Tag Archives: initiation

Chuck’s Place: Animal, Ego & Heart

From trunk to heart…
– Photo by Chuck Ketchel

Modern civilization values highly its rational ability to be in control of its animal self. But what happens if a seventeen-year-old teenager drinks too much and the desire body of his human animal self takes charge of his decision making ego and aggressively tries to rape a girl? Should he be held accountable for his behavior?

Most people would say yes. Some would blame alcohol excess, hormones, or the seductive impact of the girl. Few would simply dismiss the encounter.

Our civilization’s approach to reckoning with its animal self, with its powerful instinctual energies, is to expect its mental body, the ego, to keep its animal self in line. This is particularly emphasized at a level of society that values perfection as a major qualification to  become, say, a Supreme Court Judge.

Civilization, as is now clearly being revealed in such highly regarded moral institutions as the United States presidency and the Catholic Church, has quite overinflatedly judged its prowess at containing the impulsive instinctual side of its animal self. Repression or suppression does not transform or raise an instinct to mental obedience, in fact, quite the contrary. The animal, tucked away in the shadows behind a squeaky clean persona, gains in energy and waits for its opportunity to pounce, a frequent occurrence at a college frat party.

As Robert Monroe, in energetic form, recently explained to Jan: “Always the sexual drive is dominant in men, and when present needs to be dealt with.”* Dealing with it in a blackout state is often highly traumatic to the recipient of its fury and can haunt a woman for a lifetime. Is there an alternative way for men to elevate their animal drive to human consideration?

Jung discovered mental programs that attempt to govern our animal impulses and contribute to our humanness, allowing us to rise beyond the nature of our primate relatives. Perhaps the most primary is the incest taboo, which is essentially universal, spanning all peoples on our globe. Though in many cases this innate taboo fails to control men’s sexual drive, it nonetheless has allowed for the stabilization of the family unit as a relatively safe building block for civilization.

Other innate archetypal programs that address the instinctual energies of adolescent males are the initiation/puberty rites of many ancient civilizations that, when properly enacted, result in a real transformation of the irresponsible/dependent child into a respectful mature adult. Modern civilization has either watered down these rituals to the point of meaninglessness or abandoned them altogether, with the result being a preponderance of uninitiated men, inadequate to safely channel their sexual drive.

Effective initiation in our time is largely a solo journey, as our civilization has largely locked the minotaur of its sexual self away in the labyrinth of the repressed unconscious, preferring to project its darkness on the evil other, who should be removed from our borders. This of course allows the real shadow to act out with impunity at the highest levels.

Perhaps the reinstitution of group puberty initiation rites will someday happen in some modern but meaningful form, but for this to happen society will first have to face the true status of men’s beleaguered sexual instinct and be willing to seriously address its  need for transformation and integration into humanness. There are signs of this today in the consciousness raising effect generated by the Me Too movement with its takedown of exploitative men. But it cannot solve the transformative/maturity issue at the crux of the problem, to say nothing of the grey area of human sexual exploration that can hardly be deemed abusive.

Nonetheless, the transparency of Me Too is shining a needed light on the sexual shadow that leads to a more honest reckoning with the massive hidden acting out of men’s inadequately matured sexual instinct. Punishment, however appropriate, will not result in transformation.

Real human maturity requires the heart. Maturity below the heart stops at power and control; truthfully, right where we are now. To rise to the heart, we must advance beyond the compulsive entitlement of our narcissistic instinctual desires. In a country that now sets the standard for the world as me first, instinctual drives are unlikely to rise to the level of combining sexual drive with true human love and consideration for another. We just aren’t there yet.

Nonetheless, the rising feminine, be it in the Me Too movement or in political activism, is being mostly promulgated by the ultimate feminine herself, Gaia, Mother Earth, who is absolutely insisting that mankind take respectful care of her body and come together as an interdependent whole to face the real deficits in human maturity by rising to the true heart of the matter.

Let’s see what happens,

Chuck

*Jan wrote a blog about this encounter on The Recapitulation Diaries Facebook page.

Chuck’s Place: Father, Mother & The Road to Maturity

The Archetypes as they might appear…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Father’s sperm sows Mother’s egg. Mother’s body fleshes out Father’s spirit. All human life issues from this primal happening. The basic archetypes of mother and father traverse the full breadth of human life, from creator to created to beloved.

Children first encounter these powerful building blocks of human life in their personal parents who generate, sustain, and protect their lives. Freud enshrined this primal nursery scene of dependence and love upon omnipotent parents as the core playing field of life, such was his conviction of the immutable powers and attraction of one’s family of origin.

Jung went on to demonstrate how the mother and father archetypes are projected beyond parents onto gods, the sun and the moon, kings and queens, presidents, authority figures, friends, lovers and spouses. As children grow, the numinous energy of the mother and father archetypes extend into encounters with people and objects in the world beyond the family crucible.

