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: The Sweat Lodge of Self

It’s Tuesday morning as I write this blog. The verse my soul brings me is a line from Leonard Cohen’s march,* “Democracy is coming to the USA.” This is not the seed my ego would choose to plant in this blog, but, as Leonard also once sang, “If it be your will.” And so, I acquiesce.

Looking forward to unification of earth & state…
– Photo by Chuck Ketchel

Equally disturbing is the ruthless perseverance of American Express, incessantly invading the landline of our sanctuary on the hill with its myriad of tricksterish schemes to hook our energy. In fact, it led to a small spat between Jan and I at breakfast as to the best strategy to swat down that mosquito pest. I got angry at her ‘foolishness,’ picking up the phone and instantly hanging up. Her energy, as I saw it, hooked by the game, totally overlooking of course how my own heated reactive anger was perhaps doubly hooked!

Of course, it’s not lost on me the synchronicity of the heated energy of Leonard’s USA march and American Express’s steamroller tactics. America is at the center of our heated-up world right now, be it socially, politically, economically, or environmentally. In fact, our entire world is now a hot cauldron, an alchemical sweat lodge portending great transformation.

In a letter dated September 25, 1946, C. G. Jung writes to a colleague in New York: “…One could say that the whole world with its turmoil and misery is in an individuation process. But people don’t know it, that’s the only difference. If they knew it, they would not be at war with each other, because whosoever has the war inside himself has no time and pleasure to fight others. Individuation is by no means a rare thing or a luxury of the few, but those who know that they are in such a process are considered to be lucky. They get something out of it, provided they are conscious enough. Of course it is a question whether you can stand such a procedure. But this is the question with life too…”**

Jung wrote this letter shortly after World War II, clearly with the hope that the world could introvert—contain and seal off its warring elements within the individual—whereby creating the sweat lodge of self to advance corporeal humans to experience and unite within living form their latent spiritual, energetic self.

This is the goal of all life—individuation—to advance into and incorporate its wholeness, most especially to find and reconnect with its energetic self that lives and reigns in the life of the physical body.

Don Juan Matus maintained that the survival of our world dream required humankind to discover and bring its energy body into life. Both Jung and don Juan passed on their individual methods, psychotherapy and shamanism respectively, to avert world destruction, but were each equally guarded in their prognoses.

And so the world heats up once again, on many levels, with the deeper intent of evolutionary advance at its center. The earth has become the sweat lodge of this deeply transformative process. But you know, we are the world.

And so, back to the sweat lodge at our Tuesday morning breakfast table. The warring elements that manifest in the opposites of man and woman, spirit and material, naturally seek to trump each other. In our case, the fiery energies were maturely contained as breakfast was consumed on the Holy Grail plates, the projections burned off within, the projected elements—the wrong/bad other—introverted, sealed off within the sweat lodge of the self.

In the process, as the emotional distortions burned off, energy body self emerged with its 360° perspective. All sides are relevant and acceptable from this all-round perspective, all fit neatly together.

American Express is merely part of the catalyst of now, challenging us to find within us the place of no pity, the place of compassionate detachment and love, and with it the energy body of our potential self.

Don’t leave home without it,

Chuck

*Quote from Leonard Cohen’s song “Democracy.”

**Quote from C. G. Jung Letters Volume 1: 1906-1950, p. 442

Chuck’s Place: Living In & Out of Time

A young child dreams of seven white geese marching down a street. All the people the geese walk past fall down dead. Surprisingly, C. G. Jung suggests that this is a favorable dream, that this is nature, via the dream, introducing the young child to the world of time. Everything passes. To the child’s world of timelessness, still bathed in the myths and depths of the collective unconscious, life and death are introduced, including her own awareness of herself as a mortal being in this world.

Day and night, time and timelessness…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Life in this world is a bipolar affair. We all grapple with it. At one pole we feel our link to the timeless, as we often live as if we have forever! Though we may negatively judge this ‘slothful’ attitude, it nonetheless is a link to  infinite life in timelessness, as an energy body or spirit. At the other pole is the truth of aging and mortality in a physical body, observed and experienced in fading life within and all around us.

At the beginning of every day the Shamans of Ancient Mexico say: “We are beings who are going to die.” This is their intent to keep their awareness fully present to their limited time and opportunity for life in this world. We are all beings saddled with the bipolar conundrum of life and death.

What Jung highlighted in this young child’s fall from innocence was the introduction of change, which happens when we enter life in time. Everything passes in time. Accepting this basic truth helps us to feel and release a wave of sadness. The pain of loss will eventually pass. In the world of time things mature and change and new possibilities for life will arise.

