Tag Archives: psyche

Chuck’s Place: On the Road to Berlin?

There are alternative roads for now…
– Lawn sculpture by Chuck Ketchel, photo by Jan Ketchel

I was born to be a therapist, but my first college degree was in history. I chose history due to my conviction that if we don’t learn from history we repeat our mistakes. As with psychotherapy, a thorough recapitulation of our history frees us from repeating global mistakes.

 My bachelor’s thesis sought to understand the etiology of controversial lectures that Carl Jung delivered to the C. G. Jung Gesellshaft (the Psychological Club of Berlin) in July 1933. I will report more on the findings of this exploration in coming blogs, as it delivers keen insights into the world patterns of now.

Barbara Hannah, an ardent student of Jung’s, was determined to attend these lectures, but this would require her to drive from Switzerland through Germany, alone. When she queried Jung about the advisability of such an undertaking, given the current atmosphere in Germany, he quietly deliberated and then replied, “Yes, risk it! Mind you, I don’t know what will happen, but it will be an interesting experience.”

I am reminded here of the sparkle of delight in Carlos Castaneda’s voice when he would tell us to go have our own journeys and, “See what happens!” All must discover for themselves the truth. We must become our own gurus, not simply rely upon what we are told.

Barbara reports that she encountered almost no cars on the highways but instead crowds of listless hikers wandering along the roads. Barbara writes that when Jung “read in the newspapers that the Germans were restlessly on the move, wandering from place to place, he was reminded of the wanderer Wotan and realized that this was an ‘archaic symbol’ that was certainly going to produce an unacceptable situation in Germany, unless enough individual Germans became conscious of the danger in time.”

History proves that consciousness did not prevail, and a collective trance set in that saw a civilized nation devolve into mass murderers, who committed the atrocities of the Holocaust.

Germany was struggling with difficult economic times, much as the world today is faced with growing scarcity, as the impact of climate change dries up resources and precipitates mass migrations. In an effort to empower Germany’s downtrodden, Germany’s ruler  tapped into the themes of nationalism and white supremacy, blaming the alien, the not pure-white Aryan, in this case the Jews, for controlling and hoarding Germany’s national wealth that only legitimate citizens should be entitled to.

Despite the hypnotic prowess of a charismatic leader, citizens’ psyches cannot be hypnotized unless the rhetoric being preached by the leaders resonates on some level with their own personal beliefs. This is why Jung determined that consciousness, becoming conscious of the beliefs and forces within one’s own psyche and how they operate and hold sway, was the only hope to avert disaster.

When illegal immigrants are arrested and separated from their families, what is the citizen’s internal psychic reaction to this action? Many law-abiding citizens might express sympathy for the children, but blame the parents of those children for their unfortunate predicament. The underlying belief might hold that the illegal entry of those aliens into a country is robbing legitimate citizens of their entitled resources, which trumps the fate of those children.

Citizens might blame their leaders for such horrific practices, but do they inwardly go numb and passively agree, out of concern for their own personal survival? Only consciousness that is willing to honestly face the depths of those feelings and beliefs, within the self, can be freed to act beyond its narrow, self-centered fixation. 

Fear, in this time of scarcity, has resurrected the challenges and behavioral solutions that resulted in WWII. Jung’s sage advice remains fully applicable. If individuals face their own psyches, with deep consciousness, they are no longer vulnerable to outer polarizing suggestions that justify white supremacy and elimination of other.

Just one individual who truly faces the darkness of their shadow can change the world. And what’s in that darkness? As mirrored by world leaders of now, we all have our own narcissistic ME über alles, within us, that may rule from the shadows of our unconscious minds.

Consider the ME that insists on consuming the substance that places the overall self in crisis. Consider the blind conscience whose stock portfolio flourishes in the greatest market gains of all time, fueled by destruction of the planet’s resources and balance. Consider the ME whose hunger for attention takes actions that negate the true well-being of the whole self.

Can we bear the tension of the volatile energies of desire, like a Christ nailed to a cross, or a Buddha sitting unflinchingly amidst all the sensual delights and grossest fears of this world?