With the dawning of adolescence and the emergence of sexuality young people begin to experience desires and compulsions that generate fixations of falling in love. The object of these projections, the one wanted, is imbued with the numinous energy and need that harkens back to the primal archetypes of life: Mother and Father.

This numinous energy projected upon a desired other may be experienced as ecstatic bliss, terror, anxiety, paralysis or even aggression, the drive to conquer that which feels too powerful. Way beyond adolescence we may still tremble at making contact or feeling worthy enough to approach the one who embodies the god/goddess energy of these projections.

In ancient times rights of initiation to facilitate an individual’s ability to mature into an adult capable of making contact with a coveted other were commonplace. The Dionysian Mysteries of Ancient Greece and Rome were just one of the many cults serving this function.

In our modern rational world, we no longer value the transformative power nor the necessity of formal initiation rites to facilitate the maturity needed to take on the deeper challenges of meeting and fully connecting with a blessed other. The task of initiation in the modern world takes place in the inner sanctuary of the human psyche and body, often through the guidance and support of a knowledgeable therapist.

The call to initiation is frequently encountered in the anxiety, terror, longing, and excitement—all numinous energy—of a potential relationship. The stages of the initiation process are directed by the problems encountered in approaching a relationship.

Often, the first problem is the power of the projection itself. The desired other may be experienced as a god or goddess whose glow is so powerful that you feel unable to actually look directly into the solar rays experienced as emanating from this human form. Perhaps the heart pounds so hard it can be heard out loud; perhaps the vocal cords seize up, unable to make a sound. These are the presenting problems.

Perhaps this desired person appears in a dream with a loving, welcoming smile and you are drawn into sensuous embrace. Upon awakening you feel warmed, in a state of grace. Perhaps you spend the day immersed in the communion of the dream-memory, generating more and more fantasies of delight. Perhaps this secret romance goes on for weeks, a love affair with an inner god/goddess image in your private world of fantasy.

Suddenly, one night, this dream lover may appear in a new dream with another date. You are no longer desired! The impact: devastation and depression.

What is the lesson here from the god/goddess?

Perhaps you have been lured into the trap of feeling entitled to own this living figure whom you have enslaved in fantasy to attend to your sensual desires. Perhaps the god/goddess is teaching that this is infantile behavior, an adult expecting the one-sided attention appropriate only in the nursery.

Furthermore, the god/goddess may also be pointing out that nothing has really been achieved, as no real or substantial contact has been made with the human being so powerfully pined for.

Another dream may then issue forth that signals you to be a hero, to cross a raging river despite the odds. The prompting of such a dream might be challenging you to be your own hero, to shield your eyes from the overpowering projection of the god/goddess and actually make small talk with the real human person of interest, to go beyond your comfort zone and put it out there.

And so, the initiation proceeds with the waking task to approach the desired one, as well as the private task to cease indulging in infantile fantasy and face the reality that genuine contact with a human being requires getting to know them, in a down-to-earth way.

The various tasks of initiation are many sided and are determined by the specific needs of each individual unique personality. The temples of initiation are alive and active within our own inner beings. We encounter the gods and goddesses of those temples in many of our human relationships.

If we remain uninitiated we will experience ourselves as children, still needing the sustenance and protection of others. This returns us to the vicissitudes of Freud’s Oedipus complex, projected onto our adult relationships, which will continue to present us with all kinds of challenges.

Best to take up the journey of adulthood, launched successfully by an active engagement of ego with the vicissitudes of the primal archetypes that guide us all on the road to maturity.

That’s what it’s all about, folks!

Chuck

A blog by Chuck Ketchel, a man of knowledge; one who knows that he doesn’t know

Chuck’s Place: Initiation

Rites of initiation are painful transformations…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Initiation is instinct. Instinct is nature. Nature is the collective unconscious. The collective unconscious is the greater part of all that we are that we don’t know about.

We are born of egg and seed, the program of who we are set at conception. Nature provides initiation to reshape us at our necessary transitions in life, those important moments that are necessary to completely fulfill who we are.

Jung pointed out that our conscious attitude has the choice to submit to fulfilling who we are. On the other hand, if we choose incorrectly the collective unconscious will confront us, first in dream, next in neurosis and, ultimately, if we miss those calls, in the events we encounter in our lives, which will be fashioned to enforce our initiation.

Ancient tribes were closest to nature’s imperative. The great transition from childhood to adulthood was required by all through participation in initiations of severe torture and deep mystery to enact a shedding of the immature child self and the solid formation of a mature adult self capable of taking proper care of self and other.

Our modern world has long lost its connection to and respect for “primitive” initiation rites. On a global scale the results of this lost connection are evident in the puer aeternus leaders caught in the immaturity of their preadolescent sex and power games.

As a world, we are increasingly engulfed in a world of addiction. Ultimately, addiction is preadolescent fixation on dependency and power and, at the same time, an attempt to challenge the self to transform by going too far. Sometimes that leap is fatal. Sometimes it leads to consequences that awaken spiritual transformation and transition into adulthood.

