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: Perfection Is Wholeness

Find wholeness in all things…
-Illustration © 2022 Jan Ketchel

Perfection is wholeness. Wholeness is the four-sided mandala: 4 directions, 4 seasons, 4 stages of life, etc. Winter is pregnancy. Spring is birth. Summer is fulfillment. Fall is death.

The decay of Fall provides the seeds and nourishment for new life, as the life cycle completes itself and begins anew. Nature teaches, in this most basic way, that life feeds upon life. The shamans of ancient Mexico called our world a predatory universe, not as a judgment but as nature’s destructive truth.

Evil is branded the demon, and it may present as such, but it is a necessary part of the life cycle, a fundamental part of our wholeness. Archetypes are the primal patterns that generate the life cycle. Archetypes populate the deepest level of the human unconscious, what Jung called the collective unconscious.

Joseph Campbell realized that in world mythology, which personifies the  organizing influence of the archetypes upon human behavior, the hero archetype has a thousand faces. Local cultures thus dress the core archetypes in local clothing and masks, but beneath the surface all the different variations can be reduced to the same universal archetypes.

Despite the culture or religion, the hero is always sacrificed, changes form, and is born again into new life. Once again, nature’s fallen resurrects in the new life of Spring.

Archetypes insist on being propitiated. We must appease their energetic imperatives or suffer the agonizing consequences of their wrath.  For example, depression is often the withdrawal of life energy by a neglected archetype. If we refuse a rite of Spring, like Daphne our life might harden into a frozen tree.

Modern humanity has forgotten its natural roots. The animal has been confined to the darkness of the basement, in the area of the psyche Jung called the shadow. While humanity luxuriates in its advanced technology, the animal in the shadow plans its escape into life. Here’s how Jung described the ravaged animal’s escape in Nazi Germany:

“Like the rest of the world, [the Germans] did not understand wherein Hitler‘s significance lay, that he symbolized something in every individual. He was the most prodigious personification of all human inferiorities. He was an utterly incapable, unadapted, irresponsible, psychopathic personality, full of empty, infantile fantasies, but cursed with the keen intuition of a rat or a guttersnipe. He represented the shadow, the inferior part of everybody‘s personality, in an overwhelming degree, and this was another reason why they fell for him.” *

Projection of one’s disowned self onto a political leader renders one the sacrificial victim of a wrathful archetype. Victimhood is experienced as both the ecstasy of the entranced and the rage and hate of the rationally disenchanted. In both cases one is drawn into emotional bondage by the archetype.

In either case, the truly disenfranchised is both the personal and collective shadow, the neglected animal and the natural world, the Earth. This is a universal collective problem for humankind, not simply an issue of polarization.

The archetype of the shadow is just that, that which lives in the darkness.  This is both the truth of our disowned lives, as well as the archetype of our unlived wholeness. To propitiate the shadow, we must bring the light of our consciousness into the darkness and discover the fullness of who we are.

In waking life, our journeys into darkness require us to own and release the intensity of our emotions in a safe place. Beyond release is the full knowing and acceptance of all we have done, light and dark. Finally, the darkness will reveal the changes we must make to align ourselves with our wholeness.

If we can suffer the Fall, reveling in its final colorful act, and have the patience of a pregnant Winter, new life will surely arrive, to be nourished in the Spring and brought to fulfillment in Summer, as the life cycle perfects its wholeness.

Seeking perfection,
Chuck

*Jung, C. G. (1946). Fight with the Shadow. In The Collected Works of C.G. Jung (Vol. 10). Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Chuck’s Place: Close Your Eyes To Projection

Discovering royalty within…
– Illustration © 2022 Jan Ketchel

Our attention and emotional excitement are drawn outwardly to events that show us our very personal drama within. Our inner director is so stupendous, we hardly realize that our outer fascination is directed from  the depths of our own psyche, as it seeks to captivate the attention of our consciousness.

So held in the grip are we by certain events upon the world stage that it seems impossible to believe that they are actually reflecting something quite personal within our own selves. The movie we are drawn to see might be our own personal shadow play, or it may reflect the seismic stirrings at the deeper, unconscious level of our collective Soul life.

To discover the source, close your eyes and ask your Soul to reveal the source of your attraction, fascination, repulsion, and passion for the story it has directed you to. Allow your spontaneous thoughts and images to interact with your reflective consciousness. Prepare to take deeper ownership for the fuller picture of the many selves of your self. 