If we are gripped by a craving or passion, we know, if we hold on, that the compulsion will eventually pass. We may not be ready yet, we may still be too attached to the timeless pole of our being that accepts no limitations, but eventually we may be ready to inhabit our corporeal reality and accept the limitations of life in the body.

The great advantage of life in time, in a physical body, is that we are freed to complete our unique experience of life, what Jung called individuation. In time we unfold into the discovery and fulfillment of all that we are. We begin new things, be they careers, relationships, gardens, or books. We can nurture and live the course of these engagements to completion because in time, for better of worse, everything passes.

In time we can answer the questions of our ancestors and pose new ones for ourselves. To fully individuate in our life in time we must recapitulate. If we leave fragments of our lives unknown to ourselves we will not be able to integrate the full knowledge of our journey and we will leave behind questions that must be answered before completion. Perhaps this is the basis for reincarnation, bardo life, or time in purgatory.

My wife Jan lived in Sweden for several years during her twenties. She always felt she went there to fulfill something unfinished in a past life, to connect with and live out unfinished business with people who had once been very important to her. She was welcomed there with open arms, loved unconditionally, and she loved fully and unconditionally in return. She fully embraced being Swedish, learned the language quickly and fluidly, and did all things Swedish like a true Swede. When it was done, it was done. Time to move on and return to life in present time.

Into infinity…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

My first wife, Jeanne, also completed unfinished business, though she did it in spirit form, after her physical death, reconnecting with the birth mother she never knew in her life as Jeanne Ketchel. It was the completion of her lives on earth, her final chapter in space and time, described in the final chapter of The Book of Us, channeled through Jan.

For although everything does pass in time, that which is not fully realized must be completed somewhere, somehow before we are fully freed to move on in timelessness. As everything passes, as we complete our many paths of individuation, we enter infinity, enriched by our lives and ready to explore new paths of heart, in and out of time.

Finding the timeless in time,

Chuck

Chuck’s Place: Not So Bad

Suffered with a backache for most of last week. Must have done something “wrong.” Finally had enough, reached out with a clear intent: May the healers come tonight and heal my back.

Had the kind of sleep where you wake up convinced you haven’t slept. Jan assures me that I definitely slept. I choose not to ask her how she knows for sure.

Walking all night long…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

All night I found myself with Dr. Yang, the surgeon intern on Grey’s Anatomy played by Sandra Oh. She is belligerently and steadfastly determined to stack her own unique pile of practices, like chapters of a book, as an alternative to the required purchase of health insurance. All night we walk briskly along the shoreline of ocean beaches, miles of beaches, in what feels like a doggedly active, sleepless night, as she builds her chapters.

I open my eyes at 4:30 am. Time to wake up. My awakening ego consciousness is deeply disappointed by my restless night. I’m immediately drawn to judge my activities of the day before as the culprit for my lack of deep rejuvenating sleep. My thoughts evoke negative feelings. I must have done something “wrong.”

I’m reminded of a workshop I once attended, led by Carol Tiggs, the Nagual woman, Carlos Castaneda’s counterpart. It was she who left with don Juan’s party of sorcerers as they “burned from within,” as they left this world to embark on their definitive journey in infinity, life beyond the human form. Only in Carol’s case, she returned to human form ten years later and became the spark for Carlos’ coming out party in the birth of Tensegrity.

At this workshop, Carol went on hilariously talking about “Bobby the Flyer,” the being she characterized as filling her mind with negative thoughts about herself. She even broke into a song about just how bad she was. Bobby became a playful name for that character in all of humanity that commandeers the mind to fixate upon and be tormented by its human inadequacies.

Yesterday, Jan and I were reading a lecture Carl Jung gave in 1936 on children’s dreams where he amplified the meaning of a child in a stable. Of course, a major archetypal representation of this is Christ’s birth. Jung pointed out the significance of being born as an animal, in a stable. Why would a “god” incarnate thusly?

Jung suggested that the stable archetype offers support to the lowly human animal to appreciate its animal instinctive self. We hold ourselves to such high spiritual and moral perfectionist standards that take us away from truly appreciating and accepting the instinctual, physical animal that we really are. Perhaps this is the original sin that gives fertile ground to Bobby the flyer. As soon as we switch from body to consciousness, or spirit self, all we see are our human animal failings.

