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.

#534 Chuck’s Place: Awe!

Welcome to Chuck’s Place, where Chuck Ketchel expresses his thoughts, insights, and experiences!

Don Juan maintained that we live in a predatory universe. Life feeds upon life. Human beings are not exempt from being food for another awareness. However, in our case, as humans, the predator feeds upon our awareness, not our physicality. This siphoning of our awareness renders us incapable of growing beyond our obsessive worries about the self. Don Juan suggested that our awareness rarely grows beyond our feet, and at that level we are fixated on self-importance.

Carlos Castaneda was repulsed at the notion of a predatory entity feasting upon his awareness. Don Juan suggested that he view the predatory dynamic as a test. Growing awareness always requires mastering skills and passing tests to advance, hence, in this context, the predator is actually a necessary aid.

When Carlos inquired as to how we might defend ourselves from the predator, don Juan proposed that we defend ourselves through discipline. When Carlos questioned what he meant by discipline, don Juan answered that it had nothing to do with stringent routines or sacrifice. Don Juan defined discipline as AWE.

Awe is awareness of the magical dimension of everything. Life is magic, consciousness is magic, we are magic! When we stay in the place of awe our awareness repels the predator because we are no longer tasty, unaware fodder or complacent meat, fattening ourselves in self-indulgent bliss, willingly and unconsciously surrendering our awesomeness to another entity.

To stay in the place of awe requires discipline. Discipline in this case means a consistent effort to stay in the magic. We are so easily seduced into the poppy field of the mundane. In that place, we worry, we obsess about appearances, we strive to be valued, acknowledged, recognized, appreciated, wanted, loved, etc. We lament and agonize over being treated so unfairly, being owed, screwed, cheated, rejected, etc. When our awareness is consumed in that world we take our eye off the ball of awe. We slip deeper into self-obsession, self-pity, self-importance, and our awareness tenderizes, becoming quite delectable to the predator. This is why don Juan defined awe as discipline.

To remain in awe requires that we constantly wake ourselves up to the magic. Remember that we are magical beings on our way to dying. Keeping death as our advisor relativizes our heightened concerns about our status, possessions, physical survival, and, oh yes, our love relationships. We are travelers on this awesome journey in infinity, now. From this place, does it really matter what the scale says, who is calling or not calling, whether we are accepted or rejected, valued or glossed over? These are the concerns that the predator distracts us with. If we fall for the predator’s trick, we fall asleep in the poppy field, content with a life of slavery, allowing ourselves to be fed upon with delight, like victims of the vampire.

How do we remain in awe? First of all, realize that awe is a deeply personal experience. Do not fall for the trap of convincing anyone of anything. We are socialized into complacency with the illusion of self-fulfillment through self-importance. Break the chains of that socialization in every moment through the discipline of shifting into the awe of the magic of life.

Wake up, walk out of the poppy field, and immediately suspend judgment, because judgment is the root of self-obsession. Stay with the reality that we are magical beings on a journey of awareness. Refuse the predator’s world, which is nothing other than an interruption of that journey. That interrupted journey, without awe, fixates our awareness on our ability to accumulate and become important; a mediocre substitute for the real magic. Practice the discipline of awe! Resume the real journey.

I welcome your awesome comments.

Should anyone wish to write, I can be reached at:

Until we meet again,

#530 Chuck’s Place: Man in the Mirror

Welcome to Chuck’s Place, where Chuck Ketchel expresses his thoughts, insights, and experiences!

The shamans tell us we are born with all the energy we will have for this life. They claim that the quality of the energetic charge at our conception determines our energetic allotment. Laughingly, they claim that most of us were the product of a “bored fuck,” hence, our energy stores are quite limited. For these shamans, energy is everything: awareness, parting the veils, dreaming, journeying in infinity – all require energy. Those bent on achieving these feats in this life must become energy misers.

As energy misers we examine our habitual patterns, what Jeanne calls rituals this week, and determine which habits compromise our evolutionary imperative. This process is reflected in the chorus of Michael Jackson’s song, Man in the Mirror:

I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make a change, yey
Na na na, na na na, na na na na oh ho

As we peer into the mirror we will discover, for instance, what relationships we engage in that spend our energy by upholding a familiar life, such as repetitive conversations, redundant stories which reaffirm who we are, who we have always been, and who we will always be. These comforts of familiarity disperse and bind our energy and squash new possibilities. The shamans go so far as to suggest that we erase our personal history in order to remove the energetic bind of expectations from familiar sources, which keeps us imprisoned in a known world. In a modern sense, this might mean breaking the mold of our own self definition by doing something new, alone, rather than repeat the known rituals of the self. On the other hand, we might discover a pattern of staunch independence where energy is spent refusing a practice or making a commitment. Beware of this compromise of energy as well. Look carefully in that mirror, as you might discover a hidden puer or puella who refuses to engage in the adult world.

