Tag Archives: family

Chuck’s Place: Participation Mystique vs. Consciousness

The nurse hands you the cup and gives you a suggestion: “Turn on the faucet; it will help you to pee.” The image, the sound of flowing water invites your body to do the same and voilà, you mysteriously participate with nature’s flow, becoming the river that fills the cup.

Black sheep leading…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Human beings are social creatures, Barak Obama reminds David Letterman in a recent interview, they are predisposed to mimic what they are exposed to.

Specifically he cited the different worlds we now live in generated by the algorithm we are drawn to that then plays to us, whether it be through social media or news source. Although people might occupy a shared geographical space they live in separate realities, mystically adhering to and mirroring the prompts of their specific algorithm.

Jung was even more basic. He observed that human beings have barely emerged from their state of animal unconsciousness where perception and action are governed by nature’s inherited programs, the instincts and archetypes. Participation mystique is the governing principle of life at this very limited stage of consciousness. As social beings humans unconsciously construct and participate in life by projecting the basic archetypes of hierarchy, order, and meaning upon their fellow humans and behave accordingly.

For example, as Freud keenly observed, there is a fundamental consistency to family structure that includes the hierarchy of parental authority and sibling birth order, as well as the expectation of need fulfillment unconsciously projected upon different family members. His major discovery, the Oedipus complex, which he considered to be universal, governs the human struggle to wrench one’s inherent primary love attachment from within the family to find fulfillment beyond the nuclear family.

This primacy of the family archetype then extends to life beyond the family where issues of authority, loyalty, need and relationship are riddled with or overshadowed by the same archetypal expectations and experiences first encountered in, and greatly colored by, one’s family experience. This unconscious identity between family members projects itself forward into all significant relationships, obliterating the true identity of the individuals engaged with each other.

Thus, issues of problems with authority reflect experiencing one’s boss as one’s parent. The foundational archetypal relation to parent is transferred to characters in the world-at-large who occupy positions of authority. Our bodies and psyches mystically participate in primal reactions when in interaction with authoritative figures.

Similarly, feelings and beliefs of unworthiness with peers or a potential partner often mirror one’s experience with their primary parental love object in childhood, now transferred to new relationships. Irrespective of the actual social reality, an individual mystically participates with others according to archetypal patterns that generate a worldview and sense of self that may have little truth in actual objective reality.

In effect, participation mystique means that we unconsciously assume roles and react to the world according to innate responses activated by environmental cues just like the body responds to the cue of flowing water and fills the cup.

The world’s human population now struggles with its natural state of participation mystique with the ultimate authority on earth, the United States president. At a profoundly unconscious level all are influenced, like involuntarily peeing in a cup, to mimic the mood, world view and expectations of the United States president.

The Shamans of Ancient Mexico saw the Earth, Gaia, as a sentient being encased in its own cocoon. All life upon the Earth mystically participates as parts of her living cocoon, like a flock of birds automatically flying in prescribed formation.

The human population appears to be the brains of Gaia with the human tribal leader, the United States president, directing the show. The rest of the human population, influenced at the level of participation mystique, follows the leader.

To deviate from participation mystique is to assume consciousness, which has the ability to pause, reflect, and decide upon a course of behavior. This course of action might be the exact opposite of nature’s archetypal promptings. This is the sin of consciousness, the ability to deviate from our inherent psychic laws, the archetypes, that have unconsciously governed life for eons.

Who put us up to consciousness, the ability to think and act freely, separate from the promptings of the natural order, the instincts and archetypes? It appears that nature herself advanced her psyche to the possibility of consciousness to improve  evolutionary efficiency. Rather than wait through eons of natural selection we now have the ability to change the conditions of life on Earth in a heartbeat.

As we can see in our lifetime, this ability to consciously choose our destiny is functioning at a highly immature level. Global warming is a perfect example. I imagine that Gaia scratches her head as to why she allowed consciousness at all, as participation mystique may have managed much better to preserve balance upon the planet. Gaia is now correcting our errors through nature’s storms. How far she will need to go to humble our inflated consciousness remains to be seen.

