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.

#478 Chuck’s Place: Return to the Garden and Beyond

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

How challenging it is to truly embrace one’s gold. Dysfunctional families, dysfunctional relationships, dysfunctional marriages, etc, etc.; the concept of dysfunction is the current buzzword to account for out inability to embrace our gold, which is actually a direct connection to our archetypal inheritance; or in energetic terms, our feminine energy. Lacking a solid archetypal foundation, we struggle with low self-esteem.

As I look around this spring, I don’t notice inertia, hesitation, stagnation, or depression in the birds, the squirrels, or the peepers. Spring energies course through our human veins, yet often get caught in paralysis, hyperactivity, or failure. Apparently, when we left the Garden and chose consciousness, chose to take charge of directing that which had flowed so smoothly with unfailing precision, we were sentenced to sail the ship without a guidebook. We have been haphazardly crashing on the rocks and reefs, finding our way, ever since.

Our sentence, upon leaving the Garden, also included poor self-esteem. At the foundation of every individual germ of consciousness (the ego) is the fact of inadequacy. The ego is no match for the archetypes. The archetypes got it down pat through eons of experience; they know what works. They know how to direct nature’s energies and make things flow smoothly. Human egos, thrilled with their “advanced science,” marvel at their ability to create pharmaceuticals to correct what they judge to be nature’s inherent flaws. I simply can’t figure out how those birds manage to sleep through the night without their ambien or breathe without their nasonex! Do humans ever consider that their inherent flaws are inherent mishaps, created through the hubris and ignorance of haphazardly sailing the ship?

Now, to be fair, someone had to take the wheel, figure some things out, make some rules, and create order amidst the “chaos.” Have some compassion for the male God, it’s the best that alienated beings, with little to go on, could do, as they trudged, thirstily, through the desert outside the Garden. The egos invented the male God, complete with new guidebooks. Some of these guidebooks come close to the wisdom of the archetypes; some are seriously flawed. The latest reigning edition is the Book of Science, with google providing quick access and wikipedia providing up-to-the-moment certainty.

So what are the qualities of the male God? He knows, he is powerful, he is definite, completely certain, and competent. He is the antidote to the human dilemma of core self doubt and lack of self-esteem. Why wouldn’t we worship such a God? Why wouldn’t we gobble up the self-help commandments, which promise us a connection to such qualities? Why wouldn’t we overtly, covertly, or unconsciously, seek to emulate or unite with those in the world who reflect these desirable qualities? If only I could be so knowledgeable, calm, collected, definite, and powerful, as he or she!

So where is the flaw here? I see these strivings as compensations for a lonely, inadequate ego, completely ill equipped for life. That is the true state of our “conscious” beings, alienated from our archetypal core. Stated in another way, this is masculine energy alienated from feminine energy, which has been the energetic predicament of humanity since the birth of consciousness. It is true that many egos before us have made great discoveries about the “nature” of things. Unfortunately, many of these egos, or demigods, behaved like little Neros, so enthralled with themselves and needing to play with their powers that they created many aberrant natures. Often, they made it particularly important to eliminate, at all costs, any sign of strong feminine energy. Thank God for pharmaceuticals to correct the balance! The problem, as I see it, is that the male God, devoid of feminine energy, is an alienated god. Essentially, it represents the ultimate enshrined ego. That God has no need for archetypal wisdom; he simply can do a better job.

The question arises, should we have left the Garden to begin with? What is the value of consciousness when we view, honestly, the job it has done in steering the ship? Personally, I think it was our evolutionary imperative to leave the Garden, just as now it is our evolutionary imperative to discover ourselves as energy. However, even if the Garden is an illusion, because ultimately it’s simply energy, we don’t have the right to leave the Garden in this condition. The challenge is to reconcile the relationship between masculine and feminine energy. How can we solve this?

