Tag Archives: usher

The Usher

When we are ready to recapitulate traumatic memories, the Usher comes, inviting us to take the journey back into our most profound experiences in life.

I first experienced the Usher back in 2001 when I was baking cookies for my kids’ lunches. I was hit with such an insight that I fell to the kitchen floor gasping for breath, for it felt as if what had flashed before my eyes had simultaneously knocked the breath out of me.

The Usher came many times during my recapitulation, reminding me to stay the course, reminding me that recapitulation is the portal to freedom, and that the only means by which I was going to gain my freedom was to fully recapitulate everything that had happened to me as a child, and everything that had happened subsequent to that time, as I strove to maintain sanity and stability in a world that I had always experienced as all too unstable.

I learned to let the Usher in, to open the door and pay attention to what was being shown to me, knowing that it was the next step on my journey toward wholeness. With nerves of steel, with unbending intent, and with as much sobriety and stability as I could muster, I faced my past, what my abuser had done to me, and what my child self had formulated in order to survive.

I learned, through the recapitulation process, that freedom would never be mine if I did not recall, relive, and release everything from my past. I worked on my recapitulation for three years, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. At the same time I was raising my two children, working as a freelance artist and writer, running a gallery and faux finish painting business, even teaching painting classes for a time, while also deeply engaged in my local arts community. Somehow I found within me the strength and courage to do all those things while facing some pretty horrific events from my past.

It was the most painful period of my life, but it was what set me free. In doing my recapitulation, I believe I also set my own children free, for I was intent that they would not carry forth into their own lives my depression, my fears, my defenses, or my judgments. It was just as important to free them of the old me as it was for me to free myself of the old me. I wanted freedom for myself, but I also wanted it for them.

At the same time, however, full integration of the old me was part of the healing journey. I had to learn to love every part of myself, fully, and allow every aspect of who I had been come along on my changing journey. In the end, I was only going to be allowed to move forward into new life if I could accomplish the feat of becoming a fully integrated, whole being. It was a most humbling and most stupendous journey.

I am grateful for every step of that three-year-long journey, and for what I learned during that time. My books document that time in my life and all the things I learned about our fuller capabilities as beings of energy. It was during that time that I was taught how to be a channel, how to trust what I was hearing and seeing and experiencing, and how to integrate my spirit into my life along with all the other parts of myself.

When the Usher shows up, I wish that you too may have the strength and courage to take your own recapitulation journey, for it truly is the path to freedom, and your true path of heart. Wishing you all the best!

Sending you love,

J. E. Ketchel

Author of The Recapitulation Diaries

Chuck’s Place: The Economics of Changing Dreams

We must begin by assuming personal responsibility for the world’s current dream. Last week, I proposed that we are in the Time of the Usher, the dream changer. That lead role mysteriously fell upon Donald Trump.

Our very own Petty Tyrant!
– Art by Jan Ketchel

If we face the deeper truth that our world is spinning out of balance and requires a radical shift to survive, perhaps we can appreciate why we have called upon such a ruthless sorcerer from the dark side to usher in change. This sorcerer fits the bill of what the Shamans of Ancient Mexico call the petty tyrant.

Petty tyrants rank as extreme narcissists and psychopaths who wield the power of life and death over others. For shamans, encounters with petty tyrants are fundamental to their training. Most importantly, since tyrants lack any capacity for empathy for the cruelty they perpetrate upon their victims, shamans are offered a golden opportunity to lose their self-importance when dealing with them. Those indulging in self-pity under the reign of the petty tyrant exhaust their energy quickly and unwisely, as the petty tyrant has absolutely no concern for their needs.

Instead, shamans learn how to hone and revamp their energy, wasting none in seeking sympathy or validation for the hardships and cruelty directed at them by their petty tyrants. This energy saving training has the secondary benefit of preparing them to face future onslaughts from the unknown.

In this time of changing dreams that we are now experiencing, we are all at a distinct advantage, as it is very clear who the petty tyrant is. We can choose to stand up to him, by deciding to have all our energy available to meet the unexpected challenges and shifts that are occurring daily, with a minimum of energy expense.