The Queen’s funeral might find one unexpectedly overcome by a depth of emotion completely enigmatic to one’s conscious attitude toward the monarch and sense of self. Closing one’s eyes to the world, an image of personal mother may appear. A series of vignettes might ensue, expressing her life of self-sacrifice and service, as she provided  nurturance and security to all. A wave of old grief might invite one to emotional release.

Perhaps one might be drawn instead to images of mother repressing emotion in all, stressing rules and limitations in her reign over one’s childhood. Perhaps one is then drawn into the emotion of guilt that one actually felt joy at liberation upon her passing.

At another level, one might encounter the numinous energy of royalty, the Great Mother Queen, whose coffin concealing her lifeless body draws thousands to wait countless hours to walk by and to personally commune with her Goddess energy. Welcome to the the domain of the archetypes.

Archetypes are nature’s images that direct human behavior from behind the mind’s eye. In archetypal reality, royalty is the Queen Bee, whom the drones of humanity are organized to serve. Queen and King are the ultimate mother and father in all benevolent or cruel authority figures that we encounter throughout life. We react to their projection with anxiety, awe, fear, and anger.

Inwardly, these archetypes are the ego’s parents, to which it owes its life. When ego inflates, it identifies with their power. When it deflates, it abandons all its power, as it returns to the womb in total surrender.

In Queen Elizabeth, ego highlighted the value of service—service to the established rules. Queen Elizabeth represented ego sacrifice to a higher value. Human predilection must conform to royal expectation, without exception.

Inwardly, human guilt and longing may be the consequence of our relationship to these powerful archetypes. Has my life gone wrong because I refused to sacrifice to service, that is, to what was expected of me? Is my fulfillment denied because my needs have offended the royals within? Is it time to break free of royal bondage? Am I prepared to go it alone, to honor my right to choose? And if I do, am I prepared to bear the wrath of the royal parents?

At the deepest collective level the boots of the activated Gods are making the Earth shudder. The Queen is dead, long live the King. Inwardly, this transition of power marks the emergence of a new rule, perhaps dictated by transition to a new stage of the life cycle. Clearly, the world is floundering as it seeks a new value to live by.

The Queen’s adherence to ancient precedent cannot lead us to salvation. What is needed is not adherence and sacrifice to tradition but service and acquiescence to what is truly needed for the Earth, and all her inhabitants. Can ego serve such a King?

These are the many worlds within that play for attention in our changing world without. Though we might laugh at the silliness of monarchy, perhaps if we close our eyes and discover the powers that be within, we’ll understand the reason for a tear as we listen to the bagpipes sending this Queen on her definitive journey.

With closed eyes opened,
Chuck

Chuck’s Place: All That Is & All That was

Joining above and below…
– Illustration © 2022 Jan Ketchel

Jeanne, from her Soul perspective, has advised that all we need in order to advance our karmic intention in this life is present in the material circumstances we encounter in this life. Regardless of the past life incarnations that constitute the deeper fabric of our present life, it is not necessary to retrieve them in memory to reconcile our Soul’s mission in this life.

Too much obsession with past life retrieval can distract one from fully living one’s current, actual, life. In fact, though fascinating and enchanting, past life exploration can, if overly lived in, provide a dissociative distraction from the depths of emotional engagement and challenge needed in the full living of one’s current life.

Recapitulation, or retrieval of all of one’s current life experiences, is the key to cracking the karmic nut of one’s current life. This is aptly verified by the life review process consistently reported in near death experiences (NDE). Retrieving and processing traumatic memory from this life also paves the way to liberation and fulfillment of one’s karmically interrupted current life.

Ultimately, one’s spiritual evolution requires a recapitulation of all of one’s many lives to arrive at the fullness of one’s Soul identity, an amalgam of all those experiences. Beyond that is the greater amalgam of all Souls’ journeys in the cosmic hologram of oneness. Wholeness requires full ownership and reconciliation with all that is and all that was.

As the icebergs melt and the lakes dry up, our material world reveals its hidden human history. The subtle energies of bygone times are no longer frozen in time, they reveal themselves upon the current world stage.

Queen Elizabeth’s passing is the end of an era that is, ironically,  reasserting itself upon the current world stage. The Souls of the unsettled departed cry out for attention and resolution, as the Queen recapitulates, in her subtle body, the life of her reign beyond the confines of her royal diplomacy.