As I sat in bed observing Bobby doing his “I’m so bad” thing, I suddenly realized that my back didn’t hurt so much and then I remembered the intent I had set before sleep and the dream of walking all night. Could it be possible that my back had actually healed? Could that endless walking on the beach with the anima healing surgeon have been the realization of my very clear intent to heal?

I very gently set my feet onto the floor, stood up straight, and walked a few steps. Pain completely gone!

“Sorry Bobby,” I thought, “guess I’m really not so bad after all!”

Chuck

Chuck’s Place: The Transparent, Responsible Dream

When we enter infinity…
-Art by Jan Ketchel

By many accounts, when we permanently leave our physical body to embark upon our definitive journey into infinity at death, we enter an energetic state of pure transparency, no hidden compartments, the exact opposite of the most salient feature of life in the human form, the ability to keep secrets from self and others. Thus, the next rung of our evolutionary trajectory challenges us all to be and interact with all “others” as we and they truly are, a distinct advance from the vagaries of human interaction and relationship.

Human relationship, lived  within the self or interpersonally with others, happens mainly in the dark. Truthfully, we know little of who we are and little of the true nature of those with whom we interact. Such is the curse and challenge of life in this dimension.

Technological advances of our time have however greatly restricted the ability to have a hidden compartment. Chances are, there’s a camera or recording device of some sort that is creating a record of all forms of observable human behavior, no matter how discreetly life is lived.

The hidden identities of the Shamans of Ancient Mexico, right down to Carlos Castaneda, could never be maintained in today’s world. We don’t know for certain Castaneda’s real name, where he was born, his real date of birth, nor the place and date of his death. This would not happen in today’s world.

Carl Jung managed to conceal that he was sexually abused as a youth for his entire life, save one brief reference to it in a personal letter to Freud published years after his death. The fullness of that story would never be allowed to go to the grave in today’s world.

Donald Trump, though he still tries to conceal his tax returns, is perhaps the most transparent of all political figures of our day. We know he’s behaved like a lech, it’s recorded. He makes no effort to present himself as presidential. Whether we like him or not, with Trump we are treated to a very transparent leader, he simply can’t help himself.

The truth is, you can’t reconcile with yourself or with another person if you can’t reveal to yourself or another the fullness of who you are, however sordid. The absence of transparency gives rise to intrigue, deception, and hidden subplots in life, all the ingredients of fake relationship.

It appears that full transparency is our current evolutionary imperative. Of course, revelation of the shadow self, the hidden compartments, does not automatically lead to evolutionary advance. Trump’s current transparent behavior simply means that he’s acting out power-drives in the open versus acting them out covertly, as was typical of politics in the past. With transparency comes responsibility for what to do with one’s “outed” shadow.

Though we are moving quickly, driven by unstoppable technological advances toward greater and greater transparency, what has become abundantly clear is that we must reconcile all the formerly hidden parts that become transparently exposed. Full exposure is not reconciled wholeness. This is abundantly clear with the sexual abuse issue in the Catholic Church.

The Catholic Church tried to repress sexuality in its clergy. Transparency revealed the results of that decision in perhaps the greatest institutional case of sexual abuse in history. Simply outing the perpetrators does not reconcile the opposition of spirit and matter/animal/sex. Transparency merely alerts us to the truth of all that we are. Any attempt at reconciliation that merely represses one side in favor of another merely creates a new shadow. Reconciliation means creating a stable personality that doesn’t require new prison compartments.

But how does one achieve responsible wholeness? Here are some suggestions:

1) Appoint your adult self to mediate the process. The child self or the shadow self must be included in the negotiation but only the mature adult has the stamina and objectivity to work with all the points of view and emotional states of the different factions of the self. An immature child self has neither the patience nor objectivity to see beyond its own needs. Maturity is critical. Maturity must be in charge.

2) Suspend judgement. We all have parts of ourselves that have powerful “unacceptable” emotions as well as “immoral” impulses. Regardless of our reaction to these challenging parts we must accept them as part of who we are. All parts of the whole must have a place in that whole. It is the challenge for the adult self to recognize its parts, listen to their needs and points of view, and find the best place within the whole self for each part to live. For example, perhaps there is a part of the personality that truly hates to deal with people and the outside world. Perhaps that part can be assigned to securing uninterrupted meditation time, both from outside influences and inside thoughts that would dare to intrude upon inner silence. Be creative.

Our challenge, with the imperative of transparency being handed down to us from the next rung of life beyond human life, is to reconcile with our wholeness. We must find a place for all that we are, light and dark, in the full light of day. I would call this responsible, transparent wholeness.

