Category Archives: Chuck’s Blog

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.

Chuck’s Place: Separation & Integration

The perfect cake…
Art by Jan Ketchel © 2002

Separation and integration are necessary operations in the growth of our wholeness. Before the cake batter can be mixed the ingredients must be carefully separated and measured. Next comes the stirring of all the ingredients as they are prepared to be baked into an integrated whole and delicious cake!

The human being is comprised of many separate parts that must be integrated for effective functioning. Take for instance an emotion, be it love, anger or sadness. The river of the bloodstream carries the energy of these emotions as they flood the body in an activated state. If the psyche is uncomfortable with the intensity of these emotional energies it likely stiffens the body’s muscles to dam up and contain this heightened emotional state. This results in a loss of integrated functioning of mind and body.

This in turn can lead to chronic muscle fatigue and depressed mood as the vital energy for life is dammed up in the musculature while what little energy is available is spent largely in a separative defense rather than in a wholistic pursuit of release, joy, and satisfaction.

Yoga and mind/body modalities highlight the use of the breath to support the metabolic processes of the body but also to allow the free flow of dammed emotions and traumatic memories that  restrict integrated wholeness and an enlivened spirit. Deep breathing promotes calmness and the ability to release powerful emotions safely. A simple practice of taking a deep abdominal breath several times a day can initiate mind/ body integration.

The Shamans of Ancient Mexico point out that the lion’s share of energy in modern humans is spent on the presentation of the self in everyday life. Thus the ego, with it’s separate concerns about how it looks, how others validate it, and its overall craving for attention, is the largest ingredient of modern life. We readily see this modeled in our current world leaders.

The Shamans recommend that we identify and largely separate out this preoccupation with self-importance from our daily routines and habits to better integrate our energetic reserve for the practices of intent, dreaming, and manifestation.

Those Shamans literally make a written inventory of their typical daily behaviors, eliminating unnecessary attention-seeking energy consumption. If we allow ourselves to reflect on our day, we are able to separate out that which facilitated and that which interfered with a greater integrated functioning of self.

Although I find it disheartening to see the disintegration of the world as we have known it, I am convinced it was unavoidable. I think it is fair to say that the election of Donald Trump was as surprising as the election of Barack Obama. I am still amazed that we saw the election of a black person to the presidency in my lifetime. I am equally amazed by the election of a character like Donald Trump to the world’s highest office.

On the one hand, the Greek principle of enantiodromia was clearly at work here. That principle simply states that one extreme will bring forth its exact opposite. The classic example of this is Saul on the road to Damascus. He begins on a mission to persecute Christians. Suddenly he has an extreme conversion where he becomes Paul, the devout Christian. Trump has defined himself as the exact opposite of Obama.

On the other hand, I think, like Jimmy Carter, that Obama was ahead of his time. In fact the stage was next set for the raising of the feminine to royal status with the election of Hillary. Although this portended the greater integration of human wholeness, it too was ahead of its time. The ingredients for that cake were simply not properly measured nor were they ready for mixing. Instead, we were thrown into an incredible time of separation, worldwide.

A word like immigration has become a four letter word in our time. Nonetheless, this extreme separatism of now allows us to clearly see our differences, which must be faced and reconciled in a very real, not fake way, if we are to once again be able to approach the integration and elevation of the feminine to its rightful ruling authority, Yin and Yang as a balanced whole.

The truth is, America rushed the making of the cake with Obama and nearly did with Hillary as well. But fate intervened, for America had truly not faced nor reconciled its shadow yet. Well, it is reckoning with it now!

You simply can’t force wholeness prematurely. We are in the time of separation and we must accept that. Inwardly we can use this time to face our divided selves and set into motion practical behaviors to shore up our greater integration and evolution into wholeness. Elmer Green,* who recently died at age 99, left us with the vision that in 125 years we’ll be there. Let’s all do our part to make it happen. Begin with the self!