Taking an honest inventory of habits and behaviors of everyday life is another means of identifying energy drains. These can include items of worry, incessant judgements of self and others, or unnecessary doings, i.e.: staying busy or always being available to others. We may discover that many of our habitual patterns or choices are not necessary and are, in fact, a means to keep us distracted from deeper truths. This leads into recapitulation where we have the opportunity to recondition old energy, dispersed and attached to fragments of our past. As we relive our past we reclaim energy that has remained frozen there, a part of the self that is unresolved. The ability to relive the past allows its dilemmas to be put to rest, whereby freeing the energy that was caught. This then gets added to our energetic stash, available for use in a new way.

As we retrieve our energy, both through recapitulation and retiring energy draining rituals, our energy revitalizes and becomes available for true adventure.

I welcome your comments. Should anyone wish to write, I can be reached at:

Until we meet again,

#526 Chuck’s Place: The Angel & The Puer

Welcome to Chuck’s Place, where Chuck Ketchel expresses his thoughts, insights, and experiences!

They left together this week, Charlie’s Angel, Farrah Fawcett and the musical icon, Michael Jackson, embarking upon the next phase of their definitive journeys. Farrah fought so diligently with determination and focus to hold onto life in her body. Michael, the boy/man, the archetype of eternal youth, himself sought rebirth in this world as he, just as diligently, prepared to launch his own comeback. Death chose to take them on the same day. So, Death, what is the meaning of this synchronicity? What is it you want us to see?

With Farrah, we see the best of ego-intent to preserve life in this world. With Michael, we see the best of drinking from the fountain of youth, refusing all agreements with aging. In the end, death teaches that, however noble the strategy of transcendence, we must relinquish our grasp upon our solid form and transform into sheer energy.

The shamans, like the Buddhists, keep this moment of inevitable transformation central to their everyday lives. Each day they state: I am a being who is going to die. They live their lives impeccably, with the awareness that each act in this world may be their last. Hence, they engage each moment, fully present and unattached. They practice their journeys in infinity while in this world, honing their awareness for their definitive transformation into energy at the moment of their death.

These journeys in infinity are available to us all. All they require is that we continually break our leases with the myths that house us. The core myth, of course, is that we will live forever in our solid form. That was death’s gift this past Thursday when it snatched Farrah and Michael from our midst. For a moment the entire world stopped, even AOL. We were treated to a moment of truth. The ultimate myth buster, death, does indeed take all.

In that moment, when the myth was shattered, we glimpsed our own mortality, as beings on our way to dying. We were all Michael underneath a white sheet, being delivered into a simple ambulance, on our way to the morgue. Death offered us a moment of clarity, detachment, love, and excitement at the possibility of being with true angels and eternal youth, as energy bodies, in the playground of infinity.

I welcome your comments. Should anyone wish to write, I can be reached at:

Until we meet again,

#522 Chuck’s Place: Inner Silence

Welcome to Chuck’s Place, where Chuck Ketchel expresses his thoughts, insights, and experiences! Today, Chuck’s Place is graced by a guest improviser, Jan Ketchel, who will take us out of the familiar cognitive system we use to discuss and share knowledge and ideas, into the world of inner silence and direct knowledge.

Inner silence, according to don Juan, is an evolutionary possibility available to us all through which we can access direct knowledge. Direct knowledge is a unique form of knowing, which arises from a faculty completely independent of the brain and its cerebral processes. In order to reach inner silence, with its companion, direct knowledge, we must arrive at a place where we can shut down our incessant internal dialogue, which is the constant companion of our cerebral construction of the world.

The shamans of ancient Mexico maintained that every individual has a unique threshold of accrued moments of silence that must be reached before they automatically and unexpectedly stop the world of ordinary perception and cognitive functioning and, instead, see energy directly, as it flows in the universe, from their energy body state. This is achieved in full waking awareness, and from this perceptive position direct knowledge becomes accessible.

This notion of accruing moments of silence is very important. This means, literally, that every time we are able to stop the internal dialogue, even if but for a few seconds, these seconds are in the bank; they count toward reaching our individual threshold, whatever it might be, twenty seconds or two minutes. This notion of accruing time relieves us of the construct of failure based on, for instance, not achieving a successful meditation practice. Being able to shut down the internal dialogue for four seconds while walking down the street automatically accrues toward our individual threshold, regardless of the success or failure of our ongoing meditation effort. Break the attachment to that cognitive structure of success and failure. Hold, instead, the persistent intent of silencing the internal dialogue, through whatever practice or non-practice resonates or is presented in the moment; any opportunity to silence the mind.