In psychotherapy, healing requires a combination of consciousness and participation mystique. Consciousness enables us to oppose our automatic instinctual reactions, participation mystique gives us nature’s healing experiences to truly cross the bridge to new life.

When Carl Jung told Bill W’s friend, Roland H., to go and find a religious cure, as he could not cure him of his alcoholism, he was guiding him to tap into the power of nature’s archetypes—a power greater than consciousness—to lift the compulsion of his disease through a participation mystique experience with God. AA is the consequence of his transforming participation mystique experience.

On the other hand, if we follow our sheepish unconscious participation mystique promptings to follow our world tribal leader without consciousness, nature will be compelled to challenge us with a much greater survival scenario that forces consciousness to a more truthful and responsible level. This is the learning curve our world consciousness is currently engaged in.

Participation mystique and consciousness are actually partners in a fulfilling life. Once again the spirit of consciousness must reconcile with its human animal nature, with its unconscious power of participation mystique. May they arrive at the right relationship for the sake of our planet!



Chuck’s Place: Beyond Special

A warm heart indeed!
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

To be special warms the heart; to be special tears us apart. Why this contradiction?

Both Carlos Castaneda and his teacher, don Juan Matus, who’s lineage stemmed directly from the Shamans of Ancient Mexico, taught with both humour and piercing seriousness that the greatest scourge of humankind was the need to be special. They pointed to the internal dialogue we all experience that constantly judges everyone and everything, particularly the self, which is judged as either less than or better than everyone else.

From an adaptive perspective those shamans speculated that our ability to make these rapid judgements serves well our ability to survive as we navigate our predatory world. Less benevolently they point to the lion’s share of personal energy that all humans spend grooming and protecting their self importance. This energy is then lost to the evolving human potential, which to access requires a shutting down of the overarching investment we make in feeling and being judged as special.

And yet, feeling genuinely special is thought to be one of the most necessary prerequisites to feeling worthy enough to be in this world and to feeling secure enough to partake of its bountiful opportunities. Hence, the field of mental health places a premium on  attachment and the quality of care in foundational relationships in childhood.

Unarguably, the quality of attention children receive in childhood places a powerful imprint on the incessant internal dialogue they will repeat to themselves as they form an identity and strategy for living. A neglected child might become the adult whose internal dialogue incessantly reminds them that they are not worthy to live other than to serve the needs of others and that they should be grateful that they are even tolerated by others.

The overly valued child might constantly be reminded by their internal dialogue that they are superior, really of royalty, entitled to the adoration and respect of the mere mortals that surround them.

The Shamans of Ancient Mexico would argue that the true culprit here is the internal dialogue itself that channels our energy into defining and upholding our self importance, good or bad, for the better part of our lives. Rather than focus on challenging the message of the internal dialogue those shamans encourage eliminating the dialogue itself, which then frees our energy to explore our true innate potential, unbiased by the judgements that usually limit our sense of self.

From this perspective there is no advantage to having had a special versus neglected childhood. Either way we are saddled with the limiting judgements that steal away our vital energy for life. The real culprit is the internal dialogue, the true dungeon master of our lives. Rich and poor alike are saddled with the same enslavement. In fact, it could be argued that a neglected childhood may offer the advantage of seeking versus merely indulging in life.

The question of specialness is at the forefront of our current world fixation. Our world leaders express entitlement for their special interests and needs over and above the needs of others. Truthfully, persons of different cultures and religions share the same attachment to their own specialness over the needs of competing or just plain other groups.

Family, the foundation of a society, is perhaps the greatest perpetrator of specialness. “Blood is thicker than water” is the adage that summarizes this fixation of the internal dialogue. The Shamans of Ancient Mexico considered it crucial to break this fixation in order to free the trapped energy spent upholding it, to then have it available to be employed in the full realization of selfhood beyond the border of specialness.

