Currently, I put most of my energy into the weekly channeled messages, the daily Soulbytes, and the completion of The Recapitulation Diaries. An occasional blog does still get written when the creative urge strikes. Archived here are the blogs I wrote for many years about inner life and outer life, inner nature and outer nature. Perhaps my writings on life, as I see it and experience it, may offer you some small insight or different perspective as you take your own journey.
With gratitude for all that life teaches me, I share my experiences.
Recapitulation is the practice of recalling and reliving past personal events. It’s main goal is the redeployment of energy that is stuck in past events, traumas, relationships, attachments, and emotions. Such energy is unavailable to us until retrieved. Recapitulation is a means by which to retrieve our energy and return it to ourselves for our own use.
To recapitulate one’s life is one of the greatest feats of a lifetime, leading to a kind of freedom unimaginable until experienced. Recapitulation frees our energy from events of our current life, as well as energy from previous lives that we have carried over to work on in our current life.
Those of us who have been sexually abused, whether as children or adults, know full well what it is like to not have access to our own energy. We spend so much time defending ourselves from perceived threats, long after they are no longer real, thinking we are in control, when in reality something else has total control over us, the places where our energy is caught: in our past, in our traumas, in our defense mechanisms, in our habitual behaviors, in our fears.
We may not even realize that our energy has been usurped by these mechanisms, for they seem to be protecting us. They even comfort us and keep us safely within certain boundaries that we know and perceive as protective. But such boundaries are limitations to fully living life, keeping our energy tied up, stuck in places that are not really that healthy.
Fear is our biggest enemy. If we can’t go outside of our house or apartment out of fear of being attacked, if we can’t have a relationship with another person out of fear of being hurt, if we can’t stand loud noises or are constantly awaiting certain disaster, we are cut off from real life. With our energy tied up in protective defense mechanisms, we are incapable of fully experiencing the true energetic vitality and loving possibilities that we see others enjoying in life.
However, once we begin to recapitulate what happened to us, whether in sexual abuse, traumatic accident, war trauma, emotional, or psychological trauma, we realize just how much of our energy went into those so called protective mechanisms. As we recapitulate and let down our guards, finding safety and protection within ourselves, we begin to experience ourselves as more than just our trauma, as fluid beings of energy.
As we recapitulate and slowly release our fears, we free our energy from them, bringing it back to ourselves for our own use. As we retrieve our energy it gets redeployed into new centers within us, into centers of power, knowledge, and wisdom. We begin to experience a new kind of safety, a safety based on wisdom gained through all the things we’ve recapitulated. We learn that because of our trauma we had access to the same lessons that yogis and shamans spend a lifetime trying to master. We discover that, as a direct result of our trauma, we know exactly what the energy body is and what it is capable of.
We begin to understand that our trauma was the catalyst to our energy body, to knowledge of ourselves as spirit, to ancient wisdom that many long to achieve yet have access to only through the teachings of others. We discover that we had received direct knowledge, long before we could understand it. As we recapitulate, we let go of what once held us captive and fully embrace our trauma as our path to enlightenment.
In the end, we are no longer victims of our trauma but redeemed by it. Fully released from it, we are fully available to all that life has to offer us, without fear. For fear is no longer interesting to us, only what comes next on our spiritual journey has any interest.
These are the things I wish for all of you as you take your recapitulation journey, as you dare to take that most powerful journey to freedom.
When in alignment with yourself, all things come to you: your memories, your truths, your answers. They all exist already in you, just waiting for you to discover them. With nerves of steel, with unbending intent, with sobriety and stability in mind, body, and spirit, you are in the good hands of your Self, your High Self, your Soul, the part of you that knows you so well and only wishes for your very best, for you to learn and grow, to come out of the fog and into the light. This, and more, is what the practice of recapitulation teaches. The first move on the part of every being is to align with Spirit, acknowledge its existence, its possibility, and to be open to its guidance. Begin there. These words I write are Spirit speaking through me. Without attachment, I pass them on. Spirit will find you too. Keep that thought uppermost in your thoughts and you will not be lonely or abandoned but only found, cherished, and loved. Spirit knows you. Do you know Spirit? It’s within you. It is you.
