Tag Archives: psychology

Chuck’s Place: Father, Mother & The Road to Maturity

The Archetypes as they might appear…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Father’s sperm sows Mother’s egg. Mother’s body fleshes out Father’s spirit. All human life issues from this primal happening. The basic archetypes of mother and father traverse the full breadth of human life, from creator to created to beloved.

Children first encounter these powerful building blocks of human life in their personal parents who generate, sustain, and protect their lives. Freud enshrined this primal nursery scene of dependence and love upon omnipotent parents as the core playing field of life, such was his conviction of the immutable powers and attraction of one’s family of origin.

Jung went on to demonstrate how the mother and father archetypes are projected beyond parents onto gods, the sun and the moon, kings and queens, presidents, authority figures, friends, lovers and spouses. As children grow, the numinous energy of the mother and father archetypes extend into encounters with people and objects in the world beyond the family crucible.

With the dawning of adolescence and the emergence of sexuality young people begin to experience desires and compulsions that generate fixations of falling in love. The object of these projections, the one wanted, is imbued with the numinous energy and need that harkens back to the primal archetypes of life: Mother and Father.

This numinous energy projected upon a desired other may be experienced as ecstatic bliss, terror, anxiety, paralysis or even aggression, the drive to conquer that which feels too powerful. Way beyond adolescence we may still tremble at making contact or feeling worthy enough to approach the one who embodies the god/goddess energy of these projections.

In ancient times rights of initiation to facilitate an individual’s ability to mature into an adult capable of making contact with a coveted other were commonplace. The Dionysian Mysteries of Ancient Greece and Rome were just one of the many cults serving this function.

In our modern rational world, we no longer value the transformative power nor the necessity of formal initiation rites to facilitate the maturity needed to take on the deeper challenges of meeting and fully connecting with a blessed other. The task of initiation in the modern world takes place in the inner sanctuary of the human psyche and body, often through the guidance and support of a knowledgeable therapist.

The call to initiation is frequently encountered in the anxiety, terror, longing, and excitement—all numinous energy—of a potential relationship. The stages of the initiation process are directed by the problems encountered in approaching a relationship.

Often, the first problem is the power of the projection itself. The desired other may be experienced as a god or goddess whose glow is so powerful that you feel unable to actually look directly into the solar rays experienced as emanating from this human form. Perhaps the heart pounds so hard it can be heard out loud; perhaps the vocal cords seize up, unable to make a sound. These are the presenting problems.

Perhaps this desired person appears in a dream with a loving, welcoming smile and you are drawn into sensuous embrace. Upon awakening you feel warmed, in a state of grace. Perhaps you spend the day immersed in the communion of the dream-memory, generating more and more fantasies of delight. Perhaps this secret romance goes on for weeks, a love affair with an inner god/goddess image in your private world of fantasy.

Suddenly, one night, this dream lover may appear in a new dream with another date. You are no longer desired! The impact: devastation and depression.

What is the lesson here from the god/goddess?

Perhaps you have been lured into the trap of feeling entitled to own this living figure whom you have enslaved in fantasy to attend to your sensual desires. Perhaps the god/goddess is teaching that this is infantile behavior, an adult expecting the one-sided attention appropriate only in the nursery.

Furthermore, the god/goddess may also be pointing out that nothing has really been achieved, as no real or substantial contact has been made with the human being so powerfully pined for.

Another dream may then issue forth that signals you to be a hero, to cross a raging river despite the odds. The prompting of such a dream might be challenging you to be your own hero, to shield your eyes from the overpowering projection of the god/goddess and actually make small talk with the real human person of interest, to go beyond your comfort zone and put it out there.

And so, the initiation proceeds with the waking task to approach the desired one, as well as the private task to cease indulging in infantile fantasy and face the reality that genuine contact with a human being requires getting to know them, in a down-to-earth way.

The various tasks of initiation are many sided and are determined by the specific needs of each individual unique personality. The temples of initiation are alive and active within our own inner beings. We encounter the gods and goddesses of those temples in many of our human relationships.

If we remain uninitiated we will experience ourselves as children, still needing the sustenance and protection of others. This returns us to the vicissitudes of Freud’s Oedipus complex, projected onto our adult relationships, which will continue to present us with all kinds of challenges.