Their methods to achieve this coup may sound severe, but they actually coalesce with the Buddhist practice of detachment. The shamans call their practice “erasing personal history.” The practice is to separate the special significance afforded family and loved ones, merely because of their family ranking and role, as well as to reduce emotional attachments. While not denying any of the truths of these relationships, the goal is to reduce them to the level of all human experiences, all entitlements removed.

Thus if someone has failed me, I fully face my feelings, but by removing the pressure of my entitlement, due to familial bonds, I am freed to see all my family and neighbors equally. A world where all is viewed equally is the template for the world we are evolving into, despite current appearances!

Freedom from the constraint of specialness is the practice that readies us for a world built on true universal love. Override the internal dialogue that creates hierarchy and special groupings with universal compassion for all beings.

Love liberates,


Chuck’s Place: Our Deepest Issues

What are the deepest issues? - Photo by Jan Ketchel
What are the deepest issues?
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Our deepest issues are unrelenting. They appear and reappear at different stages of our lives, often clothed in new costumes, but underneath lie the same issues.

We can recognize that we’ve once again stumbled upon a core issue when we find ourselves leveled, feeling utterly defeated. At such times, it is natural to be overtaken by feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. Our core issue appears insurmountable and we wonder if we’ll ever overcome it in this lifetime!

At such times, we are equally likely to be drawn into the energy field of blame, whether assigning it to self or other. Blame offers a respite from feelings of defeat but offers no real solution to our deepest issues.

Reflecting upon the course and meaning of his life, Carl Jung wrote, “The meaning of my existence is that life has addressed a question to me.”

From Jung’s viewpoint we might turn and view our own deepest issue, our nemesis, as the question that life has addressed to us. Life asks us to take up this question in the form of a core issue, a deeply painful problem, and awaits our answer to that question. Life itself needs the answer to know how to proceed in new directions.

Using myself as an example, I can say that life has asked me very deep questions about the nature of family. My earliest experiences in the womb, as I experienced the violence of my biological father while in a state of oneness with my mother, were to mark and initiate my core challenge as one of confrontation with the ambiguous nature of family. My discovery, at the dawn of adolescence, that but one of the parents who raised me was actually my biological parent taught me that my love for my parents transcended biological origin. By mid-adolescence I was confronted inwardly with the truth that my growing needs could no longer be housed by my family. This led to the painful but necessary decision that the truth was more important than loyalty to family and I had to leave. A few short years later, at the age of nineteen, I married Jeanne, an adopted woman deeply bonded to her adoptive parents, with no connection to her own biological parents. With this union, though we deeply bonded as a unit and created a new family, the challenge continued.

Life presents us all with crosses to bear and insights to gain... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Life presents us all with crosses to bear and insights to gain…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

As a husband I had to let my partner go. As a parent, I’ve had to deal with the serious addiction issues of two sons. These challenges compelled me to make decisions and take actions that to conventional society appeared to defy the unconditional acceptance of family at all costs. I have borne the tension of life and death, as well as rejection, disdain, and not being understood by many as I’ve navigated this path of doing the right thing beyond convention. Doubt is a constant companion when you choose to travel outside the gates of the norm; it’s a solitary path.

I am quite contented with the tension of my solitary path because I know it is the meaning of my life; it’s my answer to the question life has addressed specifically to me.

Jung mused: Were our deepest issues in fact Karma from previous lives? If this be the case, we bring into this life the state of our knowledge accrued from previous life attempts to solve life’s question, renewed again in the circumstances of our current incarnation. Perhaps on a broader scale we carry the Karma of our genetics and must grapple with the failed attempts of our ancestors to solve the questions life addressed to them as well.

Perhaps life simply addresses us with the relevant question needed to solve its stumbling blocks at this stage of the evolution of our species. Perhaps life asks us to find the answers to our survival as we stand on the brink of destruction.

I imagine that our deepest issues embody both personal and impersonal questions, that is, Karmic and ancestral, as well as the evolution of life itself in our time.

At an impersonal dimension, I believe that life has addressed the question of family to all of us, as how we answer this question is critical to our survival, more so than ever. Ancient attachment to family in the form of “blood is thicker than water” has resulted in the blind loyalty to tribalism that is at the epicenter of current world conflict in the Middle East. Here we witness daily a willingness to take down the world in defense of religion and the blood line.

