Five yang lines stacked together revel in their ordered, controlled, clarified mastery of life, life as idea. Suddenly, a coy innocent yin line enters from below, an impulse from nature, life in its utter sweetness and rawness. The yang lines are shaken at the vibrant appearance of yin, while at the same time they are magnetically drawn, their number and order shattered by the encounter.
Richard Wilhelm’s translation of the I Ching reading of hexagram #44, Coming to Meet, cautions: the maiden is powerful, do not marry such a maiden. Deng Ming-Dao, in his interpretation of the I Ching, goes further, naming Hexagram #44 Copulation. He takes us to the depths of human nature itself.
The urge to copulate is nature’s urge that will not be denied; it’s at the heart of nature’s imperative to survive. At that level it is an amoral force. Dress up “relationship” with romance and commitment if you will, but behind the scenes nature exacts its intent; copulation will occur, there will be offspring to continue the species. Nature has no regard for relationship, commitment or childrearing arrangements, it simply wants offspring.
In a recent channeling discussion (linked Here), Saleph pointed out that the disowning of nature—the ape in man—is at the core of sexual abuse. The disowning of the sexual instinct, and lack of respect for its power, has allowed for mass incidences of coming to meet in copulation—completely unregulated and dissociated from consciousness—to erupt in the most historically sacred countries, in the most sacred institutions, as well as in the most sacred place of all: in the family home.
Our distant ancestors were far more advanced at the regulation of this primal energy in their initiation rites and rites of passage. The modern world, having disowned its animal self, revels in a technological self image, with a rational brain machine that can replace all of nature’s parts, or so it thinks. This naive assumption has left the animal in man dissociated from its archetypal roots, as well as from its ego master. The instinct, in such an abandoned, neglected, manipulated state has gone off on its own, preying particularly upon the young. This is not nature’s program but an instinct gone awry, dissociated from even its own archetypal program. Copulation with the young will not fulfill nature’s imperative; it’s not in the archetypal program.
Love, commitment, and relationship are only possible in a full integration of the sexual instinct with consciousness. Lack of integration leads to splitting, affairs, and the inability to commit. Consciousness must grapple with the fullness of nature’s imperative, but it must also be a worthy conduit for nature’s energy, able to both handle it, regulate it, and join with it in a deeper merging of consciousness, nature, and an other.
Richard Wilhelm also points out that the time of coming to meet is dangerous and yet, at the same time, is the meeting that brings forth new life. With respect to furthering this aspect of nature’s imperative, the door to delivering relationship itself to a new evolutionary birth is opened in full consciousness, offering the opportunity for the union of opposites, in playful cosmic dance, all elements fully present.
The following recording was made August 2, 2014. It is approximately 50 minutes long and includes questions for Saleph from Jan, Chuck, and three of Saleph’s readers/listeners.
At one point in the recording, Saleph responds to a question about life choices and describes a road. Chuck mentioned afterwards, as we listened to the channeling, that one day Jeanne had a breakthrough while driving and described to him this same road. She was elated, because something was so clear to her, but Chuck just could not grasp what she meant. After this channeling he explained this to Jan and said that he still did not get what the big deal was with the road analogy. To Jeanne and Jan it makes perfect sense! How about you?
Here is the channeled session. Hope you enjoy it and that it all makes perfect sense!
It has taken me several days to figure out the value of writing this essay when I have already written so much about the subject of childhood sexual abuse, already published one book about my encounters with a sexual predator, and am in the final stages of completing the second book in the series entitled The Recapitulation Diaries. I let my dreaming self become part of the decision. In the middle of the night I woke up and finally knew I had to write this blog because something that Barry Lopez and Terry Gross decided and stated at the beginning of an interview on Fresh Air would not leave me.
Here is what Terry Gross says at the beginning of the interview: “We agree, you and I, that there is no need to drag you, in this interview, through a traumatic retelling of the details of what happened to you…“
Barry Lopez is an American writer who published an essay in the January edition of Harper’s magazine about the sexual abuse he suffered as a child. In that article he is forthcoming about what happened to him, giving descriptive details, and I commend him for his honesty and bravery in sharing his story. Between that publication and the Fresh Air interview, both of which are worthy reading and listening to on the subject of childhood sexual abuse—I link to both of them at the end of this article—something seems to have happened to Mr. Lopez.
