Tag Archives: magical passes

Chuck’s Place: The Intent of Recapitulation

The gateway to recapitulation is focused intent…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

My first encounter with the shamanic practice of Recapitulation was at The Westwood Seminar in Los Angeles in 1997, that year’s annual summer intensive for Tensegrity practitioners. Carlos Castaneda stressed the seriousness of this ancient shamanic Magical Pass, which required a complete reliving of one’s life in preparation for the freedom to fly free, into infinity, at the time of the death of one’s human form.

For Jeanne and I, our ancient Catholic foundation was stirred, as we feared the equivalent of going to Hell if we did not complete our recapitulation before death! Well, I know that Jeanne did indeed make the cut when she left her human form, though she did have to touch back briefly to clear up some unfinished business with her birth mother before she could fully move on. (See the final chapter in The Book of Us for a recount of this unfinished business.)

When Jan and I discovered that recapitulation could actually serve as a total healing tool for complex PTSD, we realized that recapitulation had vast application beyond the shamanic preparation for one’s definitive journey.

In addition, I was synchronistically drawn to EMDR at the same time I was introduced to Recapitulation. I realized that recapitulation and EMDR shared a bilateral feature as their processing mechanism. I also realized that REM sleep shared this same bilateral mechanism, the processing function of ordinary dreaming.

I have capitalized on the innate biological mechanism of bilateral processing in much of my clinical work, but I have also come to discover that intent itself is really at the crux of everything.

When an individual sets the intent to recapitulate, that is, to fully retrieve energy that is sidelined or frozen, by incomplete processing or resolution of prior or inherent experience, something takes over and turns the totality of current life into experiences of what needs to be recapitulated.

Many clients, who are recapitulating traumatic events of which they have no current memory but which form the etiology of their complex PTSD, have discovered that memories begin to appear in no apparent order, haphazardly and from many different periods of their lives, which absolutely insist upon being processed.

Memories may be triggered by bodily pains, dreams, current interactions, smells, sounds—almost anything serves as a projective screen for a memory to reveal itself. Once fully recapitulated, another memory begins to flesh out, of its own non-conscious accord, often from a totally different time and circumstance, perhaps skipping over many other traumas that occurred in between.

The point here is that the intent of recapitulation itself, once engaged, becomes the director of the actual remembering, determining the sequence, frequency, and unique presentation of new memories and how they are brought to consciousness. I have come to trust intent’s illusive logic in directing an unfolding recapitulation, because the necessary healing appears to require its own idiosyncratic, sequential building blocks, constructed through the order of one’s personal unfolding memory triggers and encounters.

Though I hardly suggest that anyone embark upon the journey of traumatic recapitulation without a seasoned guide, I cannot deny anyone the knowledge of their birthright, their own access to the intent of recapitulation, the ultimate soul retrieval journey. To fully retrieve one’s energy is to be fully present to facing oncoming time.

Finally, when I learned the magical passes for intent in the shaman’s world, we practiced yelling the word, “Intent!” very loudly and firmly. And so, I simply recommend firmly stating, out loud, one’s intent to recapitulate, thus affirming one’s conscious decision to partner with the intent of recapitulation, a most worthy higher power.

Wishing you good luck on your journey.



Chuck’s Place: Reconciliation Of Retrograde

Trickster energy… - Photo by Chuck Ketchel
Trickster energy…
– Photo by Chuck Ketchel

It’s 6:21 AM. I’m driving slowly along the windy hilly roads to work. My mind is preoccupied with the experience Jan and I had last Friday at the VA Hospital in Albany. We’d been invited to present on PTSD. We decided to give an experiential presentation for which I’d brought my EMDR light bar. There was a delay getting into the conference room, as a prior meeting was spilling over into our time. Our presentation time was compromised, as another presenter was to follow immediately after us.

Once we finally entered the room, I quickly attempted to set up the equipment. Suddenly we entered a cartoon-like dream. Everything we touched, although meticulously packed, fell apart. The tripod literally fell into pieces, impossible to reassemble.