Such are the extremes we see exploding throughout the world now. Mass shootings simply reflect an individual’s inability to bear and resolve tension within, and they foreshadow the mass atrocities that loom oppressively on the horizon, if consciousness does not prevail. Let us not walk sheepishly on an old road to Berlin. Let’s refuse the scapegoat solution.

Let’s not repeat the nightmare. We must face it and wake up. Kali Yuga needn’t end in repetition compulsion. A new dream with true resolution waits on the horizon. But to arrive there, we must individually bear the tension of the polarity of consciousness and shadow within our own psyches.

Go within…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Let’s evolve that dream now. Bring consciousness within, bear the tension of the opposites within, and allow that contained explosive energy to rise to the level of the heart chakra, where we are all in this together, parts of the same whole. And together, as one, we can indeed dream a new dream.

Learning from history,

Chuck

Excerpts and references: Jung: His Life and Work, A Biographical Memoir by Barbara Hannah

A Message for Humanity from Jeanne: Body Language

 

Each new dawn is an opportunity to be in the body in a new way…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Good Morning! Here is this week’s audio channeling, suggesting that this is a good time to pay attention to the body and its uniquely personal language.

Remember, you’re all right!

Have a wonderful week!

Chuck’s Place: Psychic Hygiene

The body works feverishly to protect us from outside invaders such as bacteria and viruses. The psyche, the mental self, is similarly challenged to protect us from disturbing thoughts, feelings, and anxieties that originate within the mind, as well as those that stream into us from the outside world.

Experience the calmness of nature within and without…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

We humans are extremely suggestible beings, quick to be influenced or rattled by inner thoughts and outer events. Behind it all we are well protected by our ancient natural defenses that unconsciously take over to defend and preserve our sanity in the face of real danger. Evidence of this ancient archetypal defense system is staggering, as the powerful psychic mechanisms that take control during trauma reveal.

In countless examples, trauma victims have been served by ancient inner programs that encapsulate their trauma, keeping it unknown to the fledgling ego that strives, while under attack, to maintain its tentative hold on reality and its cohesive identity while being overwhelmed by shattering assault. The decision to “forget” in trauma is not a conscious one; it is a function of a far more instinctive self that knows what is needed for survival. Sometimes we need to forget for a while, sometimes for a long while.

Human beings are additionally equipped with ego consciousness, which can supplement nature’s deeper defenses and greatly improve psychic hygiene. As we live now in a world in the very early stages of major transformation, with instability in governance and terror daily breaking through its unstable seams, we must take conscious responsibility to stabilize our own psychic balance, that is, we must do our conscious best to supplement the defenses of our ancient self.

With respect to potential psychic infection from the outside world, the ego really does have vast control over the influx of outside energy. In a nutshell, where we put our attention largely decides what comes into us.

In our time, social media is a huge raging river of collective energy that greatly excites and equally exhausts our psychic energy but also can vastly impact moods—highs and lows—as well as our ability to process objectively all that barrages us. The decision to limit exposure to social media promotes psychic balance; it offers as well the opportunity to step back and begin to think for oneself. Collective energy can usurp one’s identity. We can be swept into a tribal identity, losing the boundaries of our “individual” self, losing also the ability to think for ourselves.

The partisan divide currently infecting the whole world can, as well, seduce us into one polarized corner or another. We are in an either/or state right now that does not see resolution in a reconciliation with the opposites but calls for unity through divisiveness. Divisiveness in the psyche sets the stage for psychic disunity, as the disenfranchised parts of the psyche will rebel, usually through disturbing symptoms of anxiety, dread, panic, fear or rage.

Suspending judgment toward all groups in the world, regardless of their political persuasion, with an eye toward understanding the why of differences, can create greater empathy and inclusiveness for all points of view and all peoples. This in turn promotes inner calmness within the self and reflects greater inner acceptance of even the most recalcitrant aspects of the self!

Inwardly, the attitude of ego consciousness toward the vaster unconscious self is a critical determinant of psychic health. For instance, if the ego rules daily life through a narcissistic self-centered lens, it is likely to alienate itself from the rest of  the self, with the result again being far-reaching symptoms, even perhaps the manifestation of bodily disease in an attempt to physically communicate the reactions of the deeper self toward the ego’s non-inclusive leadership in the affairs of daily life.

