Tag Archives: shaman’s world

Chuck’s Place: It’s Time for Ego Refinement

Energy in action…
– Detail of Artwork by Jan Ketchel

We live in the most stupendous of times for ego development. From the moment we awaken each day we are barraged with outer world events, bodily needs, and an internal dialog which all clamor for our attention. Attention is where we employ our vital energy. Ego must decide in rapid succession how it will spend this vital energy.

Will our decisions enhance or deplete our energetic reserves? Will our decisions be in alignment with the state of our body? Will our decisions channel the deeper calling of our spirit? These are examples of the myriad of decisions the ego must make in our hyper, fast-paced, rapidly shifting modern world.

Ego has gotten a bad rap. This is largely because it is associated with enhancing one’s self-importance and outer-world possessions to the detriment of others, as well as to the detriment of the spirit. Indeed, ego can decide to employ the vital energy of the body and the spiritual self to its own aggrandizement.

In fact, perhaps the most exaggerated example of this attitude confronts us daily in the governance currently in power of our world. We all must face the real possibility of nuclear holocaust in the hands of such leadership, but here also lies the very heart of opportunity for the moment we live in.

We must all choose whether to spend our energy worrying about this fact, and this is an ego decision, or not. True, we must acknowledge the threat to our survival, the existential anxiety of pending destruction and disintegration, for not to do so would be to dissociate from our animal knowing of the real and present danger to our existence.

However, as the shamans discovered long ago, death is our greatest advisor. Knowing that we are beings who are going to die is our greatest support to stay awake and take full advantage of the opportunities of life in this dimension. The ego must decide what to do with this information.

The ego can employ the classic defense of denial and go about daily life as if nothing is different, all is predictable and unfolding as it should. Modern events, however, are really rattling this defense.

The ego could become concretely opportunistic, gobbling up power and wealth to enjoy its time here in material abundance, paying little heed to the side effects of its choices. Nature is dramatically confronting this attitude right now.

The ego might alternatively choose to face reality and attend to the impact of its animal knowing on its central nervous system through a variety of meditative and breathing practices.

Further, ego might turn its attention inward to the subtler energies of its spirit. These are the energies of manifestation, these are the energies of intent. These are the energetic pathways open to the evolving human. We all may glimpse them in the magical occurrences that frequently follow shortly after the loss of a loved one when, in heightened awareness, we are opened to the energetic possibilities of quantum connection.

Ego turning its attention materially toward outer control and accumulation are Old World technologies. It is obvious that from an evolutionary standpoint they are not favored. Don’t be fooled by the current last stand of the worst of these practices, they need to have their last dance.

We are being prompted now to discover life at a deeper energetic level. This entails tuning into the subtle energies of synchronicity and serendipity where the ego is presented with feedback and energetic possibilities that can guide life into truly sustainable evolutionary directions.

These are the amazing opportunities for ego refinement in our current volatile times. We are evolving into a  New World of energy as well as a world of concrete objects, a far more expansive world, with a wise ego at the helm.

In refinement,


A blog by Chuck Ketchel, LCSW-R

Chuck’s Place: Assume Your Quantum Responsibility

Within this tomato is the entire plant…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Quantum is the world reduced to its energetic base, a wave of interconnected energy that has the alternative potential to fragment into discrete solid objects, distinguished by their uniqueness.

Carlos Castaneda complains to don Juan: “I can’t conceive the world in any other way… It is unquestionably a world of objects. To prove it, all we have to do is bump into them…”

“Of course it’s a world of objects. We are not arguing that,” responds don Juan. “… I am saying that this is first a world of energy; then it’s a world of objects.”

Don Juan also said, “I am convinced that for man to survive now, his perception… that the world is [only] made of concrete objects… must change.”*

Humankind must access its energetic, interconnected self to survive the clash with its separate, split apart objects, the crisis of now.

Quantum physicist David Bohm proposed that the universe is one giant hologram and that all the separate “objects” in it—i.e., people—are really of one interconnected whole. Each separate object is really a hologram that contains the whole within itself.

Assuming quantum responsibility means that the buck stops here. Within myself is the entire universe, that which is being acted out and debated right now on social media, in the news, and in the world. If we fail to recognize, contain, and reconcile all that is warring within ourselves we evade our quantum responsibility for the maintenance and survival of our entire world.