Transparency is coming into its own now anyway. I dream that we may find our way to responsibility too. Together, let’s dream that dream, the transparent, responsible dream.

Dreaming,

Chuck

Chuck’s Place: The Economics of Changing Dreams

We must begin by assuming personal responsibility for the world’s current dream. Last week, I proposed that we are in the Time of the Usher, the dream changer. That lead role mysteriously fell upon Donald Trump.

Our very own Petty Tyrant!
– Art by Jan Ketchel

If we face the deeper truth that our world is spinning out of balance and requires a radical shift to survive, perhaps we can appreciate why we have called upon such a ruthless sorcerer from the dark side to usher in change. This sorcerer fits the bill of what the Shamans of Ancient Mexico call the petty tyrant.

Petty tyrants rank as extreme narcissists and psychopaths who wield the power of life and death over others. For shamans, encounters with petty tyrants are fundamental to their training. Most importantly, since tyrants lack any capacity for empathy for the cruelty they perpetrate upon their victims, shamans are offered a golden opportunity to lose their self-importance when dealing with them. Those indulging in self-pity under the reign of the petty tyrant exhaust their energy quickly and unwisely, as the petty tyrant has absolutely no concern for their needs.

Instead, shamans learn how to hone and revamp their energy, wasting none in seeking sympathy or validation for the hardships and cruelty directed at them by their petty tyrants. This energy saving training has the secondary benefit of preparing them to face future onslaughts from the unknown.

In this time of changing dreams that we are now experiencing, we are all at a distinct advantage, as it is very clear who the petty tyrant is. We can choose to stand up to him, by deciding to have all our energy available to meet the unexpected challenges and shifts that are occurring daily, with a minimum of energy expense.

Shamans ultimately seek the defeat of the petty tyrant but realize that getting caught in the traps of indignance and being offended both exhaust energy and cloud the ability to observe and plan strategically. The bigger the tyrant the greater the challenge to preserve  one’s energy and stay centered on the task. This is the position of the assemblage point that the shamans call the place of no pity. This position requires extreme mindful presence without ego attachment. The only question to ask oneself is, what is the appropriate action now, all personal attachment removed from view.

Since January 21st of this year I have limited myself to one minute per day of taking in the news. I came to this practice after observing the energetic impact that one hour of news was having on my energy as I went through the day.

Donald Trump, our news tyrant, seduces with outrageous antics and threats, which literally suck the energetic life out of a person. The emotional volatility evoked, and the attention given, literally feed the tyrant entity, who clearly has an insatiable hunger for attention.

I observe a tremendous energy savings with my one minute per day limitation. Each morning, I quickly receive the bullet points of necessary information, intentionally avoiding the trappings of emotional reactivity and seduction to track, think about, react to , and talk about the stories that are circulating in the news throughout the day—all energy-zapping practices. As a result I am free to decide if I need to do something or if I can just move on.

I don’t spend my energy on worry, fear, or rage. It simply depletes too much energy. Being offended by Trump is a waste of energy! Refusing to give him the attention he feeds off of, starves him of my energy and I get to keep it for myself. Having detachment from his outrageousness allows me to see clearly and to strategically navigate now.

Thus, I see Trump’s role as the usher, who has disrupted the familiarity and security of our world, as the role of the petty tyrant as well. He offers himself as the one to help us hone our energy and prepare for the real changes that we will invariably face as the world changes dreams again.

It’s a dangerous situation!
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Please don’t misconstrue my perspective as a benevolent casting of Donald Trump. He is a tyrant and he is dangerous. Many people will be and have been crushed by his ruthlessness. However, the world must evolve now into a new dream in order to survive, and the silver lining in Trump is that, though he appears the antithesis of survival, he has had the ability to interrupt the status quo of the world. This interruption of energy flow is a move of a sorcerer and it allows us all an opportunity to hone our own energy and prepare for the challenges on the horizon. These challenges may be hastened by Trump, but they hardly originate with him.

The deeper dream we are leaving is the self-centered dream where it’s all about “me” and “us” (U. S.)! Trump’s embodiment of that dream is the catalyst for the new dream, the one centered at the heart level: the real truth, transparency, and all-inclusiveness.

For us to prepare for this new dream, we must learn the economics of saving our energy resources by losing the self-importance of being offended and raising our consciousness to the truth of the heart.

The heart stays in alignment with the soul/energy body—spirit—call it what you will, but it is that divine center within us all that tells us the truth, the real truth, and whose guidance will lead us forward into a truly sustainable dream, the dream we are really preparing for, a heart-centered world dream.

From an energy miser,

Chuck