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.

#452 Chuck’s Place: Impermanence

Welcome to Chuck’s Place, where Chuck Ketchel expresses his thoughts, insights, and experiences! Today, Chuck thanks Jeanne and Jan for help with this essay.

Several times last weekend my thoughts and feelings were energetically drawn to a dear woman I knew, though had not seen in some time. On Monday a voice mail from her husband, asking me to call, confirmed what I had already sensed: her passing; the reality of impermanence. I thank her for sharing her passing with me from her energetic form.

The Buddha, in deep meditation, discovered why we suffer: we cling to the false belief that things will never change. To be born in this dimension, on earth, we indeed reside in a physical form that will age and wither and we will die. Sorry folks, but that’s the truth! We will love, we will attach to those we love, we will decay, they will decay, they will die, we will die. Death, for the body, truthfully, is rarely a pleasant process. Morphine is, indeed, a godsend.

Personally, I have done that journey. My depth of love for Jeanne, in this world, knew no bounds. Her death, for me, truthfully, was utter joy. I was given the privilege of delivering her to the next step, at the right time, in alignment with her truth. For me, that was the ultimate fulfillment of our earthly love.

The gift I have been given by Jeanne leaving this world is the opportunity to experience the evolution of love beyond the body, beyond this world. This is not an instantaneous occurrence, but a long process, taking several years, perhaps a lifetime, as I make decisions and choices on my journey without her physical presence, learning to reconnect with her in infinity as a spiritual being. Part of this process entails learning to release myself from my old contracts that no longer work, such as upholding old ideas of the self, expectations of society, expectations of family, and mental constructs about love, about being a man, a father, and the nature of family, all illusions of permanence.

Furthermore, I am offered the opportunity to experience reincarnation without death. I have entered a new life, fully connected to and aware of my recent life with Jeanne. I have opened to new love, relationship, and marriage. I accept, from hard earned experience, that all love, attached to the physical form, is impermanent. Earthly love tempts us to grasp onto our physical form, to stay young, to keep things permanent. Like the young Siddhartha, we are barricaded behind the walls of our illusion that everything we see is permanent, especially our physical bodies and our loved ones. In fact, now, with the advent of Viagra, we are treated to the fountain of youth, offering eternal erections, undying physical love!

The denial of death abounds despite the overwhelming evidence of decay and death all around us. In spite of the underlying reality of our inevitable death, we live encased in the illusion of physical immortality. We are shocked when our dear friends and loved ones become ill and die. We cling to ignorance, it simply won’t happen to me! And so, we suffer. Not because of decay and death, but because we stubbornly live in the illusion of permanence. In order to complete the reincarnation cycle now, in this life, we must embrace impermanence. This requires releasing our illusions of physical immortality, which, in essence, is detachment from the illusion of permanence.

Most important is to remain fully open to life in a world of impermanence. This is the gift Jeanne has given me and presents to all of us. In practicality, this means entering a new life with no illusions. Fully opening to life without illusion is opening to infinite love, reconciling something that dies with something that doesn’t. Opening to new life, fully, requires a release from all prior contracts and grief, what Jeanne calls recapitulation. Through emptying our selves of the burdens of life lived, we are freed to enter new life, fully open, fully capable of loving, and fully aware and connected to the truth of our prior life. That is opening the door to infinity. There is no longer a need to reincarnate, as we have completed unfinished business, because, with truth, there is no need to remain attached to the illusion of permanence. We don’t have to hide from anything we have ever done and we are fully open to any experience. We are ready for the truth and full experience of energetic infinity.

From this stance, we can fully enjoy the impermanence of our life, in this world, as we reconcile the paradox of what we are, finite and infinite. What is finite is our body; it will end. What is infinite in us is that which attaches to nothing and continues to ride the eternal wave of energetic change, fully engaging, experiencing, loving, and releasing when it’s time to go, with full memory and love of where we have been.

Until we meet again, in one form or another,

#448 Chuck’s Place: Mother, Father, Where Art Thou?

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

Today, I am performing idea alchemy. In an effort to arrive at the “prima materia” of these two archetypes, mother and father, I have distilled these entities into their single essences. Perhaps this can be challenged on many grounds, but I invite you to suspend judgment and take this journey with me, to discover mother and father inside us all. Who are they; where are they; and how do they get along inside you?

