Tag Archives: shadow

The Killer Inside Me

I am about nine years old. It’s summertime. I go outside to ride my bike, which is parked in the front yard of our house in the bucolic, rural area in New York State where I live. Just as I reach out to the handlebars I pull back in utter disgust and fear. Some unknown green creature with long legs and wings and a fiercesome looking face is perched on the right handlebar. I almost touched it! What is that!

The strangest creature I had ever seen!
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

It looks prehistoric, something I’ve never seen before in my life. I am overcome with fear and nausea. I whack it to the ground and step on it. Shaking, I stand there and look at its crushed body lying on the ground, oozing out disgusting slime, more sickening to look at than when it was alive. I can only feel that I had just saved my life!

At the same time that I feel this I also know that I have just killed a fellow creature and I feel really bad about that. I tell myself I was frightened by it. It looked prehistoric, like a scary small dinosaur, and I couldn’t help myself, which is true, I just reacted and killed it. Instinctual fear drove me to kill.

Years later I read about the praying mantis being an endangered species. It was then that I realized what I had killed that day. To my nine-year-old eyes what I saw was much larger and more frightening to behold than a real praying mantis ever was. At the time I had never seen such a thing and so I could not place it. It frightened me so much that I had to kill it. This was a reaction to the unknown. Sometimes an instinctual reaction crushes the harmless and the innocent in a primitive instinctual projection based on unfamiliarity.

A few years after this incident, when I was about fourteen, I was out with friends. We had come upon some wild grapes. Reaching into the tangle of vines to pick a nice bunch I suddenly felt something clinging to my face. I could not pull it off. I thought is was just a grape vine caught in my hair or something. I asked my friends to help get it off me. They pulled back in horror and screamed!

None of them came to the rescue so I grabbed hold of it, a sticky something clinging tightly, and pulled it off my face with all my might. I held it up and found myself staring at the weirdest creature I had ever seen, even weirder than that praying mantis—a walking stick! It was big enough to cover my entire face. It had straddled my nose and mouth and eyes, stretching from forehead to chin. It must have looked like I was wearing some kind of strange mask.

This time I held the strange creature in my hands long enough to get a good look at it. I’d heard of walking sticks before but had never actually seen a live one. This was huge! I stared at it, freaky though it was, and then placed it carefully back onto the grape vine. Now every time I see a walking stick I am reminded of this experience and I once again remember how I held in my fear and disgust and just looked at this curious creature who shares the world with us. He got to live because I did not let my fear kill him.

In the first scenario I encountered my killer instinct in an automatic reaction to the unknown in the guise of the praying mantis. In the second scenario, although I was equally terrified, I did not react instinctively but instead paused long enough to allow consciousness to work with instinct to mediate and calm my fear, saying, “take a look at what this is and then decide the proper action/reaction.”

I do not judge my nine-year-old self for killing the praying mantis, it’s just where I was at the time. Now I try to live with consciousness as much as possible, pausing, like my fourteen-year-old self did with the walking stick, asking myself pertinent questions: What is the right thing to do in this situation? What is the right thing to feel? What is the right action to take?

We all have killed something at some point in our lives. How many mosquitoes, flies, and pesky bugs I’ve swatted at over my 65 years I don’t know, but I have certainly whacked quite a number of them to death out of sheer annoyance.

At the same time that I admit to that kind of killing, there is another part of me that would never knowingly harm another living thing, but sometimes she’s just not available when I need her. Sometimes the fearful me still steps in and just takes care of business.

A blog by J. E. Ketchel, author of The Recapitulation Diaries.

Chuck’s Place: Video Poker

About a month ago I was introduced to a book entitled Heaven is for Healing by Joseph Gallenberger, a clinical psychologist and trainer at The Monroe Institute. The book details his healing process, including OBEs and channelings, following the death of his brother, Peter, who committed suicide in Las Vegas in 1991.

Shadowland anyone?

Very familiar with the OBE work of pioneer out-of-body explorer Robert Monroe, founder of The Monroe Institute, and having used Hemi-sync products from the Institute for many years, I had nonetheless never come across Joseph Gallenberger.

I purchased his book and was fascinated by his experiences, which paralleled many of my own, particularly his OBE explorations and the channelings he’d received, messages delivered in a language style very similar to those Jan receives from Jeanne.

Jan became interested in him too and discovered that he’d written another book, Inner Vegas, where he describes using psychic abilities to win big in Las Vegas, often playing video poker. Jan’s inner imp bought that book, which set the stage for a reconsideration of our basic values and became the basis for a whole new adventure.

