Tag Archives: petty tyrant

Chuck’s Place: Holding Space for Trickster

Shining the light upon Trickster’s stupendous web…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Holding space means being with someone without judgment. Holding space means being fully present without seeking anything in return. Holding space means bearing the tension of opposition. Holding space means unconditional acceptance of all that is. 

Trickster is the child in all of us who simply refuses to conform to civilized expectations. That child will undermine our ego’s best intentions, as we find ourselves breaking our deeply fought for resolutions at trickster’s instigation. In a heartbeat, trickster will concoct a reason to open the refrigerator or peek at Facebook. Later, defeated and guilty, ego contritely starts anew on its road to self-improvement.

Before we completely demonize trickster, let us ponder a koan from Jesus. In Matthew 18: 2-4, Jesus is quoted as stating, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”  Clearly, the suggestion, on some level, is that, holding space for trickster is fundamental to spiritual evolution.

Trickster is a character that appears in the mythology of all cultures. Phil Jackson, of immortal basketball coaching acclaim, bestowed upon one of his star Chicago Bulls, Dennis Rodman, so called “best friend” of Kim Jong-un, the role of a Heyoka, a Lakota Indian trickster spirit, who both crossdresses and does things backwards to challenge the prevailing order of the tribe.

Phil Jackson recognized the necessity of holding space for this most unruly of characters, who would at times cost his team games and at other times help teammates to get over their self-importance and just have fun playing basketball. Like noted physicist David Bohm, Jackson knew the value of bearing the tension of full wholeness, over merely expecting goodness, in elevating a team to a higher level of play.

Jackson stressed the practice of patience in allowing another person to be who they were going to be, and while not protecting them from the natural consequences of their actions, not excluding them from the team either. In fact, he stressed the critical necessity of all-inclusiveness, including even the most vile trickster, in the building of a whole team.

David Bohm insisted that the way to advance civilization’s survival was to bring together all disparate characters at a roundtable of dialogue. All would commit to suspend judgment and merely express themselves and get to know their neighbors. The objective is not to advance one’s view over another’s, but simply to be part of this living wholeness.

Bohm predicted that this full presence alone, devoid of any attempt at convincing, would in itself give rise to the necessary resolution of difference. Perhaps his vision is similar to a Quaker service where, in the presence of the wholeness of the group, guidance spontaneously emerges in a channeled message. This was his social equation for human resolution, as he realized that at the most quantum subatomic level, only through the removal of subjective prejudice could science arrive at the fullest truth of energetic reality.

The trickster in all of us is our inner hero in the rough. Trickster is the ultimate Freudian slip, where the truth is most uncomfortably revealed. Perhaps that truth has laid bare one’s pretentious host at a party, or exposed one’s own most sensitive sore spots.

Trickster is daring, indignant, irreverent, ruthless, charming, hilarious, playful, spontaneous, sensitive, insensitive, attention-seeking, and highly self-centered. Trickster disdains reason and is far more driven by impulsive opportunity to shock and disrupt. Don’t expect trickster to be good at the party. Trickster is already eyeing the desert when you first walk through the door.

Don’t shut out trickster’s truth. Be patient and suspend judgment upon  the full truth of the self. See what might emerge as you bear this tension. If trickster appears outside the self, in the person of another, recognize its value as petty tyrant. In Carlos Castaneda’s shamanic lineage, trickster as petty tyrant is the person who most deeply offends us.

Typically, these are the characters one would prefer most to not have in one’s life. But, from a spiritual advancement opportunity, petty tyrants require one to completely relinquish the ego’s self-importance by not engaging in a defeatist argument in a futile attempt to defend oneself. Trickster also lays bare any proclivity to self pity, which in itself depresses the ego into immobilization.

Alternatively, if one can contain one’s anger and hurt within the cauldron of self, and travel down the rabbit hole of holding space beyond one’s hurt ego, one may be led on a journey of enlightenment to hidden memories and attitudes, which reveal previously veiled truths about the self.

Trickster may never mature, but trickster will challenge one to get beyond the limitation of self-importance that burdens all egos.  It may very well be that trickster’s irreverence persists only until ego truly grows up to the truth of right action, and assumes appropriate leadership. From that accomplishment trickster moves on, in its own mercurial way, to force attention upon another of ego’s many blindspots.

Most importantly, trickster offers us the opportunity to recover our lost innocence, the awe that leads to spiritual advancement.

