Tag Archives: individuation

Chuck’s Place: Nature’s Bridge

Sixty years ago, C. G. Jung predicted: “…The trend of the time is one-sidedness and disagreement, and thus the dissociation and separation of the two worlds will be accomplished. Nothing will prevent this fact. We have no answer yet that would appeal to the general mind, nothing that could function as a bridge.” *

The sunrise, a natural bridge between night and day…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Through her fury now, nature is forging a path of heart to bridge the great divide. Nature’s floods are pressing the human spirit to rise to the oneness of overarching love.

Nature’s strategy is apparent: Saturation. As one storm passes the next will soon arrive. In rapid succession the floodgates are overwhelmed. Human resistance is leveled as nature exacts her toll and reshapes our world.

Ego is slipping in empty rhetoric. Exhaustion and utter necessity are compelling ego to shift from its tales of power to instead see the true needs of the self, the populace, and the world. Survival now requires dedication to the truth.

In truth, nature teaches that a city founded on the principle of unlimited growth, with such an extreme concentration of resources and toxins, is no longer safe.

The time of the metropolis is over. No walls can hold back nature’s guiding imperative. Human ingenuity must learn humility to make peace with nature. This is living in the Tao. In the Tao one recognizes and occupies one’s proper place. To resist what is is merely a sandcastle bridge. Going with nature’s flow is the only way to go.

Within the self, the fire and fury of the animal disrupts cerebral hegemony. The floods of passion and emotion stir beneath the belt and threaten even the greatest defense, reason. Reason is no match for anxiety and fear. It’s time to bridge the divide within with a sustainable bridge. The ego metropolis is slipping. Time to make way to solid ground.

Would that the fire and fury of aggressive energy could be contained by reason and détente! But the joint rhetoric and escalating nuclear tests join nature’s fury with hair-trigger threat.

The dissociation and separation of worlds that Jung speaks about in the above quotation are the pairs of opposites within the human animal, the inner worlds of the rational ego and the unconscious, nature’s way. Sixty years ago Jung was worried that we would not find our way to reconciliation of these dissociated parts before it was too late. Indeed, the human animal has been neglected for far too long while the ego and reason have ruled. The apocalyptic release of the stored energies of the animal, previously satisfied in the cinema, can no longer be vicariously contained in theatre or fantasy. Nature demands attention.

How can we reckon with nature within our personal hologram?

To begin with, we must claim ownership of our own animal nature. When our boundaries are violated we must recognize the fury of the animal within us. When we are hungry we must recognize the primal hunger of the animal within us that perhaps craves a juicy fat steak on a bone. We must recognize our animal narcissism—me first, I have no interest in sharing. We must acknowledge the depths of our sexual desire, perhaps the most disowned instinct of our modern time. We must acknowledge our insatiable power drive that always wants to dominate, or wants more of something.

If we can acknowledge the passions of the animal within us we can bring it home, as opposed to hating it and projecting it onto those we would like to blame for our woes.

Of course, owning the barbaric, murderous, philandering, self-centered impulses of one’s inner animal creates a tense inner domain when pitted against higher reason and the values of the human spirit. A most tense opposition is sure to arise. But if spirit can suspend judgment and appreciate the instinctual knowledge of  its rowdy animal partner, and safely live its needs, an inner bridge of balance might be achieved.

The technology of the Greek and Roman Dionysian festivals, as well as the Christian traditions that followed them, found a way to ritually act out the orgiastic impulses of sexuality, murder, and eating of the flesh and bring them into spiritual harmony with the higher values of the human spirit. Even today, Carneval is still celebrated in many countries. And Mardi Gras, within the boundaries of our own United States, offers the opportunity to bring into balance the desires of the flesh and the desires of the spirit, days or weeks of revelry followed by days or weeks of spiritual contemplation.

Nature now is delivering a barbarous onslaught through floods and rage. The human spirit finds itself communing with nature’s impulses  by reacting in loving concern and heroism. Such loving response balances and bridges the divide.

