Tag Archives: solstice

Chuck’s Place: Return of the Light

The inevitable return of the light…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year. At a certain level they are all interchangeable synonyms of the same event: return of the light. These events symbolize bringing forth new life, and in one form or another the human species is transported, by such events, to the experience of awe. These events create a natural bridge to the magical side of life.

The polar opposite of awe, and the human being’s greatest achievement, has been its ability to fixate upon reason, the main pillar of modern civilization. Reason breaks down the world into units that defy awe. With pure reason there’s no such thing as magic. Without magic, however, humanity loses its soul. Modern humans are truly beings in search of their soul.

The appeal of modern charismatic world leaders is their messianic capacity to channel awe. Anger that knows no limits is one ticket to infinity. The appeal of the energetic thrill of the shrill has swept the world. Reason shrinks in its ability to shield one from the draw of such passion. Even the most reasonable beings are unwittingly drawn into the madness of their passionate defense of reason.

Starved for immersion in the ocean of awe, humanity is currently gripped in a tidal wave of emotion. Tidal waves are unstoppable forces of nature, but, like wildfires that require fresh wood to continue their passionate burn, their time is truly limited, though there may be much destruction in the interim. All things do pass.

Currently, reason has become the fuel of awe. The irrational dominates the rational, the time of darkening of the light. In the time of darkening of the light, the guidance is to shield and tend the small candlelight of reason in the safe cave of the heart. In the time of the return of the light, the guidance is to be patient; the return of the light is inevitable.

The magic of this moment is awe inspired by the light of consciousness. Reason and awe needn’t be strange bedfellows. We are in an evolutionary advance now, charged to become more fully our magical energetic selves, with the light of consciousness as our guiding light, charged to explore beyond the limits of reason, yet with reason at our side.

May reason embark upon the dance of true fulfillment with us all. May awe be navigated by reason. Wishing all a safe, ecstatic, and fulfilling return of the light.

With Reason and Awe,

Chuck

Chuck’s Place: Heading For The Morass

Man still hopes, in a primitive way, that not knowing, not naming, not seeing a danger would remove it.” (C. G. Jung in a letter to Cary Baynes in 1959)

Would that I could ignore all that threatens about us as we prepare to celebrate the ancient archetypal imperative to bring light and hope to the tree at the time of the Winter Solstice. Ignoring, however, does not remove the threat of the light going out. How then can we name the truth and preserve our little candle of hope? We must begin by knowing and naming what really is.

The great morass…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

The drums of war are pounding. The tribes are choosing sides. Power is about to transfer. The period of stability and stalemate with all its matriarchal inclusiveness is about to be torn asunder. The burgeoning patriarchal energies of the collective unconscious, seeking advance domination and plunder, like an active volcano, are about to erupt.

Though at first glance it all appears to be in the hands of the patriarch, I would propose  it is actually but an unconscious male couvade (sympathetic male labor pains) mimicking the action and intent of the dark side of the Great Mother as she reshapes her creation, planet Earth.

This, I believe, is the light of our salvation. Mother Nature, who reigns supreme, is both using and depotentiating her wayward son, the male patriarch. Violation of nature’s law can only be met with its natural corrective. Ultimately, Mother Nature has all the power, even over the consciouness she created but which has abused its privilege.

The destructive energies of the collective unconscious all ultimately issue from Mother Nature herself. Man deludes himself when thinking he owns these powers. Mother Nature delights in the delusions of this drunken frenzy of ego inflation unfolding before us. Destruction is painful and dangerous, yet all birth is dangerous and unkind to the mother’s body. That new and better life is the result is the light and hope frequently associated with a savior being born at this time of year.

That the savior is always the son of a virgin reveals that what issues forth is indeed of Mother Nature alone, parthenogenetically brought forth from her body, her appendage, without male fertilization. The “new man” will be of her determination alone, her concoction, better fashioned to serve her ultimate goal of new life, better suited to manage her creation.

And so, from the great morass of the coming time will emerge new life to lead us onward. We lend ourselves to this cause by staying connected to the truth and not exhausting ourselves in premature labor. As they say, let the games begin! Save your energy for when it will be truly needed for genuine transformation.

In the meantime, stay present and in awe of the majesty of life that continuously fills us with love and compassion.

Intent on keeping the flame lit,

Chuck

Chuck’s Place: Innocence On The Altar

Winter Solstice

A tragedy of unfathomable proportions has seized our nation, if not the world, as we arrive at the threshold of a new era on this Solstice day. We are all charged to take this journey with lost, sacrificed innocence and correct the course of human affairs.

