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: Sorcery & Crazy Wisdom

Wholeness: engaging the light & the dark…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Carlos Castaneda said that if anyone opened to the energy of the Shamans of Ancient Mexico they would be inundated by their influence. The modern day shamans of his line acknowledge that all their knowledge comes from this ancient heritage; what has changed is their intent in how they use that knowledge.

The ancient shamans coveted power, and their ability to perform such supernatural acts as defying physical death itself, by remaining in physical form, for centuries. The modern shamans saw this intent as binding one to the physicality of the Earth rather than allowing one to move completely into the energy body and evolve into the subtler dimensions upon dying. Freedom to evolve is the intent of these modern-day shamans.

Don Juan Matus was concerned, throughout his mentorship of Carlos, that Carlos’s nature was too infused with the predilection of the ancient shamans. He foresaw that Carlos might become a Nagual partial to the sorcery ways of the ancient shamans. Those shamans trained their apprentices with the full-on ruthlessness of sorcery.

Sorcery has absolutely no morality, nor compassion, in its training manual. Jan’s Recapitulation Diaries document her, at the time, unknown early life apprenticeship with a dark sorcerer of ancient tradition. The training was brutal, yet her survival and recapitulation advanced her to a complete equanimity of consciousness.

Jan’s early life of abuse was the journey with the ancient shamans, whose throw ’em in the deep end predilection was later completed with the modern shaman’s road to freedom via recapitulation. Being shattered is forced psychic awakening; recapitulation leads to psychic wholeness and keen functionality.

Jan’s journey reflects the pervasive journey of our time: incessant trauma. Complex PTSD is the natural human response to the events, human and environmental, of current life upon the planet. Gaia is challenging us now with full-on sorcery, crushing our left brain’s fantasies of control. She expects a total recapitulation, and right action, for us to be ready to retake the helm with integrity.

Sorcery takes no prisoners. Petty tyrants are not fair. To survive, the ego must learn to be a keen observer, taking action only as absolutely necessary and appropriate. Demanding fairness and entitlement from a petty tyrant depletes energy and puts one at risk. Trauma forces entry into to the subtler dimensions, but even there one must not dally in the safety of dissociation. Mindful presence is the necessary ego state of survival.

Mindful presence must be cultivated out of defensive vigilance, which, if unrefined, depletes energy reserves and forestalls the necessary ability to go with the flow. Edy Eger in her memoir, The Choice, documents the impeccability of her mindful presence during her time in Auschwitz. Nonetheless, her journey remains a work in progress, as the full retrieval of her energy from the traumas of her life is still a work in progress.

As long as the sensational and emotional imprints of trauma remain charged in the central nervous system—in the form of triggers—present life remains partially frozen in the past. A fully clear and present life requires the complete experience of everything, and full detachment from everything, that has ever happened to us.

I experienced the modern shamanic side of Carlos Castaneda. The tools he offered are tools of freedom. Recapitulation is the tool of freedom from the trappings of trauma. I did not experience the fully ancient sorcerer side of Carlos that Amy Wallace documents in her memoir, Sorcerer’s Apprentice: My Life With Carlos Castaneda.

I know too many characters from my time in that world to doubt the validity of her journey. The cognitive dissonance between her experience and mine, made me keep her book at bay for years. She documents experiences that are so anathema to everything I stand for, that if Carlos were still in this world I believe he should be imprisoned. 

At the same time, the validity of the tools he passed on have cracked the nut of total healing from PTSD.  Certainly, Carlos ensured, by his extreme polarized ego states, that he would not be venerated beyond this life. The value of his tools are in their utility, not in their association with him.

Buddhism has its own brand of sorcery. Chogyam Trungpa, Tibetan refugee, teacher, scholar, founder of the Shambala Training method and Naropa University, had a similar shadow life to Carlos Castaneda’s. This included sexually abusive and inappropriate behaviors.

Many in the Buddhist world have been so positively impacted by Chogyam’s teachings that they accept the cognitive dissonance of his shadow behavior as “crazy wisdom”, essentially appreciating his sorcery activity as a deeply challenging but valid form of teaching.

As with Carlos, if Chogyam were still alive in this world, he too should be prosecuted for unlawful behavior. Tricksters have their value in teaching but they are not above the laws of this world. At the same time, spiritual advancement requires that we totally accept every experience we have ever had, regardless of how beautiful or horrific it might have been.

Though we may subscribe to the highest level of morality, life itself is amoral. Though rising in the subtler dimensions requires progressively deeper refinements of love, we will not progress on that journey if we cannot accept every experience of our lives with equanimity. If we can’t find our way to love with that which is most horrific, its mastery defines our karmic destiny.

