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: Where Will Magic Greet Me Today?

Join Chuck on his Magical Tour…
– Thanks to Capitol Records

This is the essential question to ask, as you begin each day: “Where will Magic greet me today?” No room for doubt in this question. Magic will happen. Intend to be aware and present for this most certain encounter.

Magic will happen because it is our other side, our energetic half. How could we not experience, in some way, our mysterious magical side, each and every day?

We live it in our dreams and it makes its appearance at unexpected moments in the day. A sudden deja vu, sounds from the environment that respond to our thoughts, a fleeting glimpse of an entity scooting into the bush, a smile from the moon, a song that appears and engulfs, a phrase spoken to the mind from within, a pressure on our arm, a knowing certainty that something will happen—these are but a few of the infinite possibilities of visitation from our magical side.

Sometimes the magic completely projects itself upon another person. We may be seized with attraction, or thunderstruck with terror to encounter such a powerful being. Feeling inadequate, we may shrink ourselves or doubt our worthiness. In these instances, we experience our magic vicariously, as we are unaware that the magic we feel really emanates from within ourselves.

“Not worthy,” does the smallness within becry? That’s normal, because it is normality that we cling to, as we know how rattling the magic can be. Secretly, we long to merge with our magic, yet we titrate its impact with wishing and hoping to remain safely insulated from direct exposure to its live current. This is fortified by doubting our worthiness.

Magic defies reason. Magic shatters, period. If it be the magic of a soul encounter, it delightfully transports us to an ecstatic world far beyond the world of reason. If it be a dark encounter with black magic, it threatens to devour the self. We never know for certain how or in which form it will appear, hence, the vigilance to seek safety behind the veils of true encounter.

The world stage is replete with magicians at present that excite us with their tricks. They serve to remind us that anything truly is possible, nothing is really as solid and reasonable as we believe. But don’t merely be vicarious spectators at these main events; fully show up for the main events in your own life! And such events are the Magic that awaits you this day.

Reason, our impeccably trained other half, longs to commune with its magical side but is terrified of loss of control to a power greater than itself. All our addictions are sullied pathways to our magic, protected by badness. Reason structures an out-of-control encounter that it can then regret, remaining safely in charge through the feeling of guilt.

Reason itself is magical. To construct a world that can be completely accounted for with reason is one magical feat. The problem for reason is that, in and of itself, it is boring; it lacks the power of magic. This fact might explain our current political reality, where the attraction to irrational impulse has consistently trumped reason.

The real challenge is to bring reason and magic into complementary alignment. Reason is a formidable guide with which to know and navigate the world. Magic, on the other hand, is infinite possibility in many worlds. Reason can steady and affirm the self as it journeys into infinite possibility, whereby supporting one’s quest for wholeness. To do this, reason needs to suspend and refine its normal judging function, granting the self encounters with its magical side in everyday life.

Thus, begin each day with a direct question to magic: “Where will WE meet today?”

Know that you will. Ask reason to guide you to its appearance and to hold you steady in the grip of its encounter. Ask reason to be expanded and blessed by the realness of its communion with magic. Roll up for the Magical Mystery Tour, you won’t regret it!

In the magic,

Chuck

Chuck’s Place: Guidance for Now

I actually started four blogs this week, none of which feels right at this moment. Finally, my ego turned to a higher power, the I Ching, and asked: “Guidance for the World, NOW?”

The Image: Caught between rising waters…

The result: Hexagram 29, The Abysmal or Danger. Moving lines in the 2nd, 4th and 6th places.

The future: Hexagram 12, Standstill.

Interpretation: A) The context of The Abysmal; B) The activated lines of The Abysmal; C) The future of Standstill.

A) The Abysmal is formed by the doubling of the trigram of water. The image is one of being caught in the rising water of a ravine, a dangerous, yet extraordinary position.

This week, I was standing in a dry ravine. Even in the absence of actual water its energetic current took me off balance, causing a fall into a bush that tore my face. Rather than interpret such an encounter as carelessness, I accepted it as a design of power. I clung not to victimhood nor self-pity, relegating it to a known world, but as an experience to be relished. I am open to life.

