After many years of working with the ancestors personally and getting to facilitate this work with many others, I have come to see this work in three pathways or channels that both build upon each other and also cross-pollinate as well. These channels are:
Ancestors as Resource
Developing a reciprocal relationship with an ancestor or ancestors as resource is the place I generally begin with folks. My guiding principle in ancestor work is that you didn’t create it on your own and you, therefore, can’t heal or resolve it on your own. When folks try to head directly into either of the other channels of ancestor work directly without developing this relationship first, the intensity and depth of the grief, shame, rage, etc. tends to be so great that it wipes them out. Proceeding with the support of a generative, aligned, loving ancestor helps with pacing and allows us to do the bigger work in smaller bits that are metabolizable and able to be integrated with less distress in these physical bodies we all currently inhabit.
Daniel Foor, the author of “Ancestral Medicine,” calls this ancestor a “last well ancestor” and many with whom I’ve gotten to work have found this term and frame helpful as a starting point. Because there are often difficult feelings, dynamics and trauma that may impede communication and connection with the current and most recently embodied generations, this “last well ancestor” may be ten or more generations back and may not be anyone whom you’ve ever known or even heard about in this lifetime.
We can find our way to that connection together over time, whether through individual soul weaving work or through the “Opening to the Ancestors” groups.
Ancestors as Collaborators in Unbinding Intergenerational Trauma
This channel is often the one that brings folks to ancestor work in the first place as it is the one that often feels the most painful and gets the most attention in our day-to-day lives, relationships and bodies. As our physical tissues and DNA carry the record of all that has happened to us and to whichever ancestral threads we may also carry, we can use the felt sense of the body, the support of the “last well ancestor,” and external supports in the physical plane to begin listening to the stories that have been bound and frozen and need to be witnessed and felt in order to be metabolized and released. It is through this process and in these eventual releases that we free both ourselves in the present as well as those backward and forward through the line who also may have gotten caught and bound in the same pattern.
Support for this channel of work can also be accessed through individual soul weaving sessions or through the monthly “Walking with the Ancestors” groups.
Ancestors as Collaborators in Reconciliation Work on the Land
For those of us with white skin/European lineages, this last channel is about witnessing on a larger scale as part of systemic reconciliation work regarding the genocide, enslavement and land theft committed by those of white skin against Black and Indigenous People and the Land of this Continent. It is about connecting with the ancestral energies and guardians of the land, owning the lineages we come from and how they participated in and/or benefitted from this violence and then bearing witness to the harm caused in the stories that the Land and it’s Ancestral Guardians bring forth. The last element of this process is an authentic commitment to do things differently moving forward, to use our power and our gifts towards the healing and rebalancing of the Land and its native beings (people, animals & plants) and to set about tending this commitment through acts of service.
Support for this channel of work can currently be accessed through soul weaving sessions. I hope to offer more opportunities for this work on a group level at some point in the future.