I’ve never allowed myself to invest in the Stock Market, despite a pretty keen intuition of where money can be made, because to do so would have forced me to be indifferent to the impact that demanding high profits has upon the earth. I also never wanted to have my attention monopolized by constant tracking of world events and their impact on the markets.

The notion, however, of video poker, where you test your skill against a machine, seems like a cleaner opportunity to open to abundance. Interesting proposition: you invest your skill and money; you might be very successful, you might lose, fair and square. No one is harmed or tricked in your attempt to win big!

A gambling experience is one I shunned all my life as well. It seemed like a foolish waste of money. However, after reading Joseph Gallenberger, plans quickly germinated to go to a casino to try our skills, something neither of us had ever done before.

Suddenly, Stephen Paddock, a multimillionaire, highly successful at video poker, massacred 58 people and injured hundreds of others from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Hotel in Las Vegas. No motive has been ascertained.

On the surface his life circumstances, at age 64, would appear to be the flowering of the American Dream: successful in business, multimillionaire, freed to fully enjoy the luxury and pleasures of gambling at video poker, well known and well attended to in the top casinos.

How were Jan and I to understand the flow of synchronicities appearing in our lives around video poker just as we were about to set off on an adventure into casino land? Clearly this man, Stephen Paddock, had fully indulged in the opportunities of amassing abundance in the material plane. Why would he choose to end his life with such horrific carnage?

My speculation, as a psychotherapist, is that he misread an inner call to open up to his spirit. He had spent his whole life concentrated on the material plane to the total neglect of his spirit. I suspect, by way of compensation, that he harbored a psychotic voice that instructed him to kill off his materialistic, fun loving side. From his vantage point high above the casinos he likely projected his materialistic side onto a fun loving concert audience. From this “spirit” vantage point he killed off the material side of many, including himself.

Indeed, to open to the spiritual plane one must be willing to tame the material side of oneself. Unfortunately many suicides have resulted from a misreading of this inner command, which really says “time to kill off obsession with the material,” NOT “time to kill the physical self or others.”

Last week someone sent me an article entitled Jung and the Trumpian Shadow* by Alexander Blum. The gist of this essay pinpoints Trump as embodying America’s projected, disavowed shadow. This shadow part of the self is far more instinctual and conservative, focused on self needs and wants.

The American persona and spiritual ideal of altruistic values, progressive in its inclusiveness of all diversity and care for the deepest needs of the world, is countered by a hidden, self-centered preoccupation and entitlement that feels held back from speaking and living its true mind. Trump singlehandedly is living out this unacknowledged side of the American psyche. The real problem is the conflict of the evolved mind of modernity with its instinctual core. The tragedy in Las Vegas is an expression of the clash of these Titans.

In fact, if we could erase the bizarre behavior of that Sunday night in Las Vegas, many Americans would have seen Stephen Paddock as a shining example of their own unlived shadow side. To the contrary Stephen Paddock emerged as the darkest example of the shadow unleashed, wreaking utter destruction.

The dilemma we all must face is that if we don’t acknowledge, live out, and assume responsibility for our shadow/materialistic side, we will manifest people who will completely act it out for us, abusing with lethal power. On the other hand, we can open up to our deepest earthly impulses and with consciousness (spirit) and responsibility live a whole and fulfilled life.

With full knowledge of this backdrop of world events, Jan and I took it upon ourselves to have a conscious adventure in shadowland. Perhaps the imp will write about it sometime!

Play responsibly,

Chuck

*Read Jung and the Trumpian Shadow by Alexander Blum here

A Blog by Chuck Ketchel, LCSW-R

Maybe They Won’t Notice!

I recapitulate another memory of the bad girl, the imp inside me. I am walking with three boys and my cousin. I am eleven and my cousin is a bit younger. The boys are a year or so older than me. We’ve all known each other our entire lives. We’ve played together since early childhood.

Gotta’ love it, the nature in all of us!
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

One of the boys nervously asks, “Do you know what this means?” He makes a rude gesture with his finger. Another of the boys asks if we know what fucking is. The others laugh, but I can see they are all very nervous. I pretend I don’t know what they are talking about, though I know everything. My cousin says she doesn’t know and I don’t think she does, she’s telling the truth. One of the boys pulls out a condom. I see it quivering in his shaking hand. “What about this? Do you know what this is?” I have never seen one before so when I answer that I don’t know, it’s actually the truth.

