Tag Archives: recapitulation

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’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,


A New Book

We are very pleased to announce the publication of Volume 4 of The Recapitulation Diaries.

A book rich in psychological and shamanic content, Place of No Pity takes the reader in vivo into the experience of disentangling sexual abuse from one’s identity and true sense of self.  Additional themes include familial relationships, mothers, fathers, detachment, dreams, and shamanic experiences, as well as the strange and fascinating course that recapitulation can take as it unfolds in everyday life. Intimate and revealing, Jan does not hold back but takes you into her life, her psyche, her dreams, and her deepest struggles. It is a powerful book, rich in offerings whether one is doing a recapitulation, helping someone through the turmoil of trauma, or simply interested in the workings of the psyche, the body, and the spirit.

As a friend who read it during its editing stage said to Jan, “As usual, you grab me with the first sentence!”

All of Jan’s books offer validation and insight to those who suffer, especially those who have been traumatized by childhood sexual abuse, but most importantly they document a process that has the potential to lead to a complete revamping of the self. For Jan this meant, in clinical terms, a complete healing from complex PTSD resulting from sixteen years of childhood sexual abuse.

Given the raw nature of the experiences described in her books, we advise caution, as the contents of the books can serve as triggers to memories or experiences that may not be consciously available. Perhaps this may be the time to read Jan’s books, but it may just as well not be appropriate at this time, so reader discretion advised. This is not a book for children and even adults must proceed with caution.

Published under our own imprint, Riverwalker Press, all of Jan’s books are available in both paperback and e-book format through Amazon. A complete list can be viewed on her author page, J. E. Ketchel. Please don’t hesitate to “look inside this book” on the Amazon pages.

Though we ask for nothing personally, if you feel so inclined as to write reviews of our books at Amazon you may directly impact the life of another being. We personally know that comments made by you, our readers, have indeed led people to find recapitulation after many years of searching for a means of healing from life’s deepest woundings. So, we thank you on behalf of the many who have benefited from your insight and reflection!

Here it is: Place of No Pity

Chuck’s Place: Let It Happen

Jan shares an excerpt from her forthcoming book, The Place of No Pity:

“I don’t know. The whole idea of letting go just makes me hold tighter and I’m so afraid I haven’t completed everything on this side of the river yet. I don’t want to leave anything behind. I’m thorough that way.”

We laugh at that, but it’s no joke.

After the session I drive over to the studio. I told Chuck that I’d heard the words “true things happen” and that I like the idea of letting things happen so much better than letting go. “Let it happen” sounds so doable, a lot less stressful than “letting go.” To me, letting go implies that I am holding back and can’t let go, which is true, but it also implies that I am at fault, that I am to blame for not letting go. Let it happen, on the other hand, allows me to let myself be open, to acquiesce. Let go, inhibits by its very command and my reaction is: “Oh my God, I can’t! There must be something wrong with me! Why can’t I?” And I start thinking that I’m incapable and then I just tighten up. The phrases let it happen and true things happen are more soothing, allowing me to open, to be flowing, to go with the flow; all of which are much more positive, without a hint of blame, without some other voice making demands. Instead, I simply release and open to the possibilities. Or at least that is my intention! (End of excerpt.)

Looking out the back window... - Photo by Chuck Ketchel
Looking out the back window…
– Photo by Chuck Ketchel

How many times do we come to the conclusion: “I just have to let go!” But what is the technology of letting go? How do we actually let go?

The realization that one must let go derives from the growing awareness that much of life energy is exhausted by and preoccupied with what has happened in the past. One feels the impact of the unresolved past overshadowing and consuming the present as we obsess about what has happened, how it has impacted us, and how we handled it. Conclusions and fixations from the past define our sense of self, our self-esteem, and the limiting beliefs we are controlled by in everyday life. In effect, as the train of life moves into new territory we find ourselves staring out the back window of the last car, unable to be present for the uniqueness and possibility of unfolding time.

Clearly, the optimal seat on the train is the engineer’s—first car, front window, being fully present to the nuances of oncoming time. In practical terms, this means being mindfully present now. If I sit down to a meal and munch away but my mind is fully engaged in replaying a disturbing incident, I will surely not be present for the flavors and textures of the food, much less a conscious participant of the beginnings of digestion—slow and thorough chewing!

The decision to be present to what is truly occurring now, is a conscious decision to encounter now as it happens. This is at the heart of an existential attitude, to be fully engaged and present for what is happening in the moment, letting it happen by being fully open and present to the full experience of it.

The mechanics of this kind of mindful presence is to volitionally bring one’s attention and intent to the present moment, letting it happen with full participation. Of course, part of being fully present means also being fully present to all that is happening within oneself as one faces oncoming time. In the present moment one might feel a gripping tension in the throat, a holding back of breath, a tightness in the solar plexus, the bladder, and a clenching in the perineum. These energy centers, or chakras, are all revealing their present state of activation and various forms of protective defense. While acknowledging their collective state of anxiety, one is still free to choose to place one’s attention on the present moment, on what is happening, and engage it with conscious awareness.

If one is experiencing waves of terror within, one can still be available to interact with another being—still be fully present, still look the other in the eye, focus on their words, while also noticing one’s own feelings and impressions—in essence, to have the experience of a conscious encounter, no matter what is going on inside oneself.

