Tag Archives: shamans of Ancient Mexico

Chuck’s Place: Beyond Story

I remember the moment in my recapitulation when I realized that the story I’d always told myself about my life was utterly false. That’s the shattering moment of surrender to the truth.” Quote from Jan Ketchel during a recent morning discussion.

Beyond story, simply perceiving what is... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Beyond story, simply perceiving what is…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

We are a story loving species. Can’t get enough of a good story. Our days are spun into archetypal dramas that draw us like moths to a flame. And when we encounter the unknown in our daily lives, our thoughts rapidly fill in the blanks, hand us a plausible explanation, a reality to uphold, the fictional novel of our life and times.

In 1931, in one of his Vision Seminars, Jung described a patient’s vision: “I looked into his eyes and saw therein a great river full of writhing bodies. A few men stood upon the bank and called with a loud voice to the struggling masses in the rushing water. The water cast a few souls upon the bank. Then the men who stood there lifted them up and showed them a star and a sun. This I saw in the eyes of the old man. The old man said: “You have perceived” and he sank into the earth.”

This vision reveals the possibility of true perception, simply what is beyond the veils of our stories. Jung interpreted the river of writhing bodies as, “Like the wheel in Buddhistic philosophy, death and rebirth, the curse of that eternal illusory meaningless existence. In this vision we find the same principle as in Buddhism, the consciousness of what is happening as a redeeming principle.”

Jung goes on to say: “…that river only makes sense if a few escape and become conscious, that the purpose of existence is that one should become conscious. Consciousness redeems one from the curse of that eternal flowing on in the river of unconsciousness.”

Jan’s opening quote about her detachment from the novel of her life, as it devolved into the collapse of the world she had always known, landed her into the bowels of truth that ultimately released her from the current of unconsciousness, spitting her out upon the shore to become a riverwalker, one who walks along the river’s edge consciously grounded in the truth.

Consciousness is pure perception. Consciousness is life outside the story. Total acceptance of what is, of what was, is the bridge beyond the confines even of the story of time. Timelessness is infinity, and freedom from story releases us to perceive all that is beyond story time. In Buddhism this state is known as diamond mind, the true nature of mind.

The Shamans of Ancient Mexico called this state inner silence, the springboard to infinity. For them the storyteller within is the incessant internal dialogue that interprets, that is, puts into story format all that we encounter. Freedom from the mesmerizing spells of the internal dialogue is both simple and the hardest thing to achieve.

Suspend judgment, the Shamans recommend. You don’t have to stop the story, but with consciousness you simply acknowledge what it is—a story—and cease to give it attention. You step outside the river, the current of thought, label it for what it is, and like Buddha, don’t attach. Simply perceive what is, beyond story.



Chuck’s Place: The End Of An Era

The shadow of death is always right behind us... - Photo by Chuck Ketchel
The shadow of death is always right behind us…
– Photo by Chuck Ketchel

I most humbly and with deep gratitude borrow the title for this blog post—The End of an Era—from a section heading in Carlos Castaneda’s final work, The Active Side of Infinity. As I look about me and see the signs of endings everywhere the phrase “end of the story” comes to mind, but I refuse it. It’s not the end of our story; it’s the end of an era.

I have just finished reading to Jan the chapter entitled Death as an Advisor in Castaneda’s early work Journey to Ixtlan. As I look over my left shoulder—where death, our faithful companion sits perched about an arm’s length away—I don’t feel the chill up my spine, the sign death delivers to show us our time is up. The sign is neither there for myself nor the world, and so our story continues.

Nonetheless, death delivers many signs on the world stage, countless atrocities, beheadings and the like. With these signs death advises us to awaken from the daily trance we live in, generated by our complacent minds—the foreign installation the Shamans of Ancient Mexico taught us about—our true antagonist in this chapter of our world’s story.

The storyline of that foreign installation—our mind—is to focus on the pettiness of self-importance and greed, the matrix that keeps us distracted from the real precipice we are perched upon, our survival dangling in delicate balance.

Death broadcasts its message in dramatic voice. Yes, we are in the throes of transformation, one era melding into another. Death advises that we cut through to the bone of the illusions we have clung to, the cornerstone of the era we are leaving. That era has been dominated by the mind’s attachment to greed in all its myriad forms. Greed is a virus unsustainable in the New Era. Our next chapter is immune to the virus of greed.