We are on our way down to the swimming pool. It’s nestled in the valley, a mile or so down from the mountain where we all live. We spend our summers there, swimming in the pool and sometimes the nearby pond, boating and fishing too. There is a cold mountain stream that runs near the pool. There are copperheads and other large snakes around the stream and up the slopes of the mountain that is covered with pines, maples, and oaks. Tall pines surround the pool too. We ride our bikes down or walk, sometimes a parent will give us a ride, but the pool is unsupervised, no lifeguard. Mothers come with small children during the day, but often it’s just a bunch of kids swimming, diving, playing. The fathers come down to swim after work.

Today is cloudy and cool, late in the day, perhaps early summer or late spring. No one is at the pool. It’s totally deserted, just the five of us, talking and joking around. One of the boys asks me if I will go over to the outhouse and dressing room with him, so we can try out the condom.

“No, of course not!” I say.

They try a few other tactics to get us to do something with them, but we stick together, wary of their eager energy. Finally they come up with the idea that we, my cousin and I, should swim naked for them. Skinny dipping! The thrill-seeking imp in me immediately agrees, the ecstasy of it, the cold water on bare skin, the heart-pounding experience of doing something forbidden! I just can’t say no, and my cousin is equally daring and agreeable.

We take off our clothes and run and jump into the pool with a shriek as we hit the cold water. Like three movie directors the boys stand beside the pool and instruct us. Do headstands, flips, back flips, they say. They laugh excitedly, telling us to go slower, so they can get a better look. My cousin and I know exactly what we are doing and what they are looking at, what we have between our legs, that place where the condom goes. They egg us on, but we soon realize that we have the power. They are mesmerized.

I don’t remember how long we stay in the pool somersaulting and showing off our twats, all of us laughing and having fun, but suddenly the boys take off running. With a surprised yell they scatter, running toward the stream, leaving us girls alone. We had been making so much noise that we didn’t hear a couple approaching, the parents of some friends of ours, out for an early evening walk. Suddenly there they are, standing near enough to the pool to see what we are doing. How long have they been there? Panic sets in. The looks on their faces says it all: BAD!

They do not leave. They go and sit on a bench by the pond. My cousin and I are naked captives in the pool, our clothes lying on the ground some distance away. We will have to get out of the water in front of this man and woman. We discuss how we are going to do it. We agree that “really fast” is the only way. We decide we will jump out of the pool, run to our clothes, grab them and run to the dressing room.

“Maybe they won’t notice,” I say, ever the hopeful one. “Maybe they didn’t really see that we’re naked. Maybe they didn’t notice.”

We do as discussed, hop out of the pool, run and grab our clothes and dash over to the dressing rooms. The man and woman sit on the bench and stare, their faces stiff with the kind of disgusted look that only disapproving parents can have. Of course they see us! We fumble with our clothes. Soaking wet, and no towels to dry ourselves with, we pull them on as best we can. We decide we will nonchalantly saunter past the disapproving couple, for they sit smack in our path, blocking the only way out. We are not about to head toward the stream and all its snakes as the boys had.

“We will be calling your parents,” they say, glaring at us as we walk by, as we say a friendly hello, as if nothing has happened, as if they did not just see us naked, as if they did not see what we were doing with those boys.

My cousin and I walk slowly, reluctant to face what we know is coming. Maybe, if we delay, our fate will shift, but we both know we have to face the music. My cousin’s house is closest so we go there. The news has already reached her mother. She is waiting as we walk in the door. She has company, so the company also knows what happened. One of the guests is a woman I have long admired, independent, tough, not physically attractive but I have always sensed her beautiful soul. One day I overheard her say, “What a beautiful child!” Now I am no longer her beautiful child. I am a monster. I am embarrassed and ashamed that she now knows the true me.

“What am I going to do with you kids? What next?” my aunt yells, but we see that she is laughing behind her stern look. “Get out of my sight,” she says.

We go to my cousin’s bedroom. That wasn’t too bad, her mother has a sense of humor, but my mother is different. I am reluctant to go home. The phone rings. It’s my mother, yelling at me to come home immediately. I can hear the cold, controlled anger in her voice. My cousin looks at me with big sad eyes.

“Uh oh, you’re going to get it, aren’t you?”

I walk home as slowly as possible, but eventually I arrive. I am ushered up to my room by both of my parents. They are dressed for the evening, my father in a suit, my mother in a flowery summer dress, ready to attend a party in the neighborhood. My mother is livid. I am spoiling her evening! I am an embarrassment! I am a disappointment! I am a stupid girl! Why do I do these things! How is she ever going to live this one down! What is she to tell people!

