Category Archives: Chuck’s Blog

Welcome to Chuck’s Place! This is where Chuck Ketchel, LCSW-R, expresses his thoughts, insights, and experiences! Currently, Chuck posts an essay once a week, currently on Tuesdays, along the lines of inner work, psychotherapy, Jungian thought and analysis, shamanism, alchemy, politics, or any theme that makes itself known to him as the most important topic of the week. Many of the shamanic and psychological terms used in Chuck’s essays are defined in Tools & Definitions on our Psychotherapy page.

Chuck’s Place: I Fought The Tao and The Tao Won

In the Tao…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Sometimes a song gets into the head and keeps on playing. For me it’s generally a spirit sending a message. The other day I sang the line “I fought the law and the law won”. The tune hooked Jan as well and she found herself a little frustrated that my tune successfully suggested itself to her own subconscious with incessant replays!

Of course, as always, I searched for the synchronous relevance of the message to our lives. It came quickly that the law is the Tao, and the Tao always wins. I understand the Tao to be the underlying rules of nature that control all of life. The central rule of the Tao is the law of cause and effect: Every action will cause a reaction.

A common example of this would be karma. When we recapitulate our lives we will determine what we must do next, based upon the life we have lived. The actions of our lives are the causes that determine the reactions—where life will take us next.

Strictly speaking, everything is Tao. All actions cause reactions, thus all actions are indeed part of the Tao. Thus, even a hurtful action is part of the Tao and will be appropriately compensated for by a reaction of equal intensity. Nonetheless, the expression to be in the Tao means to respond in the best possible way, the most efficient, least line of resistance to a given situation.

Nature herself expresses the Tao at its most favorable action. The waters of a stream accumulate most patiently in a crevice, awaiting the moment of saturation for the stream to proceed upon its course. Humans are endowed with the ability to take the Tao to extremes in their decision making, losing the favorable status of being in the Tao.

Thus, if someone is aggressive and cutting, the best response might be to go inward, depersonalize the action, have compassion for the other’s state of imbalance, then calmly move on. To challenge the offender is another option, which will illicit its own reaction. Both actions are governed by the Tao, however, the former may be said to be in the Tao.

The Taoist oracle, the I Ching, teaches us the Tao of all changes, while also highlighting the best actions to take to remain in the Tao when confronted with any situation. Most mornings, before sunrise, Jan and I feed a couple of feral cats up the road. We wear headlamps to find our way in the dark. For two days in a row, as the tune “I fought the law…” moved through me, I was attacked by giant hornets along the road, apparently attracted to the light.

On the second day, as we walked Jan’s beautiful quartz labyrinth before sunrise, I was again attacked by a giant hornet that actually made me jump into another rung of the labyrinth. Mind you, we have routinely done these behaviors for weeks and never been attacked.

Suddenly, it dawned on us that autumn has arrived and that the hornets are confused and jumpy, as their end is near. We were adding to their confusion, bringing light into night, and they were reacting to this intrusion. We realized that indeed we were fighting the Tao’s law of the change of seasons, and that law had won.

The next morning we waited until sunrise to feed the cats and walk the labyrinth. We were indeed in the Tao; no attacks, just a calm, thankful meow.

Might I suggest, to the subconscious of all, another Taoist mantra for your listening pleasure:

All you need is love, love is all you need, love is all you need, love is all you need…..

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah,


Chuck’s Place: Animal Magnetism & Human Bondage

Seek freedom from the web of human bondage…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Jan, in a recent communication with  Jeanne, received this essential download: “You and Chuck have learned things about the relationship between the mind and the body that I had not learned while still in human form. I focused more on healing from without and not on the importance of thought and belief within. Had I known that then, my outcome may have been very different. Now, I do know that.”

This blog is dedicated to passing on what we have learned, that those seeking such guidance might profoundly change their lives and the direction of the world.

Animal magnetism is a term coined by Franz Mesmer to explain the mental influence exerted upon a body to shape it and attract to it the object of its intent. Animal has its root in the word anima, which implies a soul body that breathes, thus a sentient being that has life. Animal, then, designates a living, breathing physical body.

Magnetism is an energetic force that influences the structure and organization of a body through the power of what it attracts to it.  That power emanates from the mind. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word became flesh,” begins John’s gospel. The mind produces the Word, which attracts to it the matter that creates the flesh it inhabits.

We become what we think. Our thoughts and beliefs are the primary suggestions delivered to the subconscious mind, the part of the soul body where the blueprint of mental suggestion is transformed into physical reality.

The shamans of ancient Mexico called this meeting place of mind and matter the assemblage point, where energy is molded into specific forms. Thus, the human form is a solid physical configuration of energy, an energetic alternative, among others, for human beings.