Too often the tensions of the opposites within us, or as we see them mirrored outside of us, cause us to polarize: things become black and white and we strongly identify with one side or the other. When we do this we project the rejected parts of ourselves outwardly, onto another, who becomes the enemy. This results in opposition, scapegoating, hateful banter, and, at times, attempts to literally destroy each other.

I risk here a sensitive example: twenty-year-old James Alex Fields Jr. slams his car into a Charlottesville crowd; an innocent woman is killed. Earlier Mr. Fields had stood with a group of men believed to be associated with Vanguard America whose manifesto declares that “a government based in the natural law must not cater to the false notion of equality.”**

If I distill this rhetoric down to its energetic essence, I see the irrational, instinctual, amoral, survival-of-the-fittest aspects of our being reacting to our evolved consciousness where reason advocates for evolved programs like equality.

This opposition of the natural order of things versus our evolved consciousness, the irrational versus reason, is inherent in the body/mind split that every being on earth has to contend with. Can I reconcile my own animal instincts with my own spirit’s consciousness? In setting out to do that I take quantum responsibility for the current challenges facing our world. My little hologram of self impacts the greater hologram that is our shared world.

The power shift in the world right now is toward the rise of the irrational; instinct versus reason. Reason has held a tight control of the world but is now rapidly diminishing in power.

The first quantum tool to stabilize the world is to face the hologram of the world, as it is being lived, within the self. Without blame, without projection, own the warring sides within. Where is the “Vanguard” within the self? How to acknowledge it, contain it, and integrate it more peaceably and responsibly within the self, into a living inner wholeness, is the task at hand. If I change my own hologram the world hologram must change as well. That is quantum physics; as within, so without.

Don Juan Matus also taught Carlos Castaneda the quantum tool of intent. For shamans, intent is a force that permeates the entire universe, that responds to the beckoning or command of human beings.

When a hypnotist plants a suggestion in the mind of a subject, the intent of that suggestion is frequently acted out by the subject. This propensity for human beings to mindlessly be influenced by suggestion can lead to high level manipulation at an individual level as well as on a collective level with large groups of people becoming controlled by suggestion. This is the kind of black magic that leads to the destruction being acted out daily on the world stage.

Regardless of the current exploitation of intent by the dark side, and we all must face the demands and commands of the dark side within ourselves, intent can always be beckoned for healing and evolution. On an individual level, the call for healing is sure to result in a cascade of unfolding events that shape the healing possibility. However intent answers the call, it is always incumbent upon the individual to face, recognize, and reconcile with the life circumstances shaped by intent in order to effect a cure.

Intent can provide an opportunity but consciousness must seize the day! Consciousness must acknowledge and safely live its darkness. All that is repressed will eventually break through with a vengeance.

Wholeness can look like this…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

On a world level, individuals can beckon intent to lead us into a collective world healing. Such intent might sound something like this: I intend that the world heal. I intend that the world survive. I intend that the world embrace its wholeness, rational and irrational alike, with heart centered consciousness as the arbiter of reconciliation.

With that intent, I merge my intent with the intent of many. I also promise to assume quantum responsibility for the events that appear in my own personal hologram, facing them and reconciling with them, and in so doing furthering the healing of our energetic world.



*Quotes from The Art of Dreaming by Carlos Castaneda, pp. 3 & 4, bracketed text added by Chuck

**Reference to Vanguard America from the New York Times

A Day in a Life: What’s New is Old & What’s Old is New—Making it Relevant

When I first began channeling I could not for the life of me wrap my mind around the term. I just could not accept that channeling was what I was doing. It felt almost hokey, much too new agey for practical me. Instead, I preferred to say that I was connecting. Connecting became the term I used.

“I’m connecting with Jeanne,” I’d say. After a while I did accept the term channeling, since it seemed to explain to so many others just what it was that I was doing when I went into a deep meditative state and saw visions that somehow tumbled down on the page in front of me into words that made sense. I couldn’t really explain how that process happened, but as I went deeper into my personal history, recapitulating my past, I found that what I was doing was not all that unique. I learned that I was nothing special.

Now, as I face new steps in my personal story, I must also face what it is that I am supposed to do next with this most unspecial self.