Inwardly, we can personally express the fullness of our passions in our creativity. Perhaps we must allow ourselves to write about or paint the forbidden, the unacceptable. Perhaps we need to commit to the ritual of sacred sex in a contained yet fully lived way. Perhaps we must allow our rageful impulses to be expressed, setting boundaries and allowing our true feelings to be spoken. Perhaps we must devour our food with the frenzy of a wild beast—to hell with civilized decorum! Belches included! Perhaps at least ritually once in a while!

Perhaps, as well, we must learn to sacrifice. Sacrifice is an inherent imperative in our own nature that must also be lived. For parents to let their children go into the world they must sacrifice them to life. Fasting, letting go of something, not acting upon an impulse, acquiescing to the flow of life are all forms of sacrifice. Nature demands limitation and  sacrifice of spirit ambition that is not in accordance with her laws.

Through creating personal rituals we can contain our raw impulses until a set-aside sacred time and space, where we can then allow ourselves to live them out in some ritual symbolic way. Spirit containment of animal impulses that joins sacrifice with lived impulse forms a solid bridge to joining spirit and animal in higher communion.

These are tools for the individual to employ to bring animal and spirit into new balance. Though nature has taken the lead in forging a new bridge with spirit through the storms we face, we are all empowered to contribute to this bridge in the privacy of our own lives. Perhaps we can give Jung the answer he longed for, before it’s too late.

As within, so without,

Chuck

*C. G. Jung, Letters Volume II, p. 385

Soulbyte for Wednesday September 6, 2017

Be responsible for yourself and the things of the world that belong to  you. Take care of yourself and your part of the world. Do not leave things and messes for others to have to deal with. Use your energy every day to keep yourself and your world neat and clean. In this manner be part of the solution, part of the positive energy that seeks balance, part of the tao, nature known and accepted, everyone and everything doing its part naturally. The human part involves thoughtfulness, kindness, and compassion. The human part is to remain conscious and aware of how you are affecting everything and everyone else. Get in right alignment using the skills, abilities and knowledge that only humans possess. Keep things alive and flourishing with heart-centered awareness. That’s taking responsibility for the self, within and without. Do your part to keep the world on the right track. It can be as simple as keeping love in your heart.

-From the Soul Sisters, Jan & Jeanne

Soulbyte for Monday September 4, 2017

[This will be the only posting for today, no audio channeling today, taking the rest of the day off! Happy Labor Day!]

In times of stress it is important to protect one’s energy, to pull inward, get calm, and let nature takes its course. The impulse is to get involved, help out, do the impossible, convince someone of something. But the truth is, as fine as your intentions may be, no one can help another being do what they must do themselves. Of course, there are times when help is needed and therefore should be granted, and to the self this kind of help is very energetically rewarding. But it is in those times of energy drain that one must pull back and wait calmly for nature, and the nature in everyone you meet, to have its way. Nature has a knack for smoothing things out and often does not need interference, for often it is the interference of humans that causes problems to begin with. Step back in times of stress, protect the self, waiting in calmness, knowing that lessons are only learned by experience. Let experience be the teacher, the savior, the salvation. You can do no better than that!

-From the Soul Sisters, Jan & Jeanne

Shame On You!

I was way ahead of my time! Who knew salty chocolate would become so popular?
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Shame is multilayered and multifaceted. It may be aroused by the thoughtless, unfeeling actions of another, or taken on due to a distorted, untruthful view of the self, the world, and reality. It may be instigated by a part of the self that knows better but goes ahead and does something shameful anyway.

It might only show up occasionally, when one is reminded of something one has done, not done, or had done to one. It’s an amorphous, shadowy, dark thing that’s hard to shed, and even harder to reckon with. It’s a bit like wrestling with an invisible opponent, because who can really see it? Except when it shows up, it is largely nonexistent, but say the word, “shame,” and you can feel the red heat of it spreading like wildfire.