* Elmer Green, PhD, noted biofeedback pioneer is also the author, among other books, of The Ozawkie Book of the Dead: Alzheimer’s Isn’t What You Think It Is

Chuck’s Place: Masters of Intent

Masters of Intent…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

All human beings are Masters of Intent. Intent is the active side of our humanness, that which delivers us a definite identity, that which pronounces, “I AM….  such and such”. And whatever description we provide to ourselves of who we are, we reinforce it incessantly throughout life to maintain a cohesive, consistent sense of self.

Perhaps not until the day we may find ourselves in a nursing home, when that familiar mastery of the intent of self gives way to what is called dementia, may we encounter a broader depth of knowing or encountering ourselves in ways held in abeyance for a lifetime.

Like Elmer Green,* I envision the journey of Alzheimer’s as a time of inner exploration into the fullness of self, perhaps a final opportunity in physical form to reconcile one’s life in preparation for one’s definitive journey in infinity. This dementia journey is often experienced as horror and grief by many loved ones who might only observe the disintegrating faculties and loss of familiarity of their cherished loved one or dear friend.

I would argue that this apparent weakening of the mastery of intent in Alzheimer’s is actually the freeing of the greater intent within the Self to complete its earthly individuation. The seed that we once were is freed to complete its journey here, which may require a temporary or permanent suspension of the narrow identity it assumed in this life that limited its full realization. Of course this process is very difficult to appreciate by most onlookers who might only conclude the obvious picture of physical and psychical disintegration.

The power of intent to manifest even the most bizarre and fantastic behaviors is most evident in hypnosis. In hypnosis the inner master of intent is projected upon the hypnotist who then manifests in the passive subject the suggestion or intent that is proposed while the subject is in trance.

Here we see the clearest expression of the Yin and Yang of our human nature. Our Yin is the waiting material or physical part of our being, which dutifully creates the behavior dictated by the Yang or the master of intent part of our being: the instruction giver.

Freud suggested that a good hypnotic subject displayed the blind obedience to parental authority that the child originally experienced  in early childhood. Thus a good hypnotic subject fully obeys the parental hypnotist.

However, there are many people who do not respond to the suggestions of the hypnotist. This is often seen as a strong ego that simply cannot be hypnotized. To the contrary, I would simply suggest that the inner master of intent is not projected upon the hypnotist and is inwardly powered. But who really is this inner master of intent?

The inner master of intent is what the Shamans of Ancient Mexico called the internal dialogue. The internal dialogue is the incessant voice, the inner commentator that constantly informs us who and what we are, what we feel, what our abilities and limitations are, and constantly judges both ourselves and everyone and everything around us.

This voice is such a constant presence that through its incessant patter we find ourselves in continual trance, perceiving and being what it tells us is and what we ourselves are. So formidable is the trance it puts us in that we find ourselves ‘consciously’ restating to ourselves what it tells us, i.e., “I could never do that…” Or, “I have always been…” Or, “I will never be…” And this is who we become and experience ourselves to be.

The Shamans of Ancient Mexico would heartily agree with Freud that this voice is the internalized voice of a child’s socialization that takes on the role of defining the limits of what we become largely due to the limiting beliefs it, the internal dialogue, unceasingly espouses. Here we have the hidden reality that all humans are in a constant state of trance, controlled by the outer masters they project upon, or by the inner master of intent, the internal dialogue.

Shamans discovered that the automatic function of the internal dialogue can be silenced and that this silencing opens the gateway for humans to discover their far greater potential, a potential that is highly different from the one casually accepted as the true self as previously presented by the internal dialogue.

The technology to truly assume ownership for one’s ability to be a master of intent is strikingly identical to the socialization process of early childhood. Shamans state their intent as incessantly as all the authoritative voices of childhood routinely corrected and defined who one should be, eventuating in the internalized internal dialogue. The perseverance of this conscious repetition of intent gradually overrides the prevailing internal dialogue and begins to manifest the consciously chosen intent.

The greatest obstacle to change is the belief that something so simple can’t be enough. We would rather argue the impossibility of such a possibility than actually try it! It simply can’t work, at least not for me!

The second greatest obstacle is lack of perseverance. If things don’t change quickly enough and in ways we deem should happen we give up. Here the guidance is gentle but persistent perseverance, with no attachment to the outcome.

