I struggled to fully understand what he meant. My assumption was, don’t hold back in your giving; be of complete service, of unlimited support.

He often spoke of the merchant mentality as dominating what humans called love. Love, as a commodity, is traded, with the expectation that one is entitled to a higher, or at least equal yield, for one’s loving investment in another. 

Thus, giving a gift is traded for appreciation. To give of oneself comes with the expectation that one be equally given to now, or certainly at some future date. After all, it’s only fair. Why should I do for you if I get nothing in return? It simply isn’t worth the investment!

Carlos made reference to eden ahbez’s songwriting hit Nature Boy as a journey with love. eden refused to capitalize his assumed name, as to him the only words worth capitalizing were God and Infinity. While living outdoors with his family, under the “L” in Los Angeles, he gave Nat King Cole’s manager the song he had written, Nature Boy, which Cole subsequently recorded with overarching success.

The song ends with these lyrics: “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn,
is just to love and be loved in return.” Carlos pointed out that eden later stated that the song should have ended after ‘just to love’ rather than ‘and be loved in return.’ This captures Carlos’ criteria for love clarified to its purest.

Who, of course, could deny the exhilaration of a true meeting in the mutuality of love, where love simply flows, no walls. That kind of meeting is a genuine experience of love, as it harbors no contract of entitlements. Nonetheless, it is often a fleeting experience, as need and expectation soon enter the playing field, muddying the waters.

Jan reminds me of a time when we were walking in the dark and I stated, “If you’re going to do a good deed, do it in the dark.” When I thought of this the other day, I wondered if perhaps that was what Carlos meant by a blank check—a check filled out to be cashed, but with no reference to the sender.

The merchant of love is the ego. The ego demands recognition, validation, and attention. With these filters, true love can hardly show through. Thus, the technology of the blank check, and the invitation ‘just to love,’ are valuable steps on one’s personal path of heart.

With a blank check,