First, we must find our way back to the Garden. This brings us into direct contact with archetypal wisdom. Feminine energy never lost its connection to archetypal wisdom; the connection is automatic. But how does feminine energy grapple with consciousness? Feminine energy is direct knowing. Consciousness knows nothing a priori. First, it must discover, preferably through science, facts; then it knows. How does that which just knows (feminine energy) reconcile with that which has to figure everything out (masculine energy)?

The way this challenge has unfolded, to date, has been for masculine energy to become dominant, despite its ignorance, and completely subjugate and devalue the feminine. Of course, the feminine is inherently insecure in the light of consciousness because it really does not know why it knows what it knows, it just knows. This “just knowing” is pitiful from the perspective of consciousness alone, which must discover and label all the building blocks of the world it dismantles.

The reconciliation of these two energies, which desperately need each other, is in a new relationship of co-existence and partnership, without either dominating the other. Masculine energy needs to drop its god complex, ego inflation, and become pure awareness. Feminine energy needs to trust that it knows, dropping its ego deflation. Both energies, devoid of judgments, are free to see all the truths, consciousness and knowing in alignment. This alignment insures right action.

Masculine and feminine energy in alignment will allow restoration of the Garden and freedom to venture beyond, with awareness, into pure energy.

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

I was just carried away this week by spring’s awakening and do intend to return to the discussion of projection next week. Until we meet again,

#474 Chuck’s Place: Projective Fire

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

My intention this week is to continue the explanation and exploration of the psychological dynamic of projection. My rational syllabus had been to broaden into the non-defensive dimension of projection, where the psyche shows us many parts of our unknown selves as they are reflected upon the screen of our relationships in the world. However, my appreciation of the non-rational phenomena I encounter, in this case a preponderance of synchronistic material, prompts me to focus instead on grappling with the power of projection, which can be so disruptive to our lives. No amount of intellectual knowledge can stem the energetic impact of projection, which ranges emotionally from bliss to terror. We must have tools to reign ourselves in from the dangers of such extremes. Furthermore, our ability to process or gain perspective on what is happening to us when we are caught in a projection is undermined, and of little value, while under the influence of such emotional intensity.

A couple of days ago, I heard a report on NPR about the current state of scientific knowledge regarding the value of releasing anger. With John Lennon’s primal screams in the background, this piece went on to challenge the value of cathartic emotional release. Evidence seems to suggest that the effects of cathartic release are temporary and, in fact, feed the fire, leading to greater emotional intensity; it is a bottomless pit. Despite my utter love for John Lennon and his Plastic Ono Band album, (my favorite album of all time!) I agree, in general, with this research. While it is necessary to empower an individual to have and express feelings that may have been repressed completely, or overly controlled, throughout life, release of feelings is not an end in itself. Release does not guarantee resolution. Resolution requires resolved detachment, as opposed to holding onto justified anger, for instance, which requires ongoing maintenance and essentially keeps one caught in victimhood, remaining oppressed. This continued attachment can also lead to opening the door to archetypal energies and states of possession, which I have explored elsewhere, in Message #456, Healing or Possession.

If the ego becomes debilitated by emotional intensity there can be no mastery and resolution. So, rule number one, in gaining such mastery and resolution over projective energy, is: stay an adult; maintain the integrity of the mature ego. Do not allow the intensity of emotions, such as love, rage, jealousy, or fear, to unseat your ability to remain in adult control of your self. If emotion is going to overwhelm your adult self, it is not time to release the emotion. Of course, the next question is, what to do with intense emotion that is welling up inside?

Intense emotion is fire! If you add wood to the fire it intensifies. Rule number two is, shut down the mind; do not add fuel to the fire! Thoughts provide plenty of dry kindling for a fire; firing rapidly they intensify an emotion. Thoughts might also add pressure to engage in behaviors to uncover more “evidence” of wrongdoing, which can, indeed, further fuel the fire. Allowing intuition, in its negative form, to run amok, like in Alfred Hitchcock’s movie, Suspicion, where projection is allowed to build a story that is totally untrue leading to dire circumstances, provides more fuel for the fire. So, how do we shut this process down?