Best to take up the journey of adulthood, launched successfully by an active engagement of ego with the vicissitudes of the primal archetypes that guide us all on the road to maturity.

That’s what it’s all about, folks!

Chuck

A blog by Chuck Ketchel, a man of knowledge; one who knows that he doesn’t know

Chuck’s Place: Passion vs Reason

Reason lacks passion, passion lacks reason. Reason issues from the light of consciousness. Passion hails from the many moods of the moon.

Reason at the center, like the brain, surrounded by passion…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

The coolness of reason separates itself from the chaos and passion of nature. Reason seeks to create and impose order. Passion issues from the instincts of the body, from which it emotionally imposes its will.

Reason cuts off passion at the throat where rising emotions seek to overpower the brain, the home base of reason. We call this a tight or sore throat, psychologically it is dissociation.

Passion cuts off reason in the belly and the bowels, refusing to digest the will of reason. We experience this physically as indigestion and IBS, psychologically as anxiety.

Reason is associated with the brain, the engine of abstraction, the organ of our body least associated with nature and feeling. Reason is responsible for the creation of our technological world, as well as the order we create in civilization. Reason is considered our highest evolutionary achievement.

Passion, associated with instincts, imbues emotion with cascades of numinous energy. The delight of eating, the ecstasy of sex, the blood thirst of war, the agony and ecstasy of parenthood are all endowed with the passion of instinct.

For centuries reason has grown in power; frankly, to the point of god status. Reason is antithetical to belief and the irrational, to the unprovable, so that though modern humans might still affiliate with religious traditions outwardly, the individual and collective compass for life is still reason.

Within the individual the conflict between reason and passion results either in depression, where passion is lost, or compulsion, where passion overtakes reason’s restraints.

The conflict between passion and reason in our collective world is currently being expressed through the breakthrough of a passionate leader who creates fire and fury wherever he turns.

For many, this powerful emergence provides the relief and release of long suppressed passionate emotions. What has amazed the rest of the world is how unreasonable this passionate leader can be and yet be so dearly cherished by so many.

The real lesson here is how disastrous it is to neglect passionate instinct. Eventually it will break through, with a vengeance. And reason is no match for its wrathful coming to power, which can go so far as to bring us to the brink of destruction. Take note reason: Suppress passion and risk an orgy of destruction.

This is not a Trump diatribe. Trump embodies a pagan energy that invites and incites passionate expression. C. G. Jung identified a similar breakthrough into the collective German psyche in the 1930s as the restless wandering pagan god of storm and wind, Wotan, who unleashed the passion and frenzy responsible for the atrocities committed during World War II.

Though leaders must be held accountable for their actions, it is equally true that the latent readiness in the populace to respond to passionate incitement reflects a burgeoning readiness to erupt.

What is constellated in America is a resurgence of a suppressed passionate energy at war with reason. And reason still believes that logic trumps passion. Time and time again Trump teaches us how easy it is to dismiss reason, simply by calling it bad, so bad.

Without entering into the argument for the need for regime change, I cut to the real crux of the problem: the reconciliation of reason and passion.

The technology of Christianity that sought to control the passion of sexuality was compensated for by the overarching shadow of its disowned sexual instinct emerging in sexual abuse, which haunts many religious institutions. What is suppressed will find its way out somehow, often in a most exaggerated, destructive way.

The technology of reason that once governed our political process and national identity is succumbing to hair-trigger instinctual rule. Clearly we need a new technology of balance.

To contine to project badness outside of ourselves is an archaic technology certain to end in destruction. To impose the technology of reason over passion results in, and will continue to result in, a stalemate and an escalation of tensions. To simply bury statues is like burying the pagan gods—beware the revenge of Wotan.

As is my proclivity, I turn to the individual, as the hologram of the world, to truly solve the issue. Passions must be lived, somehow. If reason is to remain in charge of life, it must honor and live alongside its passionate partner, consciously allowing the irrational to renew its connection to nature. This is a task for every individual to solve within themselves, and within their relationships, if we are to achieve a new  balance in the world.

Passion hates limitation, but so does reason. Perhaps if reason can agree to limits, passion will comfortably acquiesce to limits too. Imagine these two opposites in harmony. Wouldn’t that be something?

If our country can come together and collectively enjoy reason and passion facing off in a solar eclipse, surely we can bear the tension of this standoff within ourselves and find our way to higher consciousness.

