Tag Archives: fire

Chuck’s Place: Kundalini Rising

We are in the time of the great healing crisis…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Tragic, the burning of Notre Dame. It takes us to the heart and the intent to rebuild. The energy, contained for centuries in this monolithic structure of Catholicism, has been released and will be reformed in its reconstruction.

Pope Benedict spoke from retirement last week, proclaiming, in a letter, the source of sexual abuse in the Church to be linked to the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, the free love of the 1960’s. His prescription for reformation is in keeping with similar calls throughout the world for conservatism as the solution.

His letter reflects, at the highest level, the schism within the Church. Pope Benedict reflects the power of control at the third chakra, will. Pope Francis calls for love at the fourth chakra, all-encompassing. The mounting energy of this schism can be depicted as kundalini energy rising and bursting forth, in flames, in the split between these two chakras.

In America, the same schism is being exploited and the fires stoked. Some hold to the true spirit of the American Dream, the heart chakra. Others hold that that dream is over, that America is full, back to an old conservatism, the third chakra. The same schism confronts Israel. And though Netanyahu emerges victorious, Beresheet crashed into the moon.

At the deepest level, all these local tragedies are signs of the earth’s healing crisis. That crisis is the earth’s reformation, as the farmers of the Midwest can well attest. Healing will require rising to the objective truth of what is needed to survive at a fully interconnected level, beyond all special interests.

Consider Katie Bouman’s modest contribution to the algorithm that made possible the first viewing of a black hole. The key was to bring all telescopes on the earth together as one. The ability to merge the data as one produced the light of consciousness that takes us deeper into the mystery of us all.

The fires rage and the destruction is painful. Nonetheless, the healing crisis, well underway, portends new life, on more solid ground.



Chuck’s Place: Fire in the Belly

Heart chakra rising from the fire in the belly…
– Photo by Chuck Ketchel

With no judgment intended, simply honest observations, I see the world as currently being led by a force beyond reason. I call it ‘a force’ because it functions like an elemental being, a true force of nature, in this case: fire. Tweets and actions are like bolts of lightning that ignite sweeping havoc, leaving behind a whole new landscape.

I do agree with Donald Trump that if the election were held again today, he would win again. Reason is no match for this elemental being, the current ruler of the world. From the broadest perspective I ask, why has Gaia installed this conflagratory element at this time? I see the earth and humanity mirroring the same dynamic: fire in the belly.

From a chakra perspective, the belly, the solar plexus, is the birthplace of the ego. It is the place where personal power is established as it wages war with the fires and floods, the passions and emotions of the instinctual human animal. The rudimentary human spirit is born as a result of this contest, in the form of the ego. This is where Adam and Eve, with the birth of their personal egos, parted ways with the garden and ‘stole’ the power to create their own world.

Digestive issues, womb issues, intestinal issues, shallow breathing issues all reflect the challenge of fire in the belly—how to master it, how not to be consumed by it, and how to workably transform it. Psychologically this is the place of personal power, calling for the establishment of a self, a foothold in consciousness that can control and transform the deep instinctual forces within, as well as hold its own without, amidst the vast collective forces that inhabit the human jungle. The downside of this achievement is narcissism, the very narrow imperative of me and mine.

Humanity has been Gaia’s most recent catalyst of change. Who else beside humans has so drastically changed the face of the earth? I propose that Gaia is calling for a rise of kundalini energy from her third chakra to her fourth chakra, the heart center. The heart center is the true birthplace of the true spirit self, the self that extends far beyond the narcissistic wrappings of the third chakra ego center.

The way to the heart chakra is through the all-consuming fires of the belly. As kundalini rises the wrappings of consumerism, personal power, and advantage, at the third chakra ego center, burn off and what emerges, transformed, is consciousness of a higher self, what we know as the subtle body, the energy body, the spirit.

The spirit body at the heart center is attached to the gross physical body by its own umbilical cord that remains attached until the spirit embarks on its own definitive journey beyond physical life at the time of death.

