This is a powerful moment in time... this liminal space. In the Chinese 5 Element System this is the season of metal, whose primary emotion is grief. So, we have a melding of tradition that suggests a powerful moment to be in touch with our ancestors, as well as the seasonal emotion of grief, which brings them even closer.
I celebrate Dia de los Muertos with full reverence for my personal ancestry, as well as that of my community. Everything we have now was built on the legacy that was left us.
This leaves us in a particularly potent healing moment. Sometimes this legacy has been left to us in our beliefs, perspectives, family stories... and sometimes it has literally been given to us in our DNA*. Our ability to heal, especially those weird symptoms we have that are persistent, recurrent, and have no discernible cause to doctors... those are often ancestral in origin.
We do have the power to release these ancestral traumas, dis-eases, and tensions. The key, I think, is externalizing the ancestral patterns, and then choosing how to engage with them. That is, it is important to move the patterns from inside our bodies (physical + subtle) into the external environment. These are not your personal patterns. They do not necessarily belong to you. And yet, it may be extremely important to interact with these patterns... as they are part of the familial legacy.
I encourage people to externalize and interact with these patterns in several ways. One way to externalize the pattern is to build some kind of altar or shrine to their ancestors. This is a central part of Dia de los Muertos, that I love so much. Not only is it honoring of the ancestors to give them their own space, but it honors us too.
It means that ancestral patterns are a context for our lives, but do not necessarily need to be repeated within our lives.
Second, is relating directly to the wholeness of who your ancestors are... that is, consider not just the one story you have about how your great-grandmother was admitted to a mental institution... but to consider (imagine, receive) what ELSE might have been true about her that you might want to interact with. Thus, we relate to our ancestors as whole beings. Not simply a single story, event, or trait.
This is the single biggest healing perspective shift that exists. Wholeness.
If you want to play with this more... I have attached my Legacy Homework that I sometimes give to clients.
Blessings as you pursue this deep journey of healing. There is no end to the possibility that exists when you are willing to heal not only yourself but those who came before you. You are brave, you are strong, you are a healer.
Click on the image above to access the 7-page pdf file.
You will find that this work clears so much that you weren't even aware was connected to your ancestry. It is powerful and worthy work. May you also enjoy this work, as it connects you in positive ways with the legacy that was left to you.
*There are several articles about how memory can be handed down in your DNA. If you're interested, you can read:
Parental olfactory experience influences behavior and neural structure in subsequent generations.”
December 1, 2013, Nature Neuroscience:
Also, see Grandma's Experiences Leave A Mark On Your Genes
May 2013 Discover Magazine:
I’m still knocking around with the effects of our pilgrimage back to Flagstaff where I set down the unfinished PhD I’d been carrying in my emotional baggage for years.
And here’s what’s happening now that I’m home.
I’m shedding… not just skin… not just layers… but a whole way of relating to the world.
I often think of myself in relation to nature, and I understand this relationship in terms of totem animals. I’ve been aware for more than a decade (no, it’s been almost 2 decades!) that I’ve been walking with Turtle. She has been a lovely companion providing me with safety, slowness, processing, and the ability to take my internal journey to my soul. I’ve been in and out of my shell for a loooonnnnggg time.
But, now it’s time for her to move into a secondary role. She has happily taken up residence in the north of my medicine wheel where she can be part of the foundation of truth, safety, and support for the gems I received on that interior journey.
I shed my shell… my too-tight jacket… in ritual with sisters recently. I am trusting that the tools that I have learned to protect my heart (that don’t involve shells) are working for me. I now have a capacity that once I did not. And that is empowering.
Turtle has joined, eagle in the east, coyote in the south, and spider in the west, to support me for the time being as a council. I don’t have a primary totem anymore, and not sure if I will get another or not. I’m learning how to take what I’ve learned on my interior journey and to apply it to my relationships with others. I’m learning how to speak my truth, my way of seeing and being in the world, and sharing it.
May each of you travel gently with your guides, may they support you in your journeys. May you find trust and help with them when you are struggling to see where to place your feet. The forest taught me that once upon a time… that you must trust from your heart that your steps are the right ones… and then go. Adjust later if you need to… but take that step.
And, if you want to take those steps with others, join us for the July Body Wisdom Healing Circle call (Sunday morning at 9am Pacific) where we’ll talk more about relating to others from your heart. You can sign up for the call number here.
I'm an explorer of inner realms, a pattern observer, and an invitation maker. I believe that healing the world starts within.
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