Tag Archives: relationships

Chuck’s Place: Modern Mana

Numinous energy…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

A burst of thunder! A flash of lightning! For a moment we are leveled in awe. Somewhere, out there, is an all-powerful energy far greater than the predictable flow of everyday life. For a moment we are seized by the divine, whether it be in terror or ecstasy.

The ancients took these outer manifestations in the heavens and on earth as the moods, judgments, and actions of the gods. For the modern ego the divine forces of nature have been explained and tamed by the human god of reason, though numinous encounters with nature quickly shatter its calm persona.

Mana is the term assigned to the energy of the divine. In our modern world that energy is projected onto people, places, and things. When a child is born, and for many subsequent years, mother is imbued with powerful mana. Who cannot recall either the experience or hidden craving for attention from mana mama!

A smile from mother deeply satisfies a need for validation: “I indeed belong in this world.” The glitter in her eye as she gives special attention to what the child is doing, saying, writing, drawing, singing,  etc. is utter communion with the golden nectar of divine mana.

As an infant grows and becomes a separate being the mother archetype, which at first included the entire world, differentiates and the mana of mother is distributed to other people, i.e., father, as well as to objects. In fact the well known special teddy bear or towel that the child attaches to for security and comfort was termed a “transitional object” by Winnicott.

By this he meant that the powerful mana originally totally projected onto mother now rubs off on the transitional object in the child’s possession, providing an intermediary container for the power and energy of mother that the child will eventually experience within the self-sufficient self.

The projection of divine mana in adult relationships often harkens back to this hunger for special attention first experienced in childhood. Adults often experience in others the divine mana which they are drawn to and are terrified of as well. All intimacy must work through the mana projections that lead to dependency and avoidance of connection that have their roots in mana projections.

Modern mana frequently is projected into substances that loosen the spirit’s confinement in the body and offer divine communion with mana through flights of the imagination and pleasurable shifts in perception and physical sensation. Food as well can take on a divine mana, which delivers pleasurable sensation, hunger relief, and a fulfilled self-contained wholeness.

Mana is often projected onto objects we absolutely must have. Amazon.com is really a major mana warehouse. Books are often filled with mana as we commune with information and plots that give us divine tension and satisfaction.

The crux of mana is divinity. Human animals appear programmed to find the divine spark of their own spirit selves reflected in the people, places, and things of this world. This striving for contact or union with the divine is ultimately our animal self seeking to discover and join with its spirit half.

Until we discover and recover our own mana in inner union we are led to follow its trail in encounters with significant transitional objects in this world. That is the magic of this world; it serves as the playing field for finding the divine through participation in life and relationship on the road to wholeness of body and spirit within.

May the force be with you,


A blog by Chuck Ketchel, LCSW-R

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!


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

Chuck’s Place: The Hidden Relationship

Last week I wrote of spirit and soul, the divine twins that are the essence of what we are. Spirit manifests as logos, as mind and thought activity. Soul, as eros, manifests as feeling and connection. Spirit floats away from the earth, soul embraces it.

A man's anima might be quite delicate... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
A man’s anima might be quite delicate…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Logos is the dominant principle in men, eros the dominant nature in women. In the background of a man’s deeper unconscious lies his soul, eros, what Jung called the anima. In the background of a woman’s greater unconscious lies her spirit, logos, what Jung termed the animus.

The anima in men and the animus in women are autonomous, independent characters that greatly overshadow the ego and impact moods, opinions and relationships in a variety of ways.

For men, the ability to feel, create artistically, and form a loving relationship is greatly influenced by the quality of their relationship with their inner woman, their anima. Some mens’ egos are quite comfortable with their animas and they allow her a great deal of play in their choice of career, aesthetic sensibility, and quality of relationship. Such men are said to be truly in touch with their feminine side.

Oftentimes a man might cling too dominantly to his rational, logos side to the disgust of his inner anima. Her revenge might be to overpower his day with hurt feelings and dark moods. She might as well put a spell on him by projecting herself onto another person, entrancing him into a highly inappropriate relationship.

Women might find themselves lending their animus a dominant role in their lives as well, dedicating themselves to careers or causes requiring a strong logos spirit. On the other hand, women may also shut out or be unaware of the workings of their inner animus who can become the opinionated voice of their internal dialogue, casting a negative spell upon all they touch.

Most relationship problems can be traced to the hidden influences of anima and animus, which lead to hurt feelings and opinionated misunderstandings. To disentangle from the web of these battles requires that each individual get to know their own inner “soul mate.”

Interestingly, this inner confusion has found a concrete form in the transgender issue so hotly politicized in our time. The truth is that all humans are at least psychologically hermaphroditic, and they must get to know and bring these opposite parts into a working relationship to achieve wholeness.

A woman's animus might appear as strong and tough... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
A woman’s animus might appear as strong and sturdy…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

The Shamans of Ancient Mexico’s number one dictum, “suspend judgment,” is of vital importance in discovering the truth of the self. Both the anima and the animus, each in their own way, generate judgments. The anima overpowers with feelings that tell us we’re not being treated fairly or properly loved. The animus forcefully tells us what is right based on generalized “facts” that “everyone knows to be true.”

If we can suspend our tendency to be duped by these automatic feelings and opinions, which compulsively seek to take charge of our perceptions and reactions, we are freed to see and experience reality as it truly is. We are freed to experience clear objective thinking and genuine feelings in ways that lead to balanced wholeness within and real relationship without.

What is asked is that all muster the courage to truly know thy self. And the true self is a many faceted being of many part selves, all of which must be discovered, recognized, but also required to drop their prejudices for the sake of inner wholeness and genuine outer connection.

The true inner work of individuation, of becoming the true individual self we are, by reconciling the differences within with one’s respective inner mate—be it anima or animus—is the only hope for achieving individual fulfillment and a fulfilling relationship.

Exploring the hidden,