But the Middle East is merely a mirror of a pervasive tribalism that afflicts the entire world in multitudinous forms. Examples include the needs of my country over yours; this is tribalism. The world financial elite is a tribe opposed to the tribe of the 99%. The tribe of Republicans are at war with the tribe of Democrats, no holds barred.

The dominant player in these tribes is loyalty, blind loyalty, over truth. Loyalty to the blood line or to the Club breeds greed, because in that scenario the only thing that matters is me and mine; we alone are entitled.

The light of a new world is trying to break through... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
The light of a new world is trying to break through…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

For life to survive at this juncture in human evolution we must transcend the binding limitations of blind loyalty and open the family to embrace the true needs of our interdependent whole. This isn’t romanticism; this is concrete fact.

These are the answers I’ve come to through deeply suffering the needs of the family that life has challenged me with. If we can all look to our deepest issues as life beckoning us to solve the deepest mysteries and aberrations that we all share, that we all might flourish freed of unsolved problems, perhaps then we can learn to be more loving toward ourselves as we suffer our deepest issues and bring them to resolution. Perhaps then we can all be and embrace the Human Family—our one true family.

Finding meaning,

Quote from Jung: Memories, Dreams, Reflections p. 318

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.

#659 Learning Detachment

Jeanne Marie Ketchel
Channeled by Jan Ketchel

Dear Jeanne,
Today is Monday and we begin a new busy workweek. Although we are still in the middle of winter, spring is in the air. Over the weekend we awoke each morning to the songs of the birds and a small flock of bluebirds came by to inspect the bluebird house we have in our yard. The sun is just beginning to rise as I write this, touching the tree branches with its pink light.

During the night, I dreamed of setting intents and then detaching from them, both for others and then for myself. In my dream, you could purchase and send an intent to the universe regarding another person through Amazon. For instance, you could send intentions for the journey of another, such as intending that they be able to read the signs being offered and aware enough to be able to follow them. Then the sender could purchase their own intent to detach from that person’s choices, to let that person go with the intentions firmly set, but freed of attachment to worry about what the person would do with that intent. It was about being able to fully send another off onto their own journey while also being able to detach one’s own energy from even that intent.

I do know that learning to detach is a very big part of not only doing a recapitulation, but also of life in general, that learning what detachment really means is essential if we are to allow ourselves, and others in our lives, to truly take our personal journeys. Can you talk about the process of detachment again today?

The process of learning what detachment truly means as you progress in life upon that earth is indeed essential. Detachment comes only through experience, through the processes in life that show one how vital and important it really is to step back and allow another to take the journey that they must. However, detachment for self is perhaps the most essential process to accept and allow for. To learn to offer the self protection and private energy, in order to take one’s own journey, may not be easy, especially if one is responsible for many others in life.

It is essential to live your lives as responsible citizens, to make choices and decisions that are caring and mature, that do not leave others behind in the dust, so to speak, until it is time to do so. For there comes a time in every life when choices must be made to move on. In moving on, in making a decision to move on in one’s personal journey, it is inevitable that others may fall behind.

Decisions around family must be made in a mature manner. As your children grow out of your arms, they must discover the world on their own terms. Fully provided by your attention to their growth may they be well prepared for life as adults. Parents must allow their children to take on life, to begin to make choices and to learn what it truly means to be functioning human beings, separate from the parents and the family. Families must allow for the truth of separation and departure, for all must leave the nest.

As you speak of the return of the bluebirds, My Dear Jan, so is this a good example of growth and detachment, as eventually the fledglings will, each year, leave the family nest. The parents, after providing nourishment and housing, will leave the young to discover the world. Using their innate instinctual energy the bluebirds will separate and each take wing to whatever fate awaits. Although the birds do not assign deeper attachment to each other, as humans do, they nonetheless energetically portray valuable traits for comparison.