“Okay,” I resolve, “I’ll hold the light bar without the stand.” As I go to clip the control switch into the bar I discover that the clip is broken. There is no salvaging the equipment now! That’s it, I decide, the trickster shaman’s world trumps. The Magical Breathing Pass of Recapitulation will have to be the main experiential feature. And so, about 25 people learned and experienced this ancient Magical Pass and it’s application to PTSD.

As I continue to drive to work, I recall that the time crunch of the presentation also precluded a brief group hypnosis that Jan was to give at the close of the talk. Suddenly, my awareness is abruptly drawn back to the present moment: a young deer is staring at me, frozen in the road. I slam on the brakes—a near miss!

The symbol for Mercury...
The symbol for Mercury…

What does it all mean? For the past several days, I’ve been experiencing and observing opposition and retrograde. We exist and are composed of fields of competing energies. Mercury, the trickster energy, is indeed in retrograde. At the VA we experienced the ancient shamanic energy opposing and trumping the modern mechanical/technological world. At the moment I recalled the opposition of time and trance—no time for a group hypnosis—I was awoken from my own highway hypnosis to not kill a deer. Here was the opposition of time and timelessness: being present in this moment to not kill a deer vs being lost in the timeless world of the mind’s meanderings.

We all struggle with oppositions within the self. Carlos Castaneda relates in Magical Passes how don Juan Matus explained this in a metaphorical sense: “…that we are composed of a number of single nations: the nation of the lungs, the nation of the heart, the nation of the kidneys, and so on. Each of these nations sometimes works independently of the others, but at the moment of death, all of them are unified into one single entity.” (pp. 103-4)

Our challenge in this life is to reconcile those oppositions within us, the trickster included, into an integrated whole, in a process that Jung termed individuation.

Sometimes the nation of the stomach craves that which the other nations of the body reject. Sometimes the neocortex—our rational brain—rejects the impulses and needs of our limbic system—our animal brain.

When my neocortex confronted the frozen limbic response of the deer in my headlights, it managed to direct my body to hit the brakes. My own limbic system worked in concert with my neocortex to supply the rapid response to react physically to the crises at hand. This is an optimal response—nations of the self unified, acting in concert.

In times of retrograde, Mercury, the trickster, can confound all attempts at collaboration. Mercury laughed as I fumbled with the equipment at the VA. Rather than fight, I read the signs and immediately shifted. Acquiescing, I flowed with the energy of the moment and instead taught deep bodily knowledge.

Opposition is within us all...
Opposition is within us all…

When I asked the I Ching for guidance regarding this period of retrograde, it once again, not surprisingly, produced the hexagram of Opposition, #38. The moving lines—in the third and fourth places—depicted a wagon with oxen being dragged backwards. Now there’s a retrograde image! The guidance reads: though humiliation might occur, sit tight, wait, align with a likeminded person who can be trusted. In the case of the faulty light bar, I turned to my neocortex, which acted in concert with spirit: Go with the flow, trust the Magical Pass.

In shaman’s terms, the guidance is to suspend judgment, to look beyond the impasse. Reconciliation lies in the deeper meaning of the trickster’s intent—to reveal a deeper truth: The ancient Magical Pass of Recapitulation is all you need to be freed of PTSD.

We can reconcile with all our retrograde energies if we accept their opposition with patience and perseverance, not falling for the trap of self-blame. The deeper meaning of Mercury’s retrograde lies in the wings of Mercury—our freedom to fly—achievable if we don’t get caught in the heaviness of opposition.

Flowing on the wings of Mercury,

Chuck’s Place: Energetic Fact or Phantom?

What does your conjuring mind look like? - Photo by Jan Ketchel
What does your conjuring mind look like?
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Riding in the front of the train, we encounter oncoming time, what is factually, energetically happening right in front of us, NOW. Speculation, in contrast, is riding in the caboose, the back of the train, inundated with mindless ruminating on life lived or life possibly to be lived, as the energetic facts of our life—what is happening now—passes us by without our awareness. Speculation plants the seeds of obsession, which in turn generates phantom life—energetic capital spent on an unreal world, an abstract world that runs on our vital energy. Energetic fact disappears as we are inundated with phantom “what ifs.”