Fearful, in the beginning, of attaching to the new age world, I have since understood its significance in our lifetime, but only as I have also understood the intent of the ancients, intentions set a long time ago. Once I understood that all knowledge is available to all of us, I was able to embrace the new age idea of channeling, finding it rooted deep within the shaman’s world.

As I did my recapitulation I found the answers to the questions I was asking about myself, seeking to know myself on the deepest levels. I wanted to find out as much about myself as I could, the answers to why I had the life I had, why I lived in the world I did, both my past and the world I live in every day. In the terminology and perspectives of the shaman’s world, and in the descriptions of experiences that mirrored my own to a tee, I found resonance. I also discovered that the shamans of ancient Mexico have a term for that new age phenomenon that we call channeling, that I had such a hard time embracing. They call it: reading infinity.

The practical me finds grounding in the shaman’s world, because I have learned that the shaman’s world is none other than this one. I don’t have to go anywhere else to have experiences that are meaningful. Everything I need is here. If I truly want to have shamanic journeys all I have to do is stay present in this life. There are plenty of experiences just waiting to take me journeying.

The so called new age phenomenon that has swept us off our feet for the past forty or so years is in fact also based in the world the shamans describe. New terms may have been applied, now commonly used, but in reality they are ancient practices that our modern world has eschewed in favor of modern science. The chemistry lab has replaced reality. Real experiences of body, mind, and spirit have been pushed aside; the ancient holistic approach to the human experience relegated to a few new agers. In fact, the intent of the ancients courses through all of us. We are all ancients and we are all new agers, we are all holistic phenomena just bursting to live in this world, in our own times.

In a pamphlet that he distributed to the participants of the Westwood Tensegrity workshop in 1996, Carlos Castaneda wrote the following:

Silent Knowledge was an entire facet of the lives and activities of the shamans or sorcerers who lived in Mexico in ancient times. According to don Juan Matus, the sorcerer-teacher who introduced me to the cognitive world of those sorcerers, silent knowledge was the most coveted end result they sought through every one of their actions and thoughts.”

“Don Juan defined silent knowledge as a state of human awareness in which everything pertinent to man is instantly revealed, not to the mind or the intellect, but to the entire being. He explained that there was a band of energy in the universe which sorcerers call the band of man, and that such a band was present in man. …Silent knowledge, don Juan explained, is the interplay of energy within that band, an interplay which is instantly revealed to the shaman who has attained inner silence. Don Juan said that the average man has inklings of this energetic play. Man intuits it, and gets busy deducing its workings, figuring out its permutations. A sorcerer, on the other hand, gets a blast of the totality of this interplay at any time that the rendition of this interplay is solicited.”

“…In his effort to clarify his point further, don Juan gave me a series of concrete examples of silent knowledge. The one I have liked the most, because of its scope and applicability, is something that he called readers of infinity.”

Carlos goes on to describe how the readers of infinity viewed energy, as if they were watching a movie. This ability to shift into viewing energy as it flowed in the universe, without attaching to the permutations of the mind, allowed them to access a far greater intent: all knowledge, just waiting for all of us to leave the busy workings of our minds so we too can access it. Here is how Carlos described this ability to read energy:

“Don Juan made it very clear to me that to be a reader of infinity doesn’t mean that one reads energy as if one were reading a newspaper, but that words become clearly formulated as one reads them, as if one word leads into another, forming whole concepts that are revealed and then vanish. The art of sorcerers is to have the prowess to gather and preserve them before they enter into oblivion by being replaced with the new words, the new concepts of a never-ending stream of graphic consciousness.”

“Don Juan further explained that the shamans who lived in Mexico in ancient times, and who established his lineage, were capable of reaching silent knowledge after entering its matrix: inner silence. He said that inner silence was an accomplishment of such tremendous importance for them that they set it up as the essential condition of shamanism.”

Honing intent... grounded in this world

Personally, I find these descriptions fascinating. Channeling is indeed reading infinity as described by don Juan. The words appear and if one does not capture them in some way they are gone, the next ones taking their place. Access to inner silence, I can attest, is achievable through our life experiences, through blunt trauma, as well as in the inklings of reading energy that we all experience at various times throughout life. The challenge is to allow ourselves to go without fear and without judgment, by simply taking the journey as it is presented to us.

