Tag Archives: shamanic journey

What is Recapitulation?

Recapitulation is the practice of recalling and reliving past personal events. It’s main goal is the redeployment of energy that is stuck in past events, traumas, relationships, attachments, and emotions. Such energy is unavailable to us until retrieved. Recapitulation is a means by which to retrieve our energy and return it to ourselves for our own use.

To recapitulate one’s life is one of the greatest feats of a lifetime, leading to a kind of freedom unimaginable until experienced. Recapitulation frees our energy from events of our current life, as well as energy from previous lives that we have carried over to work on in our current life.

Those of us who have been sexually abused, whether as children or adults, know full well what it is like to not have access to our own energy. We spend so much time defending ourselves from perceived threats, long after they are no longer real, thinking we are in control, when in reality something else has total control over us, the places where our energy is caught: in our past, in our traumas, in our defense mechanisms, in our habitual behaviors, in our fears.

We may not even realize that our energy has been usurped by these mechanisms, for they seem to be protecting us. They even comfort us and keep us safely within certain boundaries that we know and perceive as protective. But such boundaries are limitations to fully living life, keeping our energy tied up, stuck in places that are not really that healthy.

Fear is our biggest enemy. If we can’t go outside of our house or apartment out of fear of being attacked, if we can’t have a relationship with another person out of fear of being hurt, if we can’t stand loud noises or are constantly awaiting certain disaster, we are cut off from real life. With our energy tied up in protective defense mechanisms, we are incapable of fully experiencing the true energetic vitality and loving possibilities that we see others enjoying in life.

However, once we begin to recapitulate what happened to us, whether in sexual abuse, traumatic accident, war trauma, emotional, or psychological trauma, we realize just how much of our energy went into those so called protective mechanisms. As we recapitulate and let down our guards, finding safety and protection within ourselves, we begin to experience ourselves as more than just our trauma, as fluid beings of energy.

As we recapitulate and slowly release our fears, we free our energy from them, bringing it back to ourselves for our own use. As we retrieve our energy it gets redeployed into new centers within us, into centers of power, knowledge, and wisdom. We begin to experience a new kind of safety, a safety based on wisdom gained through all the things we’ve recapitulated. We learn that because of our trauma we had access to the same lessons that yogis and shamans spend a lifetime trying to master. We discover that, as a direct result of our trauma, we know exactly what the energy body is and what it is capable of.

We begin to understand that our trauma was the catalyst to our energy body, to knowledge of ourselves as spirit, to ancient wisdom that many long to achieve yet have access to only through the teachings of others. We discover that we had received direct knowledge, long before we could understand it. As we recapitulate, we let go of what once held us captive and fully embrace our trauma as our path to enlightenment.

In the end, we are no longer victims of our trauma but redeemed by it. Fully released from it, we are fully available to all that life has to offer us, without fear. For fear is no longer interesting to us, only what comes next on our spiritual journey has any interest.

These are the things I wish for all of you as you take your recapitulation journey, as you dare to take that most powerful journey to freedom.

With love,

J. E. Ketchel

Author of The Recapitulation Diaries

Published simultaneously on The Recapitulation Diaries Facebook Page.

Chuck’s Place: The Shamanic Journey of Now

Beyond the crust of the known world lies the journey…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

A shamanic journey is one that ventures beyond the crust of the known world into the heart of darkness where hidden influences upon ordinary life are revealed. The journey is initiated through a breakdown of the dominant normal perceptions and expectations of the world that then opens the door to the fuller reality underlying the prevailing worldview.

At this moment the world finds itself in the midst of the breakdown phase of a collective shamanic journey. The shaman responsible for catalyzing this phase of the journey is the president of the United States, Donald Trump. Wikipedia defines a shaman as “someone who is regarded as having access to, and influence in, the world of benevolent and malevolent spirits, who typically enters into a trance state during a ritual, and practices divination and healing.” Donald Trump’s ritualistic trancelike tweets and the influences he exposes the world to qualify him as a shaman.

