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.

#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!

#431 Chuck’s Place: Crash

Welcome to Chuck’s Place, where Chuck Ketchel expresses his thoughts, insights, and experiences! Today, I take you into my personal Awareness Log.

Thursday January 15, 2009

Went to see Gran Torino with Erica (my 19 year old daughter). After the movie, I was pulling out of the parking space in my 1994 white Chevy truck and suddenly there was a crash, a gentle crash. What was that? I opened my door to discover that a very spiffy Nissan 350Z was kissing my bumper. I was completely calm, yet perplexed, asking myself, how did that happen? Clearly, it came out of nowhere because I had, as always, checked my rear view mirror and probably turned to look. Next the driver of the Z, a man about my age, strolled to the back of his car to check out what had happened as well. Truthfully, in an earlier incarnation, my reaction in a situation like this might have been to greet the other driver with such questions as, what the fuck were you thinking, immediately establishing who’s responsibility this accident was, preparing for police reports and the insurance game, where truth and reality are of little consequence. However, we found ourselves gently reviewing what had happened, assessing the impact. There was no blaming, simply the realization that this truly was a no-fault occurrence. Of course, my sturdy American built truck, with its metal bumper, was unblemished, while his Japanese made Z, with its plastic stylish bumper, had a crack. For those who have seen the Clint’s old white Ford in Gran Torino, and heard his feelings about foreign cars, this is an amusing synchronicity, though personally, I have no prejudices toward foreign made cars. Almost as an afterthought, or formality, we exchanged insurance information and wished each other well. As I drove away, I questioned, what does this mean? The most noticeable components were an unexpected no-fault crash and a calm processing of the incident. Also, there was no damage to my old sturdy truck and probably expensive repair would be needed for the stylish speedy Z. The other factor to take into consideration was that I had just seen Gran Torino with Erica, and she was in the truck with me. That is as far as I could take it at that point.

Upon returning home, the evening evolved into an unusually long discussion with Erica and Jan. Though I choose to not reveal the details of our interaction, I will summarize the main components of this process. In effect, a serious discussion about future plans and present reality, as well as past decisions, ensued. In prior such interactions between Erica and myself, a flood of intense and clashing emotions might prevent the discussion getting very far and, in fact, often might have resulted in a battle and blame-fest. This evening, however, we broke new ground. One might characterize Erica’s expectations of life at this stage as a sporty Nissan, that romantic fantasy of immediately having it all. I recall in Gran Torino Clint’s encounter with his granddaughter who, soon to be leaving for college, coveted and felt entitled to his sparkling Gran Torino. Inwardly, I was cracking open my own protective shell around my daughter’s unfolding encounter with reality, a challenge for all parents who seek to protect their children at different stages of development, who must allow the shell to be broken so that the chick might emerge. The challenge for me, personally, was to deliver the truth without protection or assuming responsibility for her difficulties, letting her assume full responsibility for what comes next. This process includes encountering difficult feelings such as her disappointment and sadness, as she must let go of her illusions. In truth it is very difficult to let go as a parent, and allow our child to encounter their aloneness and find their own way in the real world. The evening ended on a calm, loving, sober note, however, it was evident that we had entered a new world.

The movie, Gran Torino, is all about a clash of worlds and evolution. Clint is solidly a symbol of old America. Yes, he unashamedly expresses every imaginable racist thought, belief, and word, yet underneath he is a man of truly solid values who has been molded through the trials of real life and death encounters in war. He is capable of evolving because he cannot ignore the truth and is compelled to break through all his racism and limiting beliefs to be part of a changing America. Isn’t this, in fact, the challenge now for America? First of all, for old America to get back to its ability to see the truth, and support it, amidst a new generation of changing colors and names, like Barack Obama and Sanjay Gupta. The crash of these cultures is being propelled forward by the crashing down of the old institutions, with a majority of Americans willing to face truth and vote for change. Clearly, a vote for McCain meant an upholding of the old way, and a significant percentage of old America chose Barack.

My awareness log of Thursday January 15th was to, subsequently, include the crash landing of the US Airways plane into the Hudson River after its engines were compromised by clashes with birds. All passengers and crew survived due to the pilot’s calm maneuvering into the water and the immediate caring response of others on the river. What does this mean? One can’t help but immediately associate a plane crash in New York City with the toppling of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. It is interesting to hear George Bush’s spin on the value of his presidency where he kept America, inside our shell, safe from terrorist attacks. Today, we are faced with the world reality that his policies have led to the undermining of the world economy and the ability for the world to trade. Amidst the illusion of our safety, George Bush did, in effect, topple the towers of the world economy.