Sending you love,
J. E. Ketchel
Author of The Recapitulation Diaries
•Posted on The Recapitulation DiariesFacebook page on Tuesday January 7, 2020
As I recapitulated my childhood of sexual abuse, I would often wonder why I had lived such a life? What was the purpose of it? In the beginning I could find no logical reason, nothing made sense to me. It felt like a painfully useless, wasted childhood.
As I learned more about myself during my three-year-long recapitulation, however, I began to appreciate the child I had been, felt more succinctly her struggles, her pains and fears. I also eagerly embraced the many mystical experiences she had had, and that I too began to have again, in ever increasing numbers, as I understood that her childhood exposure to sexual abuse had afforded her access to such things, things I would never have had the opportunity to experience had I lived a different kind of childhood.
Ponder the following quote, from Edgar Cayce, 20th Century American psychic and medical intuitive. (Cayce, a devoted Christian, unwittingly discovered that he had access to the absolute knowledge of what he called, the Source, while in trance. He provided countless medical readings for afflicted patients that guided doctors to healings.)•
“No soul takes on flesh without a general plan for the experience ahead. The personality expressed through the body is one of many which the individuality might have assumed. Its job is to work on one or several phases of the karma of the individuality. No task is undertaken which is too much for the personality to which it is assigned—or which chooses it. (Some souls choose their own entrances and set their own tasks; others, having made too many mistakes and become dangerously subject to earthly appetites, are sent back by law at a time and under circumstances best suited to them.) The task is seldom perfectly fulfilled, and sometimes is badly neglected.”
Do we really come into this world to be abused, to live a sad and neglected life at the hands of others? Have we lived several lives being abused and neglected? Are we assigned, or do we choose, to live a childhood of sexual abuse because we can handle it and our Soul advances because of it?
As is revealed in the final volume of The Recapitulation Diaries, which I am writing now, I did come to discover that my life as an abused child was not a useless, painful waste of a life but an opportunity to learn and grow. It was through my intense inner work, the work of recapitulating my entire life, that I evolved, and, I believe, fulfilled my Soul’s intent in this life to resolve the issue of abuse and neglect once and for all. During my recapitulation I was also exposed to a bigger picture, to ideas I had previously only briefly wondered about, for it was through the deep work I did on myself that I experienced the possibility of past lives, the idea of karma as a viable work order for a life, channeling, and life after death as a true potential. Such things have now become central to my life.
I was always very sensitive, empathic to the point of feeling other people’s feelings and pain, but rarely my own. During my recapitulation, in the final few months, I finally began to experience my own feelings and emotions, which had been blocked my whole life, up until that point.
I had been born into a family where emotions were not allowed, feelings rarely expressed, and I learned to follow the family rules early in life. Better to withhold emotions than to be ridiculed or shamed for having them. I learned to hide my true self.
The following quote, also from Edgar Cayce, made me realize that the family I was born into, that family that I found so rational, so cold and insensitive, was the perfect setting in which to work toward becoming and owning the truly emotional, feeling, sensitive being I really was at heart.
“Choice of incarnation is usually made at conception, when the channel for expression is opened by the parents. A pattern is made by the mingling of soul patterns of the parents. This sets up certain conditions of karma. A soul whose karma approximates these conditions will be attracted by the opportunity presented. Since the pattern will not be exactly [their] own, [they] must consider taking on some of the karma of the parents—relatively—in order to use the channel. This concerns environment, companionship with the parents, and certain marks of physiognomy.”
From this explanation, I would have to say that I chose my emotionless parents as the perfect pattern in which to finally confront my own karma. Perhaps I had lived previous lives as rationally cold-hearted as my parents, especially my mother, who even today at 95 has yet to crack the emotionless facade that has always encased her. Perhaps I saw them as the right vehicles to force a personal karmic change. Born into a family that dismissed emotional outlets as sentimental chicanery, I was forced to either follow suit or fight to find a way to be who I really was. I chose the latter.