Holding space for trickster,


Mother & Me

Seeking to become my own true self…
– Detail of artwork by Jan Ketchel

I have been writing stories about the imp inside me, the fun loving, bright being who never seemed afraid, who was impetuous and daring, who seemed to easily handle life and its iniquities. She was the light side of my normally quiet and withdrawn child self. Today I leave her for a more serious subject: Mother.

In his blog earlier this week Chuck wrote of a man’s relationship to mother and how crucial it is that he separate from her and go on into life fully available to have a true relationship with another person freed of his infantile attachments to mother. In the end he must return to mother and love her from his separateness in order to achieve full masculinity. Whether his mother was a good mother or a bad mother is not important; a man still needs to rid himself of his attachments to her if he is to truly individuate and wholly become who he is. For women it’s a different scenario.

Women have an initiation ceremony built into their DNA. Somewhere between the ages of 10 and 16 a female begins to menstruate. This is the initiation into womanhood. Like all women before them, every young girl has to accept and deal with monthly bleeding for a good deal of her adult life. Some initiation! It lasts a very long time! I remember reading a little booklet my mother gave me when I was about 11. The phrase “you’re a woman now” still sticks in my head. Just like that, I was a woman! Just like that I was like my mother. But I did not want to be like my mother!

I did not have a good witch for a mother. I got a bad witch for a mother. If you have read my books, and especially Place of No Pity, Volume 4 of The Recapitulation Diaries, you know what I’m talking about. She was harsh and neglectful, not the kind of mother I wanted, not the kind of woman I wanted to grow up to be. Nonetheless, she was the mother I got and the mother I had as a role model. I was however always at heart a kind and gentle soul, even when I was being an imp.

The shamans would call the type of mother I got a petty tyrant. A petty tyrant is someone whom you probably hate for what they do to you, for the way they torment and belittle you, but may later realize that they taught you a great deal about how the world works and, most importantly, about how you yourself work, as they relentlessly and cruelly force you to face what you are most afraid of, most angry about, most resentful about, etc. When you cease to blame them for all your problems you may begin to see just how good they are at making you confront every uncomfortable and disagreeable thing about yourself. The petty tyrants of the world are the projections of all that we must sift through if we are to achieve our wholeness. For a woman, the kind of mother I got presented quite a challenge.

During my childhood I dreamed about other mothers, wove fantasies about the perfect, loving mother, the caring being I longed to have in my life. These fantasies got me through a lot of terrible times, as I could always envision a good and comforting mother in times of need. These loving mothers, fantasized though they were, became good role models, based on my own feelings and perceptions of what a good mother would be like. So even though I got a bad witch for a mother I was able to construct images of good witches who came to my rescue when needed.

As I grew into adulthood I had to figure out how I was different from the mother I got, just as I had to figure out how I was like her. For I am, in many ways, just like my mother. It has taken me a long time and a lot of work to accept this fact, that I too have the bad witch inside me. Though I have tended toward the good witch side, the bad witch has popped out often enough. I can truly identify with my own mother. At the same time, I had to extricate from deep within myself who I truly was, separate from her. For I am truly not my mother, I am me! And that’s where individuation takes place for the woman, in both accepting that she is like her mother but that she is equally her own being with her own emotions, feelings, and beliefs based on her own experiences in life, totally separate from mother.

My mother is still alive. Nearing 94 she now lives in a nursing home. Since my father’s death 12 years ago she came back into my life in ways I never imagined. Never a good driver and having not driven in 15 years or so at the time of my father’s death, she needed someone to take her everywhere. After a few years of accommodating her from afar, it became clear that she needed to be closer to me. Although I have many siblings I am the eldest daughter in the family and the one she calls upon most often. We moved her out of the family home and into a small apartment nearby. For several years she lived there in the company of her cat and some very nice neighbors, one or two of whom she grew fond of, until it became clear that she could no longer care for herself. Too many accidents and near fires paved the way for the next stage.

It soon became clear to me, as my mother’s demands and needs encroached on my own life, that I was not yet done with my mother. I was not going to be able to just walk away from the bad witch. We still had things to live out together. What they are continue to unfold to this day.

Demanding and petulant, like a spoiled child, she has relied greatly upon the kindness of my heart. I have met in her every permutation of the bad witch. Very rarely, she has thanked me or told other people how much I have done for her. It’s a rarity, but it does occasionally happen. However, most of the time I am the target for all of her own unresolved inner disturbances, resentments, and regrets. It can be pretty hard to be in a small room with a woman who did horrible things to you and still love her, have compassion for her, and be kind to her while she’s belittling you, laughing at your clothing, commenting on your hair, or angry because you didn’t invite her to Thanksgiving. And yet I accept all of this from her, for in her own way she has been my greatest teacher in what it means to be a woman, a mother, a lover, a kind and compassionate being.