If the ego can see its role as ascertaining and caring for the true needs of the overall self versus its narrow special interests, then the unconscious will be grateful and better poised to support its ego partner. This can be established through remembering, recording and contemplating the dreams dreamed each night. Dreams remain the royal road to the unconscious, they are a latent golden portal to the deeper self, awaiting just a little attention.

As well, a willingness to calm frantic energy through meditation and a practice such as pranayama breathing can allow for a still heart that communicates objective truths, perhaps even suggesting actions for the ego to follow. This inner relationship with different parts of the self can lead to an inner harmony, greatly promoting psychic hygiene.

An overall willingness to introvert daily—that is, to pull attention away from outside energy, to be calm in nature for instance, or simply content within the confines of the self—is perhaps the most important ego practice to counter the overpowering extroverted draw of our time and restore psychic balance.

There are still rocky seas before us, but good psychic hygiene can provide the necessary ark of awareness to safely maintain our balance through the troubled waters of our times.

Sailing versus assailing,

Chuck

Chuck’s Place: Assuming Full Ownership

Native American Soul symbol…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

To own is to take full possession of that which truly belongs to oneself. If a child dreams of her enraged father at her bedroom door with a club in his hand, this dream originates in her own psyche; she completely owns the dream, it is her dream and nobody else’s.

Regardless of the meaning and outer causes of the dream, the dream, with its inner impact upon her, is her personal experience, constructed and completed within the boundaries of the self. The child must assume full ownership of her dream. The experience of the dream may take her years to fully integrate, but the experience is forever a fact of her life, a part of herself which must be reckoned with and given its rightful place within the inner boundaries of herself.

If, in a waking state, that same child is confronted by her enraged father at her bedroom door in reality, her inner experience of this rattling intrusion is hers and hers alone too. The experience is fully recorded within herself and lives on within herself as a psychic content that beckons a legitimate place among the many other psychic contents of experiences that reside within her. Though in both cases a person beyond the boundaries of herself is implicated, that is her father, and indeed some outer actions and interactions may be necessary, her actual experience in both situations and how it is represented within herself is hers and hers alone. No one can tell another person what their inner experience is or should be; it is fully what it is within the person who is having or has actually had that unique inner experience.

Experience is. It happens. Like nature, experience takes us into the unknown, the unexpected, the dangerous, the terrifying and the spellbinding. Experience leads us into the unfathomable depths of our own nature, to places, emotions, sensations and thoughts we may have no preparation for.  In one instance we may experience bliss, in another serious loss. Experience itself is unconcerned with whether something is good or bad, right or wrong—it simply happens. We of course must apply a judgment dimension to our experiences in an attempt to make sense of them. Without sense we have no order, and without order there is no definite self, and without self there is chaos. Chaos within the psyche results from a logjam of undigested experiences.

We must decide if an experience is right or wrong, good or bad, appropriate or inappropriate, acceptable or unacceptable.  All these parameters help us to quantify and qualify an experience, to truly ‘know’ our experience. These are the operating tools of the rational mind, the foundation of our consciousness. Unfortunately, as helpful as these conscious tools are, helping to stabilize and navigate our consciousness, they can have the unfortunate side effect of distancing us from the fuller impact of the experience, which transcends the ordering function of the rational mind and continues to haunt the self in some form of psychic or physical symptom.

We must reckon with the full impact of an experience to be freed of such antagonistic symptoms as anxiety and fear, which may actually be placeholders of our disowned experiences, discontented prisoners within the self.

The psyche might also be riddled with obsessive anger and blame as it locates the responsibility for its experiences in the person of an outside perpetrator, or some permutation thereof. Of course responsibility must be assigned where it is due and appropriate action be taken to address or redress an act, but inner reconciliation with one’s experience requires full ownership of one’s experience as one’s own, regardless of the sources or players involved in setting the stage for one’s inner experience.

Shamanic recapitulation and EMDR are two practices that enable one to fully assimilate and own the deeper impact of an experience. Both techniques incorporate psyche and body to facilitate assimilation.