At the same time, my childhood of sexual abuse was well-served by the lack of emotion in my family. I learned early on to keep a stiff upper lip, to be independent, stoic and uncomplaining, to hide what I was really feeling. On the one hand, these personal attributes served my abuser well, for he was assured by my strong quiet demeanor that I would not betray his secrets. But on the other hand, inside myself, I knew I was not that hard being that I pretended to be, though I learned to emulate my mother’s personality to a tee.
I struggled through the first half of my life with how to be. Should I uphold the family values or blaze my own trail? Could I really break ranks with the family patterns, leave them behind, and move on into a new life of my own creation? You bet I could!
It was not until I recapitulated my childhood self that I realized my choice of career, as an artist and writer, gave me the outlet I needed to attend to my emotional self in artistic, poetic expression. My art had always been my outlet, I realized, where I could be the gentle, sensitive person I really was inside. It was in my art that I could caress the neglected child self and empower the blossoming adult self. It was in my art that I learned to let go of old ideas and forge ahead into new territory, new patterns that served me well, as I learned what it meant to individuate, to grow into the being I am today, the being I always was inside, now matured and whole.
And so, rather than feeling neglected by my distant and emotionless parents, I thank them for giving my Soul, and my individual personality in this life, the opportunity to advance. By their strict teachings, I learned how not to be. I learned that I was not them, though I arrived in this life through them, my Soul having taken advantage of the cold environment they afforded me, to once and for all confront the cold and emotionless side of myself, and resolve my personality of its own emotionless karma forever.
Today, I am a happy, well-adjusted emotional, feeling being. I see the people in my life as having their own karmic issues to work through, those who came through me and those whom I am blessed to have in my life. We all have work to do in our lives that goes beyond just learning to live in the world. We have to learn how to live our Soul’s intent. Reincarnation and recapitulation afford us a way to do that; they are both Soul work.
I found this quote to be another helpful reminder of why we may have come into the life we have come into, why we meet and interact with people and then leave them, why we do the things we do. It’s all about what our Soul needs in order to complete something left undone in previous lives, and the opportunity to advance.
“Things other than pattern concern the soul in its selection of a body: coming situations in history, former associations with the parents, the incarnation, at about the same time, of souls it wishes to be with and with whom it has problems to work out. In some cases the parents are the whole cause of a soul’s return—the child will be devoted to them and remain close to them until their death. In other cases the parents are used as a means to an end—the child will leave home early and be about its business.”
Knowing more about the Soul, and karmic reasons for life’s circumstances and the situations we find ourselves in, we see how reincarnation becomes a viable means of personal transformation and growth. Having a perspective on reincarnation, and Soul purpose, and with the ability to accept the life we are living as a vital step in the evolution of our individual Soul personalities, we are afforded the opportunity to view every moment in our lives as part of our karmic journey to completion, to bringing our Soul to fulfillment.
• Excerpts are from There is a River: The Story of Edgar Cayce by Thomas Sugrue, pp. 251, 252
• Brackets […] in the second quote indicate author’s editorial changes
• More about Cayce: Many of Cayce’s original healing recipes are available today, and a hospital that he established in Virginia Beach still functions today as a healing and teaching center: The A.R.E.
My Aunt Virginia, who died in 2012, left me her important papers, a partially written memoir, letters, jottings, and diary entries, which she had severely edited by slicing them out of her journals with a sharp knife, leaving behind only what she wanted posterity to see.
During our recent move to Virginia I came across the box where I had stored her stuff since her death and decided it was time to sort through it. What I found has been a treasure trove of family history, as well as an introduction to a complicated, fiercely intelligent, strikingly independent and delightful young woman.