I begin with mother. Mother is our body. We come from mother, having once been physically merged with her, as one, then delivered to the world in our own body, our mother. Our motherbody carries all the knowledge of where we came from, and where we may evolve to, in every cell. The wisdom accrued through countless eons of life in the flesh is stored within our motherbody, the ultimate motherboard. The structures, systems, balances, healings, gleaned through centuries of evolution, all the secrets of survival and material manifestation, are wholly contained and known within our motherbody. Our motherbody knows only truth, records and registers all facts of life, and our life in particular. Our motherbody deals in concrete physical fact, communicating truth through sensation and emotion. To know our mother is to experience our body, understand its communications, and attend to its needs and requirements.

Father is mind, total abstraction, devoid of any material substance. Father is thought, interpretation, and idea. For idea to manifest, mother and father must cooperate or join. Idea cannot manifest without matter (or mother). Idea can create a blueprint, but without matter there will be no creation. My ideas for this essay, from my father mind, will not manifest without my body’s participation, to give form and substance to abstract thought, as I physically write.

Every man and every woman is mother in body and father in mind. When we think, schedule, set goals, and make decisions, we operate from father, with our ability to abstract. Our mother self is always active, balancing and releasing energies and messages in the form of physical sensations, emotions, instincts, and direct knowing or intuition, which is instinctive knowing not mediated by thought. These functions can manifest as dream, image, automatic movement, or feelings. Mother presents impulse and image to father-thought, to be converted into plans of action. In these instances, abstraction is generated by body knowledge, where, in fact, the mind is not the architect of thought, but instead the converter, to thought and plan, of mother’s impulse. Of course, in many instances, pure abstract thinking dominates the body. For instance, a diet, an exercise regimen, a sleep schedule, clothing decisions, grooming behaviors, the use of drugs for medicinal or recreational purposes, are all at the behest of mind deciding what body will be subjected to. Western civilization, perhaps beginning with the Christian innovation, which decided that mind is more trustworthy than body, has increasingly supported mind over matter. This alienation of mind from body leaves many people disconnected from their physicality and all its accumulated wisdom, looking instead to science as the ultimate guide to decision making.

As with any family, the relationship between mother and father is fundamental to the health of the family. When we examine the health of our own being we must explore the relationship between our mother body and father mind. This can be a tricky assessment. For instance, a muscular, well-toned body may reflect a cooperative relationship between mind and body, or might equally represent a controlling father mind, completely dominant of, and alienated from, the true needs of motherbody. An overindulged motherbody might represent an alienation from body, both necessary and directed by mother. The body will often, when assaulted by trauma, register and absorb the experience in a body part, which it protectively numbs for the sake of survival. Motherbody has learned much about survival. Every living being is the product of billions of successful survival adaptations discovered over time, which is evolution. These are stored in the cells of the body, as archetypal strategies of automatic action to be released, as needed, to survive. Sometimes, some parts of the body are sacrificed for overall survival of the body, regardless of the resulting limitations. Sometimes, motherbody pushes awareness completely out of the body to survive. Ultimately this can result in an over-reliance on father mind, which only has abstract ideas of what body is, or may not even be aware of body at all. Realize, however that this extreme alienation of mind from body might be the necessary balance for survival. Often, motherbody waits until the appropriate moment to reunite mind with body, through the form of physical triggers that return awareness to the body and, in a successful recapitulation, restores optimal unity of mind and body.

Another consequence of the interaction of mind and body is that the artifacts of successful strategies for survival, that originate from mind, end up in the historical record of motherbody and become available as direct knowledge in the future, through motherbody/the home of the archetypes. An example might be where the world rests at this moment in time. By all objective accounts, we find ourselves on the brink of destruction. We have elected a new president, a new father. He now begins a redirection of energy and resources, as manifested through changed economic, social, and environmental policies, which may, in fact, lead to a successful adaptation to facilitate continued survival. The experiences of our time will be recorded in our motherbodies, becoming available to the future evolution of our planet. Here father becomes mother, as what originates as idea becomes manifest in body and is carried into the future through the body’s eternal registry, which becomes available, through mother, to future generations. Of course, it is likely that the impulse to act, leading to the current change of direction, came from motherbody herself. Certainly the breakdown of mother earth has generated images and emotions that have awoken consciousness, or father, to the need for change. Ultimately, mind and body are converging here and are, in fact, inseparable, and may be the ultimate energetic prima materia, as one.

I return you now to the exploration of your own inner family.