While in this world, the spirit informs human life from its truer perspective. This is the Buddha/Christ consciousness that speaks the truth beyond the narcissistic wrappings of ego. This is the home of true compassion, not emotional highs and lows or romantic dances. This is the home of being able to see and act upon the true needs of self, the true needs of humanity, the true needs of Gaia.

The driving forces of human passion and emotion simmer gently at the heart center, which burns a constant flame, the steady heartbeat that maintains life. Compassion is natural love that embraces all life with true feeling, yet knows that the only true savior lies in the heart center of each individual. Each person must find their own way there and discover this for themselves.

Gaia insists upon this heart chakra development now. The crowning achievement of the solar plexus, the ego, with reason and its knowledge of the three dimensional world at the ready, has become too narrow a place to fully encompass and lead the fuller truth of the earth. This higher spirit at the heart center must be awakened, inhabited, and become the leader now.

Gaia’s methods can be harsh. All births are violent affairs. Contractions are no picnic for the birther or the one being born. Actually, preparations for discovery of the spirit within have long been appearing. One need only peruse Jan’s Recapitulation Diaries to see how the violence of sexual abuse can shake the ethereal/spirit body right out of the physical body.

Of course, such horrific atrocities as sexual abuse are completely, morally unjustifiable, but vast occurrences of such happenings have given countless thousands direct access to and experience of their inner spirit selves, as they often fly freely beyond the confines of the body during blunt trauma. What emerges on the world stage and in the personal lives of many humans at this time are the shocks, which though traumatic also open access to a consciousness that transcends the personal me and can align with the true needs of the interconnected we.

What has become completely apparent to me is that Gaia herself is in the process of shaking loose her spirit body, attempting to rise to the fourth chakra level of the heart. Gaia is prompting her own evolution, and humankind is the enzyme, the catalyst—rule without reason—that is providing the energy for this transition. It is a completely irrational and barely controllable catalyst that is the driving force behind this phenomenon, but nonetheless an obvious attempt to reach the heart chakra of Gaia and prompt human evolution as well.

The only hope to stabilize humanity and save the planet is to reach the heart-centered spirit consciousness of which we are all capable, and allow that spirit energy to lead us all forward now.

The heart center is the center that acts from objective truth. Reason and emotion that have passed through the proving fires of the solar plexus take up residence in their most purified form in the heart center, where they are freed to lead through love and truth.

Of course, there are higher chakras to be inhabited beyond the heart, but for now Gaia insists that we find our way, collectively, to settling in the heart. That quest is the priority of now.

And so, as we sit in the irrational fires beyond reason, may we allow ourselves to prove our worthiness to partake in Gaia’s initiative and settle calmly in the heart center of our being.

Stillness in the fire,


A Day in a Life: Of Witches & Pyres

Is it really spring? The last vestiges of the old season will soon melt away... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Is it really spring?
The last vestiges of the old season
will soon melt away…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

I lived in Sweden in the 1970s. One day there was a knock at the apartment door. I answered it and saw three little girls standing there.

Dressed in long skirts, with kerchiefs around their heads and brightly painted red cheeks, they held out copper kettles, singing something indecipherable in lilting voices. It looked a lot like Halloween to me, but it was Pink Thursday, the day before Good Friday.

Luckily, I was baking cookies for the guests who would be arriving the next day. I couldn’t speak Swedish very well at the time, so I held up a finger—wait a sec—and went into the kitchen to grab a handful of warm chocolate chip cookies, a rarity in Sweden at the time. (I’d had the chocolate chips sent to me by my parents as they were not available there.)

“Kakor?” I asked, reappearing with cookies in hand.

“Ja!” they replied, quite happily.

Grabbing the cookies they gobbled them down, making pleasing sounds while I smiled at them and nodded, saying, “Ja, ja,” or something like that. We waved goodbye as they turned to knock on my neighbor’s door. I shut the door and ran back into the kitchen, just in time to rescue the next batch of cookies from being burned in the oven.

