Recapitulation: Not Merely “Remembering”
In one of my recent social media postings about the concept of “Recapitulation”, more than one person recently told me that one must not keep dwelling on past events. They even went so far as to say that “recapitulating” life events is actually harmful! To this I say: It’s more than mere remembering.
Since we are talking about personal improvement and spiritual development, a special definition of the word “recapitulation” is warranted.
(Note: Of course, if these people commenting to me actually read the original article about recapitulation that I linked to, they would likely be clear about what I’m saying below. Stop skimming, People! Read the full text! Better yet, do some research.)
Our beloved mainstream narrative, Webster’s dictionary, defines “recapitulate” as:
verb (used with object), recapitulated, recapitulating.
1. to review by a brief summary, as at the end of a speech or discussion; summarize.
2. Biology. (of an organism) to repeat (ancestral evolutionary stages) in its development.
3. Music. to restate (the exposition) in a sonata-form movement.
verb (used without object), recapitulated, recapitulating.
4. to sum up statements or matters.
Because we aren’t talking about any usage in the first three definitions, the fourth definition (“to sum up statements or matters”) is the most common use of the word in conversation. However, the meaning of the word I’m referring to is not a mere summing up of matters. It has to do with spirituality and awareness.
Recapitulation as Toltec Practice
But since we are talking about personal development, spirituality (or awareness as I like to call it), the common perception of recapitulation does not suffice. Furthermore, the author of the article (Lorraine Voss) I linked to in my posting is referring to recapitulation within the context of a shamanic practice derived from the Toltec, a pre-Columbian society of awareness practitioners who lived in what now known as Mexico. (Read more about the Toltec here).
The common concept of recapitulation differs greatly from what Lorraine Voss is talking about – and is identical in meaning to what I was referring to. Recapitulation in this sense is not a repetitive and harmful rehashing of injurious events, thus allowing them to cause more harm. Lorraine Voss speaks about “reclaiming energy” formerly lost in life events. In her book Becoming Awareness, Lorraine shares her experience with her mysterious friend and mentor Nayeli, who explains why recapitulation is of such vital importance to an awareness practitioner, or even just someone who’s trying to set their life straight:
Nayeli talked about the necessity of reclaiming the energy that was taken from me as well as that which I had squandered, relinquished willingly, or disbursed throughout my lifetime. She explained that reclaiming energy is a process through which we essentially recapture all of the energies we expended in the past…
“Reclaiming energy works when we completely release the energies that keep us bound to specific incidences in our lives. These cause us to become trapped within a vicious cycle of replaying repetitive and draining emotional conflict. The continual rehashing of patterns causes our life-force energy to be constantly wasted.”
“When we start to reclaim our energy it is restored and as a result we increase our current energetic structure. As we continue this important process, we gain more and more energy. Over time, we restore our life-force energy to its original whole and complete configuration through which we became manifest in human form…”
Not Just for Healing of Negative Events
It is common knowledge that by reflecting upon past negative events, a victim who suffers such trauma may eventually “come to terms” with the event and thus continue with life. Again, this assumes that the event was traumatic, harmful, or otherwise negative in nature. But one misconception about recapitulation – even among “hard-core” Toltec or spiritual path practitioners – is that recapitulation is to be used only to recapture energy lost during negative events.Not so.
Be it known: Recapitulation can also be used in the recollection of energy dispersed during otherwise neutral or even positive events. One such example could be the recollection of an absolutely beautiful day spent hiking alone. Another rather intense one could be the recapture of energy expended during an absolutely wonderful sexual encounter – whereby so much energy was released that it may have resulted in the creation of a new life.
Recapitulation can also be used in the recollection of energy dispersed during otherwise neutral or even positive events. Not just the negative.
Recapitulating Beyond Recapitulation
Ideally, an awareness practitioner would recapitulate her entire life, indeed as Nayeli says:
“Over time, we restore our life-force energy to its original whole and complete configuration through which we became manifest in human form…”
Some ask whether the recapitulation of one’s entire life brings about some form of epiphany, or ultimate revelation? Well, that’s up to the individual. But by setting oneself up with unrealistic expectations, one is likely also set up for disappointment. Recapitulate in earnest, but don’t limit yourself with expectations. Rather, be open to what results may come – even if there are none. The end may result with a shrug of the shoulders and a sigh accompanied by a “no big deal”. I assure you: if ever such a time comes, it is still a good milestone…
One’s entire life may be spent in recapitulation! There is yet much more to see! I am reminded of the final scene in one of the Indiana Jones movies, whereby the Ark of the Covenant is squirrelled away in a warehouse with countless other artifacts. So what endless artifacts are there in in that vast warehouse of yours, yet to be uncrated?
Beyond any recapitulating that covers events from your current life, there are at least three further “final” stages of recapitulation.
Earth – The first is the recapitulation of one’s relationship with the Earth. This experience, as well as an explanation of why this is so vitally important, is discussed in further detail in Lorraine Voss’s book Becoming Awareness and in her blog post here.
Recapitulate recapitulation itself – A second form of recapitulation is recapitulation of the concept of recapitulation itself. At this point the awareness practitioner asks, “Just what the hell is recapitulation, and what is it supposed to deliver?” At this point, one does exactly what the seminal Toltec author and anthropologist Carlos Castaneda suggests: to suspend all judgement and begin to see things as they really are, and without being predisposed to investigating causal explanations into seemingly fantastic events. This suspension of judgement is a milestone in one’s exploration, as it clears the path for exploration of realities beyond the realm of conventional knowledge itself, and likewise opens one to the third form of recapitulation.
Beyond – A third further recapitulation may come as a dis-cover-y entirely unto itself, and thus may take years to unravel. This form of recapitulation usually appears concurrently with the realization of the illusion of the linear temporal paradigm – the constraints of time as we know it. It entails remembering past-lives, witnessing parallel lives (or “realities”) you experience concurrently, or visions of what your future may be in this life or in later lives, as well as other possible “timelines” that may or may not manifest. Given what secrets you know at this level, your life as it is now may be affected by these many possibilities, and thus may deserve exploration in earnest. Some conduct this exploration actively through self-led activities such as body work or meditation. Others call on healing practitioners using various energetic healing practices like Reconnective Healing or QHHT.
All of the above is discussion conducted within the constraints of the very limited system of language. What recapitulation means to you personally is a journey in itself.
Honor that journey and proceed, for there is no other more worthy endeavor…
I’ve written previously about Carlos Castaneda, see it all here.
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