The current situation too begs objectivity, from all of us. It is not the consequence of a subjective attitude or foolishness. Do not blame the self. Do not tantrum with reason. The danger is real. And yet the danger is an encounter with power, a most educative experience. To survive and learn from the encounter one must get quiet and remain calm and observant. Be like water that fills the space thoroughly and then moves on. This is impeccability, the right attitude to escape destruction in an encounter with infinity.

B) Specifically, in line 2, instruction is given to not fight the dark forces. Don’t engage in direct conflict; it’s a trap and energy drain. Remain steady, be fully present and observant, in silence. Adapt until the right moment for movement arrives.

Line 4: The challenge is complex. Have great patience, study and wait. Be accepting of gradual change. Avoid impulsive action or attachment. Recognize that this is a learning situation of great consequence; view it from all angles. Water is thorough; it fills every nook and cranny before it moves on, and you can be safely carried on.

Line 6: Beware of getting caught in the prison of illusion. A master conjurer can ensnare one’s full attention, steal one’s energy and manipulate an outcome. Always stare down that conjurer within the self first. Sometimes the prison sentence of illusion is a lifetime. The greatest conjurer of all is the ego itself, who knows everything.

C) The future is Standstill. Do not devalue any moment in time; they are all equal. Treat standstill with reverence. In Standstill, Heaven above moves further away from Earth below. Their energies do not unite but further alienate from each other. Creative union is not possible in a time of stagnation.

Richard Wilhelm writes, in the Judgment of Standstill, “But the superior people do not allow themselves to be turned from their principles. If the possibility of exerting influence is closed to them, they nevertheless remain faithful to their principles and withdraw into seclusion.”

Here, ego and mystery separate. Rather than crown ego victorious or inadequate, recognize a time of lull as a necessary preparation for the next true encounter. Focus attention on doing the best you can, in all situations, to prepare for power’s next test.

Follow the path of heart inward, to the place of worth. Avoid being drawn into the egoic opportunism of the moment that seeks one-sided victory. Save the energy for when it counts, then act, decisively.

Be calm,

Chuck

Chuck’s Place: Always Return to the Heart

Find the heart everywhere…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Sadly, but truthfully, human beings are a truly cancerous species, malignantly acting upon the planet. Actually, to be more precise, it’s the current state of the human ego, not the full human being, that carries the disease.

Oddly, the human ego is capable of a quality of consciousness that affords it freedom to choose action beyond the binding instructions of instinct and archetype, a remarkable freedom. The downside of having this ability is the obvious abuse of its power, which has led to the diseased condition the planet is now plagued with.

The Shamans of Ancient Mexico trace this ego malady to the predatory reality of the universe, where all life is sustained by feeding upon other life. From their cosmology, or seeing, what preys upon the human species is an inorganic species that actually feeds upon the energy released by human emotion.

In the case of us humans, this predatory species fixates our human awareness upon worries about survival and self-importance, thus generating waves of frenzied human emotion that serve as food for this inorganic entity. Thus, our human awareness is fixated at a narcissistic level that constantly seeks attention and validation, that constantly gets offended, and is predominantly motivated to act for essentially self-serving purposes. Human behavior, especially at this time, seems to fit this description perfectly.

The shamans suggest that this predatory entity succeeds in securing our obsessive worry by actually giving us its mind, a mental overlay that is obsessed with its next meal and threats to its survival. Thus, the impact of this entity’s mind on human awareness is to generate the obsessive internal dialogue that plagues human consciousness.

The plus side of this condition is what the shamans call our cubic centimeter of a chance to wake up and free ourselves from this parasitic relationship. Although we are prone to obsess, our ego does have the freedom to choose another option. This is our evolutionary birthright, the freedom to choose. Ironically, it is the encounter with the predator that sharpens consciousness and awakens it to this opportunity to evolve. The dark side of the force has its necessary role.