I would argue that Donald Trump has opened the porthole to “other worldly spirits” by systematically breaking down the agreed upon decorum that has for a long time ruled the central office of world power, the United State’s presidency. In prior administrations a high values decorum of behavior set a leadership standard agreed upon by a majority of the world’s nations and populations that generated a strong border wall to fend off possession by malevolent spirits.  That wall has been completely shattered with the “shithole” adjective President Trump has applied to some other nations.

Rather than debate the ethics of Donald Trump’s behavior I focus on the disintegrating influence his actions accelerate upon our long held consensus reality. In shamanic terms, the rigid fixation of our collective agreed-upon world reality is currently in free fall. On an individual level basic security is severely threatened and has given  rise to a host of acute psychiatric disturbances.

Though many might point to the removal or defeat of Donald Trump as an antidote to the current madness, and this may be a necessary or helpful action, I think he is a representative or a pawn of a much greater process of transformation.

The world prior to Donald Trump’s presidency was unsustainable. Human population with its ever expanding needs can no longer be accommodated within the confines of balance upon this planet. Donald Trump did not cause climate change, though he certainly has made every effort to undue efforts to address the crisis it has generated. The reality that our consensus world needs reconfiguring transcends who the current leaders of the world are. This reconfiguring involves all of nature, which is, quite independently of human action, molding a new world.

The dependence upon a world leader to mesmerically fixate human consciousness upon an agreed upon reality is an outdated technology. Carlos Castaneda was the last shaman leader of a shamanic line that extended back 16 generations. His teacher, the nagual don Juan Matus made it abundantly clear to him that infinity had determined that Carlos was the end of the line, that there would be no new nagual, or shamanic leader, to direct the future for his shamanic line.

With that, Carlos and his shamanic party altered the course of future direction of the line by birthing a virtual internet of shamanism. All the secrets were revealed, all the shamanic technology to journey beyond the confines of ordinary reality was made available to everyone, regardless of age, race, sex, creed or color. All that is required to initiate the journey is the intent to evolve. And that journey is an individual experiential journey, available to all who live in this world.

That intent to evolve is the intent for total freedom unfettered by the materialistic preoccupation of our current old world consensus reality. The technology of this shamanic perspective frees its energy from being offended by world tyrants and instead deploys it in the exploration of the much broader world of energy and the possibilities there that facilitate a new balance within each individual and here upon the earth as a whole.

Donald Trump’s behavior leads us to the same shamanic reality: we all must assume responsibility for our own journeys, the era of paternalistic security is over. We have all been launched on a collective shamanic journey and must decide individually what spirits, benevolent or malevolent, will influence our present lives. Though malevolent spirits have a definite role in the breakdown phase of change, they are not the foundation of a sustainable new balance.

For that we need both our intent to evolve and the support of benevolent spirits.

May they bless us all,


Chuck’s Place: Maturing Innocence

In a dream, I notice that a young boy is missing. I race to the parking lot. I see him in a car with other young boys, the car about to drive off, being taken into who knows what. I notice Mitt Romney in the passenger seat; I don’t see the driver. I reach in and grab the stolen boy.

What are we so afraid of?

In America, the home alarm industry is a totally Mormon-dominated industry. Each summer cadres of young Mormon men, schooled in public relations during a year of service, converge upon America. Knocking door to door, they sell the safety of home alarm systems, home security that promises to protect us from the darkness, the blackness of the night and all that lies lurking to invade our sense of safety.

Akin/Ryan, the likely driver of the car in my dream, promises to protect life, “the innocent,” even the products of “legitimate rape.” These are the images, the themes, the platforms, boldly advanced lately to protect America from its own darkness, the outbreaks in Aurora, et al.

Ultra-protection is the proposed answer to the blackening of America, projected onto the blackness of Obama, the “socialist foreigner” who threatens the security and purity, the whiteness of America.