In the story I am about to relate, having to do with a death and a chocolate cake, my own actions led me to the awareness of a deeper part of myself, a self I was not fully aware of, a part that apparently wanted me to know of its existence. In deep shame, I discovered something about myself that was shocking, abhorrent, sinful, despicable and mean, the epitome of sinister—all living within me!

Last week I wrote about the thief who lives inside me. It’s funny but I never felt ashamed of her, nor did I suffer shame around her actions. She was pretty straightforward and known, active often enough. I knew of her, the opposite of my good side, as we lived pretty much side by side, navigating life together, making decisions and choices, trying to figure out how we were going to reconcile with each other. The image of a good angel on one shoulder and a bad angel on the other comes to mind, both of whom constantly vie for attention. What I write about today is more covert, darker, hidden in the recesses of my soul.

It was 1966. I was 14. A good family friend had died, a man, an artist whom had taken an interest in me for my artistic abilities. He had a wife and a daughter. The daughter was 13 years older than me and also an artist. I considered her to be a mentor. When I heard that the man had died I was sad and wanted to do something for the family. It was in my nature to be generous and giving to others, in small personal ways, sending letters, making paintings and drawings, giving little handmade gifts.

At the time of the funeral I was visiting my cousin. She and I were not invited to the funeral; no children allowed. It was to be a small affair with the mourners invited to the family home afterwards for refreshments. My aunt, my cousin’s mother, would be going to the funeral and to the gathering afterwards.

I suggested to my cousin that we bake a cake for the gathering. My aunt thought it was a very nice idea and agreed to bring it with her. My cousin didn’t really understand my need to do something for these people whom she had no personal connection with, as I did, but I insisted. I had to do something, and in the end she was willing to join me in the project. So we set about making a cake.

We picked a recipe for a chocolate cake made from scratch. I was in charge of reading the recipe while my cousin got the ingredients together and measured everything into the mixing bowl. Everything was going along well enough as we came to the last ingredient in the recipe.

“¼ cup of salt,” I read to my cousin.

“Are you sure? That sounds like a lot of salt,” she said. I looked again.

“No, that’s right,” I said, “¼ cup of salt.”

“Check again,” she said.

I did. I saw the same thing every time I looked at the list of ingredients in the recipe: ¼ cup of salt.

“Okay,” my cousin said, a little warily, “in it goes, ¼ cup of salt!”

We mixed everything together, poured it into a baking pan, licked the beaters, and gagged! It tasted horrible! Too much salt! I went back to the cookbook, sure I had gotten it right, only to discover that I had read it totally wrong! It actually only called for a ¼ teaspoon of salt! My dyslexia had screwed things up royally.

We didn’t have enough eggs to bake a new cake, nor did we have the time, as my aunt would soon be heading off. We made an executive decision to bake the cake and see if it improved with heat. No deal! What should have been a thick and fluffy Bundt cake came out as flat as a pancake, looking more like a brownie than the grand cake we had envisioned! We debated over whether to cut a piece and taste it to see if it had indeed improved with baking.

“Do you think anyone would notice,” my cousin asked, “if we just cut a little piece?”

“Yes,” I said, “it would spoil the whole cake. We can’t send a cake with a slice taken out of it. Let’s sprinkle it with confectionary sugar and just hope for the best. Maybe no one will notice.”

For good measure, I topped it off with some purple violets, picked from outside the kitchen door, poked into the center of the cake. When we sent it off it looked perfectly fine; though a thin, dense cake, it looked rich and dark.

For the rest of the day my cousin and I were in agony. Though we laughed hysterically and somewhat meanly at the thought of people actually eating it, gagging as we had, we also knew what we had done.

Would they actually serve it? Would anyone eat it? What would they do or say if it turned out to be as bad as we expected it to be? As generous and thoughtful as the gift of a cake had originally been, we knew we had decided to test the fates, that a part of us was willing to risk all for a bad cake!