One thing is certain, though we may refuse the call to initiation it will find us in some form in this modern world of ours. Our leaders are definitely creating the conditions for worldwide transformation right now, though they have no idea what nature has in store for them.

As individuals, if we search the truth that resides within us we will identify the initiations we are ourselves in the midst of. If we can join our intent with nature’s intent to become who we truly our, we free ourselves from the victim mentality that rages against the harshness of our initiation and solidify into the mature adult beings we truly are meant to become, marching toward fulfillment at last.

No easy road to freedom,

Chuck

Chuck’s Place: Recapitulation As A Rite of Initiation

The purpose of initiation is to provide a viable bridge for crossing from one stage of self to another. The child, who must become an adult, must be released from a deep instinctual longing for symbiotic comfort and fully move forward into adult fulfillment.

The road ahead may be unclear as we stumble forward into adulthood...

If that deep instinctual longing is not transformed into adult aims, what ensues, as we move through the life cycle, is a splintering of self. That uninitiated, splintered self, with no clear bridge to cross, is left to deal with its fragments as best it can as it stumbles forward, unprepared, into adult life. Of necessity, a present self, an adult self of sorts, will be forged, charged with adapting to the flow and expectations of everyday life. Denied, splintered parts of the self will take up residence in the background of the psyche, separate selves with separate needs, islands of discontent and protest, creating disturbance in the great sea of the self.

Indigenous human ancestors performed initiation rites to safely transport youth into full-fledged adulthood, thus creating a definite bridge between childhood and adult life. These rites forced the initiate into ritual sacrifice that consisted of some form of wounding, be it circumcision, a solo journey, or other form of transformative encounter. Survivors of the ordeal were then welcomed back into the community, in adult roles now, never to return to their childhood homes. Through a deeply meaningful process, longing was transformed into love and protection of the greater community and finding a mate to create one’s own nuclear family.

Collective initiation rites have long since faded from the human landscape. Modern humans are largely left to their own devices to navigate through major life transitions. Recapitulation is such a device to successfully traverse life changes. Through recapitulation we gather up the multiplicity of our splintered selves, take a ritual solo journey, and launch a united self into life’s fulfillment.

Recapitulation, like all initiation rites, incorporates sacrifice. In recapitulation the present self enters the world of the younger self and bears witness to and personally experiences the feelings, physical sensations, needs and confusions of its splintered self.

The most important task of the recapitulation process is for the adult self to be fully present, to take the journey without judgment, as the truths of life lived are revealed in intimate detail. Sometimes the process unfolds slowly, in piecemeal recall; at other times in rapid-fire reliving, like a labor that can’t be stopped until the total experience is fully birthed.

Sometimes we don't quite know where we are or which direction to take...

The ability of the adult self to remain fully present with the younger self through the contractions of this birthing process allows the defensive structures that held back secrets and maintained separation to be dismantled once and for all—they are no longer necessary.

The deepest needs of the splintered self are met through the stable presence of the adult self. No matter what shape that adult self is in, it must remain firmly present, even though it must also face the same fear, shame, anger, hatred, etc. that the younger self encounters as it relives its experiences. As the adult self reencounters experiences alongside the younger self, it must constantly reassert its present state of knowing, maintaining balanced awareness of the two worlds it must navigate through. It must bring to bear tools and guidance that the younger self did not have available, constantly reasserting its mature knowledge of how the world and the psyche work.

As the younger self faces the past head on, the adult self aids the process as the journey unfolds, gradually growing in acceptance of and love for the younger self and the journey taken. Eventually, this integration process of acceptance and love extends to loving and caring for the present adult self as well. Thus, the energy and aims of the younger self are allowed to be born and integrated into the evolving whole of the present self, manifesting in real life changes of attitude, appearance, and behavior. This is change. This is transformation. We are then freed, a new present adult self fully ready to take up the task of living our unlived life. This is recapitulation launching us into individuation, wholeness, and fulfillment.

This ancient practice of recapitulation is fully available in modern times, but in contrast to the collective initiation rites of our ancestors, it can only be done on an individual basis. Who else could recapitulate my life but me?

Though others can facilitate and support, the process of becoming whole requires taking a journey of assimilation within the self. And that assimilation requires a mature present self willing to embrace and endure the full process, as the truth of the self is revealed.

Eventually, we fully bloom!

In the recapitulating of past woundings the adult self goes through the necessary initiation to cross the bridge into fuller adulthood and fuller responsibility for life lived and life yet to unfold. This endurance of old woundings is the sacrifice necessary to free the stifled energy of splintered selves into finding real life in the evolving wholeness of the present self.

In taking the solo journey to assimilation we free ourselves to fully live in this lifetime, as caring, loving individuals, and we have no idea what that might mean until we are there, living it!

Chuck