The blatant shadow of this platform is a witch hunt, the degradation of the feminine, and the legitimization of violence on all levels and against all peoples. Romney the Mormon, as in my dream, takes the passenger seat, leaving the country in the hands of the extremists, and anything goes in the service of protection while the truly innocent are taken to their slaughter.

Shattering is unavoidable...

The truth is that the wounding of our childhood innocence is developmentally unavoidable. We arrive in this world creatures of need, seeking and longing for nurturance and love to enable us to grow. A child looks at the world with the innocent eyes of surprise, wonder, joy, and expectation. From early on there are many disappointments. An indifferent, absent, or simply overtired parent is bound to not get it right, at least some of the time. The child will experience disappointment, disillusionment, sadness, frustration, and withdrawal, as the world does not meet its innocent calling.

Rejected innocence curls up in shame. Repeated rejections harden the shell of shame. Traumatic violations of innocence—intrusions into the body and soul of the innocent—dramatically dissociate innocence into even deeper and more impenetrable protective covering.

This protection of innocence is critical but must be time-limited, because life without innocence is life without life. A high-powered home security system only offers an illusion of safety, for it merely separates us from the darkness that already resides within, reflecting the energy of frustrated, unlived life.

Furthermore, buried, encapsulated innocence is innocence awaiting the completion of a transformational ritual. For innocence to continue to be present at all stages of life it needs to transform. Shattered innocence is the beginning of every shamanic journey, but for the journey to be completed, it must be recapitulated and brought into life, allowed to mature with us. Recapitulation offers the completion of that journey to fully retrieve innocence. As all the protections and illusions of protection are removed, innocence merges and becomes fully available for real life.

Real life in the real world must include facing the predatory reality of life. It’s not about being protected from it. Life is loving and fulfilling, as well as deeply disappointing and shattering. The goal is to live our innocence in the fullness of reality.

In recapitulation, we stay fully present with the shattering impact of assaults to our innocence. We bear the full emotional and physical tension and pain of crushed innocence. We don’t dissociate; we don’t leave our bodies. We stay whole and fully present with our innocence as it suffers. In this way we retrieve our innocence, and once joined we are freed to bring it back into life more knowing, more pliable, more able to flow with the world as it truly is. We become inseparable partners with our lost innocence, fully transformed, mature, alive, and open to life in the now.

Innocence matured...

The shamanic journey of recapitulation is the ritual journey of completion into our blackness, into our night’s soul where we face the full truths of our trials in this world, however horrid. At journey’s completion we emerge integrated beings of light and dark combined, in balance, our retrieved innocence nicely matured, open-hearted and wise.

May we, as individuals and as a nation, take the journey into our darkness, however shattering, and move forward as an integrated whole. The days of safety through segregated security systems left with apartheid. Let’s retrieve not regress.


A Day in a Life: Freedom

What is freedom? What does it mean to be free? As I work on my book, The Recapitulation Diaries, I feel as if I’m writing about someone else, as if the experiences of my child self happened in a different lifetime. I’m no longer attached to her story as my own. The things that happened to her no longer personally affect me.

Even the adult I was a few years ago no longer exists. I no longer feel the way she felt. I no longer perceive the world as she did. I no longer fear the way she did. I no longer hide or withdraw the way she did. I no longer interact with others the way she did. I no longer even think the way she did. I am a completely different person. That is freedom!

To transform is a choice. Going deeply into the personal is a choice. To achieve the impersonal is transformative and freeing. What do I mean by the impersonal? Well, in the old days, when I was that other person I took everything personally. I trusted no one. I felt misunderstood, bad, ignored, neglected, mistreated, angry, and fearful. The world was not my oyster, but instead a place to withdraw from as often as possible. In fact, the truth is, that was how I perceived the world, not how the world perceived me.