C. G. Jung observed that we internalize the soul of the land we inhabit. For America, that means that the American soul is Native American. Carlos Castaneda gifted us the practices of the shamans of the Americas, in particular the breathing practice of recapitulation. Francine Shapiro, founder of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing), discovered the bilateral movement of recapitulation, I imagine, through the Native American soul of America that projected itself onto her unique discovery process.

Reliving one’s life experiences while bilaterally breathing from side to side is the simplest gift from the native soul of America. With this simple breathing practice we consciously put our houses in order, fully own our experiences and, relieved of the tension of them, we are  prepared to fully engage in new life and new experiences, all energy on board for new adventures.

Assuming full responsibility for one’s own experiences provides a most powerful container of self, from which we are empowered to reconcile life lived and release the self to fully enter new life unburdened, with fluidity, totally freed and ready for new adventures!

Owning the experience,

Chuck

Chuck’s Place: Raccoon Medicine

It’s a calm, dark early morning, the sun’s light completely obscured by dense clouds. The rain will arrive soon. Jan and I are reading the Visions seminars, March 2, 1932, as Jung discusses sealing up the projection-making factor of the psyche, the animus for women, the anima for men.

In containment... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
In containment…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Having just completed the final touches on my previous blog, The Heart of Habit, Jung’s discussion clearly points to the next level of methodology to achieve self-knowledge, the step beyond avidya, the repetitive pattern of habit. Jung points to the science of alchemy, where the animus or anima is sealed tightly into a cauldron or retort, its energy and influence separated from actual reality, whereby freeing us to see the true nature of things devoid of the filters of opinions and moods that the projective-making factor normally shrouds the objective world with.

Jungs allusion here to alchemy actually mirrors psychotherapy, where the patient learns to not be controlled by the opinions and moods that generally overtake conscious perception and action. In therapy, the ego learns to differentiate itself from these automatic reactions and in that restraining process ultimately achieves release from the hold these deeper anima and animus entities generally exert upon daily life.

As Jan and I ponder the pragmatics of this transformative process, we suddenly notice a hunched up raccoon scamper across our yard and then climb up a pine tree. This is startling because although many animals find their way to our little sanctuary this is the first sighting of a raccoon on the grounds. Of course, we immediately seek the meaning of this synchronicity. What is the relationship between the alchemical retort holding the energized projection-making character in the psyche and the raccoon? Could the behavior of the raccoon be nature’s practical guide to this transformation?

What is going on behind the mask? - Child's artwork
What is going on behind the mask?
– Child’s artwork

The most striking feature of a raccoon is its mask. When we put on a mask we create secrecy, we hide a part of ourselves from public view and in turn we stalk a different personality. The Shamans of Ancient Mexico considered the art of stalking, the ability to fully embody another personality, a critical exercise in fluidity, a necessary skill to achieve freedom in the ever-changing worlds of infinity. In addition, when we outwardly live the mask we wear, we completely seal the container of the projective-making factor within our personality; we remove if from active influence over our lives.

This sealed alchemical retort, containing a powerful energetic part of ourselves, is then allowed its own transformative milieu within the sensory deprivation container of the self. Deprived of outside involvement and influence it loses its compulsive outwardly-directed fixation and crystalizes into a character that can take us deeper into the inner recesses of our being directly, as opposed to its former function of projecting those inner contents onto the outer world and drawing us into compulsive outwardly-seeking behaviors. This opens the door to direct inner relationship with the unconscious, largely removing its obscured projections from being acted upon in the outside world.

The key to raccoon’s success is its secrecy. The key to release from compulsion via raccoon medicine is to bottle up the compulsion and keep it completely secret from the rest of the self. The outer mask we then stalk life with completely avoids any contact with thoughts, feelings, and behaviors related to the desired object. They are not indulged in in any way, as all attention and energy is focused on stalking another being, another way of being.

Eventually there is new life... - Art by Jan Ketchel
Eventually there is new life…
– Art by Jan Ketchel

Eventually—and raccoon medicine requires a lengthy time period of at least 5 months—the energetics of the compulsion in the sealed retort will begin to crystalize into an inner guide, an inner helper that will take one to the deeper riches within the self.

Thank you, “Rocky Raccoon” for imparting the wisdom of your medicine for those ready for the inner secrecy and outer mask of transformation and self-knowledge.

Chuck