Tag Archives: inner spirit

Chuck’s Place: Finding Numen

However it comes…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Behind the scenes in all of us is a force that strongly attracts our attention, a primal something we seek union with. That something, though widely variable in what it attaches to or is reflected in, embodies a numen, what the Romans called the energy of a divine power or presence.

Literally, numen is defined as a nod of the head by a divine presence. In ancient Rome when someone sought guidance they would go to the temple of a god, pose their question and await a nod, some movement that expressed the will of the god, like a gust of wind.

Even in an age dominated by reason, the drive for encounter with some powerful irrational force remains the prime mover and shaker of our lives. One need only look to the headlining quote of the New York Times today, “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen,” to see an outer expression of the tension, fascination, and tremendum of potential explosive numinous encounter. As the world is spellbound at this current missile crisis, let us turn our attention inward to find  the presence of this numinous encounter in our own personal lives. Locating and working with these encounters within changes the world at a grassroots level.

Numinous encounters are powerful. We experience them with awe, fear and trembling, with thumping heart, blissful ecstasy, compulsion, fascination, urgency, and at times as utter calmness and stillness. A numinous encounter might lift one to the heights of spiritual union or cast one into the depths of trauma.

By definition, trauma is a human reaction to an encounter with a completely unexpected overpowering force greater than one’s ability to assimilate it, which consequently lodges itself in some hidden, fragmentary way within our unsuspecting selves. There it remains buried, perhaps for years, though it continues to exert its terrifying numinous power over the life of its human host.

Only a recapitulation of that traumatic event, which relives and fully assimilates the numinous traumatic encounter, can relieve an individual of its binding fixation, allowing for deeper, more fulfilling numinous encounters to occur in life.

Numen at the lower energy body centers in the human body, from the root to the solar plexus, offers access to divine union with the material fixations of sex, security, power, and substance.

Such numen might draw us back to the blissful experience of symbiotic union in the womb of mother, prior to our being planted as an individual in this human realm of earth. Thus, the ocean, with its mesmerizing rhythm and pulse, may draw us to re-union with this primal experience and rejuvenation in the numen of a beach vacation.

Some might pursue that same numen through the substance of alcohol or the needle of opiate as the ticket to that lulling oceanic bliss within. Addiction is the fixation of numen upon an object, which is why it is so difficult to dislodge. Bill W., AA co-founder, realized in his own numinous encounter with God that it was only an encounter with a power greater than oneself that could dislodge a numen from the substance it had attached to.

Numen frequently attaches itself to food. The ecstasy of binge, of purge, of refusal are all numinous dances with divine power ensconced in food. Reason is no match to dislodge numen from this encounter, to the dismay of family and loved ones. Only a humbled ego, saturated with many a groundhog day of ecstasy and futility, may be ready to move on to deeper numinous experiences beyond the mana of food.

Sexuality is another powerful fixation of numen in the lives of human beings. Freud must be credited with identifying this numen, as it first fixates in the primal family, as an overarching factor in the development of the personality, and of civilization as well. Enduring attachment to the primal family can result in great struggle in finding fulfillment beyond the relationships in the family.

The fixation of numen on one’s parents can result in a lifetime of bemoaning the emotional and material sustenance that one needed and felt entitled to as a child. Numinous energy can become caught here in the torment of regret, resentment, anger, and powerlessness. This can result in a numinous, passionate obsession with unfairness.

The fascination, urging, and compulsivity of the numen of sexuality might find abstract relief in the web of internet opportunities or instantaneous union through online dating. The numen of sexuality may remain ensconced in the flesh alone or find its way to loving connection freed of or in combination with its biological imperative.

Obsession with merger with another in relationship may become the dominating numen of a lifetime. However, in many instances the numen for personal power trumps the concern for love or connection. For instance, the numen of union with the divine might transmogrify into the conquest and accumulation of countless partners, an unending quest to posses more of everything.

The numen of unlimited power can attach to money, material possession, or political dominance. Underlying this numen is merger with infinity and the boundless, characterized by an insatiable quest for unlimited growth and acquisition. The substances that might attach to this power numen are alcohol, which melts away boundaries and limitations, or cocaine and methamphetamine, drugs that transform ordinary human attributes into super powers.

Numen at the higher energy body centers in the human body, from the heart to the crown, offer access to divine union beyond the material fixations of sex, security, power, and substance. Numinosity at this level is energetic union beyond the confines of the body, which is achieved through spiritual practices such as meditation and shamanic dreaming. Alcohol and hallucinogens can become the numinous trappings for seekers at this level as they suspend the defenses which keep the psyche cohesive and expose it to other configurations of reality that may be benevolent or shattering, a bad trip from which one may never return.

As is evident from this sampling of possible numinous engagements, some can promote growth and evolution, while others can be lethal. Once a numinous attachment sets in it can seem impossible to break it, such is the power of this religious hunger. We do best to see the attachment as just that, a religious rite, as reason is no match for compulsion.

Finding out how we personally do our numinous rites in our lives is essential if we are to become truly conscious and aware beings. If we can bring consciousness to, and respect the power of these numinous unions, we can then decide if we are where we truly need or want to be. Have we engaged the right numen?

Ego does have the power to agree to engagement with numen or to refuse it. To refuse a numen is to bear tremendous tension and suffering, however, it can be done. And ultimately, if we refuse that which is not right, the path will open to that which is right.

Finding numen,


Soulbyte for Wednesday June 28, 2017

It’s never too late to make a change, for the spirit does not succumb to the same frailties as the body but remains always vigorous and ready for anything. Even when the stubborn body refuses to move the spirit is ready and willing. You just have to take the first step. No other guide truly knows you and what you need, but your spirit sure does. It’s just waiting for your call!