Rule number three: don’t attach! This is the mantra to say, incessantly, to the self. It states an intent and attracts the energy of intent to support it. Inwardly, it draws a powerful circle around the self, shutting down the projector, keeping the energy of the self, and all its parts, safely contained within. Repeating the mantra, don’t attach, don’t attach, don’t attach, takes attention away from projected objects, and focuses, instead, on finding inner balance. It promotes letting go of thought, a major culprit in projective fire. There will come a time, a time of calm, when meaning and clarity can be applied to the time of intense emotional projective fire. That time is not now, during the encounter with intense emotion. Now is the time of turning inward, holding onto the full integrity of the self, and bringing all of the projected parts home, which removes the threat of loss of self. With this action we can restore balance and calm within.

I find myself turning to the active meditative exercise Jeanne proposed for this weekend, as an excellent tool for dousing the projective fire, in Message #473. Walk through your day with awareness focused on your own liquid gold in a bowl in your hands. Keep your focus steady; maintain calm and balance. You don’t want to spill one drop of your precious gold. Don’t allow your mind to wander, or the bowl might tip. Keep returning your attention to your golden focus. All that is precious, all that is you, is safely contained and balanced in your steady hands.

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,

#470 Chuck’s Place: Projection as Defense

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

My last article on the animus, or the masculine side of a woman, stirred considerable interest in the psychological dynamic of projection, which has fascinated me since I first encountered it nearly forty years ago. I would like to break this concept down in a tangible way, making it readily available as a tool for self-study and every day interactions. This is a broad topic that I will build upon in coming weeks. Today, I begin with the first identification of the phenomenon of projection as a psychological dynamic, as an ego defense. The core mechanisms of how projection operates defensively are critical to understanding the broader functioning of projection in the psyche that go way beyond defense, hence, it is necessary to begin with this more narrow application.

Freud was the first to identify projection as a major psychological defense. In a nutshell, he determined that the psyche had the defensive ability to unload parts of it self that were disturbing to its own balance by literally giving them away to someone else. It is as if there is a movie projectionist inside us that can take a part of our inner selves and project it out of and away from us, onto another person in the world who serves as a screen for an unwanted aspect of the self. This relieves us of the tension of housing a disturbing inner struggle. This action of projection on the part of the psyche is not a conscious process; it is quite automatic and functions outside of ordinary awareness. If we were conscious of a disturbing factor within our selves we would already own it, although we would certainly feel the tension and conflict of it because it remains inside us. For example, if I know that I lost my keys, it would be impossible to blame another. If I don’t know that it is I who lost my keys, my unconscious could protect my ego from such uncomfortable feelings and judgments, like anxiety, badness, failure, etc., by providing me with the strong suspicion that it was definitely someone else, perhaps my spouse, or child, who took or moved the keys. The anger that I might have felt toward my “inadequate” self could then be directed at someone else. My ego is thereby protected, as my psyche would have projected the disdainful “scatterbrain” self, that I might in fact be, onto someone else.

This type of defensive projection can also extend to social causes. Last night I watched the movie, Milk, which offers an excellent example of defensive projection. Here was depicted a social battle that still wages heavily today, of a vitriolic hatred toward a minority, in this case, homosexuals. There are many instances of latent homosexuality in individuals. In fact, Freud hypothesized that all humans are born polymorphous perverse. What he meant was that human sexual impulses are originally undifferentiated, they can attach to anything to derive pleasure. It is only through the process of socialization that these impulses are funneled into categories, such as heterosexuality. However, beneath the veneer of the conscious personality may reside latent sexual impulses interested in other categories of expression, such as homosexuality or bi-sexuality. In many instances, as a result of a powerful socialization process, an individual’s conscious personality or ego may be strongly attached to a firm heterosexual identity. The very idea that one might have a sexual impulse toward someone of the same sex would be utterly ridiculous and abhorrent to the conscious personality. Let’s say that, unconsciously, within one’s own psyche there are, in fact, latent homosexual impulses. This would indeed create a serious conflict for the psyche. One way to protect the ego from this intolerable adversity within the personality would be to unload, via projection, the homosexual aspect of the self onto an openly gay member or collective homosexual group in society.