At the time, I was still attached to feelings and issues that had been part of my life from earliest childhood. By the time I was a grown woman those issues had me in their clutches. I was in a critical state of discontent, just holding onto reality by a thin thread. Nervous and afraid, getting angrier and angrier and more depressed than ever, I’d often force myself to make changes. I knew change was good; it had worked often enough in the past to break the deadlock within, at least for a time. But the truth is that the changes themselves never led to anything because they were predictable, fairly safe changes, totally under my control.

Seeking transformation? How?

It wasn’t until I felt death breathing down my neck, clearly knowing that I would die if I didn’t make a real change, that I dared myself to begin a different kind of journey. At the time I didn’t know it would lead to a total transformation. It wasn’t until I met Chuck and began a shamanic recapitulation that the idea of transformation appeared as something even remotely possible.

I know I write about recapitulation a lot in these blogs, as does Chuck, but I just can’t help it. During my recapitulation, I met Jeanne, first in real life and then as an otherworldly entity. She told me, in the early days of my recapitulation when she came to me in her energy body, appearing when I was in the middle of recapitulating a horrific traumatic event, that I had a three-year journey to complete. She told me that I’d already made a good start, and that at the end of that time I would understand everything. She said I had to stay focused on the recapitulation, without being distracted by other things.

“Let everything else go for now,” she said. “Don’t worry about anything. Life will unfold as it should and all that is right will come to pass as you take this journey. Stay focused. It’s crucial that nothing distract you from this most important task. This is your work now.”

This is your work now?! What the heck did that mean? I had no clear idea at the time, but here I am ten years later and I know exactly what that means. My recapitulation did become the central focus of my life then, and the shamanic practice of recapitulation continues to be a central focus.

Once again I’m in a unique position, being offered another transformative opportunity as I prepare my book for publication. The process of writing about recapitulation has been transformative as well, as I realize just how thorough a job I did in recapitulating a brutal past. I am no longer attached to it in any way. I am totally free.

Transformation is possible, but it takes work. There’s no doubt about that, but I would not trade those years of deepest recapitulation for anything in the world. I had more experiences during that time and learned more about life than I could have learned anywhere else. I learned more about everything. And all I had to do was go inside myself. It was all there waiting for me.

Remembering to stay connected to the path of transformation, until next time,

A Day in a Life: A Shamanic Journey

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the human form as an intricate permaculture, from a holistic point of view containing everything we need to be healthy in mind, body and soul if we can keep our living world of the self—psyche, soma and spirit—in good balance. If we think of our body self as a biological unit and tend to it as we wish all people to appreciate, respect, and treat the earth, we may discover that we have the power to maintain not only a healthy persona, but the power to do anything we set our intent to. In fact, we humans are multifaceted, multilayered beings, not simply one size fits all, living organisms as deep as the oceans, as varied as the earth’s crusts, and as expansive as the universe. We are very complicated beings.

Everyone feels that they are different on the inside than they are on the outside. We may present one side of ourselves to the world, the safely prepared and carefully honed ego self but keep our inner self private, as is appropriate. When we delve deeper into the world of the inner self, exploring the layers of the unconscious, we discover that we are more elaborately constructed than at first suspected.

What follows is an excerpt from my upcoming book The Recapitulation Diaries: The Man in the Woods, year one of a three-year shamanic journey through my own multifaceted self. During my recapitulation I discovered that, by intent, I could volitionally experience more than one world simultaneously. I was reminded of the following experience from nine years ago by the violent thunder, rain, and lightning storm that barreled through our area last night. It feels appropriate to post it in this blog.

Entering another world

It’s thundering and lightning and I’m sitting on my bed in my room at night in the dark, surrounded by windows on three sides. I begin doing the recapitulation magical pass, the sweeping breath. Lightning flashes and thunder cracks loudly as I sweep my head back and forth, back and forth, breathing in my own energy and passing out my abuser’s negative energy. The flashing of the lightning and the crashing of the thunder accompany me as I sweep my head back and forth. The rain beats against the windows and the winds whip as the tremendous storm pounds out its flashing, drumming rhythms.