I knew Virginia intimately my whole life as my aunt, my Godmother, and my spiritual mother, but as I poured over what she chose to leave behind I learned what she had never shared; her deepest struggles to figure out life, to live and love to the fullest, to use and be respected for her intellect. She was determined to not just do what was expected, to marry the first appropriate guy that came along with a decent job. She wanted true love, a soulmate, and she stuck to her guns about it, taking a unique stance for a young woman growing up in the 1920s and 30s, delaying marriage until it was right, in spite of the many attempts to marry her off.
She did meet her true soulmate when she was 30, a vibrant, brilliant young graphic designer who was making a name for himself in the New York graphic design world of 1950. It was a love affair that swept them both off their feet and into a whirlwind of intense love, emotion, and deep spiritual connection. He proposed to her on the first night they met and she accepted, though she was inclined to take things a bit slower than he. It turned out he was right to want to speed things up because it all ended tragically when he died suddenly and unexpectedly two months after they met, on the operating table during an emergency appendectomy of an allergic reaction to an anesthetic.
His death left her desolate, but it didn’t stop her; she sought to recapture that love and intense connection in another, and another. She gained insight and wisdom the hard way, by living and learning, by looking deep into her yearning heart and by using her keen mind. She once said, “It seems that you just keep on and that’s not even so bad, so long as you keep struggling!” The “struggle” she refers to is the soul’s yearning for something that only the heart will recognize when it finally comes around.
Virginia was born in 1919 and lived through the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, and World War II. She lived most of her life in New York City, though she loved the countryside. When she was growing up the family always had a house elsewhere to venture to on weekends and during the summer months, a shack on the beach at Rocky Point, a farmhouse in Orange county, and later a permanent home in Dutchess County.
She held various positions in publishing, having worked at Harper’s Magazine, McGraw-Hill and the World Press Review. She was active in international relations during World War II, working at the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies (CDAAA), The United Nations Association, and for Professor and Legal Scholar Clyde Eagleton at NYU’s Graduate School of International Affairs during the founding of the United Nations.
Virginia was an insatiable reader, her library was vast and all-encompassing. She found something of interest in every book she ever read and every person she ever met. A prolific letter writer, she maintained lifelong friendships with several international pen pals, from her teen years until her death, or theirs, many of whom she never met in person. And, always, she aspired to being a “real” writer, like many of the great writers she met during her years in publishing.
Recently, Chuck wrote a blog that included insight into one of our most intriguing human psychological traits, one that we all innately possess, that of projection, and the power we have within us to use the mirror of self-reflection to achieve a higher state of self-realization, especially by confronting our feelings of self-importance.
He wrote: We begin by assuming responsibility for the fact that we, as individuals, reflect the reality we see without. Although it may be difficult to face this shadow truth, it is also quite empowering. You can read the whole blog here.
Among my aunt’s papers I found more than a few pieces that directly confronted her own struggles with this most common trait, the power of projection in the search for a soulmate. As Chuck wrote in Soulmate 101: At the psychological, or spiritual dimension, the soul mediates our spirit’s longing for itself in matter. The root of desire is this attractive force of spirit seeking appropriate matter to realize itself, or to manifest as a physical reality. To accomplish this, soul uses the psychological mechanism of projection.
Virginia was a jazz aficionado. As she wrote when she went to her first jazz concert at Town Hall in 1942: “I was struck dumb. I felt exactly as though I had been slugged with a baseball bat… I had come home. This was the music I had longed for, without knowing it. I knew it at once, though.” After that she could not get enough of jazz. She went to as many concerts as she could, read as many books on the subject as she could find, scoured the record stores for albums, learning as much as she could about this new music that was, as she wrote, “something to believe in.”