Once the psyche is unburdened of this unwanted aspect of the self it becomes equally necessary to hate and reject the individual or group who houses the rejected self. This ensures the defense: the ego is still rejecting, it doesn’t have to get “in bed” with this unacceptable part of the personality, which is now safely disposed of outside the self. This emotional tie to the rejected, projected, object insures an inner psychic balance, as the rejected part of the self is still included in the psychic economy through an ongoing energetic attachment to itself via the projected object. In effect, the homosexual impulse within the self, though disowned, is actually unconsciously continuing to be owned via a compulsive interest in the individual or group who carries the projection of one’s inner self. In this case, the boundary of the self is actually extended to include the person upon whom the projection falls. The advantage to the conscious personality is that it can disown the hated part of the self, yet remain safely attached to it, achieving some form of psychic balance. In the case of Milk, this took the form of passionate attempts to remove the civil rights of homosexuals through intense moral and political movements. In this case, the passion suggests a defensive projective dynamic on the part of those attempting to rid themselves of unwanted aspects of their own psyches. Though I have narrowly suggested that the causal root of the projection onto the homosexual may be a disowned latent homosexual impulse, this may, in fact, not be the actual derivative of the projection. The homosexual, like any minority, may simply be the scapegoat for any aspect of a hated, uncomfortable part of the self, releasing the psyche from housing the tension of opposite tendencies.

The bottom line is, that to maintain psychic balance we must remain attentive to our outerly projected parts. Even if we hate them, that hatred is a form of involvement with them that keeps us connected to our hidden inner selves as we vicariously live these disowned parts through the lives of other people. Expanding our awareness or consciousness to our fuller selves requires that we allow ourselves to face uncomfortable truths or parts within our selves. In the case of a latent homosexual impulse, the challenge is to allow the ego to acknowledge its existence first, which requires bravery and openness. There can be great fear and anxiety with this, as we are confronted with the possibility that our understanding of who we are, is not really who we are. In some cases, the truth might be that we are, indeed, primarily bi-sexual or homosexual. Or it may mean that, though dominantly heterosexual, there is a part of us that enjoys homoerotic urges.

Once an individual can reconcile the truth within the self, the outer projection ceases. There is no longer a need to disown and dislodge a rejected part of the self onto another. We are freed to see the other as they are, without a knee-jerk or compulsive need to hate. Perhaps, our reaction might become compassionate or neutral, but no longer is there an intense emotion or compulsive tie, as we are owning, containing, and reconciling our disparate parts within our selves.

I suspect the commandment to love thy neighbor as thy self was an ancient instruction on how to resolve the defensive projection dilemma. For, in order to love thy neighbor as thy self, one must first remove any projections of disowned, rejected parts of the self from the projective screen of thy neighbor’s face. To achieve compassionate love requires an inner acceptance and ownership of all rejected parts of the self.

Next week, I will build upon this core definition of projection beyond its role as a psychological defense. In an ultimate sense, the notion of a solid world is a projection. But you have to start with the basics, and Freud does deserve his due.

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,

#465 Chuck’s Place: He Who Must be Obeyed

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

I allow myself to swim deep, very deep, beneath the veneer of now, into the essence. I refer to essence, like the Essenes, as getting to the physical basis of things.



Egg lies in wait.

Within its yoke is the material of every thing.

And yet, without the sperm, simply scratching the surface, does not creation begin.

Sperm is a surface-scratcher.