I am in tears, apologetic. I know she hates me, my mother hates me. Then I notice that my father, sitting on my bed, is covering his mouth. His shoulders are shaking. He’s trying to hold back laughter! He gestures to me to keep quiet. He doesn’t want my mother to see him laughing!

My mother delivers the punishment. I am grounded. I am not to leave my room for the next three weeks. I am never to play with my cousin again! My father shrugs his shoulders and with a goofy look on his face follows my mother out the door. I hate my mother! What a bitch! The boys don’t get into trouble; they get away with being boys. Girls are troublemakers.

I really was not allowed to play with my cousin after that. I would sneak off with her anyway, but I always got caught. My mother would find out, somehow, where I was. She’d call on the phone, anger in her voice, or she’d just show up and drag me home. It was an effort on her part to both keep me safe from my inner imp and to save her own face.

What’s the lesson in this recapitulation? There’s always a lesson.

Even as the imp inside me led me on another harebrained adventure, she also came to my rescue. The skinny dipping and the subsequent discovery by the man and woman saved me from some other fate, perhaps being raped by three oversexed boys. It’s interesting to note that though I was, at the time, being sexually abused by a grown man and his cohorts, whom I could rarely deflect from their evil intent, and amnesiac to that side of my life, I had no problem saying no to these boys. Perhaps it was the experience of discovering normal preadolescent sexual energy, power, and excitement that spurred me to engage in precocious exploration. The other side of me, the abused girl side, was deeply hidden, unconscious inside me. She never showed up alongside the imp.

These boys were friends. We’d all been naked together in the past, playing caveman and cavewoman in the woods, building lean-tos and acting out what we thought were primitive man woman relationships. But those were more innocent times. We were all younger then, exploring our bodies in childish, nonthreatening ways, showing each other what we had inside our pants but never really intruding on each other, except with minor touching. Innocent enough, but I instinctively sensed something else going on this time.

The boys, though gawky and nervous, were looking for some other experience, a willing participant to try out intercourse for the first time with. I was not willing to go there with them, but I also had to accept the power in the pussy, so to speak—oops that imp again!—for once in the water it was very clear to me that I was the one who was really in control. I had what they wanted. It was a personally powerful moment of acceptance of my female enticement. Even though I was not using it for sex, I was using it to control three boys who thought they wanted an experience of it. I was totally in control. My mother was right, I really was a bad girl, a dangerous imp.

I am once again thankful for the imp inside me who teaches me and instructs me as I make my way through life. As a child, under the dominance of my parents and their expectations, and as a child who was sexually abused, I nonetheless had other formative experiences throughout my childhood; the imp inside me made sure of that! She had a knack for showing up at just the right time, offering salvation and adventure, and I could never refuse. She continued to offer the thrills so badly needed as compensation for a traumatic childhood.

Beyond compensation, she led me into the normal unfolding of becoming a sexual being, discovering indeed the power of the pussy or, in the deepest sense, the power of the feminine—Yin, Female Nature. I am forever grateful.

A blog by J. E. Ketchel, Author of The Recapitulation Diaries

Chuck’s Place: Transparency

Both Jeanne and Robert Monroe report that journeys in energetic infinity are completely transparent. Thoughts and feelings are immediately known to self and other—no place to hide. This in no way implies moral superiority or perfection, simply the absence of shadow—all is revealed.

In our solid dimension, shadow, the ability to hide from self and other, is, and has been, the nemesis of our evolution. At this moment in time, we witness a dramatic acting out of disowned shadow as it is projected and killed throughout the world.

It's really all about transformation... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
It’s really all about transformation…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

As horrific as such outbreaks of violence are, they reflect our own evolutionary movement toward transparency. Videos  abound, blatantly revealing violence and murder perpetrated by individuals projecting evil onto others. The truth is being revealed, and though reactions to those truths wreak havoc, in the end, the truth is being revealed in greater transparency.

Mother Earth has mandated evolutionary advance and humans are the agents of her intent. The rise of Donald Trump is another reflection of this urgency for change and transparency. Ironically, his flippant, ignorant, off-the-cuff reactive style appeals to a certain populace fed up with lies. He is actually supported by a wave of sentiment that seeks easy truth and simplicity vs the diplomatic complexity of seeking real solutions.

I remember, when I first started in the field of counseling, how some seasoned therapists would meet with a patient, analyze their problem, and provide them with a very clear prescription to solve that problem—very clear, rational, and black and white. The trouble was, most of those patients were ultimately labelled as defensive because they didn’t act on their prescriptions.