Until we meet again,

#444 Chuck’s Place: The Archetypes That Bind Us

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

Yesterday, Jeanne spoke about achieving detachment through viewing our lives from a different perspective. Three archetypes that are the foundations of family life are mother, father, and child. These archetypes provide the energy and structures that guide and define a significant portion of our lives. Once we choose to become a parent we open the door to being caught by the mother/father archetype for the rest of our lives. When a woman becomes a mother the archetype provides the energy to give, bond, and nurture another being at an unprecedented level of self-sacrifice. This energetic flow is completely appropriate and necessary to sustain a new life. The child, governed by its own archetype, must be completely open to receiving, in order to flourish and advance in growth. The father archetype empowers the man to provide shelter and supplies to support the developing family. Of course, there are many examples where these archetypes are insufficiently activated in individuals, seriously limiting their ability to fulfill these most necessary roles. However, this is not the focus of this essay, which takes up the challenge of “appropriate” detachment from an archetype.

First, let’s look at motherhood as an example of acquiescing to the mother archetype, which means becoming infused with its energy, as one’s life becomes structured by an array of needs, demands, and expectations of self and others. Our world is particularly reluctant to ever allow a mother to retire. Once a mother, always a mother. Is there any more serious crime than a mother who refuses to mother? A mother who would drown her children is, by archetypal standards, more despicable than any mass murderer. Deep within each individual rests the archetypal expectation that mother, at any age, should nourish and be a caretaker. This archetype finds its way into many marital relationships, where the woman is expected, at any age, to cook and take care of her husband. Clearly, once children have been launched, generally by their late teens, it is appropriate for a woman to begin the process of launching her individual self, as she detaches from the archetypal mother structure, which has possessed and defined her life through the child rearing process. In fact, failure to do so can undermine the developmental process that enables the child to become an autonomous, self-sufficient adult, as childhood dependence continues to be encouraged. There are many forces that discourage detachment from the mother archetype. There is the archetype itself, which resists accepting a minor role in life’s drama. There is the mother’s resistance to letting go of such a defined purpose in life, entering the unknown. There is the child’s reluctance to trust its own wings as it leaves the nest. And finally, there is the immaturity of society at large, which places its demand to be taken care of on mother, who must always remain mother. It takes tremendous courage to embrace one’s right and necessity to evolve, as an individual, discovering one’s true purpose for being in this world, and finding completion through detachment from the archetypal role of mother, when it is time to do so.

The archetypal father is responsible for providing and leadership. The challenge for the father becomes letting go of control, allowing for novelty and difference. I think that is the meaning of the phrase, “the king must die; long live the king.” In effect, the rules of the father must acquiesce to change. This is the challenge we are currently confronted with in America. The father archetype, which controlled our economy, eventuated in the extremes of capitalist greed. This ruling system has long outlived its usefulness. It must die and be reborn in some new format appropriate to the real needs of the world. The election of Obama reflects this death and rebirth motif, however, what is currently happening is the struggle to fully accept that the old way must die. The father archetype, seeking to maintain its control, is evidenced in the halls of Congress where arguments continue to be made that the old way is, essentially, sound. The FOXy fear mongers attempt preservation of the preexisting reign of the Bush father archetype by, literally, splicing speeches and rewriting reality. Within the family, the father is challenged to relinquish control and dominance over the decisions and directions of his wife and children toward individuation. How else can those, whom he so deeply protected, learn to trust and protect themselves if they are not allowed to do so? Within his own psyche, the father is challenged to dis-identify his ego with the power of the father archetype and take up the path of his own individuation.

Then there is the child. The ability to remain receptive, vulnerable, and innocent, open to life and the world is the appropriate connection to the child archetype in all of us. Jeanne would suggest that the inappropriate attachment to the child archetype is the big baby, who remains eternally needy, demanding, and entitled. Fixating on the big baby creates a world of security through the veil of narcissism. Detachment from the big baby is assuming adult responsibility in a changing world. That, in fact, is what is being demanded of all of us now. The great mother earth is compromised in her ability to nurture as a result of insatiable demands of greedy babies, supported by the rules and practices of a greedy father who manipulates the truths to maintain his dominance, at all costs. This is the father archetype that must die like Kronos, who ate all of his children until fooled by his wife by being fed a stone, that Zeus might be born to usher in a new era.

