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.

#404 Chuck’s Place: Crossing the River

Welcome to Chuck’s Place, where Chuck Ketchel expresses his thoughts, insights, and experiences! We open first with Jimmy Cliff reverently stirring our souls with Many Rivers To Cross.

Many rivers to cross
But i can’t seem to find my way over
Wandering i’m lost
As i travel along the white cliffs of dover

Many rivers to cross
And it’s only my will that keeps me alive
I’ve been ripped, washed up for years
And i merely survive because of my pride

And this loneliness won’t leave me alone
It’s such a drag to be on your own
My women left me but she wouldn’t say why
Guess i’ll just break right down and cry

Many rivers to cross
But just where to begin
I’m playing for time
There’ve been times i find myself
Thinking of committing some terrible crime

Still this loneliness won’t leave me alone
It’s such a drag to be on your own
My girl left me but she wouldn’t say why
Guess i’ll just break right down and cry

Many rivers to cross
But i can’t seem to find my way over
Wandering i am lost
As i travel along the white cliffs of dover

Many rivers to cross
And it’s only my will that keeps me alive
I’ve been ripped, washed up for years
And i merely survive because of my pride

For three years prior to our wedding night, Jeanne and I had had sex hundreds of times, however, as I mentioned in The Book of Us, it was not until that night that the tide of orgasm swept over her ego controls in monumental release. That experience had indeed been prepared for through countless efforts, but for Jeanne it was the ritual of matrimony that enabled this dramatic transformation. Transformation means literally, a new formation. In energetic terms, a new circuit is created. Energy can flow in new ways. In Jungian terms, the deep power of the collective unconscious benevolently overwhelms and reshapes the personality in a numinous experience. In shamanic terms, we discover how to shift the assemblage point and enter a different world. We can gain access to, or remain in, that world at will. In effect, we learn to merge our worlds by dropping a veil: all worlds are one.

In ancient societies, the tracks of ritual were deeply laid for all to traverse at major life transitions. Some transitions were forced and violent. Pubescent rites of passage, in many tribes, required boys to be stolen from their family homes in the night by the village men who then physically mutilated them through circumcision and other forms of painful torture. Undergoing these rites ushered these young boys into adulthood, never to be returned to their family homes. They entered a new world, energetically transformed.

The youth in our modern world remain largely uninitiated. The ancient practices have long since receded deeply into the collective unconscious, where they may be encountered as symbolic dreams beckoning transformation. Physically, our youth undergo and display tattoos and piercings, undoubtedly and unknowingly drawn by these stirrings of the collective unconscious. They seek desperately to discover and experience these ancient energetic pathways by breaking down ego control, with its constraints of rationality, through journeys with alcohol and psychedelics. There are many casualties in those journeys, as hidden behind those elixirs are entities that seek bondage, forever feeding off the energy of the would-be initiate, now frozen in addiction.

How do we help our youth cross this river to adulthood in our deregulated world, currently in a state of collapse? After Reagan, the forces of greed were unleashed to feast upon the “youth market.” Cartoons became the vehicle to manipulate children’s needs by attaching them to products in the market. Families would, ultimately, break down, forced to work more and more, as the forces of greed found cheaper slave labor throughout the world to replace an honest wage in America. Phony wars, like Vietnam and Iraq, have led to deep distrust by the youth of an adult world’s ability to legitimately help them cross the river to adulthood through military service. An adult world, which lacks integrity, has to be rejected.

This is the opportunity that President-elect Barack Obama presents. The youth are galvanized by this man. Something deep within them senses integrity. Barack Obama must now re-regulate society. This means creating structures of integrity to allow life to move forward. Obama speaks of service for the youth. I view this as potential new initiatory channels, based on right action. The youth will submit to initiation in an adult world they can trust.

Rituals do not guarantee transformation. Sometimes only part of the self makes it across the bridge over the river. There are many river crossings, where we are offered the opportunity to retrieve all parts of the self. I have had many dreams in my life where midway across the bridge the river rises, washes out the bridge, and I am forced to turn back. Sometimes we are stuck between worlds and we must undertake the ritual of recapitulation to affect a crossing.

Life itself, the ultimate tidal wave, forces us into adult roles, whether we are really ready or not. And so we perform like chameleons, with the deepest truths concealed: that we are mostly pretending and that our deepest needs go unsatisfied. What to do? The shamans suggest that our greatest challenge is to overcome self pity and self doubt. They suggest that our attachment to those habits upholds a familiar, constricted, comfortably uncomfortable self. This in itself, they contend, is a magical act, molding the body through repetitive physical actions, constructing a world to inhabit. Essentially, we physically encase those beliefs and walk the earth in movements that reinforce that world. The shamans suggest that we stalk a new self, that we play the ultimate game of dress up, acting as if with conviction, thoroughness, and most of all, persistence. This can be translated as creating our own rituals, or practicing, with devotion, ancient rituals that have heart or resonance. Be thorough and disciplined in your practice, without attachment to the outcome and yet, with certainty, that at the right moment you will be transformed.

One of my own moments of transformation, also mentioned in The Book of Us, came at my initiation into the “clan of hunters,” in the sea of Jamaica. I sheepishly and foolishly shot many spears, as many fish amusingly swam away from my youthful uncertainty. But, I continued to return to the sea. One day, the alignment happened. The world stopped. I merged with my fish, which lay still, awaiting my spear, and I was initiated into a new world. And yes, I had to suffer a deep physical wound in this altered state. From then on, I lived the ways of the hunter, rarely missing; shooting with sobriety and deliberation, only what I needed.