In the dark haziness of my room I’m aware of a scene off to the left and slightly in front of me. The silhouette of a seated figure on top of a mountain ledge appears, clearly discernable through the rain that is pounding down in torrents on this scene, remarkably like the storm raging outside. I’m aware that I am both sitting in my room at this moment and that I am also that figure sitting on the ledge and that I should go to that mountaintop.

Suddenly I’m no longer just sitting on my bed. I am also in ancient times, sitting on the ledge of a cliff, overlooking a vast valley in the dark of night, on a promontory sticking out into air, into the storm raging all around me. I am aware of the presence of others behind me in the shelter of a cave, but it’s my time to sit in the elements, to brave the forces of nature, to unflinchingly allow myself to sit exposed, unprotected, but fully aware that I have within me the strength and courage to sit here for as long as it takes, until I’m done with this challenge.

The storm rages and someone places a rough-woven, thick woolen blanket over my head and shoulders. This is allowed, the blanket is woven with symbols and icons that will protect and provide me with added strengths. I am a native woman, a tribal woman on a journey. Meanwhile, I am still in my bedroom, sitting on my bed doing the sweeping breath, breathing in and out, sweeping my head from side to side, the storm continuing to drum as I ride its energy.

Back on the ledge, I become the storm; I breathe it in and out. The thunder, the lightning, the darkness, the earth, the stone ledge I sit upon become one with me. I am earth and sky, water and sound, light and dark. I am journeying and yet sitting solidly at the same time, both on the ledge and on my bed simultaneously. I am strong, committed to taking this journey without fear and without regret. I know this is my duty, my destiny, and my challenge, but also the fulfillment of my shamanic line. I am completing my tests of worthiness and humbleness before all the gods of nature. I am testing my inner strengths, while acknowledging those sitting behind me as my guides. In full awareness I am marking this moment of my journey, knowing that this is part of my process, trusting all I have experienced in the past, all I am experiencing at this moment, and all that is to come as necessary, if I am to evolve.

Suddenly I am taken into the belly of the storm. I leap into its mouth, I sit upon its tongue, I swallow its saliva, I feel the beat of its pulse, I tremble with the rumble of its heart, and I withstand the blinding light of its intent. I am its apprentice at the same time that I acknowledge its power as my own, simultaneously humbly grateful for it and daringly accepting of it.

When it’s done, when the storm subsides, I am spat out of its mouth. As the winds die down, as the thunder rumbles off into the distance and as the rains slow to a drizzle I find myself back upon the ledge where I have been sitting for days, still under my blanket, now damp on the outside though warm and dry in the inside. My guides come out of the cave. They lift me by my arms, steadying me upon my feet. Helping me to walk upon my wobbly legs, they take me with them into the warmth and dryness of the cave where they have kept a fire going.

“Well done. You have done well,” I hear them say.

As I finish my recapitulation breath magical pass the storm ceases, the thunder rumbles off into the distance and the lightning quiets to intermittent flashes. The mountaintop scene where I have just journeyed disappears from my room. I’m still sitting on my bed, fully aware of having been in two places at once, having gone on a journey of significance into an ancient experience while expelling alien energy from my current body self. Though I’m not sure what it means I come away with a greater understanding of my self as wholly in alignment with the greater universe.

I also now know that my inner strength and determination are solidified, firmly aligned with my spirit and with my greater intent to continue trusting this shamanic recapitulation process that I have been allowing myself to take. I also know that I am indeed just beginning my journey, a journey of humbleness and awe, of inner self constantly being asked to make adjustments, to nonjudgmentally acquiesce to the process, to stay in alignment with what comes to guide. In addition, by constantly pushing myself to keep taking the inner journey, I have found that true self and innocence are completely compatible, trustworthy, reliable, and viable, no matter what world I might find myself in. I am indeed on a magical journey!

Here’s to magical journeys for everyone!