The key to freedom is to choose the option to turn to the heart over the obsessive mind. The heart is connected to the High SOUL, and hence the deepest truth. If one finds oneself in a condition of worry or strife and one shifts one’s attention to the heart center, one’s ego exits the energetic valence of narcissistic influence and opens to the purity of the heart.

The heart holds compassion for all beings, thus strife is cleansed of its preoccupation with self-interest and offense. Even if the other person clings to their narcissistic preoccupation, one is not personally offended. The heart might determine that strong boundaries are necessary, but it assigns no emotional energy to being offended.

The heart will tell us, and asks us to face, the truth. The heart refuses shame and blame. The heart insists we never put ourselves down nor judge ourselves harshly. The heart’s love is expressed in its full acceptance of all that we are and all that we’ve done. The heart guides us to right action, with love.

The heart also holds the awareness that the universe is a bundle of interconnected energy, that everything is part of the same whole. One sees, in the behavior of the other, a reflection of a part of one’s self, with which one needs to reckon with and accept.

Arriving at the heart center frees one of the narcissistic worldview and allows one to see clearly the true needs of the planet, and act accordingly. Thus, the path to the heart is the path to freedom from our current world crisis. All citizens who walk a path of heart are forging a sustainable solution for the planet.

We are currently challenged with a world leadership that incessantly draws us into a depressed mood, as it mirrors and amplifies the collective ego’s struggle with its narcissistic fixation. The resultant negative emotional wave weakens the ego and feeds the predator.

Seek refuge in the broadened perspective of the heart space. Have compassion for leadership’s struggle, but maintain ruthless insistence upon the truth of the heart.

Walk the path of love upon this Earth. Love is the one  powerful emotion that can’t be touched by the predator. Love indeed conquers all.

Breathing into the heart,

Chuck

Chuck’s Place: The Intent of Recapitulation

The gateway to recapitulation is focused intent…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

My first encounter with the shamanic practice of Recapitulation was at The Westwood Seminar in Los Angeles in 1997, that year’s annual summer intensive for Tensegrity practitioners. Carlos Castaneda stressed the seriousness of this ancient shamanic Magical Pass, which required a complete reliving of one’s life in preparation for the freedom to fly free, into infinity, at the time of the death of one’s human form.

For Jeanne and I, our ancient Catholic foundation was stirred, as we feared the equivalent of going to Hell if we did not complete our recapitulation before death! Well, I know that Jeanne did indeed make the cut when she left her human form, though she did have to touch back briefly to clear up some unfinished business with her birth mother before she could fully move on. (See the final chapter in The Book of Us for a recount of this unfinished business.)

When Jan and I discovered that recapitulation could actually serve as a total healing tool for complex PTSD, we realized that recapitulation had vast application beyond the shamanic preparation for one’s definitive journey.

In addition, I was synchronistically drawn to EMDR at the same time I was introduced to Recapitulation. I realized that recapitulation and EMDR shared a bilateral feature as their processing mechanism. I also realized that REM sleep shared this same bilateral mechanism, the processing function of ordinary dreaming.

I have capitalized on the innate biological mechanism of bilateral processing in much of my clinical work, but I have also come to discover that intent itself is really at the crux of everything.

When an individual sets the intent to recapitulate, that is, to fully retrieve energy that is sidelined or frozen, by incomplete processing or resolution of prior or inherent experience, something takes over and turns the totality of current life into experiences of what needs to be recapitulated.

Many clients, who are recapitulating traumatic events of which they have no current memory but which form the etiology of their complex PTSD, have discovered that memories begin to appear in no apparent order, haphazardly and from many different periods of their lives, which absolutely insist upon being processed.

Memories may be triggered by bodily pains, dreams, current interactions, smells, sounds—almost anything serves as a projective screen for a memory to reveal itself. Once fully recapitulated, another memory begins to flesh out, of its own non-conscious accord, often from a totally different time and circumstance, perhaps skipping over many other traumas that occurred in between.