What could it mean that a psychotic young man kills his mother and then so many young children? I suggest that this young man concretized and acted out, in a delusional way, an archetypal motif of individuation. I further suggest that this misapplied motif must be addressed on a mass human level, as well as on an individual level, in each and every one of us.

Every human is challenged to transition from childhood to adulthood, from the egocentric entitled stage of immaturity to adult responsibility. This is the Hero’s Journey, filled with many challenges.

One of the greatest challenges of the Hero’s Journey is to defeat childish dependence on the mother. Though many myths depict this as slaying the dragon or defeating the wicked witch, the core of this battle lies within the individual. At some point in our lives we must all ask the same question: Can I take adult responsibility for my life or am I caught in my childish dependency and entitlement demands to be taken care of?

The hero’s task is to slay his own childish dependency—NOT HIS MOTHER, NOT THE CHILD! The hero’s task is to become the adult parent to himself, and set firm but loving boundaries around the child within who is taken forward into adult life—NOT KILLED OFF!

The archetypes worm through us all…

The Newtown tragedy has mobilized tremendous energy to address the gun laws in our country. Too long has a greedy industry been allowed to fill its entitled pockets under the guise of protection and the Second Amendment. The truth is, these policies have been dictated by immature adults, who refuse adult responsibility. It’s time for adult boundaries to be set around the demands of an industry allowed to function with no limitations, like out-of-control children playing with guns.

We approach a fiscal cliff with similar concerns. The greed of undisciplined children not wanting to part with their toys—some of their wealth—can no longer rule. We need adult leadership, adult responsibility in all paying their fair share.

New York and California are poised to approve fracking. Even these bluest of blue states are willing to cave to the greed of the energy industry. Would adults allow toxic poisons to be poured into their bodies? Are we really going to allow our precious Earth to be poisoned this way, for the sake of insatiable greed for more money, cheaper energy? We need adult control. Children’s entitlement in control cannot sustain our environment.

The Holocaust had to be answered in a firm commitment: the rebirth of the State of Israel. However, this resolution, despite its many transformations, is frozen in structures impervious to a necessary two state solution. Once again, we find a child’s entitlement in control of policy as construction plans for new settlements are being made on disputed lands, in the midst of peace negotiations no less! Where is the adult in the house?

Moslem insistence on ancient practice, guarded in warlike fierceness, must soften to allow for change and evolution. How can the feminine, the source of renewal and rebirth, be so restricted in the modern world? Nonetheless, when we see the outcome of casualness toward our instinctive animal selves in our modern world, even in such institutions as Penn State, the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts, and most recently in the Jewish Orthodoxy, we have to question humanity’s management of its instinctive nature and appreciate the intensity of restriction in the Moslem religion to regulate it. Violence, however, begets violence. We must find a new path of reconciliation.

We must all face our darkness…

Humankind must face the power of the forces that inhabit the darkness of our souls. Each individual must take the journey through the underground of their own deep unconscious. The instinctive forces that tragically erupt daily around the world are active in each and every one of us. Newtown must be answered by a commitment to take the inward journey, to recapitulate the hidden truths of our souls and revamp our instinctive energies to flow safely and responsibly into this new era now upon us.

Innocence has been sacrificed on the altar of this Solstice. Our nation is plunged into the abyss of mourning, soulfully seeking its lost innocence. We must journey now into the darkness and face the truths that have stolen away our innocence. May those innocent ones be the beacons, the light bearers that show us the way as we journey into our darkness, lighting the way into a new era for all of us.

Wishing for Peace on Earth and extending good will to all,
Chuck

A Day in a Life: Solstice Balancing Act

Change comes in every sunrise and moonrise…

I am aware that I am fully responsible for myself, for my mental, physical, and spiritual health. I am aware that life on this plane, on earth, constantly offers every opportunity to experience all that I seek. I am also aware that life constantly offers the opportunity to change myself, and my circumstances, but that it’s up to me to take the leap, to decide that now is the time to take a leap of faith and trust that life and the universe will support me.

Through a great part of this life I sought something outside of myself to bring me into balance: a lifestyle, a partner, children, a career, a spiritual practice, nature and the surety of the unfolding of each day as each sun rises and each moon sets and each moment leads to the next. All of these things are positive and important events in the life of an evolving being seeking wholeness, but as I journeyed further I began to discover that I no longer needed to look outside of myself so much anymore, for I held much of the balance I sought within. But even so, as I journeyed on, new things constantly arose, blips on the horizon that signaled something coming into my world, perhaps good, perhaps bad, perhaps nothing important at all. But I still had to decide what to do with what approached, whatever it might be.