Can we hone our sorcery skills in order to be able to reach inner silence? Yes, we all can, as I did during my recapitulation. But the real challenge is, can we achieve these abilities while remaining firmly grounded in this world, staying in our everyday reality? Yes, that too is not only possible but essential.

We live in this world and we must stay in this world, have our experiences and make them relevant in our personal lives and for our times. We must not only learn to read infinity, but we must root our learning in our world so that a better balance of old age and new age may be achieved. We must help our world evolve into a holistic world once again, where the old-new phenomena are not only accessible but made meaningful and important to our times and our evolution. We must not dismiss what we don’t understand as hokey, as I once dismissed channeling, too afraid to face what it might mean about me personally.

It’s through deep inner work that we learn how to access infinity volitionally. But it’s also through deep inner work that we may lose our fears and attachments to the personal, to our self-importance, and learn that we are nothing special. Discovering that is discovering the root of the ancient sorcerer’s intent. When we get to that place, we can then turn our attentions to working on our greater personal intent for this lifetime, whatever that may be.

I am nothing special.

#679 Chuck’s Place: The Womb in the Age of Reason

The primary function of the womb is reproduction: the production and continuation of the life of our species. Shamans maintain that the womb has a secondary function, rarely accessed, as the epicenter of evolution. For shamans, evolution is a function of intent and the ability to perceive and interpret energy in new ways.

Shamans call the womb a “perceiving box,” capable of perceiving and interpreting energy as direct knowledge, completely independent of the cogitations of the mind. This is not a rational process, but a living, irrational process, like life and nature itself.

Shamans claim that women’s access to direct knowledge is unparalleled. In fact, it happens so easily that women take it for granted or simply dismiss it. In contrast, men, lacking a womb, must work very hard to gain access to direct knowledge and highly prize that achievement. For shamans, this is the advantage men have over women; since they work so hard for it, they don’t dismiss it. When this topic was touched upon at a Tensegrity workshop I had attended, the question arose as to the fate of women who no longer had their wombs due to hysterectomies. We were assured that the womb center was fully present in the energy body, regardless of changes in the physical body. Perhaps the major reason women dismiss their access to direct knowledge is reason itself, the reigning fixation of awareness in the modern world.

Women, like men, are socialized to cultivate the mind by mastering rationality. The ability to understand and explain life in rational terms is deemed a measure of intelligence and is a core component of self-esteem. Simply knowing, without knowing why one knows what one knows, without being able to establish a systematic rational building block of facts, in modern terms is deemed both laughable and primitive.

As we watch the nigredo of oil sweep across the Gulf of Mexico, what is it that we know? How much oil dumps into the Gulf each day; how the oil will be encircled and contained; how the leak will be capped; what the effects will be on the shrimp industry; how government and industry will work together to solve this regrettable miscalculation? What does the womb perceive? What does the womb know about life and where it is headed under the dominance of rationality in our modern world? Who will value what the womb knows?

In my clinical work as a psychotherapist I have often been struck by the knowing of the womb, as reported by women clients at different times in their monthly cycles. Of course, the regimentation and orderliness of the modern world has socialized women to devalue and override the stirrings and moods of the womb, though the knowing womb frequently overrides such repressive efforts by outbursts of irrationality. In my experience, the knowledge that can burst forth at these times, though exaggerated by the energetic process needed to overcome repressive efforts, frequently reveals truths that ultimately become major life changes, though they may take decades to realize.

For shamans, the future of our evolution rests in our ability to break the fixation of our awareness on a world of solid objects and a mind of reason. The ability to perceive energy in new ways frees our evolutionary potential. Yet, even in this world of solid objects, might we free ourselves of the dominance of the rational? As we observe now the destruction of life on our planet, as it is reasonably rationalized away in quantifiable, descriptive terms, masquerading as control and order, might it not be time to listen to the knowing of the womb, the bearer of life, the seat of evolution?

If you wish to correspond, please feel free to post a comment below.

Until we meet again,

#677 Chuck’s Place: Losing the Human Form

This past week I found myself contemplating evil. Two weeks ago I explored the role of evil in the shaman’s world as a necessary encounter that advances seekers on their evolutionary journeys. Last week I delved into evil from a strictly human perspective, exploring the role of evil in the collective psyche of the human race. I am continually drawn back to the shaman’s world where I find the tools and pragmatism of their discoveries most helpful in dealing with the affairs of this world in preparation for journeys in all worlds. I decided to be guided by synchronicity for this blog today and opened The Wheel of Time to the following quote taken from Carlos Castaneda’s The Second Ring of Power.

