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: Spirit More

Spirit comes down to earth…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

In addition to the petty tyrants that all people are impacted by—in their outer lives in the everyday world—is the tyrant within, the one that has us do what our more enlightened self would have us not do. Who is that mysterious other that upends our clearest, most grounded rational intentions, in a heartbeat?

That mysterious other is indeed a spirit, recognizable by its insatiable appetite for more. Rightly situated, that hunger for freedom is what propels the energy body to explore the universe, also in a heartbeat. Command of that spirit in dreaming is the goal of all spiritual seekers, as they prove for themselves the fuller capabilities of all that we are.

However, when that same spirit more projects itself upon the object world of everyday life it fixates on substances, objects, behaviors and people to quench its insatiable appetite for more. This is the obvious basis of all addictions: Our insatiable spiritual appetite entwined with the concrete objects of this world.

Being an insatiable spirit, it stands to reason that enough will never be enough. When spirit more attaches, obsession without end—its version of infinity—is its marching orders. Once spirit more takes up residence in ego spirit’s domain (the world of everyday life), ego is easily mesmerized by the promise of ecstatic fulfillment.

The problem with spirit more’s perspective of everyday life is that it acts there the way it acts in its pure energy body state. In that spiritual state anything is possible and time is largely nonexistent. Spirit more does not have to face the aging and dying of the human body, it lives in infinity.

The human body, in contrast, has its definite limits and fixed duration of life. When driven and controlled by spirit more, it is subject to illness and injury, as well as the distorted idea that it will live forever. It can cause many to delay their growth because they believe they have forever.

Of course, a touch of spirit more sprinkled lightly upon the affairs of everyday life is extremely helpful and energizing. Spirit more is a source of magic in everyday life. However, its proper domain is the energetic world of dreaming, where its true ambitions can be realized. When left to roam freely in the playing field of everyday life it wreaks havoc.

This is the heart of the opioid crisis. This is at the heart of the greed currently controlling the world. Spirit more can act as a tyrant when it infiltrates the psyche of a leader. We do well to view it as a misplaced spiritual drive, rather than our manifest destiny to entitlement.

In the world of everyday life, we are spirit beings in finite bodies. In the world of spirit, we are infinite beings, currently engaged in an enriching time-limited human form adventure. To integrate our spirit longings with our physical limitations is our deepest challenge in this life.

Honor spirit more by allowing its touch in everyday life, but be sure that ego spirit remains effectively in control at the heart center. In return, intend to journey with spirit more in its infinite playing field through the gateway of the dream.

Find fulfillment in both realms, but never confuse who should be in charge in their respective domains.

On the adventure,

Chuck

Chuck’s Place: Beyond the Shadow of Doubt

The shadow is everywhere…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Reason is the dominant tool of the first attention, what the Shamans of Ancient Mexico call everyday life. Beyond the first attention is the second attention, the world of energetic life, which is replete with all things irrational.

The Hindus note, for instance, that the emotional body component of the energy body, which is the home of powerful emotions and passions, is a prominent feature of the second attention.

Jung calls the second attention the collective unconscious, which lacking consciousness to guide volition, operates through the activation of powerful archetypes that can overwhelm the reasonable ego of the first attention, causing it to perform outrageous acts. To preserve the order and decency of normalcy, Jung asserts that these deeper dimensions of the psyche are repressed and housed in what he called the shadow, a component of the second attention.

Reason and shadow are mortal enemies, hence the natural tendency to keep them separated. Reason insists upon the rules of logic and fairness for decision making. Shadow insists upon the release of intense emotions and passions as its modus operandi, reason be dammed. Reason, in its own condescension, snubs the irrational shadow, misjudging the power of the repressed.

The history of humankind reflects the occasional reckoning of these two dominants in the clashes of world wars. Our current world predicament is a prime example of reason clashing with the formidable energy of the irrational. The world is rapidly disintegrating into such a primal clash at this very moment.

At a fundamental level the worlds of the first and second attention are layers of the same onion. As humans we are both consciously reasonable, solid beings, as well as irrational, energetic spirit beings. The totality of ourselves requires that we integrate these worlds despite their inherent opposition. Evolution is absolutely requiring such an advance at this time. How can we achieve this integration without the ultimate disintegration, Armageddon?

To begin, reason must address the limitations of its own belief system: “Things aren’t that bad… no one would let that happen…” In fact, the shadow thrives on letting anything happen that offers it powerful release.

Next, reason must recognize that shadow is a dimension of its own self. Reason often doubts this, despite the many addictions or obsessions that it notices in its own functioning. Does it also notice its fascination and vicarious excitement with the emotional outbursts of now?  Reason always believes that it has things under control, or that things are, ultimately, under control.

Reason must accept responsibility in developing a relationship with the energetic world of the second attention. When people discover the out-of-body world, they are often at first driven by insatiable desires, repressed in the first attention of everyday life. Maintaining the operation of reason, with the intents available in the second attention, is critical for deep responsible exploration.