Shamans ultimately seek the defeat of the petty tyrant but realize that getting caught in the traps of indignance and being offended both exhaust energy and cloud the ability to observe and plan strategically. The bigger the tyrant the greater the challenge to preserve  one’s energy and stay centered on the task. This is the position of the assemblage point that the shamans call the place of no pity. This position requires extreme mindful presence without ego attachment. The only question to ask oneself is, what is the appropriate action now, all personal attachment removed from view.

Since January 21st of this year I have limited myself to one minute per day of taking in the news. I came to this practice after observing the energetic impact that one hour of news was having on my energy as I went through the day.

Donald Trump, our news tyrant, seduces with outrageous antics and threats, which literally suck the energetic life out of a person. The emotional volatility evoked, and the attention given, literally feed the tyrant entity, who clearly has an insatiable hunger for attention.

I observe a tremendous energy savings with my one minute per day limitation. Each morning, I quickly receive the bullet points of necessary information, intentionally avoiding the trappings of emotional reactivity and seduction to track, think about, react to , and talk about the stories that are circulating in the news throughout the day—all energy-zapping practices. As a result I am free to decide if I need to do something or if I can just move on.

I don’t spend my energy on worry, fear, or rage. It simply depletes too much energy. Being offended by Trump is a waste of energy! Refusing to give him the attention he feeds off of, starves him of my energy and I get to keep it for myself. Having detachment from his outrageousness allows me to see clearly and to strategically navigate now.

Thus, I see Trump’s role as the usher, who has disrupted the familiarity and security of our world, as the role of the petty tyrant as well. He offers himself as the one to help us hone our energy and prepare for the real changes that we will invariably face as the world changes dreams again.

It’s a dangerous situation!
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Please don’t misconstrue my perspective as a benevolent casting of Donald Trump. He is a tyrant and he is dangerous. Many people will be and have been crushed by his ruthlessness. However, the world must evolve now into a new dream in order to survive, and the silver lining in Trump is that, though he appears the antithesis of survival, he has had the ability to interrupt the status quo of the world. This interruption of energy flow is a move of a sorcerer and it allows us all an opportunity to hone our own energy and prepare for the challenges on the horizon. These challenges may be hastened by Trump, but they hardly originate with him.

The deeper dream we are leaving is the self-centered dream where it’s all about “me” and “us” (U. S.)! Trump’s embodiment of that dream is the catalyst for the new dream, the one centered at the heart level: the real truth, transparency, and all-inclusiveness.

For us to prepare for this new dream, we must learn the economics of saving our energy resources by losing the self-importance of being offended and raising our consciousness to the truth of the heart.

The heart stays in alignment with the soul/energy body—spirit—call it what you will, but it is that divine center within us all that tells us the truth, the real truth, and whose guidance will lead us forward into a truly sustainable dream, the dream we are really preparing for, a heart-centered world dream.

From an energy miser,


Chuck’s Place: The Time of the Usher

The usher at a concert escorts us to our preselected seats. In the shaman’s world, the usher is the spirit that selects what we will encounter next. Those who are deeply engaged in traumatic recapitulation are quite familiar with the autonomy of the usher. One never knows what memory is to be ushered in next. It appears, of its own accord in the body, psyche, and events of everyday life.

Our neighbors stirring up some energy…
-Photo by Chuck Ketchel

In tribal times it was the medicine man, or woman, who went into trance and was ushered into spiritual realms that determined the fate of the individual or the tribe. The medicine man had access to unseen spiritual forces, some benevolent, some destructive. The medicine man had no friends. He exerted such a powerful hypnotic effect on tribal members that people avoided contact with him for fear of losing their sanity or becoming possessed by spirits. Nonetheless, the medicine man had his role as mediator to forces that would fundamentally shape the future direction of the tribe, for better or for worse.

In our times, there can be no doubt that Donald Trump is a medicine man. His rise to power indeed defied all reason, his hypnotic tirades channeling a spiritual wave of energy that swept him into the presidency. His intent is that money solve everything. He is a change agent who has opened the tunnel to powerful forces determined to reshape our world. He was selected, he was ushered in, and he in turn ushers the world into where we know not.

