Welcome to Chuck’s Place! This is where Chuck Ketchel expresses his thoughts, insights, and experiences! Currently, Chuck posts an essay once a week, usually on Wednesdays, 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.
In my dream I am studiously pealing a moistened layer of wallpaper off a wall, careful to remove it in one piece. Simultaneously I am being awarded an MD in psychiatry, a full course of learning in just one day for this effort.
My dream highlights Amma’s message (linked yesterday in a Facebook post) that a solar eclipse offers an incredible boon in consciousness if we are willing to focus our intent during it upon carefully pealing away Maya, or the veil of illusion we have been caught in.
This eclipse is for America. We begin the day with the tragic news that “the guided-missile destroyer, the John S. McCain, collided with a merchant vessel in the Strait of Malacca as it was traveling to a port in Singapore”, as reported in today’s NY Times. What is the meaning of this event? Let us contemplate deeply all our truths on this day of potential enlightenment.
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.
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
Behind the scenes in all of us is a force that strongly attracts our attention, a primal something we seek union with. That something, though widely variable in what it attaches to or is reflected in, embodies a numen, what the Romans called the energy of a divine power or presence.
Literally, numen is defined as a nod of the head by a divine presence. In ancient Rome when someone sought guidance they would go to the temple of a god, pose their question and await a nod, some movement that expressed the will of the god, like a gust of wind.
Even in an age dominated by reason, the drive for encounter with some powerful irrational force remains the prime mover and shaker of our lives. One need only look to the headlining quote of the New York Times today, “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen,” to see an outer expression of the tension, fascination, and tremendum of potential explosive numinous encounter. As the world is spellbound at this current missile crisis, let us turn our attention inward to find the presence of this numinous encounter in our own personal lives. Locating and working with these encounters within changes the world at a grassroots level.
Numinous encounters are powerful. We experience them with awe, fear and trembling, with thumping heart, blissful ecstasy, compulsion, fascination, urgency, and at times as utter calmness and stillness. A numinous encounter might lift one to the heights of spiritual union or cast one into the depths of trauma.
By definition, trauma is a human reaction to an encounter with a completely unexpected overpowering force greater than one’s ability to assimilate it, which consequently lodges itself in some hidden, fragmentary way within our unsuspecting selves. There it remains buried, perhaps for years, though it continues to exert its terrifying numinous power over the life of its human host.
Only a recapitulation of that traumatic event, which relives and fully assimilates the numinous traumatic encounter, can relieve an individual of its binding fixation, allowing for deeper, more fulfilling numinous encounters to occur in life.
Numen at the lower energy body centers in the human body, from the root to the solar plexus, offers access to divine union with the material fixations of sex, security, power, and substance.
Such numen might draw us back to the blissful experience of symbiotic union in the womb of mother, prior to our being planted as an individual in this human realm of earth. Thus, the ocean, with its mesmerizing rhythm and pulse, may draw us to re-union with this primal experience and rejuvenation in the numen of a beach vacation.
Some might pursue that same numen through the substance of alcohol or the needle of opiate as the ticket to that lulling oceanic bliss within. Addiction is the fixation of numen upon an object, which is why it is so difficult to dislodge. Bill W., AA co-founder, realized in his own numinous encounter with God that it was only an encounter with a power greater than oneself that could dislodge a numen from the substance it had attached to.
Numen frequently attaches itself to food. The ecstasy of binge, of purge, of refusal are all numinous dances with divine power ensconced in food. Reason is no match to dislodge numen from this encounter, to the dismay of family and loved ones. Only a humbled ego, saturated with many a groundhog day of ecstasy and futility, may be ready to move on to deeper numinous experiences beyond the mana of food.
Sexuality is another powerful fixation of numen in the lives of human beings. Freud must be credited with identifying this numen, as it first fixates in the primal family, as an overarching factor in the development of the personality, and of civilization as well. Enduring attachment to the primal family can result in great struggle in finding fulfillment beyond the relationships in the family.
The fixation of numen on one’s parents can result in a lifetime of bemoaning the emotional and material sustenance that one needed and felt entitled to as a child. Numinous energy can become caught here in the torment of regret, resentment, anger, and powerlessness. This can result in a numinous, passionate obsession with unfairness.