Don Juan Matus called human beings Magical Beings, due to their innate ability to exist simultaneously as both physical beings and energetic beings. Unfortunately, most human beings have forgotten and lost access to their energetic potential. They only know themselves as beings frozen in their ways, creatures of habit. As Carlos Castaneda put it, “Our wings have been clipped.”

This loss of freedom is human bondage. Human represents our classification as people in a physical body. Bondage has its root in bond, which means to confine, to dwell in a fixed state. Human bondage is thus a fixed confinement of our energetic potential into a solid physical mold, with limited awareness of options beyond its current fixation. Fixation represents the beliefs we attach to, which become molded into how we know ourselves and the world we live in.

What maintains this fixation of the assemblage point, in its generation of our rigid selves and the physical world we know, is the power of intent. Intent is energetically comprised of our thoughts and beliefs, the words we tell ourselves that become the automatic internal dialogue that suggests constantly to the subconscious the very definitions of what we are and how we are to manifest.

I am and become what I believe. The words I use to know and describe myself are the instructions delivered to the subconscious to fashion my existence. Typically, those instructions come from unchecked default programs unconsciously transmitted through genetics, instincts, and the humanly nuanced archetypes of the collective unconscious. Nobody has to think to breathe, the subconscious automatically runs that program.

Other programs are derived from suggestions internalized through socialization and the course of human development. Jeanne realized that from the first moment she received her cancer diagnosis, she believed she was going to die. Despite her heroic cancer journey, as detailed in The Book of Us*, she never fully overturned this strong suggestion to her subconscious mind. As mentioned in the opening paragraph of this blog, she has since learned the vital importance of reprograming and reshaping our ingrained beliefs if we are to change our lives.

Though extreme in her dogma, Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, suggested that human beings cannot be ill, as a physical body is merely an illusion. Like the shamans of ancient Mexico, she encouraged people to return to their energetic essence.

To apply animal magnetism to the state of our human bondage is to assume conscious control of our intent. The materialistic dominance of our consensus reality is what gives rise to our sense of helplessness in the face of our current planetary apocalypse. This condition is aptly diagnosed by the title of a book that Jung wrote long ago: Modern Man in Search of a Soul.

To retrieve the Soul one needn’t take a hallucinatory shamanic journey. To retrieve the Soul one need merely take back the power of the mind, which is held in the prison of limiting materialistic beliefs. “Yes!”  Don Juan Matus emphasized to Carlos Castaneda, “We are solid physical beings, but we are energetic beings first.”

Physical reality exists. Modern medicine can offer a cure. But beyond our human form is the mind of the Soul, whose energetic intent, expressed in words and beliefs, can work miracles. This is the power of placebo, and the power of thousands of faith healings at Lourdes.

As mothers often say to their children, “Use your words!” In a state of true faith—a hypothesis without prejudice—use your words to suggest to the subconscious that which you would become. Use your animal magnetism to overcome human bondage. See what happens!



*A new version of The Book of Us, on the 20th anniversary of Jeanne’s entry into the afterlife, is scheduled for release in December 2021.


Chuck’s Place: Apocalypse Is Literally Unfolding

Tough nut unfolding…                              – Photo by Jan Ketchel

Inspiration for this blog comes directly from my reading of my dear friend, and noted Jungian analyst, Michael Gellert’s recently published book: Far From This Land  A Memoir about Evolution, Love, and the Afterlife,  which includes his soul’s profound interactions with the spirit of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. His book also provides a serious exposition of Jung’s technique of active imagination, in combination with dreams and visions, to interact directly with the inner contents of one’s psyche, as well as the greater Spirit.

Rest assured, this is not a dire blog. The Greek roots of the word apocalypse are apo, meaning away and kalyptein, meaning to cover. To take away the cover of something is to unfold its inner truth. To remove the shell of a nut is to reveal the seed of new life.  Apocalypse is, literally, the action of the unfolding of truth and new life.

The dark foreboding cataclysmic connotation of such a pure and promising event that the word apocalypse actually depicts can be traced to its biblical usages. The ancient title for the Book of Revelation, the last book of the New Testament, is Apocalypse. This book depicts apocalypse as Armageddon, imbuing it with end of the world scenarios.

Certainly, the unfolding of new life can be a violent process. The labor that brings forth new human life is often accompanied with cataclysmic contractions, perineal lacerations, and bleeding. Sometimes, thankfully rarely, the unfolding of new life can be fatal for both mother and fetus.

Indeed, the apocalypse of birth is not without great risk. Nonetheless, apocalypse, with all its lethal propensities, is the bringer of new life, not the consummate punctuation of life’s end.