What approaches most significantly now is anticipation itself, a restless wondering. It has been on the horizon for a long time now, in the coming of the Winter solstice on 12/21/12. We’ve all heard about it, as well as a lot of hoopla about the world ending. On the other hand, I cannot dismiss that hoopla, for I understand how important it is, how even hoopla can wake us up so that we take notice of something. Even hoopla offers opportunities: to regroup, to get into balance, to face the truths of ourselves and really change, finally becoming who we know we really are, allowing what we are capable of at the deepest level to emerge and fully live.

I also know what holds us back: FEAR—fear of making a fool of ourselves, fear of failure, fear of facing the honest truth of the choices and decisions we’ve made and why, fear of what others might think of us, fear that we are doing it all wrong. Fear that someone outside of us will judge, condemn, ridicule or taunt us burdens us so greatly that we let lots of opportunities go by. Oh, I couldn’t do that! What would people say!

What do we fear and why?

If we take all that energy that is going into being afraid, into wondering what will happen on 12/21/12, and instead of projecting it outwardly decide to focus on ourselves, we might begin to feel that great anticipation in a different way. If we pause and sit with what is inside us, as Jeanne suggests in Monday’s message, we might realize that our spirit is indeed anticipating change, eagerly awaiting our decisions. And not just on that date, but in general, for we live in a time of great change all the time. Jeanne has told us this many times and this statement is repeated often, not only among the spiritual communities, but in the mass media as well. It all depends on how you elect to interpret what that means. Does it mean someone else is responsible for that change? Or does it mean, as I am suggesting, that we are all responsible for daring to change ourselves. Now is a good time to sit and contemplate the change that our spirits might be anticipating, actually yearning for.

The solstice marks the ending of one season and the beginning of another, and it happens every year, twice a year to be exact, in summer and winter, as the sun reaches its highest and its lowest points relative to the equator. This is a natural occurrence that marks a shift; it always has and it always will. That’s nature working as nature does. Have we humans become so disconnected from nature that we don’t naturally feel this shift anymore? And why is this one supposedly so different? Is it in fact any different from this year’s summer solstice, or last year’s winter solstice? Is it only different because we’ve been told it is? Do we have to be shaken out of our complacency by the anticipation of something big occurring before we dare to take responsibility for ourselves, for thinking for ourselves, for acting independently in our best interests as citizens of the natural world, and as spiritually interconnected beings?

What is on the horizon for us all?

Many of us go through life afraid to change. We must be forced into it. Forced change comes in many forms: illness, divorce, death, birth, accident, loss, sudden and unexpected shifts in our world. In my case, forced change came in a barrage of unrelenting flashbacks that I could no longer ignore. Those flashbacks were synchronistically supported by the universe presenting me with all kinds of situations and truths. And so I knew that the only relief I would get was in facing my deepest issues and releasing myself from the hold they had on me. That was the catalyst to my doing a shamanic recapitulation: I could no longer hide from what was naturally occurring inside my own psyche! The psyche in imbalance, just as nature in imbalance, has its own ways of alerting us to change.

This is the other aspect of what we are all facing now as 12/21/12 looms on the horizon: the truth of the great imbalance that we humans have wrought upon this earth. We are out of balance with nature and have been for a long time. And yet, this natural phenomenon, a yearly solstice, portends to shake us up. The hoopla around this event is created by us, but in order to balance all that hoopla brewing outside of us, we must dare to face what is rising up inside of us first.

Keeping in mind that we are responsible for our progress in life—for our maturity, our spiritual growth, our ability to successfully navigate life—and if we remain open to changing ourselves now, we might succeed in giving ourselves the catalyst we need to make this next step of change really matter. Begin where you are. Begin where you are in your inner world and in your personal outer world.

I have long sought balance, achieving it quite successfully for long periods of time, and yet life does not let us get complacent. It seeks to shake us up. How many times must it shake us awake before we realize that it’s offering us the answers we’ve been seeking, and the only way to receive the gifts that life offers is to trust that they will be there for us? It’s an ethereal thing, this life, for in reality it’s nothing more than an illusion of moments, piles of moments. What makes those moments important and significantly meaningful is what we choose to do with them. Do we choose to face our issues and accept them as our catalysts to change? Can we all accept 12/21/12 as our personal wakeup call, no matter what happens outside of us? Can we dare ourselves to take the next step to a new level of existence, coexistence, mutual consideration and caring for all beings, and bear our truths, just as we ask our planet to bear what we have done to it?

