Tag Archives: individuation

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: Look In or Lookout!

We are all responsible for the world dream. We are all empowered to steer it to safety. Like the minutest slices of a hologram, we all encapsulate, within the borders of our individual selves, all the energies manifesting in the world.

Time to pull inward?
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Like the Taoist rainmaker—who, sealed in his hut alone, brought forth the rains to the parched world when he calmed the energetic drought within himself, returning himself to the tao, to oneness with the natural world—we individually can calm the warring energies without ourselves, whereby delivering peace and calm to the world.

The shamans call it intent, Abraham calls it the Law of Attraction and  C. G. Jung called it synchronicity. No matter what you call it, the technique is the same: build a wall around the self, be with the facts of the self, achieve order within the self and thus manifest stability without.

The outer world currently mirrors our personal inner struggle. We seek safety, we want to be saved. In early societies the tribe would turn to the medicine man for cure. In our time the medicine man we manifested is Trump. Assigned the role of savior, the medicine man is granted far-reaching power and this can be dangerous for the tribe. Thus, in early societies there was dual leadership, a chief and a medicine man. The chief was the worldly leader, the medicine man the spiritual leader.

Jung viewed Hitler, in 1939, as a medicine man, looked upon by the German people as a savior. When posed the question by a reporter—what would happen if Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini were locked together in a room for one week with only one loaf of bread and one pitcher of water?—Jung replied that Hitler would likely pout in the corner and refuse to eat while Stalin and Mussolini fought over the food and water. Incidentally, he felt that ultimately Stalin would win, the Russians having the strongest power motive. Gives one pause, with Mr. Putin in charge today!

The current outer manifestation of our psychic inner reality shows a child ego state seeking a world savior to deliver it from danger and provide the elixir to paradise on Earth. The medicine man thus manifested offers instinctive strong medicine, a cure-all to cure all. Meanwhile, the medicine man truly is not a chief, yet he is enjoying unprecedented power.

Meanwhile, beneath the surface are a couple of well-organized power drives, biding their time, awaiting their opportunity to seize control of the collective psyche. In a nutshell, a combination of bad medicine and partisan leadership that, in fact, unabashedly reveal our true shadow, the dark side, which everyone has. This shadow has covertly been in control, while on the surface it presents golden values and intentions. Perhaps the medicine man is outing the shadow? Which is good. However, should the shadow be the chief?

Bringing this discussion back to the individual—the slice of the hologram that we each are—we must first face our own child ego state, the part of us that wants to be rescued, protected, and made to feel secure. What medicines do we turn to? Substances, relationships, obsessions, making money, hoarding, etc., to rescue us from our fears? How attached are we to these medicines provided to us by our inner medicine man/woman? Are we willing to refuse the seductive trance of this inner figure and take responsibility for where we are, why we suffer, and what we really need to do?

Addressing this level of inner truth, we can face more honestly the hidden power drives that seek to rule the personality. If we look to the outer mirror, at the chiefs in the world, we see the motives of greed and dominance. These are the shadow ego states of the child ego state currently running the show.

In chakra terms, these impassioned shadow ego states are busily battling for control at the level of the solar plexus, the third chakra, the place of power and will. If we can identify these power drives, within the self, and bring stability to the personal psyche through achieving calm in the body, i.e. through conscious meditation breath, we become freed of the states of possession where these drives do nothing but feast for themselves. In effect, we tame the power drives within to serve the real needs of the self. This consolidates and raises an adult ego state to the status of chief of the personality.

Through dreams and active imagination our adult ego state gets to know, value, confront, and find the rightful place for all these characters within us, as they constantly vie to take control of the personality at the expense of a harmonized individuation, that is, becoming who we truly are.

These processes, of looking inwardly and taking responsibility for all that is there, reshape our slice of the hologram and impact the entire world hologram, life as we know it, the dream that we all uphold.

Look no further than looking in, for this is the source of our real power. Failure to look in will always manifest a world where, indeed, we must lookout!

“When you have the right relationship to yourself, that means freedom.” *

Working on it,


* -Catherine Rush Cabot’s note from a session with Jung, December 1939 from Jung, My Mother and I edited by Jane Cabot Reid

Chuck’s Place: The Sweat Lodge of Self

It’s Tuesday morning as I write this blog. The verse my soul brings me is a line from Leonard Cohen’s march,* “Democracy is coming to the USA.” This is not the seed my ego would choose to plant in this blog, but, as Leonard also once sang, “If it be your will.” And so, I acquiesce.

Looking forward to unification of earth & state…
– Photo by Chuck Ketchel

Equally disturbing is the ruthless perseverance of American Express, incessantly invading the landline of our sanctuary on the hill with its myriad of tricksterish schemes to hook our energy. In fact, it led to a small spat between Jan and I at breakfast as to the best strategy to swat down that mosquito pest. I got angry at her ‘foolishness,’ picking up the phone and instantly hanging up. Her energy, as I saw it, hooked by the game, totally overlooking of course how my own heated reactive anger was perhaps doubly hooked!

Of course, it’s not lost on me the synchronicity of the heated energy of Leonard’s USA march and American Express’s steamroller tactics. America is at the center of our heated-up world right now, be it socially, politically, economically, or environmentally. In fact, our entire world is now a hot cauldron, an alchemical sweat lodge portending great transformation.

