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.