The following example of soulmate projection and reconciliation was written when Virginia was 38. She was facing the end of one soulmate projection and was soon to meet another soulmate, her husband-to-be, Max Kaminsky. Max was a well known jazz trumpeter and cornetist and she had been one of his biggest fans, meeting him shortly after that first concert she went to in 1942. They lost contact for many years then met again when she was 39 and he was 50. Eventually, they married and wrote My Life in Jazz together, a memoir of his long career as a jazz musician. Their marriage was intense and loving, and it lasted until Max’s death in 1994, the day before his 86th birthday. Here is Virginia’s reflection:
August 9, 1957
“Dad was talking tonight about how much the old-time performers gave of themselves—and it suddenly struck me—more forcibly than ever before in my life—how little I give of myself.
This is one of my worst blocks—I noticed it in myself in the car tonight with the two women [whom she frequently rode from the city with on weekends to visit the family farm in Dutchess County]—all they really want is pleasantness. I used to be so touchy, thinking that if I gave of myself they would have a power over me—is that it— or was it that I expected so much of them that when they misunderstood I became hurt, disappointed and offended.
But it’s a prison—one I’ve made all by myself. I’m a secretary because I act like one—goddammit—a stuffed shirt. What I have to get thru my thick head is that I am free-free-free, just as free as I choose to be and that it’s not those “other” people who are holding me back—it’s me.
I don’t have to believe in the role Jacques [the man she was in love with at the time] has assigned to me. I am perfectly free to love him if I choose—and in that way it’s none of his business—as long as I don’t, overtly or insidiously, ask for his love in return. That’s the counter, [the] balance—you are free just so long and in proportion to how little you try to exact from others.”
In this piece, my aunt reflects beautifully on herself, coming to a deeper realization that she is responsible for how she feels and views the world. In her analysis, she fully owns her own part in the unfolding of her life, deciding that she can choose as she pleases, as long as she doesn’t take what is not freely given, even energetically.
Here she breaks the mirror of her own self-reflection, withdrawing her projection and owning her own inner soulmate, preparing to live it in her physical life. In fact, it was a pivotal moment; without her even knowing it, she was preparing to enter a new reality, opening the way for further true self-realization. And as we know, she did meet her true soulmate, Max, shortly after this, perhaps because she was finally ready.
At the time, she held a limiting belief about herself, that she was only a secretary. Shortly after this, her papers reveal, she decided to give more of herself and volunteered to read to the blind. She ended up as a volunteer reader for many years, reading to law students, to college and high school students, when called upon. But the actual truth is that she grew far beyond the secretary self that she so bemoaned, eventually becoming the senior editor at Harper’s Magazine. I used to see her name on the masthead, third one down from the top, after the editor-in-chief and the managing editor. And she did become the writer she had always yearned to be.
Having opened the box containing my aunt’s things and discovering what she valued and chose to pass on, I too ask myself, do I give enough? Do I do enough? Am I kind enough?
Do any of us give enough? Are any of us kind enough? How much do we hold ourselves back because of our limiting beliefs, because of our entrenched defenses, our sense of entitlement, our regrets or resentments? Why are we so offended all the time?
I thank my aunt for the little bits she left behind, modest and humble in their number yet full of profound insight into a woman’s struggle to find her place in the world, and to matter.
My father was a chronic worrier. He worried about everything! It drove me and my siblings crazy! He could not let anything go. He’d nag and natter about a thing he’d decided to worry about, usually something minor that he just could not let go of, until he’d spun it into a massive worry storm, leaving us all exasperated and exhausted.
Once, when I was in college, he called me at 3 in the morning, waking me and my roommates from a sound sleep to ask me if I had eaten. I had made an off-the-cuff remark about not having any food in the house as I headed home after a holiday visit, saying that I would have to shop once back in the city. He only heard the part about having no food in the house and his worrisome mind spun that tiny remark into a whole devastating story. By the time 3 AM came around he had decided that I was starving to death!
I was so angry at him that I didn’t speak to him for weeks, but during those weeks I could feel his worry hanging over me like a dark cloud, dragging me down. When I finally spoke to him about it we joked, but I talked honestly about how frustrated and drained I was by his constant attention on me. I told him to lighten up, that I could take care of myself, that I wanted to live my own life and to please leave me alone. His worry energy actually dampened my spirit and added a burden I didn’t need when I had so much else going on in my life.