Those little girls were enacting a tradition, playing the witches who supposedly cavorted with the devil on that day; all part of the springtime rituals, I was to learn. Usually coins were placed in the tea kettles but, as I told my husband, those little girls didn’t mind the cookies at all!

A few weeks later, at the end of April, another spring ritual was enacted. We’d traveled to spend a few days with my in-laws at their summer house on the West coast of Sweden. A bonfire ensued, the natural consequences of doing winter cleanup of the yard, but this too had significance. It was Walpurgis Night, the annual ritual to greet spring’s arrival. Many bonfires were lit that night along the coast, songs were sung and a lot of alcohol, another part of the tradition, was consumed.

It was the first time I was being exposed to ancient traditions outside of those of my Catholic upbringing. I found them intriguing. It was an eyeopener that nature itself was not only leading the way, but was actually being celebrated as the most significant guide in breaking through to new life. It made perfect sense to me, but I’d never encountered it before. Everyone knew the ritual, and everyone participated. Without judgment, it was a tradition that just was, nature allowed its place in a celebratory, honest, and most practical manner. As that Walpurgis Night fire burned, the ritual of the witches cavorting with Satan made perfect sense too. All of a sudden, I understood that nature was a real and powerful ally and entity, and it needed to be paid attention to, honored, and reckoned with.

Light the ritual pyre... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Light the ritual pyre…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

I’m ready for my own bonfire now. It’s been on my mind that we should have a fire soon in our outdoor pit. The idea has been stirring for weeks, as we’ve waited for the snow to melt so that we could actually see the fire pit! It’s time to intentionally enact the ancient ritual of shedding and burning that which we no longer need. It’s time to begin anew.

Last night I dreamed. My skin was cracking and peeling away. Not like skin that has been sunburned and peels in thin layers. No, this skin was about an inch or two thick. It was old crusty skin. I knew, as I dreamed, that it symbolized that which is no longer necessary, a protective layer that no longer has any use. I was wearing it for no good reason, only out of habit. Beneath the thick old skin lies new pink skin, the tender, innocent and true self. It’s time to fully expose her, to let her live all the time, not just when it feels safe or appropriate, because I suddenly understood that it is always appropriate to live from the tender and real self.

My dream reminded me of a dream I’d had when doing my recapitulation. At that time I’d dreamed of removing a layer of the same kind of thick crusty skin from the soles of my feet. I still cringe as I recall peeling it off only to find beautiful pink soles underneath. In that dream, I put the crusty soles back on because I still had a lot of recapitulation work to do. But it was enough to know what lay in store for me, the innocent and pure self revealed by those tender pink soles. I wasn’t ready at the time to do more than hold the secret of this true self, but last night’s dream tells me that I’m more than ready now. I’ve been walking on the soles of that tender self for a long time now, but as my dream tells me, it’s time to shed everything else I’ve used to keep her protected and let her fully live!

And so, in celebration of spring, I intend to shed the trappings and ideas of an old self. I intend to set upon the altar that which is no longer necessary or desirable. In lighting the pyre, I intend to sacrifice that which oppresses and keeps me from experiencing my fuller self, all the thoughts and ideas that no longer belong in my life. I also set the intent to no longer hide the pure tender soul of who I am. I will be burning that crusty old coat of skin that I no longer need to wear!

In the melting away of the last coating of ice and snow... the true beauty, struggling to fully live... is revealed... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
In the melting away of the last coating of ice and snow…
the true beauty, struggling to fully live…
is revealed…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

I will allow nature to be my guide, both through this ritual burning and in the next steps. I have no idea where I’m going, but in this shedding and burning process I declare that I am open, willing, and ready for new life.

We’ve all come so far in our lives and in our work. Let us not be held back. Let us light the fire on the altar and raise a glass to nature and to spring, to renewal of the true self, and many happy new beginnings.