So what does it mean that, on the eve of Barack Obama’s inauguration, a United States Airways plane crashes safely into the frigid winter waters surrounding that same great city of New York? First of all, the crashing of a plane, like Icarus, symbolizes the consequences of inflation. America now faces the fact that it is broke, and has lived illusions of grandeur. The icy cold truth is that this is not sustainable, and all must feel these cold facts. Interestingly, birds symbolize spirit, suggesting a spiritual correction to America’s inflation. Nonetheless, the main feature of this dramatic event is the safe landing of America through collective giving and action. I think we are being shown that Barack can safely lead us through this necessary crash, but it is up to all of us to participate in the rescue.

#427 Chuck’s Place: Neutralizing Archaic Structures

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

This week Jeanne introduced the “Nanny Goat,” who holds in check the evolving spirit, leaving the self feeling like an inferior worthless child, destined to life imprisonment. Who is this nanny goat, and how do we loosen her grip so that we might obtain our rightful pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?

The alchemists undertook this process quite concretely, attempting to purify matter through a series of complex chemical operations to arrive at gold. They knew, however, that the adept, who performed these operations, needed to be in spiritual resonance with the chemical process. In other words, they had to do the inner work to free their spirit from the clutches of the nanny goat. Furthermore, they had to submit to a lengthy process; they knew there were no shortcuts.

Jung recognized that the alchemists were projecting the contents of their own psyche onto matter, thereby clarifying, differentiating, and transforming their inner experiences. Jung proposed a psychology that identified psychic structures, or inner players. These structures competed and interacted with an individual’s emerging consciousness, seeking to be included in experiences of life. He called these players, archetypes, and they could be both positive and negative forces. Jung would identify the nanny goat as the dark side of a parental archetype, hovering over the struggling child who is seeking to emerge as a confident being, to stand on its own, and find its rightful place in the world. For Jung, it is the challenge of the ego to become the hero who can separate itself from the powerful grip of the nanny goat, individuating into a solid, separate being. Jung, like the alchemists, saw this as a long-term process, requiring patience and perseverance; a process he called psychotherapy.

Another school of psychotherapists, the object relationists, focused more on the child’s internalization of parental relationships. Melanie Klein went so far as to suggest it all began with the breast. There were two, the good breast and the bad breast. In other words, sometimes needs were met, sometimes they were frustrated. The balance of met and unmet needs, or which aspect dominated, determines the quality of parental introjects (internalized parental structures). Is one dominated by the critical, rejecting, controlling, undermining nanny goat, or the benevolent parent who supports and gently urges toward independence; cheering on one’s unfolding powers? Like Jung, the object relationists require a lengthy psychotherapeutic process to free oneself of the dominance of the nanny goat.

The shamans approach this dilemma through another metaphor. In the shaman’s description, we human beings are subjected to onslaughts from energetic entities, seeking to feed off our energy. To achieve this they utilize our minds, keeping us obsessed with self-doubt and fears of annihilation, leading to endless energetic spikes in our emotionality, which they find positively delectable. Here the nanny goat is an entity, parasitically attached to our human form, sucking our blood, feasting off our many varieties of depressions, phobias, obsessions, and desires. Shamans have their own set of practices, called the warrior’s way, which they use to free their energy from alien entities. The major focus of the warrior’s way is physical. When practiced regularly these physical movements and intentions succeed in neutralizing the machinations of the mind, releasing the nanny goat.

The Buddhists are equally untrusting of the mind. They prescribe their own set of “alchemical processes” for purifying the mind of the influences of illusion by practicing years of meditation, leading to detachment. Deep Buddhist practice incorporates three to ten year meditative retreats to free one from the clutches of the nanny goat.

All of these paths, and many more, are valid interpretations of our energetic reality. The path itself does not matter. After all, everything is energy and there are many ways to define the same energetic reality and to find the inner pot of gold. It remains for the individual to choose the path that personally resonates. However, all of these approaches have common features:

1. There are no shortcuts. If we expect a quick defeat of the nanny goat, we remain in its grasp.

2. The adept, ego, child, apprentice, hero, etc. must solve the challenge. Although there is support and guidance, freedom must be individually achieved.

3. The nanny goat is not personal. As Jeanne suggests, it is a boring, repetitive other, which needs to be disengaged from.

Investing in our adult self, finding calm, and choosing the practices that gradually fortify this adult position will eventually lead to the nanny goat moving on to new pastures, no longer finding sustenance in our evolving energy field. But beware, the nanny goat may return, when you least expect it. Don’t get caught in thinking you have failed. It’s only a test. Don’t attach!

#420 Chuck’s Place: Death, Impermanence & Evolution

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

My name is Chuck Ketchel, and I am a being who is going to die. In the shamanic world of Carlos Castaneda, practitioners introduce themselves in this manner, reminding themselves, each day, of their limited time in this world. With awareness fixed on the reality of death, shamans approach each moment knowing full well it might be their last. This gaze opens the door to heightened awareness, seeing beyond the veils of illusion. Shamans constantly condition their energy bodies for their definitive journey into infinity, transcending reincarnation.