I do not fault greed, the product of what don Juan called the Flyer’s mind, another term for the foreign installation that challenges us and has held us so tightly in its grasp. Don Juan states:

“We are energetic probes created by the universe…and it’s because we are possessors of energy that has awareness that we are the means by which the universe becomes aware of itself. The flyers are the implacable challengers…They are the means by which the universe tests us.” *

Here don Juan identifies our ultimate reason for being in this world. Through our journeys in this life we become the apparatuses of consciousness that enlighten our World Soul. We are the active side of infinity. The flyers, or foreign installation, that have taken root in our minds are the agents of greed. The dominance of greed has let us sit back in the Matrix** and pretend all is well. Death, our faithful advisor, shows us that the gig is up; wake up!

Like the snow squalls,  a New Era too will blow in... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Like the snow squalls,
a New Era too will blow in…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

The flyers, monstrous as they may be, are the necessary antagonists that force us to shine a brighter and brighter light on the truth. This is how the universe challenges us to become aware of itself: The light of consciousness shines through all the veils of illusion to arrive at what really is. Evil—those flyers, the foreign installation that controls our mind—is actually challenging us to wake up, to burn through the illusions and deepen our alignment with the truth.

This is the basis of our New Era, a world that aligns itself with right action, a world that corrects its course and allows Earth’s story to continue in new balance. Of course, this New Era will have its own new antagonists to contend with. And someday this New Era will also end. But the truth is that this Earth story is such a good one that it’s just not allowed to end yet, though someday it will.

All things have their era and then they eventually end because that is the imperative of consciousness, to grow and adventure in this, the ever-deepening, active side of infinity.

World without end, Amen,

*Quote from: The Active Side of Infinity, p. 229

** Reference is made to the movie, The Matrix.

We also note the synchronicity of this day: today is Ash Wednesday, a New Moon phase, and the eve of the Chinese New Year, all endings, and beginnings of new eras.

Chuck’s Place: Fallen Angels Or Magical Beings?

The other morning, as I prepared for work, my mind was preoccupied with Jung’s “Late Thoughts,” a chapter in his autobiography that spoke of his final commentary on a world he was soon to leave. Jung lamented that the world lacked a living religious mythology that had kept pace with, and could serve as a guide to the modern world. His major concern was the question of evil for the modern world, which is still cast as the fallen angel, separate and distinct from God. How is mankind to reconcile the wholeness of its nature if God is only light, and darkness a fallen angel who failed to remain in the goodness of the light. That fallen angel resides in all mankind in the dark side of its nature?

Eventually the grackle turned over and sat up, still quite dazed... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Eventually the grackle turned over and sat up, still quite dazed…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

At the exact moment of this thought, I was stunned by a loud THUD at the glass door to our deck. I ran to the door to find a large black grackle lying on its back, its wings flailing frantically, its heart beating wildly. It was clearly in shock and my heart sank at the sight of its helplessness and its dubious prognosis.

I knew better than to open the door and attempt to assist. The fatal outcome of the wounded animals I had rescued in my childhood came to mind. Better to give this bird the sanctuary of its own inner resources than to shock it further with outside intervention, however well-meaning.

I quietly walked away, grappling with my own sadness and yet hopeful that this fallen angel might resume its journey. A half hour later, I returned to discover that the grackle’s wings were completely still, its heartbeat barely discernible. The prognosis appeared fatal, though I still held out hope.

Before I left the house, I checked one more time and was excited to discover that the bird had turned over and was sitting calmly in its place. The next question was: Will it actually be able to fly, or does it have a broken wing? An hour later, Jan was able to report that the grackle had successfully regained its poise, spread its wings, and lifted off the deck into a nearby tree.

I am left with the synchronicity of Jung’s lament that religious mythology has not progressed beyond earth and humankind needing redemption and the crash of the black grackle into the glass. Perhaps this bird’s process was the answer to a new mythology, more guiding and pertinent to our modern sensibility and dire predicament.

The first picture that popped into my mind was the image on the cover of Carlos Castaneda’s first book, The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, a black crow perched in the desert. My bird was a grackle, often associated with the crow but not actually of its family. Nonetheless, the association leads me to the mythology of the Shamans of Ancient Mexico.

Those shamans see human beings as magical beings. What an awesome description; human beings are inherently magical! This is a far cry from beings fallen from God, offspring of Satan and earth. This is a description that transcends good and evil, and morality itself. This designation is intrinsically, and wholeheartedly, simply magical!

Preparing to take off... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Preparing to take off…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Indeed, the Shamans of Ancient Mexico see the world we live in as a consensus reality, a fixation of our vast potential, an interruption in our magical flight. We are like the bird that crashed into the glass; we are all lying helpless on the deck of this world, our magical nature ground to a halt.