Sorcery and crazy wisdom are indeed expressions of the dark side of the force. Encounters with the dark side are required Earth School courses. Achieving wholeness—the coveted diploma from Earth School—requires that we know and accept everything we have ever done, or that was done to us, with equanimity.

With gratitude to the dark and the light—the wholeness,

Chuck

Chuck’s Place: Thinking Outside the Brain

Looking toward the heavens, and all that we are…
– Photo by Chuck Ketchel

What happens to the thinking mind of ‘I‘ when the brain dies? Modern neuroscience is in its heyday as it penetrates the biology, chemistry and neurocircuitry of the brain, unraveling the material wonder of mental processing. But, if death is truly not lights out, wherein lies this mental continuity in the soul beyond physical life?

Might it be, as esoteric experience suggests, that the physical body is actually an avatar of the soul? Though the physical brain functions as a self-regulating external hard drive, could it be that the more subtle brain of the soul is the true command center of the physical body?

Elmer Green spent seven intense years working with his wife Alyce in her journey through Alzheimer’s disease. Her physical brain deteriorated to the point of her inability to recall her familial relations. At times, she could become extremely paranoid and combative with her loving husband and professional collaborator of fifty years.

Elmer hypothesized that, due to the brain’s deterioration, the subtle wiring from the physical body to the soul was compromised. This connection is critical to memory, orientation and physical functioning. In esoteric knowing, physical death occurs when the cords between the physical body and the soul snap.

Just as the cutting of the human umbilical cord launches the newborn baby into separate life, as its symbiotic tie to mother physically ends, the soul is freed into independent life at the time of physical death. When the cord between the soul and the physical body is severed at death, the soul, freed from its preoccupation with the workings of a physical body, must adjust to its new milieu and come on line, or be born, to a new orientation in a subtler dimension.

Elmer reasoned that Alyce, in Alzheimer’s, was floundering on the astral plane, as her mental processes were no longer attuned to her physical senses. We all experience this kind of mental state in sleep, as we encounter, at times, bizarre circumstances in dreaming. Lucid dreaming and out-of-body exploration present opportunities for mind to become familiar and comfortable in the subtler dimensions of life.

Dreaming is a natural time for the soul to disengage from the physical body, as it visits more subtle dimensions of reality. The difference in dreaming is that the soul remains attached to the sleeping body, which it reunites with upon awakening, to tackle another day in waking life.

Elmer incessantly grounded Alyce, reading her profoundly esoteric books to provide her with an orientation, or map, to the kinds of territories and encounters she was encountering on the astral plane. At times she was able to come out of her deep disorientation and speak quite eloquently and coherently of her experiences, as well as evidence a profound connection to their life together on earth.

Elmer experienced her soul literally moulding the clay of her brain to function at extremely high levels for brief periods of time. I once had the experience of Jan physically transmogrify into Jeanne’s physical form during a channeling session, with that same intent. Like a scene out of the movie Ghost, we communicated.

Elmer was delighted when Alyce came fully on line in her soul body before she died in her physical form. This enabled Alyce to skip over the sojourn, however brief, in Hades, that departing souls traverse as they reconcile with their life just lived and spend time in semi-conscious replenishment, before waking up and becoming oriented to new life. Alyce went directly to the light.

Perhaps, some day, nursing homes may be seen as valuable in-between stations for preparing departing souls for the definitive journey ahead in infinity. Too often, caretakers and family interpret a resident’s interactions with the dead as hallucinations, generated by a deteriorating brain, versus valid interactions with souls on the next subtle plane.

Frederick Myers, cofounder of the Society for Psychical Research in London, died in 1901 and spent the next 40 plus years communicating to several psychics of his continued exploration of the evolution of the soul in infinity. Myers confirmed that the mind is indeed located in the soul, and that it psychokinetically controls the physical body during human life. Myers went on to elucidate further refinements to the soul, as it traverses seven planes of existence on its journey to the light and beyond.

Thus, thinking, indeed, has a relationship with the physical brain, as body and soul are intimately entwined during physical life. However, who you are, and your ability to think, transcend life in the body. Indeed, we are more than our physical body.

Thinking beyond the body,

Chuck

Chuck’s Place: Life Is Crucifixion

Easter blooms…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

The most challenging problem of my youth was my doubt in the Catholic doctrine to which I was exposed. My lineage and early socialization no doubt confounded my smooth sailing into Christian soldier hood. My maternal grandmother was Lutheran, and I recall some experience in the toned-down secular milieu of those Protestant services.

I was introduced to Catholicism, my true birthright, rather late for communion age, out of sync with the rhythm of no question, memorize, and repeat the hermetically sealed catechism. My mind was too influenced by the powerfully rational mind of my secular Jewish step-father: I asked questions, faith alone couldn’t work for me.