It’s time to beat a different drum…

If we change ourselves, part of the world has changed. The more people who elect to change themselves, the more the world will change. There is power in that kind of change, in numbers of people electing to change themselves for the right reasons: because all living beings are equal, because our planet is a living thing too.

The solstice will arrive. I suggest trusting nature and the universe to guide us, to show us the way to true balance, as we each acquiesce to our own truths and take full responsibility for ourselves as individuals and as citizens of the world. Nature balances by constantly giving and taking, in tension and release, in yin and yang, in contraction and expansion.

What must we take and what must we give up in order to regain our personal balance, to relieve our personal imbalance? The only way to truly figure this out is to pull inward and release what is holding us back from our true experiences as living beings.

Remember, it’s a process, so don’t be too rigid; keep in mind that balance requires flexibility. Nature is challenging us to get in balance, because it’s time.

Yinning and Yanging,
Jan

A Day in a Life: Solstice

The build up is underway

I step out onto the deck in the early morning darkness. It’s balmy today and I’m comfortable standing there in the calmness before dawn. The world is quiet, not much stirring yet, though I hear a rustle of squirrel in the woods and I can just make out the broad, shadowy side flanks of two deer nibbling in the backyard. Today is the shortest day of the year and the longest night, a pivotal point for all of us as the season changes into winter. I wonder what this day will bring.

On one level we have already been feeling the intensity of this time, the build up to some kind of breakthrough, the feeling that something must give way prevalent for weeks now. Each of us must face within ourselves what that might be. Perhaps this is the day that we will be rewarded for our deep inner work, for our ability to withstand the tensions of our psyches, our bodies, our inner world being confronted by our outer realities.

Last week my 92-year-old aunt said to me: “I wonder why I’ve lived so long? It must be so I could relive my life and see it from a different perspective, because that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve been doing a life review and as I go back into different scenes and phases from my life I now see myself as arrogant, judgmental, boastful, mean, and stupid when in the past I saw myself as right, smart, and having all the answers. This is meaningful. I’m being offered the opportunity to change, and that’s good. It must be what life is about.”

She realized, as we talked, that her life review, her recapitulation, was teaching her new lessons. In looking at every action and situation in her life from a new perspective she was shedding her ego’s need to be in charge, to control, to be right, and to judge. She softened as we spoke, the awe of her inner process clearly showing on her face and in the words she used. She understood how our self-righteous attitudes and our judgments hold us caught in old places for most of our lives, until we face them and soften, with compassion for ourselves and others, and finally let them go.

The edge of change is infinite

Although she is old now, her demeanor that day was refreshingly young, innocent and alive. As she talked she became lighter, her face glowed with new life as her awareness shifted. The next day she called me and told me that she had more energy than she’d had in months and that she was certain this recapitulation work was so necessary for her evolution into new life, so near that on some days she wonders if she’ll make it to the end of the day.

We talked about death as being no different than life, a day like today, a solstice, a passage into new life and new awareness. The ocean doesn’t end just because you can see the horizon, I said. The sky is not finite just because we only see a small part of it. Life is the same; the energy of life passes from one reality to another, from one phase to another, through solstices and seasons, through times of turmoil and conflict, through times of great understanding and revelation. Through recapitulation my elderly aunt was preparing for her death, preparing to ride the solstice and accept the energy of new awareness.

No matter how old we are, no matter where we are in our lives, what our circumstances are, we always have the opportunity to do a life review, to recapitulate our lives in a new way. On this day, on this solstice, we are offered transition to new life. As my aunt sees it, she has a great future ahead of her. We all do. We can face it with awareness, as my aunt is electing to do, or we can go fighting, resistant and resentful, but in the end we are all going.

Honor change

We are offered moments of solstice every day, though we may not see them as such. It’s often easier to embrace them when they are pointed out to us, made significant by tradition, ritual, and feast, by predictability and seasonal alignment. But in reality, every day offers us moments to shift our awareness. It’s time to embrace all of those moments as significant, to make everyday life a sacred ritual, as if we are all 92 years old and facing our deaths.

I honor my aunt on this day. I honor all of you. I honor myself, and I honor those closest to me, as we all take our next steps on our journeys.

The dawn begins to lighten the dark sky as I finish typing this blog. I breathe in its first energy and send it out to you, wishing you all happy solstice, and happy holidays,
Jan