Like the grackle that smacked into the glass those shamans see the central grounding position of our human fixation as the collision of our magical nature with self-reflection. Self-reflection is the overriding obsession currently mirrored in our attachment to the “likes” of social media. Our species is obsessed with its goodness, badness, value, possessions, and self-preservation, which color our ability to go beyond the self and see the true needs in the world around us.

This obsession with me and mine is the modus operandi behind greed, wars, and the destruction of the planet. Nonetheless, the shamans suspend judgment and instead totally appreciate the utter magic of our ability to create this world, regardless of its instability. Like modern physicists, they understand the world of everyday reality as but one of many possible interpretations of energy. At the same time, they cannot help but marvel at how magical a species we really are, powerful enough to create the consensus reality we all live in every day of our lives. Yet those shamans know that, like my bird who had to find its way back to its wings, human beings have all they need within themselves to restore their connection to their magic.

The world is now like my flailing grackle, charged to recalibrate itself beyond its encounter with self-reflection. That bird needed no outside help, no Godly redeemer to restore it to balance. We have everything we need too. We are, after all, magical.

The world wobbles out of control because it must find its way back to the magic, beyond its destructive hold on self-importance over the greater needs of life. That particular fixation has run its full course and is no longer sustainable. A new world that explores its interdependent wholeness is in formation. And that grackle did rebalance and lift off to a new adventure, and so will we.

Off on a new adventure... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Off on a new adventure…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

I distinctly recall Carlos Castaneda, at a tensegrity workshop, turning his back to us as he performed a deep shoulder roll, including his full shoulder blade, telling us to “free your wings.” Yes, in the eyes of those shamans we are magical beings whose wings have been clipped, but needn’t be if we are prepared to do a deep recapitulation and set ourselves free.

I know that Carlos would say that we have two interpretations to choose from: We are the offspring of God’s fallen angels who need redemption from our inability to transcend our evil nature or we are magical beings fully capable of recapitulating and launching into a new adventure.

From one magical being to another,

Chuck’s Place: A Divided Mind

A divided mind is food for thought. The choice? Feed the entities or dip into a pot of serenity? - Photo by Jan Ketchel
A divided mind is food for thought. The choice? Feed the entities or dip into a pot of serenity?
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

The Shamans of Ancient Mexico were definitive in their designation of the mind as an outside entity that has become a permanent member of the human being. In modern biological terms we might view the mind as a symbiotic partner that both preys upon and contributes to our human experience.

The parasitic quality of the mind is most evident in the experience of worry. The Shamans of Ancient Mexico observed how the mind generates empty concerns that are fueled by the fires of obsessive worry. This fiery fury excites the central nervous system and generates an energetic intensity that actually serves as the food for the parasitic entity.

Earlier this week Jan’s dream of the loud knocks on the door reminded me of living on West 86th Street in New York City in my early twenties. I’d lie in bed at night and toss and turn, terrified that someone was going to attempt to break in. We lived in a very secure 24-hour doorman building, yet my fears culminated in my getting up and barricading the double-locked and chained front door with several chairs.

In the light of day those nightly terrors would easily be forgotten or dismissed, but the residue agitation in the central nervous system could lead to attaching to many daytime concerns. The truth is, however, that worry is a product of the mind. Its conjurings impact the body’s central nervous system to generate an excited energy for its own consumption. This action by the mind is similar to a cancer cell that seeks to enter and feed off the energy of the cells around it with little concern for the well being of the host it is destroying.

Interestingly, another function of the mind, rationality, actually provides the necessary tool to counter and overcome the deleterious impact of worry. From an existential here and now place, the rational mind can take responsibility for where we place our attention. In the face of the extraordinary pull to fixate on the conjuring creation, the rational mind is free to decide to shift its attention, i.e.: “I can choose where I put my attention.”

I can sit and gaze at the clouds... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
I can sit and gaze at the clouds…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

I can choose to place my attention on my breath. I can choose to place my attention on a chakra, to tune into the state of sensation in my heart. I am free to breathe into and expand my heart center, my solar plexus, my throat, my head. I am free to say the words of a prayer. I am free to repeat a mantra. No one and nothing can take away my right to place my attention where I want it. And with that I can effect a shift in my central nervous system. I can restore the calm that the predator seeks to disrupt. This may take continuous effort, but if I am persevering the predator gives up.

And so, like most challenges that we encounter, there is a valuable polarity to our divided mind that offers excellent and immediate opportunity for evolutionary advancement. The predator instigates trouble through its worrisome conjuring, yet simultaneously it offers us the awareness of freedom of choice through the rational mind. If we use this tool of choice to subdue the predator we reclaim our power of attention, and a calm central nervous system to boot. Longterm results are increased consciousness and control. With this powerful mindset firmly in place we are prepared for deeper journeys into the ever unfolding mysteries of life, and beyond.