-From the Soul Sisters, Jan & Jeanne

A Day in a Life: Petty Tyrants & The Quiet One Within

Petty tyrants come in many forms.

Petty Tyrants come in many forms and present us with many disturbing quandaries. I recently faced a petty tyrant, not a person I had perceived as such before, and it took me a few days to realize that I had been challenged very deeply. My petty tyrant ascertained that I must, of course, feel a certain way.

“No, actually, I don’t feel that way at all,” I responded. But almost immediately a small voice inside me posed a question. “Am I doing something wrong?” it wanted to know, and a feeling that I’m not doing life properly set in. I’m a disappointment. I’m bad. I don’t uphold certain conventions of family, of relationship, the structures of society that are often perceived as so proper and utterly necessary: this is how things are done and if you don’t uphold these standards then something is wrong with you. I was uncomfortable in that moment. A shadow descended and stayed with me for days before I finally realized that a petty tyrant had come into my midst.

A petty tyrant, according to the Seers of Ancient Mexico, is anyone or thing that makes us question ourselves, makes us angry, puts us on the defensive, affronts us or makes us feel foolish, diminished, unworthy. They come to fool with us, to challenge us, and to ask us to face our true selves. Unfathomed by boundaries they slip into our lives and wreak havoc, wrecking our staunch perceptions of the world. Judging, condescending, and selfish, they criticize us and pummel our egos.

In psychological terms, a petty tyrant bears our projections; our deepest issues and fears are placed on another, while we unconsciously ask them to carry them for us. In turn we may despise this other person, find fault with them, disagree with them, and overall find their company disturbing and uncomfortable.

We can stay attached to our petty tyrants for years. We begin our lives with them, in our parents, our teachers, our siblings, our childhood friends and foes. Often they follow us into adulthood, deeply embedded inside us. Along for the ride they find new residence in others we meet and interact with, in those we marry and have relationships with.

In my book, The Man in the Woods, book one of The Recapitulation Diaries, I write of my process of facing the petty tyrants that had haunted and controlled me far into adulthood. I confronted not only people but also ideas, thoughts, and beliefs that had been ingrained in the natural process of growing up in the family and society I encountered during childhood.

Later, in adulthood, with those conventions still active, I lived steeped in great inner conflict. Uncertain as to what was so wrong with me, I nonetheless knew that I was deeply wounded. However, I could not allow myself to attach much significance to that deep inner truth, for I had been taught that it was selfish to even think about the self in any way. Time and thoughts were meant to be utilized in the rational world, in being part of an external world that I found deeply disturbing.

It was not until I faced the disturbing world inside myself that I was finally able to release myself from that disturbing outer world that I just could not find a foothold in. Through recapitulating everything about myself, by allowing myself to be selfish enough to do deep inner exploration, I found my way through a myriad of false impressions and beliefs. Fully conscious, I faced and did battle with all manner of petty tyrants during my recapitulation. I reconnected with my inner spirit, the quiet one within, who had been calling to me for decades, asking me to find her again and live her life, a life of individuality and freedom, open to a far greater world than the conventional, rational, fearful one I had grown up in.

I think I did a pretty good job of recapitulating, so that when I recently found myself being challenged to react in an expected way, I immediately recoiled. “No, I don’t think that way at all!” But in the next second I found myself stumbling before this mighty view of reality. I faltered in the face of expectation that, of course, I would give the correct, pat answer, that I would agree, conventional boundaries upheld, the world as it should be, undisturbed.

In the second that I stumbled, I became inarticulate, and the inner child self immediately stepped in and asked that old question, “Oh dear, am I bad? Am I heartless, cold and unfeeling because I don’t think like that anymore?”

Now I see that I was set up to confront the decisions I make every day as I continue my journey. I have been offered such freedom as I have shed old world structures and ideas that I no longer believe in or care to uphold. No, I was being challenged to more firmly realize just how committed I am to my path.

The path is very clear.

For a short while my foot wavered as I lifted it, ready to take my next step. Where would I put it down? Would I let it fall back in an old world, simply for convention’s sake, to appease the petty tyrant? Or would I let it fall solidly on the path I have been on for so long now, committed to following my spirit, in spite of what others might think of me? Could I shed my ego in more ways than one, inflated ego and deflated ego alike, and stay true to my evolving spirit self?

As I put my foot firmly down on my spiritual path, solidly aligned with my recapitulating self, I also acknowledged the role of the petty tyrants in my life. Those petty tyrants do indeed still step out of the shadows and challenge me. Some of them I am used to. I meet them regularly enough and I am rarely thrown by them. But there are others, friends and strangers alike, who offer more abrupt and unexpected challenges. And then the question becomes, whom do I disappoint, them or my spirit? I choose the path of my spirit every time, even if it takes me a few days to realize that I have been wavering, confused, doggedly pursued by a petty tyrant.

Now, having recognized the situation for what it was, I am once again back on track, seeking balance in this world while simultaneously exploring the meaning and possibilities that lie ahead, in this world and all worlds.

As boundaries between worlds constantly dissolve, I find that we are all petty tyrants, to ourselves as well as to others. We challenge as much as we are challenged. Can we accept ourselves in such roles? In addition, I have discovered that my inner spirit is my own greatest petty tyrant, the quiet one within who constantly challenges me to keep questioning and keep questing. Who are your petty tyrants and how do they challenge you?

Recapitulating in everyday life is the way to keep changing and growing, to stay connected to the quiet one within, the inner spirit self who, we discover, knows all.

Much love to you all, as you take your journeys,