Know that, at an unexpected moment, you will have reached your threshold and, suddenly, the world as you knew it will stop, and you will enter the world of energy and direct knowledge. Here is Jan’s example of entering inner silence and receiving direct knowledge, an energetic improvisation on reality:

I am at a family gathering, my mother’s eightieth birthday party. My sister has, for several years, taken on the tradition of writing a poem and reading it to celebrate the parents at their annual birthday events. I am in the living room, having been called there by my sister as she prepares to read. I am reluctant. I would rather stay in the other room than have to listen to another poem and experience yet another family event, a boring ritual, known and predictable. I am in the middle of my three-year recapitulation and I have been sorting through a whole host of personal issues and feelings, so this feels especially restrictive to me. I have been in the process of detaching and releasing the debris of many things. I want to refuse the repetition of a known world; I feel that I am being forced into a lifeless place that is no longer energetically engaging to me.

I pay attention to the first few lines as my sister begins to read her poem, but I refuse the familiar and resist being caught up in the communal reaction. I don’t want to be here. I stop my participation in that world. I am aware that the accolades are only half true, that underneath another meaning is true, when all of a sudden a shift occurs.

The floor at my feet suddenly becomes a river of energy, perhaps a foot or two deep of swirling, vibrant, flowing energy. My sister’s voice recedes; the laughter becomes muffled. I am so stunned I have to sit down. I sit on the step leading down into the sunken living room, my feet in the river, and watch the floor of energy. I become aware of my sister’s underlying thoughts and motives as she reads. I perceive my mother’s thoughts as she hears what is being presented to her. I see her hand pushing away the accolades, refusing them, and at the same time keeping the swirling river of energy down and away from her. I wonder: Can I hear what others are thinking? I slowly pan the room, going from one person to another, connecting to and receiving their thoughts. They just flow to me and I understand where everyone has gotten to, all these adult siblings, and how detached or attached to my mother they are at this point in their lives. I return my gaze to the river of energy at my feet, curious about it, perceiving everyone’s pain and sorrow pouring into it, flowing through the room, and my own dreamlike sense that we are all just energy and here it is lying at my feet, a thick river of it, a river of energetic perception. I want to stay here, remain open to it and hold onto it, aware. Suddenly, the reading is complete. I reluctantly let the energy go and come back to a familiar place. My brothers continue the festivities, singing songs for my mother, while I retreat to the kitchen to wash some dishes before I leave, wanting to retain as much of the experience as possible by detaching myself from the old recognizable process a little longer.

Jan and I welcome your comments. Should anyone wish to write, we can be reached via Chuck’s email at:

Until we meet again,

#518 Chuck’s Place: Shifting the Assemblage Point

Welcome to Chuck’s Place, where Chuck Ketchel expresses his thoughts, insights, and experiences!

Shamans maintain that the world of everyday life, what they call ordinary reality, is but one infinitesimally small possibility of human experience. They suggest that the relativity of our perception is determined energetically by where our assemblage point, a ball of brilliance, is stationed in our energetic essence. A metaphor might be a gear wheel with a vast number of slots or options to lock into. The most common slot that humans utilize among their many options is the slot of ordinary reality. The advantage of most humans fixating on the same slot is the creation of a uniform world, a consensus reality.

When we say good night to ordinary reality and fall asleep, we automatically disengage our gear and spin the wheel, opening the door to experiencing different worlds/slots in dreaming. Dreaming allows us to more fully experience our potential. Sleep disorders often reflect terror at relinquishing our hold on the familiar world of ordinary reality and visiting others. If we hold back sleep too long other worlds come to claim us, intruding upon the world of ordinary reality and causing what is known, in the psychiatric world, as a psychotic break. Shamans utilize the natural fluidity of the assemblage point in dreaming to volitionally, and with full awareness, enter other worlds. This potential is available to all of us, by simply intending awareness in our dreams.

Shamans would likely conclude that what we experience as our spiritual drive is actually an inner push to fully realize who we really are. Locking into one slot of who we are creates an identity that reflects but a fragment of our true potential. That fixation of our awareness on one slot generates an energetic dam that may result in depression, which is spiritual boredom, addictive endeavors, which are haphazard shifts of the assemblage point, or illness, which also serves to shift the assemblage point. The point is that our spirit insists that we shift the assemblage point and experience, more fully, the truth of who we are.

In effect, we all operate with an automatic transmission. The spirit involuntarily shifts our gears for us, to keep us in balance or force us to discover our wholeness. The greatest protagonist to the spirit’s intent is the ego, which generally strives to keep us in first gear, ordinary reality. I propose that we put our ego to work, instead, at learning to drive a manual transmission, where we safely and volitionally learn to shift the gears of our human potential and fully realize who we are.

As always, I am open to discussion or comment. Should anyone wish to write, I can be reached via email at:

Until we meet again,