The third obstacle to engaging intent is our attachment to our familiar definition of self. Like a person in the grip of Alzheimer’s we may be threatened to discover the vast aspects of ourselves that have never been known that might force us to consider major uncomfortable changes in our lives.

The process of unfolding of a new intent might also force us into recapitulation experiences that have forged our familiar sense of self by keeping us unaware of the full truth of experiences lived in this life. Intent will insist that we free ourselves from these limiting beliefs to allow greater manifestation of who we truly are. This can be a terrifying process, encountering much that has been repressed in life.

Finally, intent is a powerful force that can be used by both the light and the dark side. We are in a particular world phase where we are witnessing master hypnotists in the persons of political figures giving free license to intent from the dark side. Intent in and of itself is amoral. Intent is an energetic force that operates according to the intent stated.

Our focus has always been upon the conscious use of intent for healing and exploration of our full potential. This conscious use of intent finds resonance with the truth of the heart who carries the full intent of the seed of possibility we were planted with when we arrived here in human form.

May all become true masters of their intent, claiming full conscious control for the manifestation of their lives in alliance with the truth of the heart.



*Elmer Green, PhD, noted biofeedback pioneer is also the author, among other books, of The Ozawkie Book of the Dead: Alzheimer’s Isn’t What You Think It Is

Chuck’s Place: My Luminous Other

We come from the light and return to the light…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

In our energetic origin and essence we are but a glow of awareness. We come from the light, we return to the light. From our origin as a  glow of awareness we sink and are born into the dark heaviness of our human physical form and begin to perceive the world like our solid selves, as a world of solid objects. Our energetic luminescence is lost to us.

In our human form we are drawn to luminescence wherever it is reflected, a spark reminder of our lost energetic essence. This longing is the craving for union that underlies most human activity. The luminescence of our ethereal light is reflected materially in all matter of precious objects in our material world, most especially in gold and diamonds, symbols of great wealth and value, symbols of the divine that adorn the crowns of kings and queens, and closer to home in rings of commitment bestowed upon a beloved.

In the beginning, parents mirror a golden glow in their reactions to us. This loving smile validates us, gives us value. We seek out that which shines and enlivens us. Some of this mirroring validates us, some however is so powerful we see it as existing only in the person outside of us, never in ourselves. Thus, the other person is seen as the gold. Attention flowing from this luminescent other fills us with a glow. We become compulsive seekers of outside attention to merge with this experience of numinous luminescence.

Our lives on Earth have as our central mission, like the Olympian, to bring home the gold. If we can achieve perfection or notoriety we will be filled with the glow of grand attention, golden indeed. Thus perfection becomes the coveted gold, the golden standard of our worth.

Most often our vibrant energetic essence projects itself upon a golden other whom we seek to possess to recover our lost wholeness. Oftentimes the glow of this mysterious other is so powerful we are overwhelmed with anxiety in their presence. We feel unworthy of their attention or paralyzed by the glow of their beauty and majesty. An attraction of this magnitude can secretly dominate us for years.

For those able to connect with their mysterious other a magical period of glowing oneness, total blissful contentment, may be granted, if just for a little while.

In our day these romantic projections come and go rapidly as we are technologically opened to a very wide pool of possibility. Ah, what shining pearl might I find and meet tonight!

If a more lasting union prevails the shine inevitably begins to fade in the dullness of everyday life. Generally, disappointment results in expectation that the other change to restore the shine. Underneath we retain our childish experience of entitlement, wishing that the other refill our glow with their attention.

“I’m speaking, you looked away. I’m angry, deflated. Why? I was speaking; my story, my idea is golden. If you are not transfixed by what I bring it is not worthy, or you are too self-absorbed to appreciate it. I must see REFLECTED in your reaction the presence of my luminosity. Your attention verifies my worthiness.”

And what happens when a relationship ends, perhaps by death? Mourning is lost contact with our glowing other. Herein often begins a new journey, the journey to discover and recover the pot of gold at the end of our inner rainbow, our own soul, our energetic essence.