With mind set on infinity,

Chuck’s Place: Beyond Archetypal Slavery

Just because we look alike does not mean we are like each other... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Just because we look alike does not mean we are like each other…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

If your mother were not your mother, would she be a person you’d find resonance with, that you’d seek to spend time with? This is not a knock on mother. The same could be asked of mother. If you were not her child, would she find your company companionable? In many cases the answer to both questions is no. What then is the energy that binds non-companionable people together?

The answer is the binding archetypal impact—in this case, of the archetype of Mother—on people who objectively may have very little in common.

Archetypes are the inborn programs that organize the lives of a given species. They exert a magnetic draw on relationships that supersedes actual compatibility or consciousness. People who might under ordinary circumstances have no interest in each other are suddenly bound together by an energy that pays little heed to compatibility or choice.

Archetypes overlay most human relationships. If one finds resonance with another on a dating site, the soul mate archetype is activated and suddenly this mysterious other is imbued with the archetypal energy of radiant promise. In the actual human encounter during the ensuing date, the archetypal balloon may quickly puncture, as she/he, who moments before shined with such promise, may be the last person you’d want to spend the evening with!

Archetypal energy is the binding energy of our world. Like bees who organize as a collective, building their hives and collecting their pollen, our own archetypal patterns ensure the continuation of our species along definite lines.

The Shamans of Ancient Mexico call this act of generating a world, a magical act. Generating patterns that magnetically organize our lives into a human form is sheer magic! It’s magical to have intense relationships with people whom we may share no compatibility with, simply to ensure the continuance of our world. The soul mate archetype brings many children into the world who might never have been born. Nature wants children; it’s not concerned with compatibility of partners. Children need powerful adults to socialize them into the patterns of this world. Nature doesn’t care if there’s true compatibility between parent and child. It simply creates a power differential, through the archetype, that creates optimal conditions for socialization.

It all depends on how you choose to view the world... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
It all depends on how you choose to view the world…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

The Shamans of Ancient Mexico call this specific use of archetypal energy INTENT. Humans unconsciously use their ability to intend to mold archetypal energy into a cohesive world. And that is magic! It’s a magical act of illusion to “fall in love,” or to be bound to someone we have no real interest in. These are the spells of the magician that so frequently lead to strife, as true connection rarely matches up with the blinding forces of archetypal attraction.

The Shamans of Ancient Mexico point out that it is humanly possible to journey and live in worlds beyond the archetypal trappings of this world. While acknowledging the magnetic draw of archetypal energy, it is also possible to not automatically or compulsively act upon it. If we step outside the field of our archetypal pulls and examine objectively whether the needs, expectations and obligations we experience in a relationship align with a genuine connection or need, we might discover that most of the relationship is being defined by the illusory magic of the magician.

Carlos Castaneda said, “individual relationships are based in emotional investments, and the moment the practitioner (a shamanic practitioner) really practices what she or he learns, the relationship crumbles. In the everyday world, emotional investments are not normally examined, and we live an entire lifetime waiting to be reciprocated.” *

Through examination we can then choose to stop participating in the obligations of the archetype and instead store the energy that would have been spent there for other use. We are then freed to discover whole new worlds—if we so choose—that are accessible within what the Shamans of Ancient Mexico call “the band of man.” These are other possible worlds for us to live in that are rarely explored. They include a world of relationship outside the draw of capitalistic emotional investment that is caught in the trappings of profit and loss.

Archetypal energy is the energy of emotional investment, i.e.: “What’s in it for me? What am I getting out of this? I deserve more. My needs aren’t being met.” Perhaps these are all valid reflections, but they still remain caught in the narrowly defined world of me and need. Of course unmet developmental needs of early childhood must be addressed within the parameters of our archetypal heritage but, once addressed, needn’t overshadow our greater evolutionary potential.

Just another perspective! - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Just another perspective!
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

We might step beyond that world and discover a whole new world of compassion and genuine affection outside of the old archetypal bindings and investments. We might discover a world of deeper discovery and fulfillment, even within the world we are born into. We might intend a whole new world of truth and affection outside an old world of archetypal slavery. We might discover that we are soul mates with everyone! This is indeed our evolutionary challenge now; to transition into a cohesive world of truth and genuine affection for all, outside the old blind compulsory bindings of archetypally-routed relationship that has so far controlled our destinies.

Let’s intend a new world together,

* From Navigating Into the Unknown: An interview with Carlos Castaneda found HERE.