The world now is undergoing a period of collapse, reformation, and transformation, as we seek to discover the pathways to the true wellsprings of life. On a collective level, we need adult leadership, founded on integrity and right action, to re-regulate genuine access to those wellsprings of life and allow for needed transformation.

To personally prepare for transformation, we can stalk our needed changes by performing the necessary preparatory actions, impeccably, and with persistence. We perform these actions with a calm certainty that at a definite moment, which we cannot predict, a deep alignment will kick in, and transformation will occur, as we are swept across the river into a new world. We are calm Riverwalkers walking with awareness, awaiting the crossing.

Until we meet again,

Chuck’s Place Open Saturday

Although it does not have a liquor license, we hear that Chuck’ s Place will be open for business again on Saturday, offering some interesting ideas, some intriguing insights, some unique perspectives, and a song. We invite you to spend a little time with Chuck at his place. See you there!

#400 Chuck’s Place: America Chooses the Black Doll

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

Jeanne and I fantasized that one day we’d open a club called, “Chuck’s Place,” since I always seemed to be a DJ who could set the mood with the right next song in the mix. The reggae sirens had drawn us to Jamaica for the better part of 1979, initiated by a thundering speech delivered by then Prime Minister Michael Manley who sought to bypass the colonial intent of the IMF, achieving financial independence for his struggling Jamaica. The deep spiritual energy and rhythms of the Rastafari religion, seeking and calling for one world, so deeply resonated with our own spirits, already awoken in the 1960s by John Lennon and Carlos Castaneda.

As the movie Life and Debt documents, Michael Manley’s efforts were ultimately squelched by the financial recolonization of Jamaica by the IMF, imposing such requirements as free zones. Nonetheless, the Rastafari, like the mature hippies and civil rights activists in other parts of the world, continued to patiently tend the flame of unity, hidden and protected, through the darkest of times.

When Jeanne and I returned from Jamaica she worked for Dr. Kenneth B. Clarke, whose seminal research on the choice of white dolls by black children was the compelling argument in the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision which led to desegregation. What would Dr. Clarke think today, that America, including a huge percentage of white America, has chosen the “black doll,” Barack Obama, to lead the country, in effect, to lead the world? Is this not the true realization, the maturation of the dream for one world?

Early in my career, while working in the addiction field, I tried to share my discovery of Carl Jung’s concept of the shadow with a black colleague. He pointed out to me that Jung’s description of the shadow, as the darkest part of the soul, was always identified as black. He felt this contributed to a distorted and dangerous world view perspective, since it reinforced white fears and prejudice, as well as contributed to a negative black self concept. Take one look at the prison population, the ratio of incarcerated blacks to whites, as well as how and where people live, and you see the consequences of the projection of evil onto blackness. Though his observations were enlightening, the symbology of the collective unconscious is impervious to sociological tinkering or wisdom. That which is unknown, unaccepted, and perhaps most frightening lurks hidden in the darkness of night. Dreams universally reflect this symbolism. The challenge, however, is to discover and engage one’s inner hidden truths, rather than avoid, deny, and hatefully project them onto outer reflections of darkness. Furthermore, that which approaches in the darkness holds the seeds of tomorrow, our evolutionary destiny. Do we decide to seek unity within the rejected and unknown self, or do we remain segregated from our own deepest truths and potential?

Barack Obama is the symbol of our destiny, a united self, one world, the union of black and white, focused on right action. He is the realization of many world dreams. But let us not project the messiah onto this man, as between one to two hundred thousand Rastafari did to the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie, whom they considered to be God, upon his arrival in Kingston Airport, Jamaica, in 1966. “I and I” are all the messiah, but the work lies within each of us to achieve true union of our white and black selves, all truths revealed, embraced, and integrated into evolutionary beings bent on right action. Let us truly mine the black gold of our souls.

From a synchronistic point of view, the coincidence of this message being number 400, is meaningfully reflected in the song, 400 Years, written by Peter Tosh, the reggae artist. Note the significance of the lyrics to now.

400 years (400 years, 400 years. Wo-o-o-o)
And it’s the same
The same (wo-o-o-o) philosophy
I’ve said it’s four hundred years;
(400 years, 400 years. Wo-o-o-o, wo-o-o-o)
Look, how long (wo-o-o-o)
And the people they (wo-o-o-o) still can’t see.
Why do they fight against the poor youth of today?
And without these youths, they would be gone
All gone astray

Come on, let’s make a move:
(make a move, make a move. Wo-o-o-o, wo-o-o-o)
I can (wo-o-o-o) see time (wo-o-o-o) – time has come,
And if-a fools don’t see
(fools don’t see, fools don’t see. Wo-o-o-o)
I can’t save the youth:
The youth (wo-o-o-o) is gonna be strong.
So, won’t you come with me;
I’ll take you to a land of liberty
Where we can live – live a good, good life
And be free.

Look how long: 400 years, (400 years, 400 years)
Way too long! (wo-o-o-o)
That’s the reason my people (wo-o-o-o) – my people
can’t see.
Said, it’s four hundred long years – (400 years, 400 years.
Give me patience (wo-o-o-o) – same philosophy.

It’s been 400 years, (400 years, 400 years)
Wait so long! Wo-o-o-o, wo-o-o-o.
How long? 400 long, long years.

On many levels, it is time now to enter the promised land, the land of liberty. Recapitulate, lift all the veils, embrace all the truths, and be free!