This is the journey we’ve all been on as we seek to obtain our true fulfillment, reflected as it has been in the gold of a million illusions of our materialistic accumulations, perfectionistic achievements, or soulmate relationships.

Ultimately, our definitive journey in infinity requires us to restore and become the original glow of awareness of our energetic essence. To prepare for this journey we must recapitulate all our magical experiences in this life and restore our energetic wholeness, nothing left projected upon others. And with this we become our luminous other.


Chuck’s Place: Trial by Fire

By fire…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Trial is ordeal. Fire is passion! Trial by Fire is enduring the ordeal of passion, a deeply challenging encounter, the encounter of now.

Human passion emanates from the root of our instinctual animal being. When activated our faces redden, our voices growl and howl, our bodies thrash and react involuntarily, seized by the heat of passion. Like flames in a fire, passion flails recklessly.

One step above this hot core of our fiery roots are emotions, which, though flushed with the fire of passion, are somewhat tamed by our ego as they churn in the furnace of our solar plexus. These are the more manageable emotions of anger, frustration, desire, craving, competitiveness, and narcissism.

Finally, at the mental region of the civilized self, are feelings, which have rationally transformed the fire at the root into energetic units of valuation. Here we have our feeling judgments: I like, want, need, am attracted to, am saddened by, repulsed by, made happy by, etc. These rational feelings bear little resemblance or relationship to their passionate roots.

Jung observed that the Christian era, which correlated with the Piscean Age of the past 2000 years, contributed greatly to the advancement of this mental plane in humanity, however, this at the expense of its connection with its earthly passions, which became the province of the rejected devil. Though this internal civil war was won at the spirit mental plane its resulting hegemony is wearing thin upon its devils below.

That brings us to today, the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, where those rejected devils have risen up in uncontrollable flames of passion as they sweep the Earth in actual fires, political uprisings, wars on social media, conflict in human relationships, and warring splits within the human psyche. From the outermost perspective the Earth itself has become an alchemical retort with fire its catalyzing agent, as all warring opposites are pitted against each other in a Trial by Fire indeed.

This appears to be the first spiritual challenge of the Aquarian Age: to take on the reconciliation of its formerly disowned passions, at its human animal core, with its high reaching values generated from its abstract mental plane. Apparently, the main technology of the Christian era, keeping separate the animal and mental selves, with the mental plane maintaining superiority, can no longer contain the needs of the self, or the world, as both push for a more comprehensive wholeness.

The unleashing of previously contained fiery passions upon the world stage, with wild abandon and without regret, is the approach stoked by those most in charge of world policy today. Many in the world populace now model this unleashing of fiery passion without restraint upon any who would oppose their positions. This Trial by Fire is producing many casualties. Justified or not, the fact is that these flames are  rapidly burning down the foundation of modern civilization.

All must be where they are in the trial. For many participating in the fiery war of words, the outside world becomes the furnace of their transformative process. No one can be convinced to give up what they are attached to. When we argue and fight, our passions embody us, often at great cost to our energy reserves and inner balance. These battles are renewed in seemingly inexhaustible intensity as the world fights itself on social media.

Nonetheless, detachment is not a choice, it must be achieved. One method is through sheer exhaustion where passion exhausts the body and psyche and survival forces us to ultimately let go. Though  a costly energetic approach, many are convinced that outer protest and confrontation are critical to change.

For those more innerly inclined, the furnace of transformation is the hologram of the self, which makes its worldly contribution through the axiom, as within so without.

To contain within the self all the warring passions of animal and spirit in a heated process—that looks not outside the self for the relief of blame—is a formidable furnace of transformation. Therapy is one such vessel for this process as we confront and own all that we are—passion and spirit—in a journey whose destination is greater wholeness vs. greater domination. As with the outer playing field, the inner playing field must itself arrive at a true place of detachment where truth prevails, special interests burned through.

Trial by Fire is where we are. Know that there is always sanctuary in the human heart. All must have their safe place to release and rejuvenate. Love is the  most inclusive respite, as love can even love the part of the self that hates, but we must burn through much before we can truly inhabit it.

Nonetheless, heart-centered breathing heals the wounds and calms the nerves. Take advantage of it.