It did not go well. My aunt returned and confronted us. No one could eat the terrible cake. Did we know we had made a bad cake? We pleaded and pretended ignorance. But we knew what we had done and we also knew we would have to live out the consequences of our decision.

The story of the bad cake did not end there. The widow wrote my cousin and I a note thanking us for sending the cake; it had meant a lot to her that we’d been so thoughtful. She had served it with whipped cream and berries, but no one could eat it. “Was that some kind of joke?” she wrote. When I read her note I could feel her pain. I could see her preparing to serve the cake, all dolled up with cream and berries, triumphantly placing it on the table next to the coffee and tea cups, a nice gift from two sweet young women, and I felt terrible.

I was old enough to know that my actions had hurt a family that was suffering greatly, people I truly liked and admired, people I really did care about. What I had done had put them in an awkward, uncomfortable, if not mortifying position at a time when they were deeply grieving the loss of their beloved husband and father. It was a cruel joke to play on anyone, because the truth was my cousin and I did treat it as a joke, and a very bad one at that.

I don’t think the story went much beyond that small group of people who actually tasted the cake or were present at the cake eating. I have no recollection of being scolded by my parents, as would surely have been the case had they known about it. But I did have to live with what I had done, with the sinister character who lived inside me and did mean things to other people.

As I recapitulate that day, I realize it was mostly my decision to send the cake off, clothed in its beautiful sugar and flowers, like a poison apple looking all shiny and delicious. I truly did want to be generous, but there was another part of me, an imp in me, who was angry for not being invited to the funeral. I understand now how she was compensating for my ego attitude that said I must be gracious and giving when in fact I was really pissed. A year later the same family had a wedding, the daughter got married, and once again, no kids invited. Once again I was pissed, though I did not make another cake!

I came to recognize and know this dark little imp better over the years, as she popped up often enough, a troublemaker, an energetic entity who lived inside me and was daring enough to do some pretty harebrained things. She pushed the envelope on many an occasion, challenging me to go beyond my normally good self, granting many exhilarating experiences in return, those blissful moments of highly intense energy like nothing else in the world, and her voice inside, goading me, saying, “Are you going to do it? Really? Come on, do it! Do it!”

Yikes, the shameful things I have done! And once done there were those deeply embarrassing consequences to contend with as well.

The imp inside me is still active and she can still lead me into bad places and many experiences that I would otherwise avoid. But I am thankful for her now, grateful for how she leads the way into those numinous experiences of joy and excitement, those exhilarating experiences of life that I would otherwise never have had the opportunity to taste. Oh, the lessons I have learned!

And I deal with the consequences of my actions in a more mature way now too, seeing how everything that I do, good and bad, offers something, is part of the whole package of who I am in this lifetime. It’s all  part of the grand unfolding of me and my life, leading me toward the greater fullness of who I really am, both good and bad.

When C. G. Jung had to face the impish side of himself he just allowed himself to cheat! He was known to cheat at all the games he played with his children, and even some adults. He couldn’t help himself!

If you want to achieve any kind of wholeness you really do have to live the fullness that you are!

Recapitulating the shame of it all,

Jan

A blog by Jan Ketchel

Author of The Recapitulation Diaries

Soulbyte for Thursday August 31, 2017

Do what needs to be done with certitude. Hold yourself accountable for the decisions you’ve made and without blame finish unfinished business before it overwhelms you. That which is left undone remains energetically attached to you even though you may not realize this. It is responsible for your moods and tempers, for your tiredness and inactivity, for your cravings and desires. Free yourself of your burdens one at a time by fully confronting them, taking responsibility for them and for getting yourself moving forward in life. It’s never too late to shed the old and begin anew, to get up and get moving in a new direction, with new plans and a new outlook, but you can only do that if you fully release yourself from the old. That’s how you really change, one day at a time, responsibly shedding one old thing and taking on one new thing. Isn’t it time? And don’t forget, you have all the power you need within!

-From the Soul Sisters, Jan & Jeanne