Only through allowing ourselves to appropriately detach from the archetypes that bind us, can we see reality clearly and become adults, assuming responsibility for the health and future of our lives and our planet. Yes, it is frightening to see reality clearly, as we are in the midst of death and disintegration and we cannot be taken care of in the old ways. However, the reality is, yes, you can choose to sail on the Titanic, but it is going down. There are alternatives, but they require detachment from the old securities and an appropriate connection, as adults, to the innocence, vulnerability, and receptivity of the child archetype to change and find new life in this world.

Until we meet again,

#440 Chuck’s Place: Possession

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

So what does it really mean to be possessed? Remember the Greek myths, with all the Gods playing chess with mortal lives? Why so necessary to manipulate, impregnate, and have adventures with mere mortals? Those Gods, sitting upon their thrones, are absolutely dependent upon human life for their own experience of adventure and life. Otherwise, they remain dormant, eternally waiting for the opportunity to partake in, and find living expression in, human life. Furthermore, each of the Gods has its own personality, with its own distinct interest. Hence, the Gods compete with each other for their own unique dramas to be experienced and lived in human life. Let us define possession as one of the Olympian Gods seizing a human life, forcing upon it the energy and drama that this God seeks to live. From the human side, an individual experiences a taste of the divine while possessed, which can take the form of numinousity, an intense spiritual experience, or overwhelmingly powerful feelings of love, rage, ecstasy, etc. Today, we will explore possession by Eros, the God of romantic love.

Eros enters human life by piercing the heart with his arrow, invited or uninvited. I speak of falling in love, “the thunderbolt,” as demonstrated in The Godfather when Michael Corleone retreats to Sicily and, with one glance, is struck by the arrow of Eros. When Eros strikes there is no need to communicate in words nor, as in Michael’s case, even share a common language. A simple glance, a meeting of eyes, and it’s over, Eros takes total possession. No longer mere mortals, we are energetically transported to Olympus to partake in divine romantic love. This is communion, union with God, the heart of the Christian Eucharist, which, for some, opens the door to divine connection.

Once Eros strikes, a divine play unfolds, a play so played out that most onlookers smile and knowingly laugh at the hackneyed old drama of almost comedic proportions. But, for the humans possessed, the experience is utterly personal and unique. The energetic fullness, calm, and union experienced become the deepest, most meaningful reasons for being alive. Onlookers will recognize this divine possession. There is no point in commenting. No amount of mortal reason can break the spell of this divine play. Those more experienced with Eros’ “visitations” know that as quickly as Eros enters, he will leave, as the details of human reality, such as snoring and morning breath, gradually intrude upon the playing field of romantic love. When Eros leaves, mortals are abandoned, alienated by their God, thrust into bewilderment, depression, and left with an unquenchable thirst for another sip of immorality.

How can ordinary life ever be enough once we have partaken of the divine elixir? Relationships are cast aside, marriages ended, as some go in search of another to recast in the role of the beloved in the romantic play written, directed, and produced by Eros. After all, they reason, are we not entitled to “true love?” Others shut down to any possible return of Eros, so great is the pain of loss and the shame of having been so vulnerable, allowing themselves to be so deeply, fooled, taken, or had, by a God. Ironically, this wall, constructed to keep love at bay, becomes its own state of possession, as one becomes miserably reasonable and controlling, shutting down all possibility for joy.

Jung understood the interdependence of the Gods and mortals. In fact, he brought the Gods down from Olympus and installed them deeply within the psyche of each individual, in a region he called the collective unconscious, in the form of the archetypes. The Gods, the archetypes, then, are part of who we are and, yet, are utterly impersonal and universal. Human life requires a reconciliation of this paradox; on the one hand we must establish our individuality and, on the other, partake in the divine dramas that lend power, depth, and meaning to our human lives. If we allow ourselves to become too intoxicated by the energy of the Gods, and identify with them, we sacrifice our individuality, and our human life is consumed by the Gods, living out their dramas. If we shun the Gods, for the sake of our precious egos, we anoint the ego with the status of God and are subjected to the wrath of the Gods in the forms of psychosis, or deep depression, a veritable barren wasteland of existence, a loveless life.

The challenge is for the ego to find the correct relationship to the archetypes, or, put another way, for the ego to be in the correct relationship with spirit. That relationship requires balance, humility, and awareness. The ego must have the strength to withstand the energy of archetypal encounters, learning to not weaken itself or expose itself to energies that it cannot mediate or funnel safely into human life. For example, the ego must be able to confront an archetype, such as the nanny goat, which seeks to dominate life in a negative way. The nanny goat is an archetypal energy, which might have value in a human life, but the ego, as hero, must first defeat the controlling dominance of its influence. After this encounter, the nanny goat may transform into a nurturing, loving support to the personality in the process of individuation. With respect to the archetypal encounter with Eros, how can we ever find our way to completion, which is another form of individuation, without experiencing the fullness of love? This condition would indeed warrant reincarnation in order to attain completion.