Phantom life is generated by obsessional thinking before sleep or upon awakening in the middle of the night. Phantom life is worry, energy given over to the conjuring mind. Phantom life literally sucks the life out of us. Phantom life cannot exist if we don’t fund it with vast amounts of our energy.

In order to perceive the true energetic facts of our lives, we need silence—detachment from the internal dialogue that incessantly conjures our view of the world and all that we encounter. We need silence so we can see what is really there.

Silence is not the absence of noise, nor the absence of dialogue. Silence is mastery over where we choose to place our attention. If we let the mind say what it will, let the noise in the surround remain while we disengage our attention from its activity, we unhook, or de-tach. In this way, we free our awareness.

I offer a few simple examples of phantom thought and practical aids to achieving silence. If I really focus my awareness on an inhalation, I notice that I cannot hold a thought. If I am gripped by a thought that evolves into a phantom story, I notice that my breathing slows to a mere maintenance level as the story takes precedence. If I shift my awareness away from the phantom story that my mind is busy conjuring up and take a deep breath instead, the story desists. The two cannot exist simultaneously.

If I do Tensegrity, the Magical Passes of Carlos Castaneda’s lineage, I cannot maintain a thought. If I step into thought, I cannot remember the next move in the pass. I cannot maintain thought and accuracy of movement simultaneously. Magical Passes shift attention away from the internal dialogue, offering moments of silence. Any focused physical movement achieves the same outcome.

If I stare at a candle flame and listen to my internal dialogue, I notice that I lose connection to the flame. The flame remains, however, inviting my attention back, offering the opportunity to burn away my attachment to thought.

In practicing moments of silence, we eventually achieve mastery over phantom life; we hone our energy to be utilized with intent. In silence, we are fully present to the energetic facts of our lives. In silence, our energetic reserves are fully prepared to engage and live to the fullest, in NOW time.

In silence, from the front of the train,

Chuck’s Place: Practice Inner Silence

In meditation we learn to master our awareness. The mind is a powerful thing, a think tank that never stops. When we meditate we are confronted with the products of this ceaseless mind engine: thoughts.

Thoughts approach our awareness like vendors selling their wares on Black Friday, sales people lobbying for our attention. And just like the freedom we exercise to buy or not to buy, we have the inner ability to attach or not attach to a thought. If we attach we spend our inner capital, our energy, on the thought by giving it our attention, letting it unfold and journeying with it wherever it may take us. If we don’t attach we store our energy in deepening silence. When we surrender our awareness to the activity of the mind, we drift along on a current of free association, floating from thought to thought, our awareness completely captured by a mind-constructed world of thoughts.

With mindfulness we learn to exercise our innate freedom to attach or not to attach to thought. We learn to simply notice the inner lobbyists of thought, and choose not to attend to their wares. We decide to bring our awareness instead to our bodies—to our breathing, or to the sensations we notice as we scan our bodies in this moment.

When thoughts of varying intensities vie for our awareness, we notice them. We don’t struggle with them; we simply bring our awareness back to our bodies. In an instant we feel the vibration in our fingers or lips, or hear the sound of energy deep within our ears. We breathe; we are present. We judge nothing; there is nothing to judge.

Judgment engages the mind. It quantifies, rates, categorizes, etc. With mindfulness everything is equal, the same—no judgment, no distinction. Everything just is and we are fully present with what is without attachment.

Mastering awareness is staying present with what is, and freely, consciously, choosing where to place attention. We are no longer adrift on the sea without a paddle; we volitionally place our awareness where we want it.

If we are eating, we are not reading or watching—we are fully present in eating, in chewing, in tasting, with awareness. If we are walking, we walk without purpose or destination—we are fully present in our bodies, slowly feeling the sensation of connecting to the earth beneath us.

The shamans of Carlos Castaneda’s lineage practice magical passes to achieve inner silence. Fully mindful in their bodies, they engage the intent of inner silence and move in patterns discovered by shamans of antiquity during dreaming. These shamans don’t worry if they are doing the movements correctly. They suspend judgment and mindfully move. They know intent alone will correct the movements; they don’t fall for the tricks of the cogitating mind that seeks to interfere with the flow of silence.