The fascination, urging, and compulsivity of the numen of sexuality might find abstract relief in the web of internet opportunities or instantaneous union through online dating. The numen of sexuality may remain ensconced in the flesh alone or find its way to loving connection freed of or in combination with its biological imperative.
Obsession with merger with another in relationship may become the dominating numen of a lifetime. However, in many instances the numen for personal power trumps the concern for love or connection. For instance, the numen of union with the divine might transmogrify into the conquest and accumulation of countless partners, an unending quest to posses more of everything.
The numen of unlimited power can attach to money, material possession, or political dominance. Underlying this numen is merger with infinity and the boundless, characterized by an insatiable quest for unlimited growth and acquisition. The substances that might attach to this power numen are alcohol, which melts away boundaries and limitations, or cocaine and methamphetamine, drugs that transform ordinary human attributes into super powers.
Numen at the higher energy body centers in the human body, from the heart to the crown, offer access to divine union beyond the material fixations of sex, security, power, and substance. Numinosity at this level is energetic union beyond the confines of the body, which is achieved through spiritual practices such as meditation and shamanic dreaming. Alcohol and hallucinogens can become the numinous trappings for seekers at this level as they suspend the defenses which keep the psyche cohesive and expose it to other configurations of reality that may be benevolent or shattering, a bad trip from which one may never return.
As is evident from this sampling of possible numinous engagements, some can promote growth and evolution, while others can be lethal. Once a numinous attachment sets in it can seem impossible to break it, such is the power of this religious hunger. We do best to see the attachment as just that, a religious rite, as reason is no match for compulsion.
Finding out how we personally do our numinous rites in our lives is essential if we are to become truly conscious and aware beings. If we can bring consciousness to, and respect the power of these numinous unions, we can then decide if we are where we truly need or want to be. Have we engaged the right numen?
Ego does have the power to agree to engagement with numen or to refuse it. To refuse a numen is to bear tremendous tension and suffering, however, it can be done. And ultimately, if we refuse that which is not right, the path will open to that which is right.
Every 2,150 years the Earth tilts toward a different constellation. This repeats itself twelve times before it completes a full revolution on it axis for a total of 26,000 years.
Astrologers assign to each of these epochs a different zodiacal sign. Earth is just completing its 2,000 year plus stay in the sign of Pisces. We are currently indeed at the dawn of the Age of Aquarius, the beginning of a new 2,000 year era.
“And now we are moving into Aquarius,” wrote Carl Jung in a letter in 1955, “of which the Sibylline books say, …Aquarius inflames the savage forces of Lucifer.”*
As with the ending of any epoch, new life is preceded by great destruction. Put another way, we are in the early contractions of a cosmic birth. Jung’s final vision on his deathbed in 1961 was a vastly changed Earth, some 50 years in the future. This vision is shared by many psychics. In fact, Jan channeled a similar prediction in which Jeanne suggested that the re-formation of earth mass may create a whole new orbit of the planet.
Whether these predicted changes will occur through nuclear engagement, currently threatening the world, or through the melting of the ice caps and the rising oceans, or some combination of both, it’s pretty clear that major change is already in motion. The saving grace is that all predictions suggest that, though deeply challenged, the Earth and life will endure.
Aquarius is the water bearer, and it is associated with all things water, from nurturance to flood. Aquarius is also forward looking, idealistic, bent on freedom and humanitarianism. These are the higher chakras in the human energy system, from the heart to the third eye, the mental and spiritual planes.
The period we are exiting, Pisces, was characterized by hierarchy and power, the chakra of the ego or solar plexus and its dominance of the lower chakras, particularly sexuality.
The religions of the Piscean era offered their guidance and garnered their power through insistence on belief and forced adherence to dogma. The Aquarian age, though highly intuitive, insists on proof, genuine experience as its spiritual path, to “know” rather than to simply believe.
With its insistence on fairness, Aquarius is in direct opposition to the wily ego of power and control, a vestige of the Piscean age. This is the clash with Lucifer that Jung references from the Sibylline Oracle. We are currently witnessing such opposition on the world stage as narcissistic power motives clash with the true needs of the planet. It will be the challenge of the Aquarian age to reconcile narcissism with true freedom and equality.