The act of letting go in “letting it happen” is training awareness to release the stranglehold of the past, just enough to take in now, to be present in everyday life. It is not possible to be present if one does not let go, to some extent, of being completely consumed by the view from the back window. The trick here is to not dissociate from one’s past discomfort as it presents, but to “let it go” just enough to remain aware of the unfolding of present time as well. This is the act of remaining associated, open to the full inclusion of inner and outer experiences, as presented by the clash of the past with oncoming time. This is the kind of fuller awareness that opens doors to new possibilities and new perspectives, as one looks out the back window and the front window of the speeding train of life simultaneously.

Fully present, fully facing oncoming time... - Photo by Chuck Ketchel
Fully present, fully facing oncoming time…
– Photo by Chuck Ketchel

Recapitulation, which Jan was in the midst of in the opening quote, requires a conscious choosing to “let it happen,” to acquiesce to what comes in the unfolding of one’s journey through life. “It” may be the full impact of a viscerally stored experience reaching way back in time, through the back window of the train, into early childhood history. However, by consciously choosing to remain present with the experience, one is simultaneously at the front of the train, viewing the experience from a much broadened perspective, a lifetime of experiences providing a lifetime of insights.

“Letting it happen” is the real technology of letting go. In this earth dimension, we are all treated to a reality of oncoming time all the time. To open fully and be present to oncoming time is our opportunity to exercise our freedom. When we exercise that freedom by choosing to be fully present, no matter what comes at us, we release ourselves from the tenets and limitations of the past. And, little by little, we take bold and definite steps toward opening to new and present experiences of life.

Letting it happen,


Note: Volume 4 in the Recapitulation Diaries series, The Place of No Pity, is targeted for publication early next year.

Chuck’s Place: Genuine Transformation

What is real change? It may feel good to escape the heat of an uncomfortable situation, but that hardly guarantees we won’t be triggered again or that we won’t repeat the same fateful drama with a new cast of characters. The ego might try, with all of its cognitive might, to identify and rationally put to rest its fears and anxieties, but despite all its heroic intentions it might still find itself blindsided and seized by a passionate emotion of anger, terror, or attraction, or be swallowed up in a pool of sadness.

That white light of illumination... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
That white light of illumination…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

The simple truth is that the ego fortress alone, despite all its mighty defenses, is unlikely to permanently change or transform the deeper issues of the psyche housed in the depths of the unconscious and triggered by the outer circumstances of everyday life.

Permanent change is very simple to recognize: the person or situation that once triggered us, as measured by a strong activation of the central nervous system in powerful emotion, is now experienced as neutral; no activation of the central nervous system, no powerful emotion.

Energetically, we can say that the inner electrical charge of the triggering object has been completely depleted of its electrical charge. Psychically, we could say that the energy of the unconscious content behind the trigger has been transferred from the unconscious to the ego in the form of deep understanding, acceptance, and resolution. The ego becomes stronger, not in its defenses but more in its reduced need for defenses, the energy formerly spent in defenses now available for a more fulfilling experience of life.

The symbol that often emerges to represent this enlightened state of consciousness is white light, or whiteness in some form. This form of illuminated whiteness in spiritual terms is awareness that transcends maya, the veil of illusion that entraps us in the triggered situation, projected onto everyday life.

The bright light of whiteness lays bare all the truths, like the bright sun at its midday zenith. But this transformation also requires that the ego withstand the intense heat of both the blinding light of truth and the full heat of emotions that are sure to arise during any encounter with truth.

Rather than discharge that emotion in defensive spurts of blame and rage, the ego contains this cauldron of volatile emotion without action. As the truth is laid bare, the ego pours its deep well of tears into the cauldron as well, allowing both the heat of the fire and the dissolution of water to break down its intense attachment to the illusion it has held onto in an attempt to medicate itself from the full impact of the truth.

Finally, the fire of contained passion, the solution of sadness and depression, and the consciousness of the full reality of what is, eventuates in a genuine transformation. We are released into freedom from a formerly binding attachment. We can then stare into the truth of our lives with the detachment of reading a benign history book, no triggers, only genuine transformation.

Holding steady in the fire within... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Holding steady in the fire within…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

In her new book, to be published later this year, Jan offers an account of an experience of this cauldron of transformation, of bright white light followed by an intensity of emotions. She was at a family gathering, usually an emotionally triggering situation: “I feel myself move slightly, not my body, for my physical body remains stationary, but something inside me shifts and suddenly I see everything differently. One second I am my usual self, thinking my thoughts, and in the next second everything goes quiet. I go quiet too, utterly calm and still, and I see that everything and everyone is highlighted in white light. Crystal clear and luminous energy flows from everyone and everything. I am almost afraid to blink; I don’t want to disturb the beautiful, numinous vision. Then, just as suddenly, I am flooded with emotions. Feelings of sadness and loneliness envelop me…”

And that is followed by this: “…and then I know that it’s all true, that everything is true, that this experience in this moment is true and all I have recapitulated is true too.”

In the end, Jan states: “I was able to maintain a sense of continuity in the midst of the shift,”  underscoring that the ego was ready to encounter what was being proposed as the means to transformation. Now that is real change!

In the cauldron,