As I light the fire and raise a glass to spring, I hope you will too,

Chuck’s Place: Project Inward

From Deng Ming-Dao's Everyday Tao, Living With Balance and Harmony...
From Deng Ming-Dao’s Everyday Tao,
Living With Balance and Harmony…

Perhaps Jung’s favorite story was Richard Wilhelm’s “rainmaker” experience. While in China, Wilhelm—who translated the I Ching—visited a province that had suffered a long drought. Nothing that was done brought rain. Finally, an old Taoist man, known as the rainmaker, was brought in from a faraway province to break the spell. After sitting alone in a hut for three days, it began to rain. When Wilhelm inquired of the old man what he had done to make it rain, the old man said that when he’d arrived he was immediately infected by the disorder of the place and so he had to sit in seclusion until he restored himself to the Tao, to the order of nature. In so doing, the Tao of nature around him was likewise restored, and then it naturally rained.

Look what happens when a Catholic Pope sits in his own quiet meditation. This rainmaker emerges to proclaim that his church has been too “obsessed” with gays, abortion, and contraception. Let’s see how one person’s revelation contributes to realigning with the Tao.

The physicist David Bohm used the holographic metaphor to illustrate the true nature of quantum reality: every particle of the whole has within it the entire whole. Within every person is the entire universe. If we restore ourselves to the Tao, the universe restores itself to the Tao as well.

If we look outwardly, at the macrocosm, we can’t help but see a world of great imbalance. Traditionally, America has projected its shadow self elsewhere in the world and marshaled the troops to subdue the terrorist “out there.” With Syria, the world drew a line. Putin suggested that it’s time for America to get off its exceptionalist kick and face its own shadow. This week, once again, we experienced another mass shooting at home. Indeed, that “shadow” is very active in our homeland. It’s time for us, nationally, to own our shadow, just as, internationally, all are charged with facing the terrorist within themselves as well.

A Buddhist Master, Heng Ch’au,* states: “Other’s faults are just your own—Being one with everyone is called great compassion.”

The essence of true compassion without is acceptance of one’s own inner darkness. From the holographic perspective we are all the terrorist and the victim alike. From the Taoist wisdom, if but one of us can face the truth of our own shadow’s play in our lives then we are in a position to align ourselves with the Tao, with the truth, with the universe—and all is righted.

Harvest Time... in Tao everything is acceptable, life and death, beginnings and endings and all that comes in between... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Harvest Time… in Tao everything is acceptable, life and death, beginnings and endings and all that comes in between…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

In the microcosm of the universe within each of us lies the disorder and imbalance that we see in our world without. What is needed is that we suspend judgment and accept the full truth of the attitudes and beliefs that dominate and control our lives.

What impulses within cry for life, yet are held in check by restrictive, fearful, judgmental attitudes? What deep needs are being disavowed, calling for a terrorist overthrow within to right the extreme imbalance of self? What regrets, resentments, bitternesses, hatreds and angers do we harbor in refusal to accept the truth of our own deepest secrets, deepest truths, and deepest disavowed selves? If we can face these mighty truths, fears and imbalances within, in full acceptance, then we arrive at the compassion to restore the Tao within, and vastly right the Tao without.

To project inward is to take responsibility for our holographic selves, to truly take responsibility for our interdependent wholeness.

Sign up for Project Inward!

From within the hologram,

P. S.: After I had completed this blog, I posed the following question to the I Ching: How do we restore the Tao? I received the answer in Hexagram #30 Fire, with moving lines in the first, second and third places. The resulting future is Hexagram #4, Youthful Folly.

Fire attains duration by not overshooting its bounds; it burns in proportion to the wood that fuels it. Wood is yin, the darkness. The flame that illuminates is yang. Together yin and yang work in perfect harmony to produce the light of consciousness and the warmth of security. Such is the path to Tao that the I Ching proposes for now, for the individual, the nation, and the universe.

Wednesday evening's Harvest Moon rising over the neighborhood... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Wednesday evening’s Harvest Moon rising over the neighborhood…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

The reading goes on to highlight the first three lines of the hexagram, offering pragmatic counsel for morning, noon, and night that together complete the full cycle of a day, of a life, of an era.