I strongly recommend Robert Monroe’s three books, which detail his own journeys into the second attention with the evolving accompaniment of his first attention, reason. With his success and guidance, he is truly deserving of the title of American Shaman.

Exploration and reconciliation with the deeper dimensions of the self offer a playing field of deep soulful satisfaction, which checks the tendency of the shadow to need to project itself upon habits and outer events that mesmerize the ego and take over consciousness.

Ego must humble itself to the existence of energies within the self that are far more powerful than ego itself. Ego has reason, but that’s no match for the irrational. Ego, in its humble smallness, can say no however. What change would happen overnight in the world if all individuals just said no, not driving today, not consuming today? Such a world strike of no would force a different relationship with power.

Nonetheless, ego must not be unreasonable in its demands. The world of the irrational, the world of passion and spirit must be lived. Beyond the shadow of doubt, reason must join with its passionate, spirited, irrational self in deep exploration and life, beyond reason.

Living the irrational, with reason,

Chuck

Chuck’s Place: Seeing & Being Seen

I Ching: What is the guidance for all in this time of great disarray?

Seeing the Present & the Future…
– Diagram by Chuck Ketchel

As can be readily seen, the first four throws produced highly charged Yin Lines, topped with two solid Yang lines.

The image generated is one of a large tower on a mountain that captures a wide view of the countryside. Likewise, it is easily seen from a great distance. Thus, the image urges developing a broad perspective, as well as being a good example for all to see.

The four activated building blocks of the tower’s supporting columns (represented by the X marks) offer nuanced guidance and turn into their opposites, as they become the Primal Spirit: The Creative, hexagram #1. These four lines highlight the necessary progressive changes required before one steps into directing their power effectively. Their individual guidance, in the order of their position, as follows:

  1. Contemplation hindered by immaturity. A shallow, thoughtless view of prevailing forces hinders effective leadership. Counsel encourages growing up and accepting responsibility. Contemplate the fuller picture of the interconnected whole.
  2. One looks out only through the crack of the door, a narrow one-sided point of view. This is the narcissistic perspective that relates everything to oneself. Guidance: dispassionately widen your horizon. Tolerate and strive to understand and value the views of others.
  3. Place of transition. Going to the heart center to receive guidance from the high Soul as to right action. This is ego moving beyond blame and one-sidedness, seeking inner truth.
  4. Time for action. Being in alignment with the deepest truth, ego acts in accordance with the true needs of the interconnected whole.

Once these issues are addressed, allowing one to penetrate the objective truth and take the necessary actions to support that truth, one becomes seen and experienced by others as an example to be followed, as they contemplate the truth of their own lives. The tower that affords the broadest view is the healing model for all.

With the strength afforded by surmounting the limitations to objective contemplation, one is fortified to direct the dynamic Spirit energy of the Creative, the life force itself. This is the optimal arrangement, a mature, broadminded leader who directs the life force toward the true needs of the interconnected whole.

The Creative is the active side of infinity. What’s at question is how that energy will be directed. As shamans point out, the life force can be directed toward good or evil deeds. Both can be manifested on a grand scale. Leadership that contemplates the true needs of the interconnected self, and the interconnected universe, is best fit to direct the power of the Creative.

Contemplate with humility, objectivity, and equanimity from the heart center, as you direct the creative force of your life and assess the intent of others.

Contemplating,

Chuck

 

Chuck’s Place: Losing the Human Form

Losing our human form makes us fluid…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

In a very real sense the events of our world are shattering the solidity of all that we hold dear. We are, quite literally, being forced out of the world of ordinary reality. Our reason makes a valiant attempt to restore its normal premises to explain all that is happening, but, by being saturated with such a constant barrage of uncertainty, we are being thrust into other worlds of possibility.

The human form is the shaman’s term for the fabric of archetypal programs that govern our world of ordinary reality. Having a parent and being a child are examples of archetypal structures that generate uniform roles, expectations, needs, and relationships. These core archetypes can define an entire life in ordinary reality.

Beyond ordinary reality is the solitary journey of the soul, an incarnate life that was fashioned with a human form in order to experience archetypal life in ordinary reality. Nonetheless, that soul must one day exit from its life in ordinary reality; and though the life it has lived in ordinary reality will never be erased, it must journey beyond the limits of ordinary reality into new worlds of non-ordinary reality.

In ordinary times many do not encounter this greater reality until their moment of great transition, at death, from ordinary to non-ordinary reality. All religions, in some form, focus on preparation for this great transition. Thus, all religions strive to prepare one to smoothly lose one’s human form.

The ruptures to the basic fabric of our world, currently generated by both nature and human nature, are forcing a collective encounter, while in human form, with states of non-ordinary reality. Lack of preparation for such encounters is often the true precipitant of psychosis, where one loses the command of attention needed to navigate the rapid influxes of such jolts.