The hunger of the Soviet empire to reassert its hegemony over Ukraine harkens back to 1922 when the Soviet Union annexed Ukraine. The rise of racist ideologies in political personalities throughout the world reflect Hitler and Mussolini, prominent dictators of WWII. The polarization among the American populace reflects the unleashing of suppressed energies and ideologies from its own Civil War of the 1860s.

In its current life, the world is facing a potential Armageddon, due to climate change brought on by a reticence to face the truth and acquiesce to the needs of the greater whole. The world ego is being challenged to grow beyond its narcissistic worldview to embrace a true love for neighbor. Souls currently in this life, as well as those subtly departed but still attached, are energetically engaged in the global chess moves of now.

Earth’s karma is forcing an engagement of unrequited energies that are demanding reconciliation. Currently, world ego is struggling to acknowledge Earth’s deepest needs, even as it prioritizes its own comfort and survival. The broader view that acknowledges and actively addresses the imperialist impulses of now, evident in much of the world’s response to the invasion of Ukraine, is a definite advance from ignoring the Nazi purge early in the lead up to WWII.

Hitler’s once crafty rise to power is being deeply reflected in the current challenges posed by the political events on many continents. The American Civil War is being replayed with a vengeance, while its unity, necessary to serve as world leader, teeters on collapse. The current release of anger, in the many tragedies of now, reflects another stage in the grieving process, perhaps unavoidable if we are to achieve the ultimate reconciliation of detached acceptance.

Though we shouldn’t obsess over the past world memories now active upon the world stage, appreciating the deeper restless energies of yesteryear casts a broader view of all that has a stake in the outcome of now. Our focus now should be on facing the truths of now, within and without.

From this position of broad contemplation, past and present included, let us take up, with diligence, the recapitulation of our personal lives, and find true fulfillment in loving all that is and all that was.

Intending the broader view,
Chuck

Chuck’s Place: Synchronicity & The Ego

Synchronicity: Spirit meets Matter…
– Illustration © 2022 Jan Ketchel

Synchronicity is a spiritual encounter in everyday life. Once, a scarab beetle plowed into Jan’s neck as we sat on our deck. It fell to the floor and lay there in a stunned stupor. Jan immediately identified it as a scarab beetle, a rare occurrence for the time of year. We later discovered that the encounter with the beetle occurred at the same time as the death of someone we knew, someone whom I had once animatedly discussed Jung’s experience of synchronicity with a patient involving a scarab beetle, a beetle rarely seen in his environment.

The meaning of this synchronous encounter was obvious: a departing soul sent us an undeniable farewell gift that I alone would unmistakably recognize. From the spiritual dimension contact was made with the physical dimension in a most meaningful and touching way. That’s a synchronicity.

My ego, the soul agent of everyday physical life, was critically necessary for remembering the long ago scarab beetle discussion, but, to truly be touched and taught by the experience, had to humble itself to a higher  power, higher than itself. The narrowly rational, doubting-Thomas, typical ego attitude of everyday life has a tendency to laugh off the experience as coincidence, or to inflate itself with spiritual airs for having had the experience.

Since the dominant spiritual dimension of our existence comes to life in our sleep/dream time and is largely lost to memory upon awakening, when ego reawakens to its governance over waking life, synchronicity can be seen as the Soul’s adroit use of physical reality to impress itself upon the ego’s limited knowledge of its greater Self.

Sometimes, synchronous events can seduce ego into recklessly misinterpreting their meaning and inflating itself in its decision making. Stan Grof humbly shared his experience of a celestially romantic relationship with Joan Halifax in his book, When the Impossible Happens, that led to an impulsive decision to marry during a transpersonal conference in Iceland, which was attended by Joseph Campbell and officiated by Huston Smith.

The relationship, or non-conscious relationship, between Joan and Stan lasted very briefly after Iceland. Joan went on to become Joan Jiko Halifax, a famous American Buddhist teacher, founder of, and currently Abbot of, the Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, NM. Stan went on to marry Christina Grof with whom he collaborated on the creation of Holotropic Breathwork to gain non-drug induced access to the spiritual depths of the psyche. Both Stan and Joan were humbled and advanced in their relationship with Soul and the language of synchronicity through this memorable coupling and uncoupling.

The lesson of Iceland was for ego to become humbled but not intoxicated by the power of synchronicity orchestrated by the Soul. Ego must also assume 100% responsibility for its decisions in this world. Ego craves union and connection with its higher Soul, or Higher Power, but must retain decision making responsibility in the life it is currently in. Synchronicities may offer numinous spiritual experiences of Soul union, but Soul refuses to do the work of ego: to reflect, think, feel, intuit and decide.