The early morning is the time before ego arises, before world is formed. It is the time for communion with spirit. We awaken with dreams and impressions from our deeper selves. When the spark of consciousness awakens, arise. Ever so gently sit with the messages that came in the night; write them, contemplate them, sing them, draw them. These are the seeds of spirit for the day. Open a meaningful book, or any book, at random. The message you need will appear. Contemplate it. Engage in breathing, candle meditation, yoga, or any spiritual practice that suits your predilection. Take full advantage of the time before the demands of the day kick in. It’s the best time for direct spirit connection.

The midday sun is the height of power. The sun achieves this brilliance because it does not deviate from its path. It does not seek to go beyond itself, and it graciously begins its descent from the zenith. We are advised to align our ego selves with the true needs of our body and spirit selves. Perhaps this means not altering our body chemistry with another cup of coffee to forego our tiredness or push beyond our exhaustion and mental capacity to achieve some ego ideal not suited to the true needs of the self. The operative words here are modesty and balance, as we carry ourselves through the day.

As evening sets in the I Ching warns that we not attempt to extend the day with ecstatic exuberance, be it with substance or entertainment that deprive us of the replenishment needed to be freshly reborn the next day. The I Ching, as well, warns not to slip into melancholy and regret for tasks not accomplished or life not lived during the day. Time instead to prepare for sleep and its journeys, the journeys that hold the seeds of the morrow.

Innocence in Tao... is Tao... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Innocence in Tao… is Tao…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

The accompanying future hexagram, Youthful Folly, is the right attitude for us to take forward as we go through our full cycle days and lives. Folly, in youth, is appropriate. It is innocence that approaches new life with curiosity and excitement. Its teacher is life itself, the reactions of the Tao to a being discovering new life without judgment. This is how we should always live our lives, in alignment with life itself. There will be lessons, hard lessons, as life moves in new directions, but there will also be new life as the Tao responds to youthful folly. Let the games begin!

* Buddhist quote from C. G. Jung’s Psychology of Religion And Synchronicity, p. 197

A Day in a Life: ALL

Into the center of Self...

I study Tao. I pull into my center, into the mandala of self, closing out all else. One morning I read the following: Always complete your actions.

I read further: When you do something, don’t hold back. Shoot for it all, go for it all. Don’t wait for a “better time,” because the better times are built on what you do today. Don’t be selfish with your skills, because the skills of tomorrow are built upon the performances of today.

To be with Tao is to live a creative life, I continue reading. To live a creative life always means that you express who you are. And expression is never helped by suppression. Expression always benefits from coming out. Then more inspiration will come from that source.

When you act, the advice is, act completely. Follow through. Do everything that has to be done. Be like the fire that burns completely clean: only from this pure stage can you then take the next step.

My early morning reading stays with me throughout the day. I ponder myself. Am I fully expressing myself every day, not holding back? Am I truly burning the fires within completely clean, so that I am free to take the next step unattached to the old? I recapitulate recent life events, and without hubris know that I am fallible, yet I am also intent on continually studying how to be more aware each day, even as I repeat old mistakes. Lessons are learned every day. I know this. I set my intent to give my all, to live and express to the fullest, to constantly follow through and complete my actions.

In the afternoon, I write. Working on the second book in The Recapitulation Diaries series, I face my old self of ten years ago. I see how much I have changed, and I also see where I still fall back into some old habits, not too often, I humbly say, and not too deeply, but just enough to let me know I have not completely burned through some rather tiresome old issues.

Inner fire...

Paying attention to the Tao reading I have gotten earlier in the day, I sit in stillness and go deeply into my present self. I sit in the center of my being, at the center of my mandala of self, and build a little fire. I intend to completely burn away the old self still lingering, to fully express it so that I may return to balance, to the mandala of self with its geometrical symmetry in calmness once again. I intend that new expression birth out of the old.