To this day, though I sometimes quake in my boots at the sight of her angry demeanor and the mood she’s in when I visit, I am grateful for all she still teaches me. Indeed, I truly am a full-fledged woman because of all that I have learned from her about being a woman. She has often been an excellent example of how not to live, but also how to stoically face what must be faced. Every time I see her I must face myself at her age, in her physical condition, and wonder, “how will I face what she faces every day? How will I choose to face my death? How will I live out the last days of my life?” She is my greatest advisor. She has given me a lot to mull over, and I still learn things about myself and about being a woman from her.

So, to get back to the point of this blog: women, though we are naturally initiated into womanhood, still have to learn to be the woman that we truly are, biologically alike and yet totally separate beings from our own mothers.

I had to find a way to fully embrace and live life as my kind and loving self, the gentle soul I really am, so different from the mother I got. I had to learn to be this kind and loving being toward her too, even after discovering and understanding the truth about her.

But even as a child and living in my mother’s house I was always kind to her, from the time I was very young, complimenting her on her clothing or hair, and every evening at the dinner table I always told her how delicious the food was, without fail. It was almost expected. The meal could not be eaten until I had delivered my opinion, always positive, and she said, “Thank you, Jan.” Only then was the meal consumed in earnest. In a sense, perhaps a part of me was trying to placate the bad witch, being nice so she might be nice in return, but the truth is, I always meant what I said. I really am a kind person and always was, that too is in my DNA.

I am a kind and gentle soul partly because I have had the greatest petty tyrant of a mother to teach me how to be that way. She pushed me, through her neglect and cruelty, to find and embrace my true self, the kind and loving being I am, the part of herself that she always seemed to reject. For some reason that she has not ever revealed she has hated herself and been exceedingly hard on herself. But she was not going to let me be like her. In her own strange, unintentional way she made sure of that.

I often wonder how evolved a being my mother might actually be. The possibility exists that she planned and accepted the role as one of my petty tyrants in this life, and the truth is, it benefitted me! I thank her for that. And yes, I do love her.

A blog by J. E. Ketchel, Author of The Recapitulation Diaries

Chuck’s Place: The Marrying Maiden & The Petty Tyrant

Images in search of resolution... - Photo by Chuck Ketchel
Images in search of resolution…
– Photo by Chuck Ketchel

The Marrying Maiden, hexagram #54 of the I Ching, is a reading I’ve grappled with much of my adult life. The Petty Tyrant is a central theme in the training of the warrior in the shamanic world of Carlos Castaneda. I see the marrying maiden and the petty tyrant as mirror images of wisdom, pearls from two ancient traditions that reflect so relevantly in the world of now.

Contrary to a sweet, innocent image that the marrying maiden might evoke, hexagram #54 depicts an unchosen life, a woman forced into the role of second wife as she must enter the home of her marrying sister’s husband, an ancient Chinese custom. Not the chosen bride she nonetheless must accept her new station and all the duties it entails. Thus, hexagram #54 depicts an unchosen, unwelcome fate.

From a broader perspective this predicament captures a salient feature of the reality of life in this world. As Buddha concluded, “Life is suffering. There is no escaping old age, sickness and death.” This is our collective reality—we are all marrying maidens to forces we cannot control.

The Shamans of Ancient Mexico discovered that we spend the bulk of our energy fighting these deeper truths of our human condition. They saw this as absorption in self-pity. I understand this as absorption in the child state of resistance to the inevitable loss of paradise that we may or may not have experienced in our early childhood. Regardless, we feel entitled to have it restored or finally delivered, refusing to leave the garden, stubbornly demanding our due.

Of course, this is a very young hero that holds the world accountable, but this young hero is ill-equipped for the adult truth of old age, sickness and suffering, that which ultimately afflicts us all. The Shamans see humankind as fixated at the stage of this young hero, wasting most of its energy fighting fruitless battles. The marrying maiden is doing the same thing, bemoaning her fate. The I Ching guides her to see the reality of her situation and to position herself appropriately without self-pity. Similarly, the Shamans encourage us to identify our petty tyrants—those who ruthlessly show no consideration for our needs—as our teachers.

Rather than spend energy on fruitless anger and resistance, a warrior stares down any energetic spillage of self-pity. A warrior fully accepts the circumstances that life presents and with clarity and full energy acts in accordance with what is possible, with what is the best decision to make, and with what is the best action to take in the moment. To achieve this readiness one must be fully present without an ounce of energy spent feeling sorry or sad for the predicament one finds one’s self in.