Evolutionary urgency appears to be the underlying culprit heralding our current world crises. Human attachment to material accumulation, human insistence upon unlimited growth, particularly of the human race itself, and human hegemony over all life, other than itself, are all archetypal programs gone awry.

Survival requires the voluntary acceptance of limitation in all aspects of life. Survival requires a meeting of all races and social strata at the heart center, where the true needs of the planet’s survival trumps all individualistic agendas. This evolutionary advance means meeting at an energetic level, where family is experienced as everyone and everything.

Energy medicine, energy body travel, and energetic connecting are the evolutionary waves of now. The human form of ordinary reality must release its fixation on a material world as the only potential world and prepare for other worlds and other realities.

Energetically shifting emphasis to the capabilities of the energy body is the greatest solution to the fossil fuel energy crisis. Even the internet will prove obsolete in a world where thought transmission and akashic record consultation replace social media and Google.

The magic of now is that our world is evolving into a world that opens up to life at an energetic level, the soul’s greater journey, while still in physical life. Though we must surrender our outdated human form, we needn’t relinquish physical life as we open to greater exploration of infinity, through actualizing our energetic potential.

Dreaming is our most immediate access point to that dormant energetic potential. Remember, write down, think about, talk about, and bridge your dreams to waking reality. Take seriously this portal to the energy body, with the intent to sharpen attention while exploring this ethereal dimension of being. You won’t be disappointed.

Lose human form, dream on,

Chuck

Chuck’s Place: The Predator Teacher

We live in a predatory universe… beware!
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Is it diabolical that a mosquito, tick, bacteria, or virus  feeds upon the matter and substance of our physical bodies? A nuisance, and in some cases a lethal nuisance indeed, yet, we begrudgingly accept this negative symbiotic reality as a feature of our physical world.

The Shamans of Ancient Mexico concur that our universe is a predatory universe. They describe this dynamic as operational at an even more subtle energetic level as well, that of an inorganic yet living entity that feeds upon the human energy produced by human emotion. Although negative in its draining of human energy, it also serves as a teacher that helps humans evolutionarily advance, if they can learn how to master its parasitic onslaught.

This opportunity, and the need for mastery over it, is ever so obvious in the conditions of our current world predicament. Outwardly, we are bombarded daily with the most outrageous of words and behaviors, incessantly taxing our emotional reserves, resulting in extreme volatility and emotional exhaustion.

These onslaughts fill the airwaves and social media, captivating modern life. Closer to home, beyond the politics of now, are our own personal longings for attention and validation, our own deepest needs compulsively seeking to bind us to screens.

Inwardly, we too are prey to the promptings of self-importance and self-pity, seeking outlet in an upward spiral of ecstatic inflation, or in a downward vortex, sending us into a bottomless pit of tortured longing and sadness. These volatile tendencies within ourselves often manifest in cycles of addictive attachments.

Shamans maintain that these various pathways of emotional activation are generated by an inorganic entity, which they have dubbed the flyer, through the judgments of offense that our internal dialogue incessantly broadcasts. Those judgements are directed toward self and other. They, in turn, generate a wave of emotional energy, the food for the flyer.

To free the self of this depleting symbiotic trap, shamans recommend a furtive effort of detachment, which they call the warrior’s way. The goal of the warrior’s way is to gain freedom from the bindings of attachment, first and foremost to being offended. If one can remain sober and detached in the face of offensive words and behaviors, none of one’s energy is lost in the encounter.

To accomplish this, one must lose one’s attachment to self-importance. Self-importance is generally garnered through validation by others, a highly dependent and vulnerable position, which leads to endless emotional strife. Rather than turn over one’s power to another’s validation, the guidance is to face the truth of one’s self within. Acceptance of, and the ability to laugh at, one’s self, goes a long way in cancelling out the impact of the judgments of others.

Self-esteem becomes acceptance of the whole truth of one’s actual self, good and bad. Inappropriate behavior by others is properly placed as their problem to face and resolve, and not as offense to one’s own self. This does not mean that we don’t strategically decide how to manage inappropriate behavior, however, we do so with truthful sobriety rather than with offense.

Freed of the emotional activation generated by judgments within and without, we advance in maturity. We accrue the energy that grants us the power to act decisively, with precision. No energy is wasted in feeding the predator. The predator is defeated when we deny it the energy of our emotional disgust and defeat.

In this time of flagrant predatory human behavior, we are all offered the opportunity to advance beyond the narcissistic emotional web of the predator, who constantly stirs up and then feeds upon our emotional turmoil. We don’t have to keep playing that game.

I prefer to punctuate the positive opportunity of this seemingly depressed and depressing time. I envision the predator as our ultimate teacher.

The predator, as teacher, shines the spotlight upon our attachment to self-importance, showing us the emotional trap where the greatest work needs to be done, and where the largest storehouse of our energy lies, waiting to be retrieved. Once we close this emotional trap drain, we open ourselves to a whole new world of freedom. Freedom to be.

Being,

Chuck