The old technology to go to war within and without to relieve the tension of reason vs. passion needn’t be our fallback solution. We are ready for new evolutionary possibilities. Explore them within the self, advance the world.

Reasonably passionate,

Chuck

 

Chuck’s Place: Finding Numen

However it comes…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finding numen,

Chuck

Chuck’s Place: Ego—The Active Side of the Self

We are all here for a purpose…
– Photo by Chuck Ketchel

In a letter, C. G. Jung once wrote that “… the ego should be (as I think) the supreme point of the self… You all seem to be interested in how to get back to the self, instead of looking for what the self wants you to do in the world; where—for the human being at least—we are located, presumably for a certain purpose.”*

Such a misunderstood character, ego. In our time especially it gets a really bad rap, as we see its hubris melting away the world as we have long known it. So, who is this character Jung speaks so highly of? How has it gotten us into such a precarious position? What is its mission now?

Carlos Castaneda titled his last book The Active Side of Infinity. This is an apt description of the ego, and its relation to the self. If the self is the wholeness of our being, the ego is that part of our wholeness where the light shines outwardly, where the world is seen, experienced, reflected and acted upon. In a nutshell, the ego is the daylight time of day, the time of consciousness. The nighttime then is the ego returning to its source, to the wholeness of being, lights out.

The ego is the child of the self. Each morning it is born anew. Immediately it renews its identity in the light of day as it casts away the greater wholeness that enveloped it in the darkness of the night. In the light of a new day the mission begins anew. What is that mission?

Having solidly established itself the ego assumes command of its charge to navigate the day. Decisions, decisions, decisions! What to eat, what not to eat, what to wear, what to read, who to talk to, what to think about, how to organize the day, what to do, what to avoid, how to understand its needs, the needs of others, how to advance its understanding and mastery of both its daily tasks and its deepest truths and challenges wherever it has been able to shine its light.

Thus, the ego is the engine of consciousness. The self, in its wholeness, birthed this active side, the ego, apparently to know itself and to advance itself into new permutations of being. For the self, the ego is its scout, its explorer, its navigator, its thinker, its experiencer, its change agent, its creator. However, in order to be these things, it must be freed from the constraints of its original wholeness, much as all children must leave the home of their parents, go forth, and discover and create a new world for themselves.

This brings us to the permutation of now, where the world ego has asserted full ownership of itself as creator. Sometimes, as anticipated in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, creative possibilities, though they must be explored, do not bear fruit; it’s the end of the line.

Carlos Castaneda was the end of a very long shamanic line because he did not have the right energetic configuration to continue it. The ending of that specific line of shamans led to a new era, a new spiritual permutation, where there are no naguals. Instead, all who are interested must become their own shaman teachers now.

The current presidency in the United States presents another ending of an era. What is revealed in this experiment we are undergoing right now is the permutation of ego completely obsessed with itself, identifying itself as SELF, as all there is. In psychological terms this is termed inflation, ego inflation where ego crowns itself King of Creation, completely ignorant of a self beyond itself.

As this experiment has unfolded in America, and into the world beyond our shores, the emperor simply laughs at the fact that he has no clothes on—he doesn’t care. He hides none of his self-centeredness. This is the experience, as Jung put it, where the ego, as supreme point of the self, only sees itself as all there is. This is an example of Narcissus staring into the water and falling in love with his own countenance, his whole world.

Actually, we must face the fact that as a world our supreme point is currently at its most alienated point from its wholeness. The ego is in a mad love affair with its own godliness. This narcissistic permutation is the world fixation at the moment.  The saving grace of these dire straits is the ego’s reflective capacity. We all have the ability, like the best of scientists, to observe the real facts of this experiment. This is challenging, especially in a time of fake news.

The fact is, however, that the ego does have the ability to get to the truth and shift course to meet it. However, getting the ego to lead beyond its current narcissistic fixation is a major evolutionary advance.

I have no doubt that we will get there, but I also believe that the world will be greatly reshaped in the process. The ego was obligated to play out this current scenario before it could release it as all said and done, no longer a viable option. All options must be tested after all. To this point Jung writes elsewhere, “If there was ever a truly apocalyptic era, it is ours. God has put the means for a universal holocaust into the hands of men.”**

Indeed God, or the Self if you will, has insisted that the ego face its capacity for self-destruction and evolve from its decision. Perhaps we will arrive at knowing we have the ability to destroy ourselves but no longer find it interesting and instead choose to move on to new adventures on solid ground.