I soon realized it best to keep my questions inside myself where they only intensified in urgency. One Good Friday evening, I had it out with God, insisting on an experience, not a belief, that could give some legitimacy to a core premise of Christianity, Christ’s crucifixion. I was met with an overwhelming experience that baptized my spiritual life.

My birth father, whom I never knew, hailed from a very Catholic Irish family where he was designated by his mother to become a priest. His refusal to her call sent him into alcoholism and violence against women. Clearly, his unrequited call to the priesthood was passed along to his biological son, me.

I have never found comfort in the Christian story and cast of characters; I simply never felt a personal connection. Communion never performed any magic for me. However, I was introduced to my spirit self, and God, experientially, and that truth could never be erased. I took my vows as a priest by becoming a psychotherapist. I have spent my career helping people to heal through connecting with their Spirit.

Lately, I’ve come to more deeply appreciate the Christian story, though my interpretation would likely be branded heretical, or at the very least, too muddled in New Agism. Nonetheless, I offer my understanding as part of my obligation, or folly.

Christ knowingly agreed to his fate in incarnating as a human being. The suggestion here is for all to contemplate their own agreement, as spirit beings, to enter a physical life, with a choice of their human fate. The suggestion that we choose the life we will encounter assigns us ultimate responsibility for the fate that befalls us.

Christ does not blame anyone on his cross; he is not a victim, for he knows he chose to be crucified. So, “forgive them father, for they know not what they do.” And what they did, was to help him fulfill his destiny. All must figure out their mission for the life they are in, and how all that they encounter is part of helping themselves achieve this goal, however obscured it might be from consciousness.

Christ was crucified. Christ reveals that life in human form is a crucifixion. Uniting an eternal soul with a temporal body is a death warrant; human life, by design, is a crucifixion. One part of the human being will die, the other will live on. All that we attach to in human form will perish, and we will be crucified by those losses.

Christ resurrected in spirit form. Christ models the fact that physical death results in the consolidation of continued life in the astral body, or in Christian terms, the soul body. Christ’s example validates the current science of out-of-body exploration. Indeed, we are more than our physical bodies.

Christ’s central message was unconditional love, even in the face of crucifixion. This perhaps is the most helpful message. Human life offers the opportunity to refine love to a very high degree of clarity. And that purity of love is the fuel to reenter infinity with the fortitude for deep exploration.

The veils of attachment that define, and are critical for human sustenance, are all challenged and lifted by the temporary nature of human existence. We must attach to live and truly detach to leave. And the detachment factory truly is the assembly line of love’s evolution.

To open to love in the flesh, to remain open to love beyond physical life, to open to new love in human life without cancelling old love of human life, to love neighbor as self, to love enemy as self, to love all with equanimity, to possess not—these are the stations of the cross of human existence. To achieve these stations is to open to truth and love at the most refined levels. Perhaps that is the essence of why we came here, and chose the life we are in.

Jan’s final book of The Recapitulation Diary series, Dreaming All The Time, ends with a shocking finale, a very deep challenge. Can we love and be thankful to everyone we have encountered in our human sojourn, no matter what? That, I believe was Christ’s most profound message. Love knows no limits and is only strengthened by our mastery of our greatest challenge, our very human condition of crucifixion.

Happy Spring, Happy Easter, Happy Incarnation!

With unconditional love,

Chuck

Chuck’s Place: The Stress of Desire

Like clouds, dreams and fantasies manifest…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Who has not had the occasion of a middle of the night awakening to the largesse of a fanciful thought seeming utterly possible? Upon awakening  the following morning, as one rubs the sand of those late night castles from the eyes, the absurdities of such midnight logic come to light as they are banished from the realm of actual possibility.

Nonetheless, the power of these energized thoughts and fantasies do exert a stress upon the subconscious mind. And it is the stress generated by these enacted desires in the play of night that can powerfully influence the subconscious manifestation of their intent in the light of day.

The subconscious is the seat of power in human manifestation. It houses the best and the worst of human experimentation and evolution in its vast library of possible programs to be run, and has the direct ability to generate a major change in the self, overriding one’s current operating system of self definition. It even has the power to make changes in the physical body.

The placebo effect is nothing other than a direct suggestion taken up by the subconscious resulting in actual physical change. The advantage the subconscious has over the conscious mind is that it is not limited by rational thought, it is free to enact the possible without limiting beliefs.

I have often written about the power of a stated intent, mantra or prayer to influence the subconscious to activate a latent program or install a revised program to form a new habit. These efforts are instigated by the conscious will but are also often contradicted by doubt and limiting beliefs, which tend to weaken the stress placed upon the subconscious to generate change.

Contradictory messages to the subconscious tend to cancel the potency of one’s stated intent. This should not discourage the conscious will from stating its goal. However, do realize that by mitigating blocking beliefs, the stress for change, acting upon the subconscious, will strengthen.