In a letter dated September 25, 1946, C. G. Jung writes to a colleague in New York: “…One could say that the whole world with its turmoil and misery is in an individuation process. But people don’t know it, that’s the only difference. If they knew it, they would not be at war with each other, because whosoever has the war inside himself has no time and pleasure to fight others. Individuation is by no means a rare thing or a luxury of the few, but those who know that they are in such a process are considered to be lucky. They get something out of it, provided they are conscious enough. Of course it is a question whether you can stand such a procedure. But this is the question with life too…”**

Jung wrote this letter shortly after World War II, clearly with the hope that the world could introvert—contain and seal off its warring elements within the individual—whereby creating the sweat lodge of self to advance corporeal humans to experience and unite within living form their latent spiritual, energetic self.

This is the goal of all life—individuation—to advance into and incorporate its wholeness, most especially to find and reconnect with its energetic self that lives and reigns in the life of the physical body.

Don Juan Matus maintained that the survival of our world dream required humankind to discover and bring its energy body into life. Both Jung and don Juan passed on their individual methods, psychotherapy and shamanism respectively, to avert world destruction, but were each equally guarded in their prognoses.

And so the world heats up once again, on many levels, with the deeper intent of evolutionary advance at its center. The earth has become the sweat lodge of this deeply transformative process. But you know, we are the world.

And so, back to the sweat lodge at our Tuesday morning breakfast table. The warring elements that manifest in the opposites of man and woman, spirit and material, naturally seek to trump each other. In our case, the fiery energies were maturely contained as breakfast was consumed on the Holy Grail plates, the projections burned off within, the projected elements—the wrong/bad other—introverted, sealed off within the sweat lodge of the self.

In the process, as the emotional distortions burned off, energy body self emerged with its 360° perspective. All sides are relevant and acceptable from this all-round perspective, all fit neatly together.

American Express is merely part of the catalyst of now, challenging us to find within us the place of no pity, the place of compassionate detachment and love, and with it the energy body of our potential self.

Don’t leave home without it,


*Quote from Leonard Cohen’s song “Democracy.”

**Quote from C. G. Jung Letters Volume 1: 1906-1950, p. 442

A Message for Humanity from Jeanne: A Blameless Life


We are here to grow and blossom!
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

We start off the week with today’s Soulbyte, posted below, and this impassioned audio message asking us all to take responsibility for ourselves in a new way. Are we really here by our own choice? Hmm? Something to consider as we go into this week that culminates in the January 20th inauguration of our next president. Look for a blog by Chuck on Wednesday addressing some unique views on that event.

Have a great week everyone!

Thanks for reading,

From all of us at Riverwalker Press 

Chuck’s Place: Unconditional Love

The highest form of love is love without condition, the total embracing acceptance of all that we are.

This is the welcome that we all seek as our birthright into life in this world, loving acceptance of all that we are, simply because we are. This is the love the child longs to see mirrored in its parent’s eyes to help fortify a deep sense of worthiness, confidence, and lovability that encourages the journey to individuation, to becoming all that we truly are in this life. This is the love we seek in partnership, a loving embrace of all of our body self, all of our virtues as well as all of our sins.

Shadow partners... - Photo by Chuck Ketchel
Shadow partners…
– Photo by Chuck Ketchel

In our time, the longing for unconditional love has come to be felt as an inalienable right, an entitlement. If one does not experience unconditional love immediately one feels empowered and righteous to end a relationship or marriage rather quickly. However, relationships are cauldrons where confronting the unacceptable, in both self and other, is part of the process of growing. If one exits a relationship due to unmet acceptance too prematurely the opportunity to experience the coveted “unconditional love” may be missed.

The first challenge in achieving unconditional love is to unconditionally love the self. The process of socialization we all encounter growing up leaves us with a huge shadow self, a rejected part of the self that we are taught must be forsaken due to its unacceptability.

Do we know that shadow self? Do we hate it as it has been hated? Do we expect a partner to remedy our disdain for a part of ourselves that even we do not love, expecting another to lovingly accept all of us?

Can we actually turn over that unwanted shadow self to another to make it wanted? We can try, but we’ll never fully believe the outcome. Even if a partner claims love for that which we hate in ourselves, it will not be redeemed. We will either need constant reassurance to silence our inner doubt or we simply won’t believe our “naive” partner. We will retain the “true knowledge” of our unacceptability.

In other ways, it might just be that parts of ourselves deemed unlovable might indeed be immature, with a limited capacity for relationship. Young children are far more concerned with themselves—primary narcissism, it’s called—than the needs of others. This may be quite appropriate at an infantile stage of development, but it is hardly adaptive to adult relatedness, which requires a fuller knowing and appreciation of another, as well as of self.

Our challenge might be to love that very infantile part of ourselves but realize that it is also anachronistic, non-adaptive to adult life, and unacceptable when acted out in adult relationship. This may be a case where we need to access the loving but firm adult/parent within ourselves that sets boundaries upon the demands of an infantile part of ourselves. This may allow for adult connection with another where we can share the fullness of ourselves but don’t burden the relationship with expectations that need to be grappled with within the self.

When Buddha speaks of loving compassion he speaks equally of detachment. Unconditional love—acceptance of all—does not mean attachment to all. (Attachment in this sense meaning having to engage in the acted-out entitlements of another.) In detachment, we can fully love and accept another yet insist that they manage their own infantilism.

Unconditional love is not unconditional license. Unconditional love is full acceptance of what is, while assuming full responsibility for integrating it into the self and into life at a level where life can receive it and help it to grow. Ironically, the key to unconditional love is complete loving acceptance of self while facing the conditional reality that we must grow up!

If we have been failed by those entrusted to connect us with unconditional love we must pick up the mantle of finding our way there on our own, beyond blame and bitterness. Our truest parent, Mother Earth, entrusts us with this journey as she evokes a healing process that requires deeper connectedness and love for that which has been rejected. If we are here we have been invited to partake in this great healing crisis, our own and that of the world now. It all begins with the journey of unconditional acceptance of the self.