The point here is that the intent of recapitulation itself, once engaged, becomes the director of the actual remembering, determining the sequence, frequency, and unique presentation of new memories and how they are brought to consciousness. I have come to trust intent’s illusive logic in directing an unfolding recapitulation, because the necessary healing appears to require its own idiosyncratic, sequential building blocks, constructed through the order of one’s personal unfolding memory triggers and encounters.

Though I hardly suggest that anyone embark upon the journey of traumatic recapitulation without a seasoned guide, I cannot deny anyone the knowledge of their birthright, their own access to the intent of recapitulation, the ultimate soul retrieval journey. To fully retrieve one’s energy is to be fully present to facing oncoming time.

Finally, when I learned the magical passes for intent in the shaman’s world, we practiced yelling the word, “Intent!” very loudly and firmly. And so, I simply recommend firmly stating, out loud, one’s intent to recapitulate, thus affirming one’s conscious decision to partner with the intent of recapitulation, a most worthy higher power.

Wishing you good luck on your journey.

Intent!

Chuck

Chuck’s Place: Injured Maybe, Offended Never

Never get offended…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

When it really matters, when we are really threatened, something in us seizes control and acts. Awareness of the acts we perform in this heightened state of awareness may instantly be lost to memory as we shift back to our ordinary state of awareness, like when an intense dream is immediately forgotten upon awakening.

Immediately upon shifting out of these non-ordinary states of reality our internal dialogue takes charge, filling our minds to the brim with the affairs of everyday life, as our just moments ago extraordinary adventures fade into oblivion. In psychoanalytic language, our internal dialogue delivers us to a full blown neurosis. A caricature of how it operates would be a Woody Allen/Doubting Thomas character whose mind incessantly ruminates, doubts, and judges both self and others.

The salient feature of this obsessive thinking is its fixation upon feeling offended by the actions of others or blaming the self for the way things are; in effect, feeling offended by one’s own actions and limitations.

That we all have an internal dialogue is a necessary fact of life. In fact, as the Shamans of Ancient Mexico point out, its incessant defining and judging functions allow us to interpret and navigate the solid world we live in. However, the debilitating side of this nonstop chatter in our minds is that it distracts us from our capacity to live a richer life in a state of heightened awareness.

Indeed, we can be injured by the intentional actions of others, but to attach to the constant  promptings of the internal dialogue, to be offended by the behavior of other or self, is to relegate the lion’s share of one’s energy to inconsequential, emotional self-defeat. Put bluntly, it’s a major waste of energy.

We needn’t obsess to address real occasions of injury, for as previously stated, when needed, something within us will spring forth and act without the necessity of lengthy deliberation. Even the action of freezing, or leaving one’s body under the impact of violent attack, reflects instinctive knowing of how best to survive. The internal dialogue is of no value when it really counts.

Shamans recommend freeing oneself from spending one’s energy on feeling offended. The energetic savings accrued by this allows one to gain greater access to living in a richer state of heightened awareness, where one enjoys, and is fully present to, all that is possible in life.

Don Juan Matus calls this state the mood of the warrior, where one is fully energetically alive in each moment in a state of inner silence. Pragmatically, this entails refusing the promptings of the internal dialogue to attach to any interpretations of being offended, and responding instead to the actual presenting needs of each moment.

The thinking mind might have a role in deliberating a decision, but silence allows the truth of the heart to spark spontaneous right action. This is living in the Tao of heightened awareness.

The best guidance for freeing oneself from the energy drain and limiting perspective of the internal dialogue is to allow it to just be, to not engage it, to not argue with or fight against it. Rather than be offended by life, particularly in this time of great offensive talk, respond like a warrior who acts from the place of what is truly needed to survive and prevail, in the best interest of all.

Yes, acknowledge that the acts of others can injure you, and do take decisive action to protect the self whenever necessary, but don’t waste any energy on being offended by the acts of others, as the internal dialogue would have you do.

Finally, place no attachment on the outcome of your decisive actions; fulfillment is already achieved in the purity of the warrior’s decisive act.

Without offense,

Chuck