Considering the position he’s in, invited to speak publicly and then to not tell the details, leaves a bad taste in my mouth, as if there’s still something wrong with speaking frankly and openly about sexual abuse, something bad about it, a distasteful stigma attached to being sexually abused, even after all that’s recently been exposed. It’s just something not talked about in polite society. Those were my first thoughts upon hearing Terry Gross make the above statement, but as I listened to what she was really saying, “no need to drag you…through a traumatic retelling of the details,” I understood that Mr. Lopez has not healed from the wounds of his childhood sexual abuse, for if he had the retelling of the details would no longer haunt him. And as the interview proceeds it becomes clear that this is so, in spite of the deep work he has done.
I read the article, ‘Sliver of Sky,’ in Harper’s first, and to his credit Mr. Lopez does a magnificent job of telling his story, replete with details, but even there something bothered me. It was only in listening to Mr. Lopez speak with Terry Gross that I finally understood what it was, for the radio interview more clearly reveals the difficulties Mr. Lopez still faces. I felt the same thing after reading Marilyn Van Derbur’s book, Miss America By Day, who wrote so bravely of being sexually abused by her father and in which she states that she could only go so far in healing. People are not finding the means to heal from the deep wounds of childhood sexual abuse.
Mr. Lopez is compassionate, articulate, and completely honest about the many aspects of living with PTSD, though he states near the end of the Fresh Air interview that he has a sense of “falling backward into places he has not been for years, terrified.” He states that “It never leaves you.” I beg to differ, and so I must write this essay today, in hopes of sharing, once again, insights that I’ve learned during my own process of healing, really healing from the sixteen years of childhood sexual abuse that I suffered and that dogged me long into adulthood.
Mr. Lopez seems to question, as he confronts the aftermath of the article in Harper’s, whether or not it was right for him to have gone public. He has been receiving letters and calls for aid, it seems, and although he is clearly a good spokesman for the truth of sexual abuse, he states that he holds no credentials. He questions, it seems, whether or not he was really ready to face the whirlwind he finds himself in now, as a public figure speaking on such a sensitive subject. He also questions what comes next, for facing sexual abuse and what to do about it is a common dilemma that we all must face. I say, keep talking, Mr. Lopez; keep facing the abusers, keep writing and speaking the details so others, those not sexually abused especially, really understand what it means to be a child in a compromised position, unable to find a way out.
I feel deep compassion for Barry Lopez. I am also grateful to him for keeping the dialogue fresh, for daring to carry a torch he never sought. It’s important. It’s helpful to so many, to those in the process but also to those who have not yet confronted their own issues of sexual abuse. At the same time, I must protest some of his conclusions, though I realize they are made in the context of where he is in his own healing process and so I apologize if I seem judgmental, I do not mean to be, but I cannot accept that “It never leaves you.” In making that statement, a door of possibility slams shut. I say, don’t close any doors, leave them all open, look into them and find the means of healing, because with the right process there is healing from even the deepest of trauma, and at the risk of sounding pompous, I must also say that I have experienced it. I am healed. There is a way to heal.
At one time I too was terrified, in constant heightened alert, traumatically impacted for far longer than the actual years of abuse. It was only through the work I did, by taking a journey of recapitulation that I was able to fully heal. The word recapitulation comes from a shamanic practice used by the Shamans of Ancient Mexico, but through the work I did with Chuck Ketchel, my husband, we discovered its value as a healing treatment for PTSD. And we have, for the past ten years, been slowly introducing it to others.
That process of recapitulation involved reliving the years of abuse in detail—investigating them from many different perspectives, speaking of them over and over again in a supportive environment, facing the disintegration of their hold on me by allowing myself to totally change how I viewed the world and my place in it—and in so doing I was able to emerge from the process of recapitulation fully healed. By healing, I mean that I am no longer attached to the trauma that once dragged me into terror. I no longer have deeply entrenched feelings of low self-worth. I no longer walk in fear. I no longer hide out. The past no longer has a hold over me. I can go back to any memory, in full detail, and have no emotional reaction. I can write about it, talk about it, without any dissociation, trauma, or shame—it’s simply a fact of my past.
I chose to write about the recapitulation journey I took. I knew it was important, that it offered something to others. In the introduction of my first book, The Man in the Woods, I state the reasons for writing the details of what happened to me. It was important at the time for me to be explicit, and it still is, for I know that people do not really understand what happens when a child is sexually abused. It’s too hard to imagine that anyone would or could rape and sodomize a child, even an infant, but guess what, it happens. It happens far more often than any of us like to imagine. If one in three girls and one in seven boys are being sexually abused, the statistics that Mr. Lopez cites in his Harper’s article, that’s an awful lot of sexual abuse going on that no one is catching.
The sexual abuse discussion has to be brought out of the darkness and into the light. People need to know that it’s possible to heal. To his credit, in the Harper’s article, Mr. Lopez describes his lengthy therapeutic process, realizing that he could only confront what happened to him when he was ready, and this must be taken into consideration. We will know when we are ready when something just won’t let us rest until we attend to it. In my own case, it was my dying spirit that finally alerted me to the truth that if I didn’t attend to it, I might really die.