Interestingly, Jung believed that even more fundamental to world survival was the issue of overpopulation. Even Tesla, the rising star of the electric car industry, though producing an intelligent energy solution to gas guzzling cars still aims to produce 10,000 vehicles per week, modest by auto industry standards but absurd in terms of the burden on the planet. The truth is that an ever-expanding human population will destroy the planet regardless of its attempts at energy conservation measures.
From the perspective of overpopulation, the humans of the Aquarian age will have to arrive at a new relationship to the sexual instinct if the planet and life on it are to survive.
Interestingly, don Juan Matus, Carlos Castaneda’s teacher, concluded that the only way for the world to survive and evolve was for human beings to access the energetic side of life, the energy body. Reaching the energy body and interacting on an energetic level require a refined use of sexual energy. Honing sexual energy for higher purposes has long been known and utilized in kundalini yoga, as well as Buddhist and shamanic practices.
Life at an energetic level offers completely transparent union. And connection at that level involves direct knowing and complete merging with another being; a more completely satisfying union than the physical copulation of our current permutation, where large parts of our beings remain hidden from our partners. At an energetic level all is revealed, all is known, all is accepted.
I am reminded of a young Jane Fonda as Barbarella, a 1968 movie about a futuristic woman who encounters a man from our time who wants to have sex with her. She is amused and grants him his wish, but sees it as an antiquated, limited approach to intimacy from a once physical, lower-chakra dominated time in human history.
Deeply satisfying union that transcends mere physical need opens a whole new possibility for achieving balance upon the planet in this coming age of Aquarius.
Though there are established practices to reach the energy body, such as Tensegrity, dreaming, and meditation, in my clinical work I have discovered that trauma often precipitates an immediate out-of-body jolt, introducing a person to the energy body, where they witness their physical body from a vantage point outside of the physical body.
Obviously, I am not advocating that people go out and engage in activities that will trigger traumatic jolts out-of-body. But I am suggesting that perhaps what we are going to be facing in this Aquarian age, in our clash with Lucifer and whatever earthly calamities result, may offer jolts that will collectively catapult our species out-of-body and into energy body states with all its evolutionary possibilities for harmony and understanding. Stripped of our current collective ego consciousness, the possibilities for a new collective consciousness, dissolved of ego dominated by narcissism, is truly a new age dream.
The true clash of the Aquarian with Lucifer is the clash between spirit (mental plane) and body. This translates into the opposition and split between the lower chakras of the physical body and the higher chakras of the energy body. In the Piscean age regulation of this opposition was handled through romantic ideals such as courtly love, celibacy, or downright repression. This form of control burst apart with the freedom and ideals of the dawning of the age of Aquarius in the experimentation and free love of the 1960s.
Those new age ideals have transmuted into a cool detachment, deep intelligentsia, and avoidance of human commitment in favor of abstract connection via technology in a multitude of forms of social media. That incredible new opportunities for connection and communication have opened via this channel, as they present new means of connection and mass efforts to effect change, is obvious. However, the shadow of this medium is a dissociation from real human contact and genuine feeling, which the liberated Aquarian may neglect in its idealism. This can activate the ire of Lucifer, the earthbound body.
On an individual level the reconciliation of spirit and body endures in new forms in this Aquarian age. As we allow ourselves to discover our new found energetic freedoms let us not neglect the true needs of our physical, animal, instinctual selves, which must be included fairly in our new selves, or meet them as inflamed savage forces as the Sibylline book warns.
To address the needs of the whole self, with full transparent honesty, is an Aquarian ideal. As this transparency extends beyond the self to others the door opens to greater energetic connection. As the wave of Aquarian energy more fully enters the world, a greater mass of human beings bent on evolution will embrace compassion, truth, and loving kindness, manifesting a newly balanced world.
In a letter, C. G. Jung once wrote that “… the ego should be (as I think) the supreme point of the self… You all seem to be interested in how to get back to the self, instead of looking for what the self wants you to do in the world; where—for the human being at least—we are located, presumably for a certain purpose.”*
Such a misunderstood character, ego. In our time especially it gets a really bad rap, as we see its hubris melting away the world as we have long known it. So, who is this character Jung speaks so highly of? How has it gotten us into such a precarious position? What is its mission now?