I now understand this dynamic between parent and child as the archetypes of the parent/child relationship, the structures and dynamics that every parent and child must contend with as they go through life, as the child seeks to individuate and become independent, and as the parent seeks to let them go.
As a parent myself I have had to learn the lessons I tried to teach my father so many years ago. My own experiences with him have helped me to back off and let life take my children onward without me, but sometimes it can be very hard. When we see our children struggling our first reaction is to jump in and help, but that may not be the best course of action to take. The same can be said for any relationship.
To underscore the dilemma, I had a dream the other night. I was carrying large chunks of construction debris, huge lumps of concrete. I stood on the edge of a vast landfill, looking down into a vast pit filled with similar debris. A man stood on the opposite side of the landfill, a foreman. He yelled at me to throw the debris into the pit. I worried that it was wrong, that it would hurt the earth.
“Nah,” he said, “it’s how it’s done. Just throw it away!”
And then I wondered just what the heck I was doing. The concrete was clearly useless and clearly burdensome. It wasn’t toxic material either, it was just heavy, cumbersome old building material.
“Let it go!” I yelled, and then I threw it into the pit and walked away unburdened, lighter and freer than ever.
“What am I carrying around inside me?” I wondered when I woke up. “What concrete thing, idea, or issue am I attached to?
As the day went on the dream stayed with me. I thought about it, seeking to analyze its message and purpose. I determined it was not about memories. Those have all been recapitulated, so it was not anything from my past. I finally realized it was worry, the worries of everyday life, the worries about others, the kind of stuff that keeps you awake at night but is just empty chatter in your head, stuff you can’t do anything about and if you tried you’d have no luck at all.
As I thought about it I discovered that those worries had no real meaning or necessity in my life. They were not building blocks to something new but old construction materials that were no longer useful. I was right to chuck them into the landfill where they would soon be covered over, bulldozed into the earth to disintegrate and become part of the landscape.
Just as I had asked my father to let go of the burdensome archetypes of parent and child, so too did I have to let go of such archetypes within myself, along with the concrete ideas that I have to do and be the end-all for someone else. In letting go of the archetypes we are allowed to each grow and mature in our own ways, taking responsibility for ourselves and the decisions we make, for our present and future issues, and for our own joys and freedoms in life too.
Just because I might want to give advice, I realized, it isn’t always helpful or wanted. I have to take my own advice that I gave my father so many years ago and step back and let life resolve life. In the end, we have to let things go so things can proceed as they will and as they must.
I learned from my father that if you put your attention on another person they will sense you in some way, and you may actually be harming them, even if you think your worry is justified and you only want the best for them. The best for them is to send them positive, self-motivating, and loving energy that sends them off on their own journey through life under their own steam, rather than burdening them with your guilt, worry, regret, resentment, or good intentions. As I learned from my father, it’s just not fun having those kinds of energies hanging over you, having to bear another person’s unresolved issues while you are trying to figure out your own life on your own terms.
My father never did fully remove his worry energy from me. It followed me right into adulthood and he remained a solid worrier right up to the end of his life. But he taught me how not to do what he did, and as my dream points out it’s a lesson that never grows old.
I have had to remind myself to remove my worries about my own kids’ lives countless times, so as not to burden them with a cloud of my worries hanging over their heads! After being the lifelong subject of someone else’s worries, whether justified or not, I know that it’s just not a nice thing to do to someone! Even if I may want to give valuable but unasked for advice, I also know that the best advice I can give myself is to remember my young adult self telling my father to just step back and let me live my own life.
Life itself is the best guide. We all have to go out into the world and learn how it really works. It’s how we learn and how we grow. The happiest people in the world seem to be those who have had to work hard for what they have, and there is no greater satisfaction than having done it on their own. And no worries either!
A blog by J. E. Ketchel, Author of The Recapitulation Diaries