In our blogs, in my books, and in the psychotherapy work Chuck does addressing PTSD and sexual abuse, we seek to offer some new methods of healing from even the most traumatic of events. And so I write this blog today, in hopes of changing some minds about that idea that one cannot heal, that just because you have been sexually abused you will remain terrified for the rest of your life. It just isn’t so.
Seek help. Don’t be afraid to speak or write to someone you feel safe with. Keep the dialogue going. In the right circles it will be perfectly acceptable to do so. As circles go, they have a tendency to widen, and so if we keep writing, talking, sharing, and helping each other to face our fears we may pretty soon erase the stigmas that keep us from our deeper truths and get down to addressing the real issues of our society and why we have gone so deviant. There is something wrong at the core of humanity, and it does not lie in the sexually abused, but in humanity’s aberrant relationship to the sexual instinct. And if we can’t talk about it in real descriptive terms, how are we ever going to heal? But that’s another blog.
To her credit, Terry Gross is sensitive to the fact that a discussion of details could trigger a traumatic reaction and nobody should have something like that imposed on them. However, the idea that a trauma is forever lurking creates a framework where the legacy of the abuser continues, for a lifetime, to hold a victim in check. And if this is accepted as the best one can do then full healing has not happened. Full healing means the ability to stare the full intimate details of traumatic experience in the face without discomfort and to be able to discuss those details without discomfort too.
Thanks to Barry Lopez and Terry Gross for getting a new dialogue going. Wishing you all good healing options and love to carry you forward, Jan
Here are the links: Fresh Air and Sliver of Sky. I notice that the Harper’s article is only available to subscribers in its fullness. I’ll see if I can find a link to the full article elsewhere, or if you happen to see the magazine buy it. It’s worth the read.
Today, I follow up on last week’s blog, Wounded Children. I ask the question: What is suffering? And why is it so necessary?
I grew up in the Catholic religion. I went to Catholic schools and learned that Jesus wanted us to be innocent children, to be free of sin, yet the world itself did not support me in my endeavors. The world was full of sin and yes, suffering. I suffered as a child, as most children do. As much as I tried to live a sin-free life, there was no getting around sin, it was everywhere. I realized that everything, even breathing could be considered sinful.
In my weekly forays to the confessional, as often as I tried to articulate my sins, I found no actual release from them. Any absolution was momentary at best, because as soon as I walked out of the church I was back in sin-ville. As a child, suffering meant not only trying to find ways to deal with what happened to me out in the world, but, on a deeper level, it meant dealing with the fact that I would never be holy enough. I was a sinner and so I must suffer.
My child’s perspective was not all that far from the Buddhist perspective, which accepts that the reality we live in, samsara, is indeed an ocean of suffering. Samsara is an endless cycle of obsession and illusion, the more we try to escape it, the more it assaults us. Until, that is, we turn to it and ask: What is life trying to teach me? Why is it so necessary to suffer?
The Shamans of Carlos Castaneda’s lineage tell us too that this world is an illusion and that we are born to struggle with breaking through that illusion. They tell us that the world constantly assaults us in an effort to wake us up to this fact by presenting us with things that we want to push away and other things that we want to constantly cling to in our efforts to uphold that illusion. But in the end the Shamans contend, as do the Buddhists, that we must face the illusionary reality of the world and break it down, one illusion at a time. By challenging our perceptions, by challenging the way we think and act, and by challenging ourselves to face our deaths as new life, we offer ourselves the opportunity to break through the endless suffering of being human.
If we believe that all lives are meaningful, that our personal suffering and the suffering of everyone else in the world is important, then perhaps we might understand the necessity of it. Samsara, illusion, is endless. We are all being confronted with the truth of this as the revelations of sexual abuse swirl through the media, assaulting our personal illusions, coming into our homes on the nightly news. Our illusions are being shattered.
From a Buddhist and Shamanic perspective, this is very good. Such shatterings offer us the opportunity to view the world differently, to accept the necessity of suffering as a means of breaking us out of endless samsara. In my book, The Man in the Woods, I present the sufferings of my child self. It’s often hard for people to fathom that I suffered such abuse and yet survived the experiences. But I know that my own experiences are not all that exceptional. I hear stories of equal or worse horror every day, of abuse that went on for just as many years or even longer.
I am both humbled and hopeful as I hear the stories being told to me personally or by the media. And yet I know that, as people face their personal suffering, they are facing the shattering of their lives. But I also know that this shattering is the necessary breakthrough point to new life.