Ahh...peace at last! - Photo by Chuck Ketchel
Ahh…peace at last!
– Photo by Chuck Ketchel

In a world currently dominated by violent opposition, where the opposites are dissociated and only seek resolution by destroying each other, we are confronted with being marrying maidens to these petty tyrants all over the world, most especially in our own country. It is challenging to not succumb to the self-pity of helplessness in such a state of chaos. On the other hand, we are gifted an opportunity to train in warriorhood.

A warrior pauses, examines the true nature of things and awaits decisive action in full clarity. A warrior spends no energy bemoaning his or her fate; all circumstances are equal opportunities to transform one’s position as fateful marrying maiden into that of decisive warrior. A warrior is grateful for all teachers, especially the petty tyrants.

Once broken of the fixation of self-pity and entitlement, we are truly freed to be leaders advancing into a new world beyond the filters of self-obsession into deeper truth, fulfillment and new balance.

Most humbly,

A Day in a Life: In The Pit

You're driving me crazy!!! - Photo by Jan Ketchel
You’re driving me crazy!!! – Photo by Jan Ketchel

Leonard Cohen sings: I had to go crazy to love you, had to go down to the pit, had to do time in the tower, begging my crazy to quit…Had to go crazy to love you, had to let everything fall, had to be people I hated, had to be no one at all…

I’m a Leonard Cohen fan, have been ever since I first saw him perform in Gothenburg, Sweden in 1976. It was just him and his guitar. He sat alone on a folding chair on the stage, a cup of something at his feet. He touched the poet in me and I recognized his agony. Since then he’s spent time as a monk, but he’s also perfected his outer persona and through many trials and errors become the consummate performer, giving his all, even at the age of 78 performing for three hours to packed houses.

I still hear his agony in his songs, recognize the imperfect human creature he presents us with. And this song, Crazy To Love You, is all about that. It’s about projection and facing the self, doing the recapitulation time, going down into the shadows of the self, ascending into the inflations of the self, confronting everything hateful about the self, becoming nothing—egoless—and in the process learning to love the self. It’s all about taking the endless contemplative inner journey and not giving up, no matter what is encountered. It’s about seeking a kind of perfection, a humble impeccability that knows that everything is okay, everything is necessary and permissible, everything leads to love. When we acquiesce to our humanness we discover that our greatest challenge in life is to love the self. If we can love the self, then we’re on the way to honing a new kind of impeccability devoid of self-importance, the impeccability of being able to love others, to being able to embrace all humanity as being as imperfect and as lovable as we are. We all have to go crazy to love one another.

Recently I dreamed a dream of deep encounters with the self. I sat with Chuck and many hundreds of others at a huge banquet table, perhaps a hundred feet long and a dozen feet wide. Perhaps you were all there as well. We were all under the control of a tiny woman who stood opposite me at the far end of the table. From my position I could see that she was tiny, but her voice was booming, commanding, and her image, projected onto a giant screen above her, loomed over us, making her seem bigger than life, more frightening than she appeared in person.

Had to go into the pit... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Had to go into the pit… – Photo by Jan Ketchel

She made demands, gave us absurd and demeaning challenges. Like a dictator, she barked out commands, telling us what to do as she timed us, and then punished us for not completing our tasks within the time limitations she had set. At one point, she told us all to take a shit, right at the table. We were only given so much time and so much toilet paper. I failed this test. I fumbled with the paper, and by the time the few seconds she’d given us had passed I was in deep doo-doo, so to speak. From then on I had to walk around with shit in my pants.

After the table scene ended we had to hike through some fields. It was dark. We were heading to a big bonfire. We were commanded to bring our most valuable possessions with us, packed in small glass jars and wooden boxes. I told Chuck that if she instructed us to “go into the woods,” that I wasn’t going. I was adamant about that, a clear reference to my abuse. “Oh yeah,” Chuck said, and I could hear him trying to figure out a way to tell this little tyrant woman that I would not go into the woods and be humiliated, that I was done with that. We knew she was unapproachable, that she wouldn’t care and that no excuses would be accepted. It didn’t matter what you had been through in your past, she was not going to let anyone off the hook. Feeling sorry for anyone was not allowed. It was expected that every experience would be confronted if she deemed it necessary. She demanded that we erase all personal attachment and self-importance, and humiliation was as good a means of getting us there as any.