Their intent each spring is ingrained: to reproduce, to nurture, and then to separate, each bird fully provided and fully ready to take on life. Even though flocks may stay together there is no specialness among the individual birds, all must carry their own weight and follow their instinctual path. Many acts of kindness, and presence of one to another, is still acted out among the bird species, though I express, once again, that specialness of treatment due to family is no longer apparent once the nesting time has been completed. I wish to use this fact as a metaphor for a brief lesson in detachment.

What you are talking about today really ties in with Chuck’s blog on Saturday about the family archetypes and how we all must take our individual journeys.

Yes, the individual journey is what I stress as underlying all of this, for only in realizing the personal journey will one have reason for learning about detachment and be able to offer the self the opportunity to learn what it truly means. Detachment is often misunderstood as neglect or dismissal of another, though this is far from the case. Detachment is in fact the most considerate, compassionate, and loving of actions one can take when one is ready. For in the process of true detachment one has fully understood the meaning of a personal journey; one has fully grasped that each person upon that earth arrives fully loaded with life’s challenges that are ready to be explored and lived in order for that individual to evolve.

If one can arrive at the understanding that life is repeated until the evolutionary track is attained, then one can better understand the need for detachment. If one can gain an understanding of individual energy and the energetic necessities of the individual, as separate from all others, one may attain clarity on the meaning of life as an evolutionary journey. Many times, I have stated that life is a journey, that each person upon that earth has a personal journey to take and that each person has individual challenges that no other can attend to, especially once that person has reached adulthood and often before, depending upon circumstances. Each person has a childhood journey, as well, that is separate from the family, even though the family may be deeply involved. For all upon that earth take an inner journey, known only to that individual, while they simultaneously take the family journey or a collective journey of one sort or another.

Detachment is associated with the journey of the individual. It is a process of taking steps toward owning that individual journey, toward allowing the self to take it, but also to recognizing that all others are offered the same opportunity. All are offered moments of awakening. Although you each may see and recognize your own awakening, do you dare to proceed in the direction of your awakening? Do you see the awakenings others are offered too? And do you wish for them to take the necessary steps of change being shown?

It is quite challenging to take the awakening journey, is it not? All are challenged throughout life to take up the process of individuation. How many times have you personally been challenged? And how many times have you rejected the call? How long did it take before you finally accepted the fact that you would not progress in life until you finally made the move your self, alone, and because it was finally the right road for you to take? How many times do you look upon another with despair at the choices being made? But who truly has made the proper choices at all times? All must stumble through life and learn, in the process, what the meaning of their personal journey is. But how can they do that if they do not take up all the challenges that they must? How can anyone evolve if they do not live out the life they must?

These questions are meant to allow for an understanding of the individual journey as well as the responsibility that each individual has to take that journey. Turn to the self now and ask: Have I truly taken up the challenges of my own personal, individual journey? Am I learning what I must learn about the self, innerly and outerly? Am I taking the deeper journey?

In taking the deeper journey, the ideas of detachment and evolutionary growth will become clearer. But for now, I advise that to allow for detachment to become a familiar idea in everyday life, that you ask the self these simple questions, each day, when necessary: Should I be putting my energy here or there? Is this my journey to take, or is this the responsibility of the other? (Determining self from other is the first step in learning detachment.) Whose journey is this about? Who must take this step? Who is responsible for this action?

I could go on and on with many suggestions for determining the appropriateness of aiding another as they take their journey. But I believe that it is far more important for each one of you to confront the self at each step of your own journey and question the appropriateness of your actions based on the challenges you face. Are you choosing to take the evolving journey or are you choosing to continue avoiding that which clearly has revealed itself to you as the right path to take?

Each day you have personal choices to make. Tiny and insignificant though they may appear to be, they are being offered so that you may grow. Look upon the others in your life. They too are offered equal opportunities for personal growth. Acknowledge that truth, and then step back and let them take up the challenge while you challenge the self. That is allowing the self to learn detachment. And it is allowing the other to be responsible for learning how to guide the self through even the most minor of life’s tasks, learning to evolve and, eventually, to leave the nest, fully ready to take wing upon the individual energy, and this is good.