All women are eggs. They have it all; all the knowledge, all the materials, for every thing. And yet, something needs to set creation in motion. Deep inside, every woman knows this. She finds herself searching, waiting, awaiting. The scratch on the surface, whether feared or desired, is utterly necessary, to unfold, to progress, to create, to fulfill; this she knows. She is blessed with eternal nature at the helm; she is, after all, the channel of life. Animus, surface-scratcher, direction finder, where art thou?

Inwardly she doubts her ability to know. Truthfully, deep inside, is deep insecurity. Despite all the energy, all the material, the knowing of life, creation, sustenance, and continuation, she lies in doubt. Where is he, he who truly knows, he who will lead? It is he who must be obeyed.

I asked my daughter, Erica, age twenty, about the pop star singer, Rhianna, returning to her relationship with her boyfriend after he had severely beaten her. Erica’s response, “How do you know about her? She’s just being stupid, believing there is nothing else, no one else, falling for his lies.” My seasoned daughter has passed the first gate of animus awareness, no longer holding onto the belief that he is the only one, the one and only surface-scratcher for me. Desperation and blind faith are key factors prior to passing this gate. His overwhelming possessiveness, expressed in violence, is interpreted by Rhianna as representing her supreme value to him and his deep commitment to her. No amount of reasoning, expressed by well meaning onlookers, will dislodge a woman at this stage from returning to her abuser. Deep inside she knows she is desperate to remain attached to her utterly necessary director, for security and purpose. What she fails to see is that this vital surface-scratcher, buried deep within her self, has been projected and reflected onto an outer monster.

My daughter advises Rhianna to awaken. “He’s a phony! Wait, for the real thing.” This is certainly a big step. To be freed of the obsession that there is only one, opens the door to choice and other kinds of relationships. My Dear Erica, I acquiesce to experience as the true teacher in life. Would though, that it were not. Would that I could have you grasp that the surface-scratcher lies within. Nonetheless, the awareness that being possessed by a projected negative animus is not love is a major step forward to the second gate of animus awareness. At this second stage, a woman is free to allow herself a positive animus, meaning a healthier relationship, though she still continues to project her inner surface-scratcher upon the man.

A mature woman of any age, in a healthy relationship or not, is still prone to the projection of her vital core onto a man, whether in substance, the flesh, or in a ghostly lover, as yet unseen. For instance, in a relationship, the following questions should be posed: Who drives the car? Who determines the meals? Who selects the movies? Who decides the activities? Who initiates sex? Who makes the financial decisions? Who goes along? Who is the authority? Who determines the political identity? Who thinks? Who’s thinking is valued? Who decides to turn on the television and who decides what to watch? If the answer to any of those questions is you, a woman, since I am addressing women, is it coming from a place of security, deep knowing, and contentedness? Or is it coming from insecurity and deep control? In this case, the animus is still projected, despite the powerful woman. In the case of an apparently well-integrated, competent, and confident woman, who holds onto an inappropriate partner, why is she still with him? This is still indicative of a projected animus, true, a far cry from pop star Rhianna, but still a distant cousin. How many women, not in relationships, are waiting for the man to find meaning in their lives? Is finding the right man the true road to salvation?

The third gate of animus awareness is reached when a woman takes full possession of her inner man. This process is illustrated in Christianity, by Mary, Mother of God. Who was the real surface-scratcher during the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary? Mary conceived without sex; and who did she bring forth, none other than the savior of the world. So, if Mary brought forth the savior without a man, who was the surface-scratcher? Imagine the irony that the Catholics, with all their male control that Meryl Streep so eloquently exposes in the recent film, Doubt, actually preserve a message more obvious than that of the da Vinci Code. And this is that the Immaculate Conception embodies the greatest embedded secret: Mary is her own surface-scratcher. What Mary demonstrates is that woman is her own surface-scratcher, and woman must scratch her own surface to birth her true salvation.

Yes, Dear Erica, the surface-scratcher, direction finder, meaning of life finder, lies within. The deepest challenge for woman is to find him, embrace him, trust him, join with him, evolve creation with him. And, yes, it is a him, a him in you.