In shamanic terms, the usher causes a shift in the assemblage point. The shamans describe the assemblage point as a perceptive center that assembles how we interpret the world. As they see it, our world is held together by a massive uniformity of interpretive agreement. This perceptual agreement is upheld by all members of the human race, generating the world we call reality.

A shift in the world assemblage point shakes the very cohesiveness of the world of everyday life. The reality we’ve come to depend upon crumbles as new building blocks factor into the mix. Like an earthquake, everyone feels the shift, as it shakes the very ground of our beings.

Forces are now rapidly vying to assemble a whole new world, a reality based on a whole new formula. How that will congeal and whether the uniformity necessary to uphold it will be agreed upon remains to be seen. In the meantime, we are all subject to veritable onslaughts of the unknown in the course of everyday life.

This collective instability impacts our personal reality as well. On an individual level, one’s personal usher may be forcing encounters with very deep issues that rattle the familiar security of everyday life. This can take the material form of relationship issues or family crises. Inwardly, this might be a time to face firmly engrained habits that no longer fit the changes the usher demands of us. Inwardly, as well, we may be forced to encounter deeply buried truths and experiences that completely reshape how we know ourselves and the world.

What is clear in this time of the usher is that the world as we have known it cannot be held onto. The consensus of our consensus reality is under too much bombardment to remain in its customary position. The danger of this destabilization should not be taken lightly, but the fact that this time also offers an opportunity for great change is equally significant.  As we grapple with our deep personal challenges we are led outside our familiar selves, into a deeper universe of possibilities that we may have never known about.

Frankly, though Donald Trump has been selected to usher in universal change, I rest assured that the female shamans are behind this maneuver. Radical changes are needed to save this world and he is being used by them to break down the familiar. What comes beyond that, however, goes way beyond him.

I suggest that we all do our part to meet squarely all that comes to meet us, and agree to create a new mass consensus reality based upon love, truth, equality, and sustainability. Let that be the intent we ask of the usher, to land us on the world assemblage point of love!!

Let’s see what happens,


Inviting Recapitulation

Often we are dragged into recapitulation, a shamanic term for revisiting memories, by the usher, the moment of collapse of one reality as we enter another. The usher shows us something of cataclysmic proportions, jolting us out of our complacent and compliant life, and asks us to do inner work. We can also do recapitulation volitionally, by choosing to mindfully investigate something about ourselves that constantly needles us, that just won’t go away yet does not interrupt the flow of our lives. Such needles are often the first awakenings that we have deeper issues to resolve.

Not all recapitulation involves memories. It may also involve habits and behaviors that we do automatically, without thinking, though they may in fact be keeping us from evolving and growing. The following quote, from Full Catastrophe Living by John Kabat-Zinn, offers a gentle approach to mindful recapitulation, a nice description of a process that will, as we persist in its practice, aid us on our journey of change. Here is what he says:

Like the cat, be mindful and alert

“The way of mindfulness is to accept ourselves right now, as we are, symptoms or no symptoms, pain or no pain, fear or no fear. Instead of rejecting our experiences as undesirable, we ask, “What is this symptom saying, what is it telling me about my body and my mind right now?” We allow ourselves, for a moment at least, to go right into the full-blown feeling of the symptom. This takes a certain amount of courage, especially if the symptom involves pain or a chronic illness, or fear of death. But you can at least “dip your toe in” by trying it just a little, say for ten seconds, just to move in a little closer for a clearer look.”

Be courageous. Change your world. Change the entire world

A Day in a Life: Recapitulation & Walking

During the summer while strolling around our rural neighborhood with Chuck, in a ten minute span, I related to him three memories in vivid detail, the first sparked by the scent of black locust trees in bloom and each subsequent memory linked by some detail in the previous one. This chain of memories was sparked by what the seers of ancient Mexico would call the usher. In The Active Side of Infinity don Juan instructs Carlos Castaneda to begin the process of recapitulation by walking. Here is what don Juan says to Carlos on page 149:

Walking is always something that precipitates memories. The sorcerers of ancient Mexico believed that everything we live we store as a sensation on the backs of the legs. They considered the backs of the legs to be the warehouse of man’s personal history. So, let’s go for a walk in the hills now.”