The one dictum I held onto from graduate school was to start where the client is at. This requires complex diplomacy—suspending judgment–and gradually helping a client to reckon with, own, and make their shadow transparent.

Trump mimics a quick prescriber that attracts the hunger for greater transparency and fairness, yet, ironically, Trump himself has led a business career of manipulation and dishonesty. What’s striking is the willingness to overlook these facts, so great is the desire for change.

As much as I am concerned about the current generation’s obsession with social media, which I see as a widening dissociation from our human animal selves, I can’t help but validate the same drive toward greater transparency that the internet and social media offer. It’s getting harder to hide and lie in this modern world!

We are in a cauldron of monumental change where phenomena like the rise of Donald Trump are likely to occur as an aberrant permutation of transparency. These are significant but transient events. The deeper, more fundamental event here is the realization of Mother Earth’s intent to evolve us to the next level of energetic transparency. And with that transparency the human will will have little choice but to acquiesce to the truth and the necessary actions to insure survival and the flourishing of our evolving dream and, ultimately, our transformation.

Transparently speaking,

Chuck

Chuck’s Place: The New Ethic—Wholeness

Now in the cauldron... - Photo by Chuck Ketchel
Now in the cauldron…
– Photo by Chuck Ketchel

As current events clearly evidence, we, as a world, are in a heated cauldron of violently clashing energies. What is cooking in the cauldron will eventuate in a newly formed world which includes a reconciliation of all the factions currently at war.

Erich Neumann, a German Jewish Zionist psychologist and medical doctor, who settled in Palestine in 1934 and who was also Jung’s greatest protege took up the issue of this great transformation, in the midst of World War II, in his book, Depth Psychology and a New Ethic. In this concise work, Neumann made clear that the core issue that confronts both the individual and the human species as a whole is its confrontation with the shadow side of its nature.

The ethic that has guided humankind to its current state of consciousness has split the self into good and evil. The dark, evil side of the self is rejected, denied, suppressed and repressed. This gives rise to a scapegoat phenomenon where the dark side of the self is projected onto the darker or weaker “other,” currently the Muslims, illegal immigrants, resident people of color, and women. An effort is made to rid and protect the self from the dangerous other through walls, bombs, prisons, and destruction of Planned Parenthood, to give a few examples.

We have reached the stage where the disowning of our own darkness and the destruction of its projected carrier has reached lethal proportions everywhere in the world today. There is no safe place.

For Neumann, the old ethic of maintaining world order through splitting, projecting, and destruction will be replaced by a new ethic of wholeness. Wholeness means the truthful acceptance and integration of all that we are into a balanced whole. Being “good” or being “bad” are replaced by being “whole.”

Being whole means loving all that we are. Loving means full acceptance of the truth of all that we are. This includes acceptance of all of our animal, physical, instinctual, earthy, emotional impulses as real parts of who we are. Loving means sitting with the emotional tension of all of the most abhorrent and unacceptable parts of the self and finding a creative way to integrate them into our lives.

The old solution of suppression and repression, of negative judgment toward and denial of the dark side of the self can no longer be contained in the scapegoat mentality which now threatens to tear us, as a world, into bits. We can no longer seek refuge in the purely spiritual. Even Tibet, the holiest of holies, was forced into diaspora, to foreign soils of lowly earth beyond the sanctuary of secluded mountaintops. There is no sanctuary in spirit alone.

Humankind must value and reconcile with its creature side; spirit alone is one-sided and falsely representative of what we are. And our materialness, the earth—the feminine—must be granted its true throne as the other side of God, the material, instinctive, and wild as equal.

To accept does not mean to give carte blanche to all that we are. To accept means to suffer the tumult of finding wholeness. Nothing is condemned in wholeness, but again, this is not license to act out the forbidden, though it will require a journey with the forbidden.

Compassion within leads to compassion without... - Photo by Chuck Ketchel
Compassion within leads to compassion without…
– Photo by Chuck Ketchel

On the journey to wholeness the judgments of good and bad are suspended. Good and bad are labels for different parts of the self. In wholeness, all parts must be accepted. How could it be otherwise? How can we be whole if we eliminate parts we don’t like about ourselves?

Acceptance then comes in the bearing of tension of the unacceptable and finding a way to creatively being all that we are, in a new balance that takes life forward in a new direction, into a new ethic of wholeness.

It is from this new ethic of wholeness that we can look at all sides of ourselves with equal love and compassion. And indeed, full acceptance and integration of the shadow within the self offers the basis for true compassion without.

Bearing the tension of the opposites,

Chuck