Perhaps the most potent influence upon the subconscious mind is the enactment in the imagination of one’s intended intent. Although the middle of the night fanciful convictions might not survive the light of day, they are extremely emotionally impressive to the  subconscious mind, accruing significantly toward their realization.

Thus, if one imagines a new business venture, a soulful relationship, or a life unburdened by a limiting habit, the subconscious is treated to thoughts, images and emotions that might activate both its attracting and enacting power.

Too often, we limit our freedom to consciously dream our desires, as we fear the possibility of them not coming true, with its consequent sting of disappointment. This refusal to fully imagine deprives the subconscious of a highly charged suggestion, which might indeed contain the very energy needed to enact the desired change.

Of course, we must also face the possibility that what we most consciously want may actually be at odds with the desire of another part of who we are, mainly the High Self. Although the subconscious may be influenced to realize a desire from our conscious will, if that desire is contraindicated for the greater balance of the self, the High Self might interfere with its realization.

In general, intentions do best that reflect the greater good of the whole self. Sometimes the ego intent is partial to its limited purview, which often compromises its realization. In setting any intention, one does well to first present it to the boardroom of the greater self. When there is consensus of the greater self an intent is freed to move smoothly forward.

Cleared of inner prejudice, let your intent be stated aloud and given the full freedom of imaginative play and realization, whether it be in the middle of the day or the middle of the night. As always, no attachment to outcome, but rest assured, the stress of your desire is mounting toward its enactment by the subconscious mind.

In the calm of mounting stress,

Chuck

Chuck’s Place: Impressing the Subconscious

Each new dawn is an opportunity to intend change…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

The subconscious mind is command central for the human mind. Nonetheless, though it sets in motion the bulk of everything we think, feel and do, it itself does not think. The subconscious mind simply obeys suggestions. The intensity or accrued stress of the suggestion determines the likelihood of it being activated.

The subconscious is the programmed mind. All animals respond almost totally to circumstances with preprogrammed instinctive behaviors. Humans have the innovation of consciousness, which allows for the possibility of choice of response to any given encounter, over simply the automatic, unreflected action of the subconscious mind.

Nonetheless, the subconscious remains formidably dominant in human behavior. A person might choose to confront a situation that their subconscious mind’s program determines should be avoided. This program can be overridden by the conscious will, however, the subconscious might concurrently generate pervasive anxiety to freeze the intended behavioral action of the conscious will.

However, the proficiency of the evolutionary programs of the subconscious that have led to individual survival, and survival of the species for eons, tend to reassert themselves pretty easily over orders directed to the subconscious from the conscious mind. Anyone who has attempted to establish a new habit is well acquainted with the tendency of older, more established habits, to defeat conscious efforts to change.

The subconscious is comprised of evolutionary habits, as well as habits rooted in one’s outer socialization. The rules and expectations of significant others, in the impressionable years of childhood, are often internalized as powerful programs for behaviors that eventually operate unconsciously through the subconscious mind. These internalized programs are incessantly reinforced by the internal dialogue, which automatically judges self and other with predetermined prejudice.

The key to establishing a new habit in the subconscious mind is suggestion. When a hypnotist puts a subject into trance, they are essentially turning off the subject’s conscious mind. Next, a suggestion is made to the subject that goes directly to the subconscious mind and is then behaviorally enacted upon, as suggested.

Not everyone can be put into trance by a hypnotist, but everyone is put into trance by the many powerful programs that run daily, through suggestions operating at a subconscious level. Thus, if one has an internal dialogue that repeats the suggestion, “I am unworthy of love”, the entranced outcome will be a mood and behavior that reflects unworthiness and lack of lovability. These programs are often so powerful that even constant feedback to the contrary, from a loving partner for instance, cannot change this embedded suggestion.

Though a hypnotist might temporarily suggest a new program, creating change in a subject, the locus of control remains in the hands of another person, the hypnotist. This is why self-hypnosis is the preferred vehicle of change.

Saturation of suggestion during waking life definitely implants a suggestion to the subconscious. Thus for instance, if I want to remember my dreams, or become conscious while out-of-body during sleep, I might state this intention incessantly throughout the day.

Regardless of outcome on any given night, if I persevere with stating my intention, every day, that suggestion will reach subconscious action at some point. Every time we state an intent, we accrue energy toward a powerful suggestion becoming operational.

Unfortunately, we don’t know for certain how much energy must be accrued before it tips the scales to action. The guidance here: perseverance furthers.  As well, just as the hypnotist silences the conscious mind prior to implanting a suggestion, it is best to relax the body and mind prior to stating one’s suggestion.

Be of calm body and mind, state your suggestion many times a day, many days of the month. With the calm abandon of detachment, yet with the knowing certainty that the subconscious will be impressed, await the manifestation of your dream.

Suggesting,

Chuck