Meeting the Ancestors

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Ancestral healing is deep work.  It is not for the faint of heart, but in my opinion, it is necessary work if you are on a path of healing. Ancestral work is a commitment that holds up a mirror, putting you in direct relationship with the familial wounds that keep you and your relations stuck in repeating loops.  For the awakened, it becomes your responsibility to look inside your bloodline and lineage and become a willing catalyst to bring light and healing into these cycles, that will no doubt pass down to your descendants if left untended and un-mended. 

It sound intimidating, trust me, I know.  I avoided shamanism for many years because I knew how deeply woven the Ancestors were within the practice.  However, I came to find that my fears were misguided and misplace when I finally had no choice but to answer the call.  I was afraid I was going to be stuck with the Ancestors I didn’t like in this lifetime, the one who hurt me or my relatives, and I was also afraid they wouldn’t like me.  What it is actually was for me, was a legion of loving, fully actualized, eager-to-help, transfigured souls that welcomed my homecoming with so much support and compassion, that now the Ancestors are the first spirits I petition when any challenge confronts me.

When we petition the help of the Ancestors we are no longer alone.  My first conscious encounter with Ancestral spirits was during my first solo cross-country journey when I was 20 years old.  In Jemez Springs, New Mexico I fell in with some local healers and shamanic practitioners who invited me to a drum circle at the top of one of the mesas. Under the stars with coyotes yipping in the distance our circle was instantly ringed by another circle of Native American ancestors. I was in awe, but the years following that experience I avoided further exploration of shamanism.  Even though from a core level I was drawn to the practice, I did not want to invite my Ancestors into my life.  It was a responsibility I did not want to carry and remained in a state of resistance for 16 years. 

In 2011, I was really starting to get lost, taking a slow dive toward a dark depression. Feeling like I lost my purpose and direction, I knew I needed to do something to call back my spirit.  I assumed it would be a yoga training, but couldn’t find anything that fit my pocketbook or schedule.  Then I looked at getting recertified in Transformational Breathwork, so I could begin using the trademarked name if I were to start teaching again, but the trainings were mostly international at that time.  And somehow through the magickal webs of the internet I was brought to a website of a shamanic practitioner in Monmouth County who was running a three day retreat the Murray Grove Retreat Center in Lanoka Harbor which is 40 minutes up the parkway.  Suddenly everything sort of snapped into place and felt right…the way you know when you are being called rather than feeding desire. 

The theme of the weekend was working with the Nine Archetypal Spirits who permeate many shamanic and religious traditions.  By the second day of the retreat I knew I would be applying for the upcoming two year apprenticeship the teacher was offering.  After all those years since that first drum circle on the mesa and receiving my first shamanic healing sessions, shamanism finally found me at my right time and place. 

My first night home after the retreat, I woke suddenly in the middle of the night, my eyes popping open to come face to face with this small, wild, wide-eyed ancient woman curled up between me and Jeffrey.  She was looking straight into my eyes with a smirk that expressed so much recognition, love and excitement, and then, just as suddenly she was gone. I knew immediately who she was; she was the deepest, oldest part of me – the First Mother.  In that moment at wide-awake, heart racing, trying to will her return to answer all my questions, I knew I had found my right path.  Over these past six years, I’ve been building my relationship with the First Mother.  She is my primary Ancestral guide and is with me during every healing session. The First Father has presented himself over the past year, and I am slowly building this relationship.  I also work regularly with a handful of relatives that I knew and was close to in this life time like my Grandfather, Grandmother and Great-Grandmother all on my Mother’s side.  I have yet to be called to work with my Father’s side, the side where my resistance exists. Working with the Ancestors is an unending process.  They are your family; the best, most beloved and actualized versions of themselves.  And during the cross quarter holidays of Samhain, dia de los muertes/day of the dead, all souls day, all saints day, when the veils between spirit and matter are thin we take this time to remember and honor those who came before, those whose blood and memories live inside of us.  We honor them with our contemplation, we feed their spirits by leaving offerings, tokens of things they enjoyed when they were in physical form, we light fires for them, we write letters to them, we sing songs, dance and play our sticks and stones so that they will continue to live and heal through us, and in turn, we pass this healing down to the generations to come. Aho.       

    

    

Integrity in the healing process

“Integrity in the healing process can be the friend you never knew you needed and didn’t have.  I have discovered it is an intimate relationship between body and soul, the chord or bridge that brings them into alignment.  You might think it is love, compassion, or just the desire to heal, but there are moments when my sadness is so great there is no love left.  When my doubt in the world becomes the high tide that feeds the picsart_06-04-10-48-59well of doubt in myself, when my fear in failure paralyzes me and I end up choosing the familiar exhaustion of not doing anything, rather than pioneering my own healing path, it is the strength of integrity I had been missing in my healing.

I realized I needed to sit with this word, read its definition over and over, breathe it in until I could embody what integrity means to me in my own healing process.  It is about showing up for your Self when you want to hide under the covers.  It is about doing the work every day. So when you feel like there is no love, when you feel distracted, and falling into despair, resisting change, welcome Integrity in your life.  It is the strength of showing up to do what is right to make you whole again.”    -Heather Mulvennna

Written by my friend Heather when asked how she continues to show up for her own healing and  spiritual practice, especially  on those days when she’d rather not get out of bed…because, let’s face it, we’ve all been there, but the only way to move forward is to make the commitment to yourself to show up.    

 

The Shamanic Path

“The shamanic path is the path of the heart and the soul.  It is a path of beauty, wholeness, sacred living, oneness and connectedness with all things and non-things, awareness, mindfulness, respect, honor, and gratitude.  It’s a path of extraordinary moments when Nature and Spirit speak more clearly than the racket of our mental chatter and we stop everything for that moment and take notice, listening and feeling the message.  It is a path where the central focus of life is creating balance, harmony, impeccability, and wholeness.  It is a path that requires integrity and honesty – with one’s self and others.  The shamanic path is a loving, healing path that invites all, while being a truth-revealing path, turning away initiates not yet ready to face the awesome truth of reality.  For those who will continually accept the challenge, typically a daily choice, I invite you into the sacred circle of personal shamanic practitioners; a circle where healing, growth, change and transformation are constants and miracles happen.” – taken from “The Hollow Bone: A Field Guide to Shamanism” by Colleen Deatsman

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