Tag Archives: inner work

Soulbyte for Wednesday October 4, 2017

To live a healthy life take responsibility for yourself and your actions. Dutifully tend to inner fires so that outer fires do not flare up. In taking care of the needs of the self in mature fashion, with patience and fortitude, one becomes innerly calm and one leaves the outer environment calmer too. Distorted views often begin with disturbed inner visions or ideas. Mind the self, body and soul, by seeking proper guidance and in so doing make progress toward a healthy persona, finding peace within so that peace without may also reign.

-From the Soul Sisters, Jan & Jeanne

Soulbyte for Tuesday October 3, 2017

During these times of great change make great changes in your own life that support a new and different worldview, one based on new and yet ancient principles of balance and equality, of moderation and consolidation, of positive inner attitude and generous outlook. Look inside the self for the resources most applicable and called for now, love and kindness for instance, and bring them out into the world. Do not fear sharing yourself in this loving way for it is in sharing your deeper self that you will discover that all beings share a need for understanding and acceptance. These are the principles now needed, along with a good dose of heart centered compassion for all beings, even those who hate and kill. This too is keeping things in balance. The eternal struggle between good and evil lies within all beings, even you. Evil has been ignored for too long, dismissed as not acceptable, and that is why it is acting out. It will not be resolved until it is acknowledged and accepted as part of life too. Accept all sides of the self. Set yourself right with your inner world and help get the outer world right too. As within so without.

-From the Soul Sisters, Jan & Jeanne

Soulbyte for Friday September 15, 2017

Look to your body to tell you what you need to know about yourself, the living organism that is you. Look to your soul as well. Know yourself inside as much as outside in order to accomplish this feat, for fully knowing the self is one of the most worthy endeavors of a lifetime. For if you can know yourself on the deepest levels you can know all of life on deeper levels. Know yourself so that you may be free to fully be yourself. Knowing yourself means facing yourself every day and facing who you truly are, all of you, body and soul, the complete picture, and accepting all of it. Know yourself fully. You will never regret it. And then you will know what’s right, how to be, how to act, how to truly communicate in the world on ever deeper levels too.

-From the Soul Sisters, Jan & Jeanne

The Imp Strikes Again!

As I recapitulate, it’s winter, near Christmas time. My friend Cathy and I are babysitting for friends of my parents, people my mother considers intelligent and worth knowing, people they are going to a party with, carpooling with them. Cathy is there because we have made plans for a sleepover at my house and I have asked the family if she could babysit with me. The family has been assured that Cathy is a nice girl, like me, reliable, a trustworthy babysitter.

That little imp!
-Detail of Artwork by Jan Ketchel

The kids are asleep. Cathy and I get hungry. We make macaroni and eat it at the kitchen table. Sitting on the table is a massive ornate wreath made of, funnily enough, various kinds of dried pasta shapes, spray painted gold, kind of tacky, but at the same time I can appreciate the amount of work that has gone into making it. It’s beautiful simply because of its size and intricacy. The thing is huge, a foot and a half in diameter at the very least, and it weighs a ton!

After eating we become bored. Babysitting is boring. We stare each other in the eyes and without saying a word begin pushing the wreath toward the edge of the table. First one of us gives it a nudge, then the other, which is more like a shove because of the heaviness of the thing. Goading each other on, the excitement grows. Do we dare? The wreath makes it to the edge of the table, then it’s teetering on the edge, half on, half off. One more push and over it will go. Who gives it the last shove? Me, of course!

That imp inside me, and the imp outside of me in my friend Cathy both ask me the same question just before I give it one final shove.

“Are you really going to do it? Really?”

How could I not?

It is one of the most thrilling moments of my life. The moment I shove it and watch it soar over the edge and hear it crash to the kitchen floor, golden pasta shells scattering all over the place, is one of the most exhilarating of my life. I did it! I feel a tremendous rush of energy. A devil-may-care attitude sweeps through me and my heart jolts as I realize I have actually done it! Me! I’ve done it! We laugh like crazy and then panic sets in! We have to fix it, somehow! What are we going to do!

Frantically checking the clock, the driveway, listening for the door, we set about righting our wrong, our big wrong! No glue is to be found, though we search through every drawer in the house. So, resourceful being that I am, I cook up a glue of flour and water. We pick up the shattered thing, pieces and all, and try to repair the damage. It’s not easy and it’s not very successful either. It’s pretty obvious that something has happened to the wreath.

“Well,” I say, “let’s leave it on the counter, the bad side turned toward the wall. Maybe they won’t notice.”