Buddha spoke of impermanence in much the same way that the shamans speak of death. For Buddha, our greatest challenge in this world is to free ourselves of attachment to illusions. What he meant by this is our incessant wish for things to stay the same, our grasping to hold onto permanence in our lives. We cherish our families, our homes, our loved ones, our possessions. We cherish youth. We don’t want anything to change. We desperately seek to hold onto life in this world. Our obsessions with health, disease, and cures, reflect our deepest wish to cling to life in our bodies in an unchanging world. For Buddha, this is why we suffer. We cling to an illusion of permanence, which shields us from entry into the greater reality of enlightenment. Hence, we must reincarnate until fully prepared to let go of our illusory props.

In her messages, Jeanne focuses on evolution. In fact, death, impermanence, and evolution are all equivalents. She has us focus on the subtle, as well as the dramatic events in our current lives. Whether it be an ice storm, a snow storm, a change of season, the collapse of a financial system, or entry into a new stage of life, we are constantly being prompted to awaken to change, and to evolve with full awareness.

Each day, we are challenged by changes that offer us the opportunity to let go, to detach, to die of an old way, and enter a new world. This is how we condition our energetic beings to develop fluidity, the ability to travel in infinity, without attachment to illusions. With fluidity, detachment becomes the ultimate expression of love. To allow oneself to be fully open to another, but equally willing to flow with the changes, unburdened of needy requirements, is living in free-flowing truth.

When Jeanne left this world, she invited me to continue to travel with her, in infinity. Since that time, I have entered and left several worlds. My capacity to experience deeper love has required me, and continues to challenge me, to let go of everything familiar, with an unattached heart, completely open.

If we allow ourselves to evolve in this world, we are already in alignment with the flow of infinity, flowing with death, into new life, each day.

#414 Chuck’s Place: The Awareness Log

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

No songs today. Last night, in a dream, someone I respect very much was ardently flipping through the pages of my personal journal, to my extreme discomfort. What might he discover? The dream, on one level, points to the topic that has been churning in me all week, sharing the awareness log, which I now use as the format for my own journaling. For years, I have kept journals as a reflective tool, focused on events which have already happened and my activity in them. My current focus is greeting the meaning of events in real time. And so, today’s message is guided by such a greeting in a dream.

Jeanne has proposed that everything is meaningful. This proposition takes synchronicity to the ultimate extreme, essentially viewing all the unfolding events of oncoming time as meaningfully related to the soul’s journey. The soul’s decision to incarnate in this world presupposes its intent to enter the dense energy region of earth school to participate in a needed challenge for its evolution. Based on our soul’s original intent, we can understand the families we are born into and the specific circumstances of our lives, as the manifestation of a necessary context within which to encounter the required challenge. Understanding our life from this perspective frees us from victimhood, alternatively viewing our challenges as necessary, personally tailored stepping stones to our evolution. Furthermore, we are then able to align our conscious intent to evolve with our soul’s original intent, which allows us to more clearly view the synchronicities of oncoming time as signs, clues, and guideposts to our evolution.

I offer the following practice to support this approach. Begin an awareness log. Divide the pages of your journal into three columns. In the first column, note the events of oncoming time that catch your attention in any form, as they are encountered. An odd meeting, encounter, phone call, sighting, etc.; the possibilities are endless. Don’t get obsessive or overwhelmed. Just note a few. Use the criteria or reaction, “Wow, that was weird!” as your guide.

In the second column, freely associate to the event as you would to an object or event in a dream. Note what spontaneously emerges in your conscious mind as you focus your awareness upon it. Do not over think; allow for spontaneous, unthought associations. To think is to engage the ego, which will lead you down ego paths and to ego conclusions, which will choke out the language of synchronicity. If nothing comes, set it aside, offering it to your unconscious, asking it to lead you to meaning through its own processes, such as, a fixation on a word, or a song, or a person, which exposes the missing association. This process might actually coincide with the illumination of the meaning of the synchronistic event.

The final column is reserved for the illumination, that AHA! moment, which may come long after the synchronistic event. However, it may shed significant light on the decisions and actions of the current moment. With practice, our ability to decode the synchronistic guidance can occur instantly, becoming the true guide in our lives. This will come as the ego acquiesces, impeccably, to its true purpose, which is to ascertain and take action in accordance with the soul’s intent to evolve. Once the ego adopts this stance of being in alignment with the soul’s intent, the full scope of guidance being presented synchronistically can be appreciated. We are treated to a powerful connection with this constant companion, our soul.

My message today is my gesture of acquiescence to my own soul’s urging. My intent is to offer a tool to appreciate life as a waking dream, filled with golden messages, awaiting our awareness.