In human life, the experience of Eros is a gateway to the potential for real love. When Eros possesses, our humanness merely acquiesces to a pre-programmed drama; there is nothing individual or truly related about it. We experience our partner as a God or Goddess, yet we truly know nothing about their human form. We are blinded by the glowing golden light of the divine. That is not true love, despite its overwhelming energetic experience of oneness. True human love can only happen with knowledge of, and connection to, all the details of the real human being sitting before you. Taking up the long journey of truly knowing and accepting another is the pathway to love and, yes, Eros can be a vital part of that relationship. The challenge is to integrate both the divine and the human in the proper balance. If Eros is allowed to take possession of the relationship, human relatedness ends and real love stagnates. If Eros is denied entry into the relationship, the relationship may drift into a stale mechanical habit. Once again, our challenge is to use our awareness to accept and integrate the fullness of who we are, both human and divine. Perhaps the term conscious possession might best capture the resolution of the paradox of human/divine, ego/archetype, leading to individuation and completion.

Until we meet again, I send you off with my love,

#435 Chuck’s Place: Day & Night

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

As the morning sun begins to rise, we are born into a new day or possibility. For a moment, our awareness is drawn to the wonder of it all, a deep spiritual pause, when suddenly and automatically our energy is stolen away, as we become fully engaged in the familiar habitual patterns that uphold our world and define our place in it.

In the broadening light of the rising sun, our consciousness grows, as we perceive the increasingly differentiated landscape. We define the world we see with increasing clarity. We define our familiar selves with similar precision. As contrast becomes more apparent, we separate our selves, and those around us, into distinctly separate, disconnected units. We reflect upon our selves as well, clearly differentiating our good and our bad traits. We review our faults, our sins. We establish our goals and intentions. We establish meaning and purpose. Our judgments become sharp. We move into our daily self, the acceptable presentation to the social order, the adaptive self. We push aside, refuse to acknowledge or allow expression to, the unacceptable, shameful parts of the self.

This is the price of the light of consciousness. The decision to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge, to choose the light of consciousness over the paradise of unconscious wholeness, is what casts us from the garden. Our awareness is born, torn from wholeness into a fragmented world of objects. Knowledge requires the separation of energy into distinct objects to be known, classified, and differentiated. The truth of interconnectedness is compromised in the light of day. All things, as they become known, are alienated from each other. Light creates shadow as it shines upon an object. Each object has its own shadow. Consciousness creates shadow, as it pushes aside the unacceptable or unknown aspects of the self. But does the conscious self own the fullness of its being, its shadow? This is the evolutionary challenge, to own the fullness of the self in full awareness. The ability to return to the garden, a fully recapitulated self, in total awareness, is what Jung called, the process of individuation.

Our world requires that we acquiesce to darkness every day. As the midday sun wanes through the mid-afternoon hours, the stirrings of the shadow can be felt within. Perhaps there is fear, as secrets, safely concealed in the darkness, can no longer be restrained by the dominance of the light. Perhaps the drums of the deep, instinctive self begin to stir, as we ruminate about elixirs of release in the welcoming darkness to come, where we are freed of the harsh light of judgment and accountability. Perhaps we become Mr. Hyde, or the willing victim of the vampire, releasing our shadows to fulfillment in oblivion. Perhaps we leave it to our dreams alone to balance out our one sided daytime life, through adventures in fantasy or journeys in other worlds.

The bottom line is that we cannot escape the full living of our wholeness. Since we made the decision to enter this world led by our own consciousness, we are saddled with discovering our wholeness, fragment by fragment. In the meantime, all the fragments of our wholeness demand life, in some form, which manifests as our personal balance. Balance will happen with or without consciousness. Our challenge is to assume conscious responsibility for our personal balance.

If we can use our awareness to shine the light on truth, with total acceptance, through suspending judgment, we are well equipped to find the ideal balance of self, light and shadow, and return to the garden, restoring, with awareness, the full energetic interconnectedness of all things. This is the essence of love, the dissolution of separateness in full awareness.

Until we meet again,

P.S. Please be sure to “tune in” tomorrow to a special audio channeling, recorded live at The Chocolate Factory!