Carlos Castaneda titled his last book The Active Side of Infinity. This is an apt description of the ego, and its relation to the self. If the self is the wholeness of our being, the ego is that part of our wholeness where the light shines outwardly, where the world is seen, experienced, reflected and acted upon. In a nutshell, the ego is the daylight time of day, the time of consciousness. The nighttime then is the ego returning to its source, to the wholeness of being, lights out.
The ego is the child of the self. Each morning it is born anew. Immediately it renews its identity in the light of day as it casts away the greater wholeness that enveloped it in the darkness of the night. In the light of a new day the mission begins anew. What is that mission?
Having solidly established itself the ego assumes command of its charge to navigate the day. Decisions, decisions, decisions! What to eat, what not to eat, what to wear, what to read, who to talk to, what to think about, how to organize the day, what to do, what to avoid, how to understand its needs, the needs of others, how to advance its understanding and mastery of both its daily tasks and its deepest truths and challenges wherever it has been able to shine its light.
Thus, the ego is the engine of consciousness. The self, in its wholeness, birthed this active side, the ego, apparently to know itself and to advance itself into new permutations of being. For the self, the ego is its scout, its explorer, its navigator, its thinker, its experiencer, its change agent, its creator. However, in order to be these things, it must be freed from the constraints of its original wholeness, much as all children must leave the home of their parents, go forth, and discover and create a new world for themselves.
This brings us to the permutation of now, where the world ego has asserted full ownership of itself as creator. Sometimes, as anticipated in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, creative possibilities, though they must be explored, do not bear fruit; it’s the end of the line.
Carlos Castaneda was the end of a very long shamanic line because he did not have the right energetic configuration to continue it. The ending of that specific line of shamans led to a new era, a new spiritual permutation, where there are no naguals. Instead, all who are interested must become their own shaman teachers now.
The current presidency in the United States presents another ending of an era. What is revealed in this experiment we are undergoing right now is the permutation of ego completely obsessed with itself, identifying itself as SELF, as all there is. In psychological terms this is termed inflation, ego inflation where ego crowns itself King of Creation, completely ignorant of a self beyond itself.
As this experiment has unfolded in America, and into the world beyond our shores, the emperor simply laughs at the fact that he has no clothes on—he doesn’t care. He hides none of his self-centeredness. This is the experience, as Jung put it, where the ego, as supreme point of the self, only sees itself as all there is. This is an example of Narcissus staring into the water and falling in love with his own countenance, his whole world.
Actually, we must face the fact that as a world our supreme point is currently at its most alienated point from its wholeness. The ego is in a mad love affair with its own godliness. This narcissistic permutation is the world fixation at the moment. The saving grace of these dire straits is the ego’s reflective capacity. We all have the ability, like the best of scientists, to observe the real facts of this experiment. This is challenging, especially in a time of fake news.
The fact is, however, that the ego does have the ability to get to the truth and shift course to meet it. However, getting the ego to lead beyond its current narcissistic fixation is a major evolutionary advance.
I have no doubt that we will get there, but I also believe that the world will be greatly reshaped in the process. The ego was obligated to play out this current scenario before it could release it as all said and done, no longer a viable option. All options must be tested after all. To this point Jung writes elsewhere, “If there was ever a truly apocalyptic era, it is ours. God has put the means for a universal holocaust into the hands of men.”**
Indeed God, or the Self if you will, has insisted that the ego face its capacity for self-destruction and evolve from its decision. Perhaps we will arrive at knowing we have the ability to destroy ourselves but no longer find it interesting and instead choose to move on to new adventures on solid ground.
Be empowered that this ego/Self drama is playing itself out in all of our lives—we are all the active side of infinity, all part of the whole, all energetically involved in some way. But let us all be empowered to fully assume responsibility for a different future wholeness. Let us all advance the ego as the supreme point in the service of something far greater—universal wholeness.
Clearly, at present, the ego is the supreme point of the self at its most extreme. This is obviously a dangerous permutation, however, one which had to be explored, but don’t forget that the ego, as the active side of the self, has the ability and the challenge to solve its messes and take us forward into a safer future.