Tag Archives: initiation

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!


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’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!