We walked until it was almost dark,” writes Carlos.

I think I have made you walk long enough,” don Juan said when we were back at his house, “to have you ready to begin this sorcerer’s maneuver of finding an usher: an event in your life that you will remember with such clarity that it will serve as a spotlight to illuminate everything else in your recapitulation with the same, or comparable, clarity. Do what sorcerers call recapitulating pieces of a puzzle. Something will lead you to remember the event that will serve as your usher.”

In my experience while walking with Chuck the strong smell of the locust blossoms sent me back into a memory that seamlessly led to other memories; the smell of those blossoms was indeed my usher on that occasion. Several years ago while in the midst of my recapitulation I was walking with an acquaintance across a field on a hot summer day when he inadvertently slapped me across my shoulder blades while making a point and although the slap was not particularly hard it immediately sent me into an old memory. Suddenly I was four years old again and walking across a sunny field with the man who had abused me during my childhood. In this state of heightened awareness I was once again a frightened little girl sensing that I was caught in a trap I could not get out of. In one reality I walked next to my acquaintance who, still talking, had no idea that I was no longer truly present but was in fact being presented with an old experience. In fact, I believe the slap across my shoulders, light though it was, actually ushered me into that memory, the force of it just enough to cause a shift of the assemblage point.

Carlos writes often of don Juan slapping him on the back in order to cause a shift in his assemblage point. In The Art of Dreaming he mentions, on pages 15 and 16, the following:

This was the first time, in my memory, that he deliberately talked about something he had been doing all along: making me enter into some incomprehensible state of awareness that defied my idea of the world and of myself, a state he called the second attention. So, to make my assemblage point shift to a position more suitable to perceiving energy directly, don Juan slapped my back, between my shoulder blades, with such a force that he made me lose my breath.”

Although the blow I received that day while walking with my friend was really just a light tap it was enough to send me off into a dark memory of falling into a black abyss because I was already well into and open to the recapitulation process. In fact, once begun, the memories flew up at me, eagerly asking to be acknowledged, clearly studied and relived, and, finally, truthfully accepted and laid to rest. Carlos also writes in The Active Side of Infinity, on page 160, about the unfolding of his own recapitulation in a similar manner. He states:

The clarity of the usher brought a new impetus to my recapitulation. A new mood replaced the old one. From then on, I began to recollect events in my life with maddening clarity. It was exactly as if a barrier had been built inside me that had kept me holding rigidly on to meager and unclear memories, and the usher had smashed it. My memory faculty had been for me, prior to that event, a vague way of referring to things that had happened, but which I wanted most of the time to forget.”

In the past I used to get up every morning at 5:30 and run for three miles. I did this for perhaps fifteen or twenty years, but one day I could no longer run. I couldn’t get out of bed and run even one more mile. That signaled the beginning of a new life for me. I learned to walk, and eventually I learned a lot more—things about myself, but things about the world too, not the world I used to see every morning as I ran in the dark, but the world I could not see through the darkness inside myself.

At first I used to walk very fast, still trying to run away from that which sought to catch up with me, all the memories I kept at bay. One day Chuck said to me during one of our shamanic sessions: “Why don’t you stroll? Learn to stroll.” In so saying he pointed out to me my penchant for wanting to always stay one step ahead of the past. In learning to stroll I learned how to slow down so the past could finally catch up with me and teach me what I needed to learn about it.

I had no idea that my own past held such treasures, that my own fears and frightening memories were such gems in disguise. In slowing down, letting them come to me in their own time, greeting them—in the beginning with my resistance and fear and later being open to them—I was able to uncover the jewels hidden inside the black hole of that abyss I saw that day as I walked across a sunny field.

Yes, a slight brush against my shoulders was enough that day to send me into a place I needed to go, just as on that other day last summer the scent of the locusts was enough to lead me to recapitulate, in rapid recall, several other events a lot less remarkable and frightening, but recapitulation nonetheless.

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Sending you all love and good wishes for good walking experiences,

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