The apocalyptic chaos of birth is the condition addressed in hexagram #3 of the I Ching: Difficulty at the Beginning. The images that form this hexagram are thunder and rain, the elements that combine to generate a great storm, the prelude to a change of conditions.

“Times of growth are beset with difficulties. They resemble a first birth. But these difficulties arise from the very profusion of all that is struggling to take form. Everything is in motion: therefore if one perseveres there is a prospect of great success, in spite of the existing danger.” –I Ching, Wilhelm edition, p.16

Hurricanes, fires and floods abound. Great migrations of people escaping uninhabitable environments or conditions of aggression dominate world decisions. Threats of viral infection impact every world citizen. To remain persevering in this time of obvious apocalypse is to maintain an attitude of awe and love as these rigorous energies, channelled through nature and human nature, bring forth new life.

To succumb to the current apocalypse, as if it were armageddon, is understandable but misguided. Indeed, there is much in the world that must change. We must let go of old ideas and ruling principles that are unsustainable. The unfolding of our new world will, and is, shaking off  that which stands in the way of necessary growth.

However, one ruling principle is far from being shaken off—in fact, is ever refining in this current time of apocalypse—and that is, the rule of love. The obvious polarization of people, even intimates within the same family, is merely the clash of energies generating irrationality in this time of great change. These polarized opposites are stages of differentiation and refinement that must, of necessity, find ultimate union. That can only happen through the refinement of real love.

Love based upon the truth and the interdependent needs of all is the seed that is being planted from this current apocalypse. Nonetheless, the shell of that seed is one tough nut to crack!

Hold on tight, for love is, indeed, coming to us all.



Chuck’s Place: Trigger, Habit or Both?

A sting can cause a trigger; gathering pollen is a habit!
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

“That really triggered me!”  Here, a sore spot, a vulnerability has been touched by someone’s comment, setting off this emotionally explosive reaction. Typically, the wounded party expects that others should know and respect this sensitivity and refrain from going near it. One often feels entitled to an apology.

A trigger is anything that can cause one to remember and feel an unprocessed emotionally charged experience. If someone tries to forget being attacked by a dog, the mere mention of its name can arouse anger and terror. Inwardly, the experience of being bitten has been pushed out of consciousness, protecting one from the discomfort of the reactivated memory.

The psyche envelops overwhelming experiences with strong defenses to keep the dreaded event far away from consciousness. Traumatic events may be so far removed from consciousness as to render one amnesic of their existence, even for decades.

Though the need for distance from a disturbing event may be necessary to function, it comes at the price of wholeness. The psyche must employ a good amount of energy to contain the disowned, unwanted or unknown parts of its experience. Furthermore, relaxed functioning may be compromised, as vigilance may be needed to avoid encounters with triggers associated with the split-off experience.

Ultimately, all events of a lifetime must be reconciled. A shamanic recapitulation, in this life, emotionally neutralizes all experience, rendering the psyche fully cohesive and able to be open to life without concern for triggers.

The life review referenced in near-death experiences, or reported by spirits in the afterlife, is required before one can advance into new life. Problems we haven’t resolved will preoccupy our lives, regardless of what subtle plane we may transition to. Recapitulation in this life both frees one for fulfillment in this life but also advances one in preparation for new life in the afterlife.

Habits are automatic beliefs, programs or pre-programmed behaviors that lie dormant in the subconscious mind. Programs are connected to genetic coding, as well as instinctive and archetypal imperatives that are specific to the nuances of the human species.

When a need or suggestion is encountered, the subconscious automatically activates the relevant program to address the situation. Thus, if one is attacked the subconscious will automatically activate fight, flight or freeze in response to the event. These reactions are not reactions to triggers, they are purely instinctive reactions to an existential threat. An instinctive habit is objective, a trigger is subjective.

The subconscious is also filled with habits that are derived from one’s subjective experience in this life. Thus, a person who has been bitten by a dog may consciously choose to always avoid dogs. This intentional behavior becomes a suggestion to the subconscious mind that molds it into an automatic, unconscious habit.

Thus, for instance, our bitten subject may unconsciously find themselves only walking certain routes that are known to be dog free. Now, if, while calmly walking one of these routes, a bark is heard, the subject may be triggered into emotional distress via encounter with the unreconciled memory of the original bite.

While triggers require a successful recapitulation if they are to be neutralized, habits, to change, require new suggestions to the subconscious mind. Thus, if one’s habit is a belief that one is unable to dance, one must first eliminate the conscious restating of this long-held belief. The subconscious will only manifest the suggestions one states.