A warrior knows that he cannot change, and yet he makes it his business to try to change, nevertheless. The warrior is never disappointed when he fails to change. That’s the only advantage a warrior has over the average man.” (p. 166)

It’s not really that a warrior knows he cannot change; it’s more that a warrior does not attach to the outcome of his actions. In psychological terms, this represents the egoless ego. A warrior’s ego is neither willful nor inflated, but focused and pragmatic. The ego is a functional unit, not an identity. A warrior intends an outcome and acts impeccably in accordance with that intent. That is all that matters. The outcomes of actions merely present the circumstances for the next decision, the next action. Disappointment is a direct function of identification of ego, with accumulated deeds, such as merit badges or detention slips. I succeeded, I’m a success; I failed, I’m a failure: Me, Me, Me. A warrior suspends judgment. Judgment casts value upon the ego. The warrior seeks freedom from an ego identity, from judgment, from the human form.

I turn now to the opposite page in the same book for the following quote:

Warriors must be impeccable in their effort to change, in order to scare the human form and shake it away. After years of impeccability, a moment will come when the human form cannot stand it any longer and leaves. That is to say, a moment will come when the energy fields contorted by a lifetime of habit are straightened out. A warrior gets deeply affected, and can even die as a result of this straightening out of energy fields, but an impeccable warrior always survives.” (p. 167)

The human form is the unique configuration that our inherent energy is funneled into by what C. G. Jung called the archetypal patterns of the collective unconscious. The human form, from a shamanic perspective, refers to a specific interpretation of energy, not to be confused with our physical bodies. Actually, shamans have discovered that the human body, or solid reality, is an interpretation of energy. This is not all that radical, as even mainstream physics can demonstrate that, at its core, everything is energy. The shamans highlight the role of socialization to create the interpretation of energy they call the human form. The repetitive behavioral patterns we are taught from infancy by older, socialized members of the human community shape our energy into a uniform set of habitual behaviors recognizable to all humans, creating a uniform consensus reality we call Our world.

Shamans have determined that the lion’s share of our inherent energy, in the human form, is spent on habitual behaviors focused on self-importance and self-pity. In our human form we can spend a lifetime in either self-doubt or self-pity over our failures to meet expectations. We can become obsessed with self-motivation, trying to conquer the world or our own inertia to prove ourselves: to make something of our lives, to produce something to leave behind or to bask in during our golden years. We can become obsessed with becoming good, becoming great, becoming selfless, etc. All of these strivings, from a shamanic perspective, are variations of self-importance. In a nutshell, the shamans see the human form as an energetic entity completely consumed in a narcissistic bubble of self-involvement, totally incapable of fighting its way out of this self-absorption. If you stay in the human form mold you live and die in it, closed to the possibility of evolution. In Buddhist terms, your destiny is reincarnation, another opportunity to awaken to energetic reality.

The human form, in this socialized and narcissistic state, cannot be sustained without a high degree of energy being dedicated to upholding this ego-self identity. Warriors strive to store the energy usually expended on upholding this ego-self identity by interrupting the habitual behavioral patterns of self-absorption, i.e., by not attaching or becoming identified with the outcomes of their actions. The human form, denied this energetic sustenance, eventually leaves, with the result that energy is now freed for other possibilities, which naturally transcend the human form.

This shift, this abandonment by the human form is shattering. Picture the scene in The Matrix where Neo is unplugged from his habitual illusory programs, i.e., his hard drive is wiped clean and he nearly goes into shock under the impact. An impeccable warrior is well prepared for this blow, having spent a lifetime interrupting the flow of habitual patterns, using petty tyrants to free awareness from a self that requires judgment to exist, using recapitulation to free energy formerly attached to interpretations feeding self-absorption.

Energy, freed from the human form? Then what! Picture Neo, as the bullets merely bounce off him and he flows, as he no longer participates in that interpretation of reality; he has lost his human form. Let’s see what happens!

If you wish to correspond, please feel free to post a comment below.

Until we meet again,