From the heart,


Chuck’s Place: Embarrassment

Details revealed…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

When we shine a light very closely at anything we see quite distinctly the contrasts and differences between the parts we are inspecting. On the mental plane those differences give rise to judgments. Some parts are “good,” some parts are “flawed” or “imperfect.” Perfection is the highest standard of the light: a being without flaw.

How comfortable is it to make love in a brightly lit room where every part of the body can be seen in utter clarity? In fact, how comfortable is it to look into a full length mirror, naked, in a brightly lit room. How do we not cringe as we see before us our well lit “imperfections?” That cringe is what we call embarrassment.

Embarrassment generates a boundary line within the self. On one side of the divide are the parts of the self that are “OK,” parts that can be allowed to be seen in the light. On the other side are all the imperfect or “defective” shame-worthy parts that must remain hidden from the outside world, a world that confirms what we already know: we are flawed.

Frequently, in recapitulation, we discover that we had no conscious involvement whatsoever in determining what parts of ourselves and our experience were excised from consciousness and sent to the prison of the shadow self. We may then discover that some higher decision-making factor within the self censored the awareness of significant experiences in our lives for a self-protective purpose, like in a state of shock where we are shielded from the full impact of a sudden trauma. Some experiences must be shielded from consciousness for the better part of a lifetime.

This self-protective function is a judgment function of the psyche that is pretty black and white, as it asks the question, “Is this experience safe or dangerous to the stability of the ego, my conscious sense of self?” If the answer is “no,” the experience is swiftly removed from memory. The ego, being the shielded one, has no participation in this decision. The ego is the recipient of its action.

What we commonly call a trigger is a current event that mirrors the censored one residing in our hidden shadow, which is stirred and experienced consciously as a feeling of anxiety and embarrassment. The anxiety is a protective warning signal to get away, the embarrassment signals the unacceptability of a part of the self.

Often, attention is given to the formative influence of the primary socializing agents in our lives—parents, teachers, coaches, lovers, and even abusers—in defining for us what of us is acceptable and what of us must stay hidden, often from ourselves as well. The process of recapitulation offers us entree into the hidden worlds of our rejected selves.

When during recapitulation we are confronted with the socializing agents whose judgments we internalized and cast upon ourselves, we often find ourselves in an accompanying rage, fully blaming these characters for not protecting us or for contributing to our flawed sense of self. The healing journey of recapitulation may require us to fully feel this rage and be allowed to release it in some form of expression.

Release of pent up feelings may feel incredibly cathartic, but total healing requires total acceptance of all that has happened to the self, without embarrassment. In fact, the absence of embarrassment during the review of any and all experiences in life, traumatic or otherwise, is the best gauge in assessing total healing.

Thus, for example, to be fully embodied, calm and present, without embarrassment while describing to another person the explicit details of a rape, including the experience of utter helplessness, terror, exposure, violence, humiliation, negative judgment and stimulation, mark a condition of total healing from the experience.

Such healing is marked by the melding together of present and past-self experiences that demarcate the contours of different kinds of experiences but remain whole, reflecting total acceptance of all of life’s experiences, without embarrassment.

The new seers of Carlos Castaneda’s shamanic line exploited the utility of embarrassment to deepen their journey into their energetic potential. They discovered that embarrassment was a product of self-importance, the drive to shelter the self from the crushing impact of the true reality of the unacceptable hidden self.

Carlos was pushed by one of his teachers, don Genaro, to dance by lewdly thrusting his pelvis, movements which burned him up in mortification yet suddenly gave him  access to his energy body while in a waking state. Burning through the wall of embarrassment provides the sobriety and wholeness to journey beyond the physical body with awareness.

Ultimately, we are challenged to reconcile the relationship between the light of our consciousness with the contents and personality that live in the darkness of our unknown portion of self. Carlos Castaneda could not encourage us enough to suspend judgment as we venture into the realms of the unknown self. Embarrassment is a most helpful marker of where we must suspend judgment and welcome, in total acceptance, all that we are, all that we have been, all that we have done and, most especially, all that has happened to us. A tall order, but totally possible.

Without embarrassment,