We finally got to the site of the bonfire. The little woman told us all to throw our most valuable belongings into the fire. “Do you think it’s a good idea to throw glass jars into a hot fire?” I asked Chuck, but it didn’t matter. “Just do it!” the woman screamed. We all tossed our things onto the fire and stood around watching them burn. I woke up as she came over to me, looked me straight in the eye, and then turned her back and walked away. “Fuck you,” I thought.

Upon awakening, it didn’t take me long to see this dream as confrontations with habits, with the mindless things we do and how they control us. Obviously, it’s also about self-importance. The little woman was me, a part of me that sets me up to do as I have always done, keeping me a prisoner of my own doings, as I clearly felt like a prisoner in the dream. And if you were there, you were a prisoner too. “Had to go down to the pit,” as Leonard Cohen writes, had to sit in my own shit.

It's true!!! - Photo by Jan Ketchel
It’s true!!! – Photo by Jan Ketchel

We all have a little petty tyrant inside of us, someone who humiliates us and whom we hate. We feel trapped and helpless. It could be related to anything: to constant worry or fear, to overspending or over-consuming, to being too hard or too easy on ourselves or lazy and undisciplined. It could be attached to being angry all the time or sad all the time, full of self-righteousness or self-pity, things that really get us nowhere.

Our personal petty tyrant knows us so well. She knows how to slip in and take over, how to humiliate us and make us face our shit. In my dream, the tiny woman pushed us all to be something we hated and “no one at all.” In the burning of what was most precious, she forced us to let go of everything, of both our shame and our self-importance. I was nothing more than a woman walking around with shit in my pants, my possessions gone. Had to go into the fire and let it all burn.

In this dream, my petty tyrant, whom I so viscerally hated, became my guide, and so I have to love her. She is the knowing part of myself, leading me to the naked truth that I am nothing at all, and only in that place of naked truth can I love myself. As Leonard Cohen learned: Had to go crazy to love you! In recapitulation, we discover that going into the pit means accepting everything about ourselves; even the shit in our pants must not be attached to. Even the implication of my abuse must not be more important than anything, than nothing. “Don’t get attached to anything, Jan,” this tiny petty tyrant self is saying in this dream.

Getting to the beauty in all parts of the self... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Getting to the beauty in all parts of the self… – Photo by Jan Ketchel

Everything is of the same value and everything has no value. There is no point in shame or anger, in self-pity or specialness. The only thing that really has value is pushing the self every day to keep going—just as this tiny woman dictator did—to keep confronting the self, to keep shedding attachments to what we think we need and want. In the end, although I said “Fuck You,” I was really thanking her for helping me face myself, for emptying out. Because by the end of the dream that was what I felt, empty, light, bereft, as if something had died, but bereft in a good and cleansing way. It was as if I had finally let something go that had been bothering me for a long time, and I know that it was my own attachment to feeling that I had to be perfect all the time. How absurd!

I hope this makes sense. Our struggle is to really let go of self-importance by facing our most private and intimate self, and fully accepting that we are all really nothing at all. I find such release in knowing that I am nothing. I’m able to relax into who I truly am, offered the freedom to live without fear and without the need to always get it right. For it’s in our failures that we learn, it’s in facing our shit that we evolve.

Going on, shamelessly facing myself, living in the moment, without attachment. Thanks for reading!

In all humility,

Many thanks to Leonard Cohen for a lifetime of beautiful work!

And without self-importance—because I really do reveal my most intimate self in my books—here’s a shameless plug for my new book. It’s really a good read! The book icon in the left sidebar leads directly to Amazon. I’m working on getting the Kindle edition linked to the main book page, so you should find it there shortly.

Chuck’s Place: Resentment

A pragmatic guide…

Resentment is an emotionally debilitating condition that, when unresolved, can have a variety of negative results on the person experiencing it…” –Wikipedia

It is plain that a life which includes deep resentment leads only to futility and unhappiness. To the precise extent that we permit these, do we squander the hours that might have been worth while.” –The Big Book/Alcoholics Anonymous p.66

Resentment is an intense stored anger that is re-experienced every time the person or circumstance that is causally linked to the offending event is triggered or remembered. Resentment binds our essential energy as it tyrannizes the central nervous system with a frustrated unrelenting cry of anguish. Resentment victimizes the felt victim in an avalanche of self pity. This fixation on self and self pity, for the Shamans of Ancient Mexico, was the number one reason human beings do not realize their full spiritual or, as they would say, energetic potential.