I am an observer. I can’t help it. It is my nature. I am a sensation type. Like a camera, I constantly take photographs of the world around me. I report on what I see. The world has always been “out there,” separate from my inner world. As an artist the two meet nicely, my talent offering a means of expression for how my outer world observations meet my inner world.

During my recapitulation, I learned how to turn my observer self inward upon myself, to train my camera on my past and zoom in on everything that came from deep within. My inner world turned cauldron-like as I recapitulated, as my camera honed in on the truths that lay at my core. The embers of the fire within flared up repeatedly until a nice fire was burning. Eventually, I burned off enough of the past that I was able to emerge out of the flames of recapitulation into new life, transformed, a totally different person.

During the fiery process, I discovered that recapitulation is not a one-time thing, but a lifelong process of study. Like Tao, it requires constant attention to deep inner truths, constant release and constant rebalancing, to achieve new, fresh life.

While pondering all of this, I hear a loud racket outside the window. Observer that I am, I cannot help but get up from my inner ponderings and take my camera self outside. Standing on the deck, I see my inner world, my morning’s study of Tao, in action. Nature, the grandest guide of all is playing out the very reading I have spent my day studying innerly.

Fluffy baby robins nesting under the deck...

As I watch, a shiny black crow swoops down into a tree and snatches a baby robin. I watch the robin parents and many others—birds of all kinds, even the tiny wrens—come to the rescue. An army of birds dive-bombs the crow, attempting to knock the fluff of baby bird from its beak. Shrieking and screaming, they fly at the crow repeatedly. Instinctively knowing that every second counts, they do not hold back. The crow, seemingly oblivious to the attacks, flies up to a branch and holding the baby beneath its claws, gives a loud and sharp CAW! Then it picks the baby up again and flies off with it in its beak. Flying directly over my head, I see the baby bird firmly clenched, most likely dead already. I accept this fact. It’s dead. The robins will never get it back. They have to give up, I think, just let it go. But do they “just let it go?” No! They chase after the crow! They do not accept defeat yet.

Shrieking, they fly after the crow, furiously attacking with sharp beaks. With stiffened wings, like knife cuts, they attempt to knock the baby loose. They do not give up, but complete their attempts to save the baby. They give it their all! And then, only when it is truly clear that there is nothing left to do, when the crow has flown off, do they then take the next step. Even now, they don’t simply “let it go.” Not yet!

There is still something else to do in order to complete this most traumatic event in their lives. Now they grieve! I hear them crying loudly. Horrific, heart-wrenching sobs of grief and mourning, the most gut-wrenching sounds of sorrow, erupt from their wide-open beaks. Their deep sadness, like a moaning Greek chorus, reaches the heavens and then back to me where I stand on the deck. I take in this profoundly moving process. The robins of nature are not holding back, not suppressing a thing, they are fully expressing their loss and the great depths of their sadness.

This deeply affecting wailing goes on for several minutes. Only when they are completely done, when they have fully expressed themselves and fully emptied themselves of their sorrow, do the robins return to their nest, to the tree where their baby was snatched from, perhaps back to tending other babies that may still remain, or to take the next step. There is always a next step, new life to experience.

Return to Tao...

In shock, I step back inside. In awe, I realize I have been given an example of Tao in action, of ALL. This is how to complete a task, how to give all to a situation, and then, only when truly done, to move on. In fighting as fiercely as they did, in not giving up, until there was no longer any reason to fight, then in grieving fully, the robins completed their task. Now new life can happen.

In Tao, in life, everything is meaningful. Everything is directed toward evolving. I take my experience seriously. I return to my inner circle of self, turn my camera inward again, and sitting in my calm mandala center, I go ever deeper. I understand more fully now what it means to take everything to its completion, to not hold back, to give my all. I am thankful for nature, once again showing me the way. I am thankful for Tao.

Give ALL. Always complete your intent, express fully, live fully, evolve.

In Tao,

NOTE: Excerpts are from Everyday Tao, by Deng Ming-Dao