We clean up the kitchen, leaving it sparkling, go upstairs and check on the children, hoping they have not been disturbed by all the noise we’ve been making and then we go into the living room and sit on the sofa. It’s a cold house, an old farmhouse with stone floors and walls, low ceilings and thick dark beams. We sit there on the sofa in our coats, shivering. What’s going to happen? Will they notice right away? Or can we get out of the house before they do? Our plan is to be ready to leave as soon as they come home.

“Oh, how cute you two are!” the mother says as she and her husband enter the house well after midnight. We jump up and stand there ready to go, schoolbooks clutched to our chests. They want to talk, to hear how it went. We just want to get the heck out of there!

My parents are waiting in their car outside. It’s snowing. We make uncomfortable small talk as we drive slowly home in the falling snow. It’s the longest ride I’ve ever taken. We get home and Cathy and I go right to bed, fearful of what tomorrow will bring. Maybe we did a good enough repair job that they won’t notice. We discuss our possible fate, worrying for a long time, and eventually fall asleep.

Seven in the morning my mother hammers on my bedroom door, shouting.

“Mrs. So-and-So is on the phone and she’s very upset,” my mother says. “What have you done? What did you girls do?” My mother is livid.

“Jan, do you have something to tell me?” Mrs. So-and-So says when I pick up the phone.

“Nooo, I don’t think so,” I say.

“Well, I think you do,” says Mrs. So-and-So, “what did you girls do to my wreath?”

“Ohhhh, thaaat. Well it got accidentally knocked off the table by an elbow when we were cleaning up.”

“I don’t believe you, Jan,” she says, and then Mrs. So-and-So goes off on me, telling me that she doesn’t think I’m the culprit, that it must have been that other girl, because she knows me and doesn’t know Cathy. She knows I would never do something so terrible, so it must have been Cathy who did it.

“No, you have it wrong,” I say. “It wasn’t Cathy, I did it.”

I refuse to let Cathy take the blame. I don’t at all like the way Mrs. So-and-So is skewing the story. What she is saying is just not true. I persist in telling her that it was completely my fault, that I knocked it onto the floor, “by accident” I insist, because I just cannot cop to the real truth. No matter what I say she just won’t believe me. In the end she delivers the final blow.

“You will never babysit for me again.”

But that is not the end of it. My mother is waiting. She screams at me. I’ve embarrassed her. I’m a disappointment. Cathy has to leave and never set foot in our house again. I’m grounded. I go back into my bedroom and tell Cathy what Mrs. So-and-So said. I tell her what my mother said. We’re both scared. She’s scared she’ll get into trouble at home too. We’re both shaking with shame as she gathers her things and leaves.

News of our disgrace spread fast. It seemed as if half the neighborhood already knew. All our friends knew, other girls who babysat and were secretly happy that we, the perfect ones, had screwed up. All the other mothers whom we regularly babysat for heard about it and for a long time we were off the babysitting list. Even though we only got paid 50 cents an hour, and a dollar after midnight, it was our only spending money.

We had to bear the shame, humiliation, and embarrassment for a long time. Eventually, the hubbub died down as someone else did something worse, boys stealing mail out of mailboxes, one of my brothers involved, my parents ashamed and embarrassed again. And Cathy and I did become trusted babysitters again, but never for that family. But after that incident the trend was to never have two girls babysitting at the same time. Bad things can happen!

In recapitulating this vignette, I once again encounter the imp inside me, her thrill seeking spirit and how I consciously let her take possession of me. I chose to allow her to act, that’s pretty clear, and the draw was the numinous thrill of bringing down that massive structure, sending it crashing to the floor. The imp opened the door to a sense of power that clearly compensated for the good girl persona I had to uphold and the utter powerlessness of the years of sexual abuse that dominated my life.

I see and experience the imp as a pure nature spirit, a lightning bolt, a storm of energy that is thrilling to engage, absolutely thrilling.  That thrill is a powerful draw in its own right, but my fascination with her was also connected to the compensation she offered. She did not overtake me; I signed up to go with her. No blame for the imp. In fact, she may have kept me sane.

I am well aware of this character in my personality and appreciate her daring spirit still. She, in an integrated way now, is part of what enables me to channel every day or write honest books and blogs about the truth of my life. No more need to smash any wreaths, now I’m just telling the truth.

That imp is an essential part of my being. In communication with her I get to live life to the fullest. Gotta’ love her!

A blog by Jan Ketchel, Author of The Recapitulation Diaries

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,


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