Like the Hindus, who hold that the Atman (The Eternal One—The Source—God) lies deeply embedded in the center of the physical body inside the hard-crusted shell of the ego, those shamans realize that the obsession with ego self as the only self, as the almighty self, must be broken open to truly discover and release our spirit potential. Those shamans purposefully put themselves under the thumb of horrific tyrants to learn to break open their attachment to ego self, manifested in self pity and its resentments, or perish defending it. For them, a ruthless obliteration of obsession with the ego self, with feelings of entitlement or resentment, was the only hope of releasing spirit energy and reaching total freedom, or enlightenment.

What lies at the center?

The Big Book, “the bible” of AA, asks its practitioners, in step 4 of this modern shamanic healing art, to make a searching and fearless moral inventory of themselves in a process that parallels the shamanic practice of recapitulation:

We took stock honestly… Being convinced that self, manifested in various ways, was what had defeated us, we considered its common manifestations.

Resentment is the “number one” offender… From it stem all forms of spiritual disease, for we have been not only mentally and physically ill, we have been spiritually sick. When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically. In dealing with resentments, we set them on paper. We listed people, institutions or principles with whom we were angry. We asked ourselves why we were angry. In most cases it was found that our self-esteem, our pocketbooks, our ambitions, our personal relationships (including sex) were hurt or threatened. So we were sore. We were burned up.” –The Big Book pp. 64-65

The founders of AA realized that alcohol was the ultimate petty tyrant for alcoholics that freely fed the delusion of ego self as the all-important almighty one, displacing the true spirit self. Under the brutal tutelage of this petty tyrant, alcoholics are led to a systematic destruction of the ego self, as the meaningful accomplishments and relationships of a lifetime are burned up as the almighty ego self maintains its hegemony. The alcoholic must break its attachment to ego self and self pity to be released from its superior lethal delusions evoked by spirit alcohol. In recovery, the ego self is broken open and humbled to surrender to the leadership of true spirit self, the higher power, and is thus saved from its delusional demise. The pathway to ego surrender is the dismantling of its attachments to self importance.

What do we find in the dismantling?

The Big Book pragmatically instructs in the dismantling of self pity: “We turned back to the list, for it held the key to the future. We were prepared to look at it from an entirely different angle. We began to see that the world and its people really dominated us. In that state, the wrong-doing of others, fancied or real, had power to actually kill. How could we escape? We saw that these resentments must be mastered, but how?

This was our course: We realized that the people who wronged us were perhaps spiritually sick. Though we did not like their symptoms and the way these disturbed us, they, like ourselves, were sick too. We asked God to help us show them the same tolerance, pity, and patience that we would cheerfully grant a sick friend. When a person offended we said to ourselves: “This is a sick man. How can I be helpful to him?” –The Big Book pp. 66-67

This technique takes us to the teachings of the Buddha of Compassion that all human beings are struggling beings—like ourselves. Rather than be offended, release the self and “offender” alike with compassionate energy. This doesn’t mean we have to be friends, for truly we can only really be connected to those traveling at similar speeds as ourselves, but we needn’t disdain the journeys of others that have disrupted or intersected with our own. This is the shaman’s appreciation of tyrants: No, they are not our friends, but they teach us to shed our complacency with self pity so that we may resume, full force, our egoless spirit journeys through infinity.

The Big Book goes on to instruct: “Referring to our list again. Putting out of our minds the wrongs others had done, we resolutely looked for our own mistakes. Where had we been selfish, dishonest, self-seeking and frightened? Though a situation had not been entirely our fault, we tried to disregard the other person involved entirely. Where were we to blame? The inventory was ours, not the other man’s. When we saw our faults we listed them. We placed them before us in black and white. We admitted our wrongs honestly and were willing to set these matters straight.” -p. 67

The fire is within…

In this example, taking responsibility of our faults is fully owned, releasing the self from the burden of projected self truths. Once fully acknowledged, resentment is burned up and fully released in humble self-acceptance. Released resentment is the fuel that launches spiritual evolution, the stuff of recovery in AA and the stuff of infinite journeys in the shaman’s world.

Let us approach the stored energies of resentments to set us free, in a thorough 4th step in AA or in a thorough recapitulation, completing our shamanic journey in this world or in the shamanic world—or both!


NOTE: I find AA and The Big Book—its lineage stemming back to the nagual psychiatrist Carl Jung—to be a most valuable, pragmatic guide to healing and spiritual evolution, in the same class as Magical Passes, the pragmatic guide to healing and spiritual evolution from the Shamans of Ancient Mexico.