To change a habit we must routinely state the new instruction to the subconscious mind: “I am able to dance.” This is not a discussion with the conscious mind. No reasoning or processing is required. What is required is the statement of intended fact to the subconscious, without any discussion.

To avoid conflicting suggestions to the subconscious, which virtually nullifies the formation of new habits, it is critical that one have complete faith in one’s suggestion. If one can embrace the belief that anything is possible then one can mobilize the requisite intensity of suggestion most likely to influence the subconscious.

One is often tested by the subconscious by the activation of old programs, despite one’s new intent. Old habits will reassert themselves until the new habit is established. Be calm, patient and persevering until the subconscious automatically prompts the newly established program. Simply repeat the new intent with calm assurance that it will manifest.

Trigger and habit are frequently intertwined. A new habit will be blocked from formation if a defensive habit must be retained to protect one from a potential trigger. Triggers, which represent split off experiences, must be neutralized through recapitulation before a habit, used to keep triggers at bay, can be effectively replaced.

Though both habits and triggers may be permanently altered, their pathways to change are distinctly different. Triggers must be processed at a conscious level to be neutralized; habits require rote repetition of new marching orders to the subconscious to result in a changed habit.

When triggers and habits are intertwined it is necessary to first reconcile  the triggered event to effectively free the subconscious to take in the instructions for the desired change of habit. Change itself is always possible. Remember, anything is possible!



Chuck’s Place: May Suggestion Embrace The Current of Truth

The current of heart centered truth…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Suggestion is the connection to the imagination of the human soul. The mere hint of a possibility seeds the foundation of a story that bursts forth, in all its particulars, from the raw materials of the subconscious mind, in concert with the logic of consciousness.

Perhaps the greatest works of art and literature, as well as scientific discoveries, have their roots in the power of suggestion, as it conjures and takes shape in the interplay between the subconscious and conscious minds.

The subconscious has access to every detail of all we have ever experienced, since conception, and even before. The subconscious, as a piece of the hologram of infinity, also stores the collective history of humankind, with all its accrued knowledge.

When Edgar Cayce, with his simple 8th grade education, gave an intuitive health reading, he had access to in-depth medical treatments from all historical times. At the same time, Cayce required, in trance, to be asked questions to give needed answers, as the subconscious requires suggestion; it is not a freethinking mind. For this, the directed thinking of consciousness is required.

The subconscious, with its unlimited ability to generate information, is the automatic mind that guided our evolutionary ancestors. The birth of ego consciousness—the hallmark of a sense of personal identity, and the ability to reason and override subconscious instinct—is a very recent human acquisition. In fact, the automatic mind of the subconscious dominates both the running of the physical body and most mental processes as well.

The shamans point out that the incessant repetition of the internal dialogue that we all experience is nothing other than the drone of the subconscious, as it generates the preprogrammed suggestions that contour our habitual sense of self. Whatever core beliefs we have about ourselves are constantly reinforced by suggestions fed to us by programs embedded in our subconscious, which we unwittingly reinforce daily at a conscious level.

Much of the cognitive and emotional distress we encounter in our lives is actually generated by suggestions we automatically give ourselves from the moment we awaken to each new day. Those suggestions generate the familiar stories we live by. If consciousness made a concerted and persevering effort to suggest a different storyline to our subconscious, we could open up to an entirely different sense of self. The key is to have faith and belief in the suggestion we embrace.

Suggestion is at the heart of marketing psychology, that which controls much of our economic behavior. Suggestion has run rampant on social media as well, as people unconsciously absorb fake news, and as they subsequently take on the polarized attitudes and stories encoded in those viral suggestions.

Once the subconscious takes in a new suggestion, that suggestion becomes its truth and it rallies all its resources around its imperative. It remains for consciousness to judge the validity of the storyline. If consciousness does not engage its reason to objectively evaluate the story, it automatically becomes the story we adopt and live by.

The current of truth is the one story that actually aligns with the truth in the world. The many currents of nature—be they the tides, the fires, the earthquakes or winds—reveal the truth of climate change. Despite this objective truth, many people still believe in subjective stories that don’t acknowledge the actual truth.

The current of truth is actually the Tao, the harmonious law of nature that validates the simple truth of cause and effect. Humans are free to embrace whatever story they wish, however, nature’s currents of truth will continue to react to human miscalculation.

Eventually, humans will embrace the suggestion to live in the current of truth, as it is the only combination that will ensure the necessary balance and harmony for survival.

The truth is, all are empowered to embrace this intent now, simply by offering new suggestions to the self to flow with the current of truth.

When consciousness embraces the truth, the subconscious will rally its potentiality around this directive, and the world will be remade in a truthful story. Now that’s a story worth embracing!

Suggesting the current of truth,