Be empowered that this ego/Self drama is playing itself out in all of our lives—we are all the active side of infinity, all part of the whole, all energetically involved in some way. But let us all be empowered to fully assume responsibility for a different future wholeness. Let us all advance the ego as the supreme point in the service of something far greater—universal wholeness.

Clearly, at present, the ego is the supreme point of the self at its most extreme. This is obviously a dangerous permutation, however, one which had to be explored, but don’t forget that the ego, as the active side of the self, has the ability and the challenge to solve its messes and take us forward into a safer future.

Part of it all,

Chuck

* C. G. Jung Letters Vol. 2: 1951-1961 p. 195

**Ibid p. 209

Chuck’s Place: Love it all

Love it all, the dark and the light…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

If we are truly to understand where we are, we must face the fact that the ego, with its capacity for reason, is the reigning god of now. The notion of an all-powerful god behind the scenes may still hold a sentimental attachment, a hope or belief, but reason reigns as that which gives order to life and the world. I pass no judgment nor support for this fact, I simply state the obvious.

The Christian notion of an all-loving god is the precursor to this god of reason. An all-loving god suggested a fair god, a reasonable god, a forgiving god, a god of order. And though this loving god still embraced the irrational—spirit life—it shed its dark side. Older notions of god, such as Yahweh or Allah, depict a far more bipolar god, a god of love but also a god of rage, a god of chaos. This god showed his dark side, torturing Job and drowning all who missed Noah’s boat.

The current god of reason has lost this ancient bipolar quality. I would submit that the current world crisis reflects the return of the disowned dark side of god, which is now in power, leveling the playing field of reason and order. We are currently facing chaos and the exercise of evil in control.

What I suggest here is that life is bipolar. We are both good and evil. Evil is not simply the absence of good, evil is part of the essence of everything. America has always stood for the highest values of goodness and caring, the most reasonable values on earth. But in so being, as we set out to save the world, we disowned our dark side, which has now visited itself upon us, and the rest of the world, in a caricature of abuse of power, an infantile, instinctual ego lacking reason.

Nonetheless, this startling state of affairs is so attractive and refreshing to the suppressed shadow, or inherent dark side of the populace, that it is lavishly having its day with all its drama and danger. This is the law of compensation: if we embrace one pole of our bipolar being too rigidly, the repressed side will eventually return with a vengeance.

This vengeance of the dark side is so intense that it threatens, like Noah’s flood, to wipe out all the goodness of civilization, in fact all of life itself. This instinctually driven, dominating power drive is completely self-serving, incapable of reasonable sacrifice to ensure a future beyond itself.

Yes, we must judge it; we must attempt to forestall its shortsighted, narcissistic stance that invites apocalypse, but we must also address the issue at its core: reconciling our bipolar being. We are all a composition of light and dark, good and evil, male and female. We must know all sides of ourselves; we must live all sides of ourselves. If we cling to a one-sided ideal of reason, we end up overturned by the irrational, chaotic side of our nature.

When I suggest that love is all, I mean that love includes evil, the dark side. Love can love its evil side. When the Dalai Lama states that yes, he could kill to defend his life, this does not make him hate his attacker. To the contrary, love reigns in that moment for he who must be killed. With the decision to kill, the Dalai Lama reconciles his instinctual, killing, “evil” nature with loving acceptance of all that is, even the ruthless, even the psychopathic.

Our evolving god image, that which we model ourselves upon, must return to its bipolar roots. That is where we are being led now. This is not merely an aberration being acted out on the world stage. That perspective is a hold out of the god of reason. No, what is being abundantly lived now is the breadth and potential of the dark side of humanity.

Of course, we hope that reason and the light side will prevail, but this can only happen if we embrace and find a place for the irrational, instinctual dark side of our beings. This is how each individual currently walking upon this earth is challenged and empowered to steer the course of our world.

Face your dark side, learn to love it. To love does not mean to give it free reign but to respect its knowledge and contribution to our wholeness. To acknowledge and accept our own darkness is the love that will ensure our survival and evolution upon this planet.

Do your part, as I do mine.

Love it all,

Chuck