If Soul already knew the answers to the life we are in, how would it benefit from sending us into this life? What would be the point? We are here on a mission of growth, ultimately accrued to the benefit of our greater Soul. Granted, Soul has much wisdom, resource, and power, but it requires of ego to access that guidance and apply it, as feels right for itself. Even if ego is mistaken in its judgment, it will learn and grow from its mistakes.

High Soul uses its power of synchronicity to help ego grow. Sometimes that means being the trickster, as in Stan and Joan’s Icelandic adventure. At other times, synchronicity lends itself to facilitating a meeting of souls, as was the case with Jan and my encounter with the scarab beetle.

Synchronicity can also be straightforward with spiritual guidance, as with the I Ching. Throwing physical coins is correlated with spiritual tuning in and guidance. Yet even the I Ching will become a trickster if ego becomes overly dependent, constantly deferring its decision making responsibility. Sometimes it gives you a totally inappropriate reading, essentially communicating: Wake up! Think for yourself!

In step three of the Twelve Steps of AA, a person in recovery is required to turn over the ego’s decision making to their Higher Power. Bill Wilson, cofounder of AA, was given the Twelve Steps in a direct encounter with his Higher Power during a therapeutic LSD therapy session. The function of step three is to refine and grow ego responsibility by first submitting it to the guidance of its Higher Power.

In the case of an addict, ego’s alienation from its Soul leads to attempts to merge with Soul through the use of excess substance, creating habitual spirit misfires, resulting in addiction. Step three suspends habitual behavior, while ego undertakes an honest life review and prepares to become a mature version of itself, with the support and leadership of its Soul. Eventually, ego is able to take full ownership of its life, and thus its decisions reflect the higher intent of its Soul.

When synchronicities occur, enjoy their numinous welcome but be careful with how you interpret and act upon their apparent insinuations.

Be humble before Soul, but never give up assuming full responsibility for decision making. That’s our deepest reason for being in this life.

Assuming responsibility,
Chuck

Chuck’s Place: Boundaried And Unboundaried

Vibrate love…
– Illustration © 2022 Jan Ketchel

Ego is actually Soul, boundaried. At some level it knows it is part of something greater yet it must suffer the necessary amnesia of its true origins and be limited to its identity forged in its life in human form. Once it arrives at its true place, as agent of consciousness in the greater life of its Soul, all settles nicely.

Nonetheless, boundaries are truly essential to have a truly human experience in time and space. And isn’t that why we are in the specific life we are in, to experience and advance this life, which will eventually become a part of our greater Soul’s infinite journey?

Nonetheless, while our ego is preoccupied with our human life dream, our greater Soul lives on. We cross paths with Soul in dreams, synchronicities and intuitive downloads that provide guidance and support to our student ego.

As we loosen our boundaries, we open to the wholeness of our living Soul. For instance, the simple act of releasing muscular tension introduces us to the greater wholeness of the physical body. Breathing into ever-deeper relaxation opens the door to the subtle soul, as our energy stirs and begins to vibrate.

As the vibratory frequency rises and intensifies we become one with all of nature, joining the chorus of tree frogs and cicadas. As boundaries melt away, we become very much aware of the oneness of everything in the energetic wave that we are all part of.

By practicing this simple relaxation ego learns that it is more than its current identity. Though it must be in its human life, in its solid physical body, it can connect with its multidimensional self as well, experiencing the subtle connection to its energetic home in the ongoing life of its greater Soul.

Ego can evolve during its sojourn in space/time by maintaining connection with its fuller self. All that is truly required is to give up its illusion of the superiority of its reason. More specifically, ego must allow its reason to grow beyond itself and to more deeply explore the world of its beyond-ordinary land of intuition.

Ego can also mature to release itself from the seductive grip of negativity, which offers its own kind of divinity of smoldering passion. Love, in contrast, melts all the boundaries of the multidimensional self in its acceptance of everything.

Surrounded by the powerful energy of love, the wall of defensive negativity relaxes its solid grip, and we are released to breathe in the calm energy of love.

At the deepest and most subtle levels, relax and let love permeate, within and without. As part of infinity’s greater wave of energy, love is a course corrective for the times we live in. May ego find its way to love.

Hold love within, intend it without. Boundaried and unboundaried will feel its call.

Love,
Chuck