Practicers of mindfulness and practitioners of shamanism alike are gentle but persevering in their practices. They know, as the I Ching so often states: perseverance furthers. Eventually, the mind desists and we become masters of awareness, fully engaged in our journeys. Without mind we experience total freedom.

Silence the mind, journey in infinity!

Chuck’s Place: Facing Oncoming Time & Recapitulation

In his book The Art of Navigation Felix Wolf shares the following anecdote from Carlos Castaneda.

The Nagual always maintained that the average man traveled through life in the caboose, always looking back, always keenly aware of his personal history, his experiences, and his identity as an accumulation of the past. It was one of his favorite analogies. A warrior who wants to become a man of knowledge, however, has to turn around and face life as it unfolds in front of him. Instead of facing receding time he has to face oncoming time, as he put it. Life in the caboose versus life in the engine.” (From page 60. *)

Isn’t the shamanic practice of recapitulation in fact living in the past, the exact opposite of facing oncoming time? Is there not a contradiction here? Doesn’t recapitulation strap us firmly to a seat in the caboose with a view out the back window, at life that has already passed us by? What about total presence in the NOW, the coveted goal Carlos describes as being seated in the engine, directly perceiving oncoming time, engaging life to the fullest? To answer these questions and resolve this seeming paradox we must first explore what it takes to truly live life in the moment.

Both the seers of ancient Mexico and the Buddhists place a premium on reaching a state of inner silence to become mindful, fully aware and present in the NOW. Toward that end Buddhist masters prescribe the practice of meditation where we learn to quiet our restless hearts and become keen observers of all that presents. The molding of this observing self that allows life to be known directly, without the interference of the thinking, judging mind, prepares us to be innocently present in the moment, freed of the cogitations of the mind that interprets versus lives in the moment. Achieving detachment from the ceaseless internal dialogue of the mind is certainly a major component of mindfulness. Like the Buddhists, the seers of ancient Mexico employ their own active meditation practice of magical passes to achieve this coveted state.

Another major component of mindfulness is access to a fully integrated self. How can we be fully present if parts of who we are remain fragmented, unknown and tucked away in the luggage compartment of the self? Furthermore, the legacy of our hidden baggage is the burden it places on life in the present. For instance, if we carry deep wounds of loss, abandonment, negligence, and violation, we will surely be limited in opening to all that life invites us to in the present moment. Recapitulation is the shamanic practice that frees us from these limitations and fully unites the self to be present in the NOW.

In recapitulation we allow ourselves to be taken on a train ride to all the stations of life already lived. We arrive at each of these old stations with our present self keenly observing, taking the journey with our younger self that has been stranded at the station, frozen in time. Our present self opens to the full experience of our younger self, and thereby faces fully the confusion and struggle that once froze our younger self. Often we discover in recapitulation that our younger self was forced to leave its body under the impact of overwhelming trauma and hence the full truth of that moment was never consolidated and made real. In recapitulation the full truth of the past becomes known, allowing its burdens to be released. The energy and innocence of the younger self is freed and united with the present self, firmly seated in the engine, facing oncoming time.

Part of what we encounter as we face oncoming time are triggers that take us out of the present moment. Meditation can help us to remain present in spite of a trigger, but it can’t help us to fully open to the moment if the trigger signifies a lost, frozen part of the self. Life often places triggers in our path to awaken us to discover our lost selves. We cannot simply transcend our triggers and fully open to life without recapitulating the truth that lies behind the trigger. We must be open to completing all our journeys, especially the train wrecks buried deeply within the self if we are ever to be fully available to life in the NOW.

Recapitulation, then, is actually a major component of being able to face oncoming time. Freed from the past we can allow life to approach us with all that it offers, unfiltered, without limitation. From this vantage point, firmly seated in the engine, we can read clearly the signs and synchronicities life presents us with to guide our evolutionary journeys, in infinity—NOW!

If you wish to correspond, please feel free to post a comment below.

Until we meet again,

* NOTE: The book mentioned in this blog is available through our Store listed under the category of Shamanism.