The universe itself is challenging us to face the reality of samsara and the necessity for it now. As a catalyst to shattering our illusions, constant exposure to the horrific reality of sexual abuse against innocent children is a mighty force. This exposure alone has the ability to change our world as we discover what has been kept hidden for decades, but even more deeply meaningful as we face our personal secrets.
When we are finally ready to face our personal suffering, we are ready to shatter the illusions that we have constructed in an effort to both get us through our lives but also to protect us so we could survive. When we face our inner turmoil, the suffering and the illusion of it, we face the fact of the world as indeed samsara, endless suffering.
On the bright side, in facing our personal suffering, in shattering our illusions about who we are, we begin to see the world differently. Suffering becomes understood as the means to enlightenment as the Buddhists present it and the means to accessing the warrior self as the Shamans suggest. In recapitulation, in deep inner work, in allowing ourselves to sit through the horror of the news, facing the truth of human suffering, we offer ourselves a new opportunity to evolve beyond this world of endless suffering.
Both the Buddhists and the Shamans use suffering and death as the greatest teachers and advisors. Both the Buddhists and the Shamans are aware of death at all times, preparing for it, using the challenges in this world to break through to a new awareness that we are all beings seeking enlightenment.
The reason we must suffer is the same for all of us. We are being challenged to grasp the truth of suffering as our greatest teacher, so that we may crack through it and make our deaths as meaningful as we want our lives to be.
In samsara we prepare for new life; in suffering we discover what that might mean. With each new life we are offered the opportunity to discover the illusions we steep ourselves in, that are presented to us in myriad ways by the world outside of us and by our inner reactions, disturbances, and challenges to that world. We are all here to live deeply meaningful lives—that I have no doubt about.
As I look around at the world each day and discover yet another reason to be disappointed in my fellow humans, to be distraught, disturbed and disgusted, I know I am being challenged to not turn off the television set. I am being challenged to face samsara and to ask others to face it as well. It is only through facing the onslaughts of horror that we can change the world.
We must face our inner darkness—mirrored unrelentingly, it seems lately, by the outside world—and ask everyone else to do the same. Suffering leads to enlightenment. I keep that in mind.
I don’t know if there is a more revered coach in that most masculine of sports, football, than 84-year-old Joe Paterno, affectionately nicknamed “Joe Pa.” Once again, the truth of sexual abuse has reared its ugly head and brought down another father—Pater in Latin—of the reigning order.
Simultaneously, Herman Cain, the pride of the Koch brothers and their American Enterprise Institute, finds himself steeped in the mire of sexual harassment charges.
Earlier this year we witnessed IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn, France’s heir apparent, being brought down by charges of sexual abuse.
All of these incidents, combined with the major revelations of worldwide sexual abuse within the institution of the Catholic church, are signs of the end of an era. An end of an era is represented by death of the father—he who sets the rules.
In ancient times, the people of a kingdom would kill the king in a failing kingdom, declaring: “The King is dead. Long live the king.” Out with the old, in with the new! This is the time we are in now—The king is dead. Long live the king!
It’s the end of an era that put football, church, business, and the affairs of state over the truth of sexual abuse, rampant in the shadows of abuse of power. It’s the end of an era that has allowed for rampant greed, through the abuse of masculine power, to the detriment of the 99% of the world. It’s the end of an era that denies the animal in the human animal. We must reckon with the fullness of our being, of who and what we are and what we really need. This is the challenge of the new king.
Last week, I blogged about the energetic wave of the new era impacting Greece and Italy. Since then both Prime Ministers are stepping down. Greece is installing a banker. This is an old-world father, an IMF move to settle the markets, to restore the status quo. In Italy, similar moves are being made to force the Italians, like the Greeks, into indentured servitude. It won’t hold: Pater-no! The King is dead. Long live the King!
The 1% is “Pater.” The 99% say “NO!” This does not mean the end of wealth. Wealth is part of nature; wealth has a legitimate place. But it does mean the end of unbridled greed as the dominating Father of world principles. The facts of life simply cannot uphold the legitimacy of that world any longer. The facts, as they are rapidly revealed in our information age, immediately shatter the old world spins on reality.
Worlds are colliding now: worlds of greed, worlds of denial of need, worlds of suppressed truth of sexual abuse. Truths are being revealed; truths too unsettling to uphold the reigning order of suppression and trickle-down survival.
As we move from fall into winter now, from decay into darkness, may we all reconcile with our deepest truths, mirrored so powerfully in the outer world right now.
With the end of Pater-no the seeds of new life are planted deeply in Mother Earth, with new life and a new era surely on the spring horizon. Pater-no!