I have experienced the projection of the surface-scratcher in my life, as recipient. Yes, I am susceptible to projections, but I have learned how to refuse the role. Now I’m too busy finding my own inner anima, my soul. I believe that in an ideal relationship, partners mirror each others’ soul projections, but neither partner accepts the burden of them. That is inner work.

If a woman does not take ownership of her inner soul, she will remain compulsively bound to her “man” for meaning, direction, and security in her life. I hear Janis Joplin painfully crying for One Good Man. Would that she had searched within, rather than settle for pain, the eternal embrace of unrequited love with the projected animus, the same altar that Billie Holiday and Bessie Smith, the blues ladies, sacrificed themselves upon. Perhaps Mary, with her immaculate conception, egg and sperm united as one, may serve as the true model of fulfillment in womanhood, not as a religious figure, but as a guide to wholeness.

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,

#461 Chuck’s Place: Embracing Impermanence

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

Embracing impermanence, now that is an oxymoron. How does one embrace that which changes? For me, it is not only doable, but necessary, to complete our reason for being here, in this life. The other night, in a dream, I was at the World Trade Center with a group of adolescents. There was an awareness of soon-to-happen terrorist activity that would bring the towers down. It wasn’t the focus in the dream, merely the backdrop. One young man spoke about his brother’s death, not pausing to mark the obvious grief he held within. I interrupted him, asking him to allow for the full truth of his experience to be expressed. I was asking him to drop his veil of machismo and fully live the truth of that moment. The full completion of that moment was all that mattered. Several moments later, the towers would fall, yet that fact was of no significance. To fully be present, to fully be alive, and to fully complete that moment was all that mattered.

My dream is instructing me on how to embrace impermanence. To be fully present and open to the moment, while fully aware, yet not attached to the fact that in another moment my personal towers will collapse and every thing of this world that I hold dear will vanish, instantly evaporate, disintegrate, resolve, and perhaps become meaningless, as I am thrust forward into new worlds. I know that I am here to master my ability to be fully present and embracing of all I must ultimately relinquish. I know that this is the necessary training to continue my journey in infinity. The shamans view earth as an interrupted journey, yet magical, in the sense that we can so totally be drawn into the poppy field of permanence, completely sold on that illusion. However, this pause in the journey allows us to learn to embrace impermanence.

It takes many lives, really one long groundhog day, to reawaken to the true nature of reality and prepare to embark upon, what the shamans call, the definitive journey. When I reference groundhog day I am referring to the movie, Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray, where his character must relive the same day, countless times, until he awakens, remembers his lessons, and allows himself to move more deeply into the experience of love. (By the way, we are adding this to the movie category in our Store.)

How many times, how many lives, must we repeat before we get it? What does it mean, “to get it?” In a nutshell, getting it is really about relinquishing the big baby who insists upon the security and safety and soothing comfort of sameness. And so, we feed the big baby the elixir of permanence: structure, order, habit, predictability, solidness, definiteness, and rules. Only the adult can face the inevitable toppling of the towers. Only the adult can complete the moment in full awareness.

The training also requires that we experience deep emotions. My young adolescent in the dream tried to avoid his grief over the loss of his brother. If he does not allow himself to feel and release his grief then he cannot complete the moment and move on. He is sentenced to repeat that moment in countless moments and countless lives, one long groundhog day, until he can live that moment fully, in complete truth. Only then will he be able to resume his interrupted journey, freed of the burden of unlived life.

When we recapitulate, we complete all our groundhog day moments. Those moments are undoubtedly painful and utterly vulnerable, at first. Once we can allow ourselves to fully go there and complete those moments, we are fully released, allowed to go forward into new life, new experiences, with full awareness, and love for the journey and all our traveling companions. Embracing impermanence means fully completing each moment along one’s definitive journey.

Until the moment we meet again,