Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Honouring Ancestors Can Bring Healing to Present Life

Did you spend some time this past week connecting with your ancestors and grandparents through your sense of smell, as suggested in last week's post? We are concluding our month on the Root Chakra with a few musings on ancestral karma and vital life lessons.

There are life lessons we understand only when we have children of our own, and it's not just because of growing maturity. Since the birth of my son eleven years ago, I have been utterly amazed at how his posture is like his paternal grandfather's; how his love of books is like my mother's; how some of his gestures mimic those of family members - some whom my son has never met. He certainly hasn't learned behaviours or thought patterns through observation... there must be something in our genes or energy that enables us to embody traits passed down from generations.

Since about the same time as my son's birth, I have been deepening my journey of self-understanding. Now that I'm a mother, I can understand things that happened when I was a child from my mother's perspective - and from her mother's perspective. I can see patterns of hurt and patterns of blessings being repeated from one generation to the next. I have decided to heal some of the hurtful patterns within myself so they are not passed on to my son and possible future generations. Working with ancestor energy has brought me such an understanding and such gratitude for the life I have today. It has increased my love for generations before me, and extends my love to future generations. Here are a few of my insights, musings and tools.

My grandmother and her family, pictured above, led the life of pioneers in the Abitibi region of Québec. Her father, a cabinet-maker, decided to uproot his family from Montreal during the Great Depression to open lands for farming. Carving farmland out of the wilderness was very difficult, and they experienced isolation and deep poverty. That feeling of lack has been passed down and is still impacting the finances and general wellbeing of my generation: there is a fear of throwing anything away, just in case. There is a deep need to accumulate and never have an empty pantry or freezer, just in case. And although salaries are very good, there is a need for hand-me-downs even if it's poor quality due to a belief that we can't or shouldn't purchase new. That last statement - I am done with and have been for a number of years! It has been difficult to heal the feeling of lack and to replace it with a feeling of abundance, especially when it's so deep-seated within myself and in my family!

I could choose to anger over the lingering feelings of lack - after all anger and the need for food, shelter, safety and creature comforts are all part of the Root Chakra - but I choose instead to be grateful. I choose to see the gifts and the lessons that a lack of material goods brought to my ancestors' and my life, like ingenuity, resourcefulness, a sense of adventure, and the ability to make something out of anything. This year especially, as I'm transitioning from my cushy government salary to the reality of the self-employed, I have called on that ingenuity and resourcefulness to create wonderful meals even when others in my household would say, "there's nothing to eat!" Necessity is the mother of creation, goes the saying - and I have created a lot this year! I actually feel more free, empowered and proud of my creations when I apply my resourcefulness.

How about you? Can you notice generational patterns, and what can you learn from them?

One of the generational musings I've been mulling over for a few months deals with the renewal of a more conscious or spiritual life in our generation. More and more people are seeking spiritual guidance. Where I live, many are discovering First Nations roots that were buried up the family tree. Even I have discovered that I have a grandmother from a Nation near Lake Nipissing who had married a "coureur des bois" in the 1700s. In addition, many (including myself) are going through physiological changes and have become intolerant to wheat gluten. I am aware that wheat is not indigenous to North America and that a great number of First Nations people are suffering from gluten-related diseases. Is there a correlation? Now this is by no means a scientific study... but I wonder if an ancient gene that was dormant is being activated.  I wonder if Grandmother is calling her children back to her, back to a more Earth-based spirituality, back to community-based values, back to wholeness... however remote or obscure our link is in the family tree... Why are so many of us awakening to Spirit and are experiencing similar symptoms in this generation?...

This week and with the sacred night of Halloween, let's honour our ancestors and our family trees. Let's honour their trials and tribulations. Let's gain a richer and deeper perspective on our role in the family tree. Let's gain insight on the legacy we want to leave our children, and their children's children.

One easy way to do this is by creating an Ancestor Altar. This can be on the mantelpiece, on a shelf or on top of a dresser. Choose a nice cloth that can represent your Roots or your reverence to your ancestors. (I have a tablecloth my grandmother embroidered). Add photos or objects representing your grandparents or earlier ancestors. Choose to work with only one ancestor or with many. You could add a photo or a painting of the landscape where they lived. What's important is that you feel a connection - make their life real to you. Light a few candles. Then, sit down in front of your altar with a cup of tea or other food or drink your ancestors would have loved, and have a conversation with them. Thank them for being present for you from the other side of the veil, thank them for making their presence known to you and for helping you in the present day. Ask your questions, ask for insight. Also, tell them that any issues they might have had are not to be played out in your life or in the life of future generations. State your intention to heal the hurts and to bring Love and Understanding to their human experience. When you feel the conversation is complete, thank them again - then notice what shifts in your life.

Enjoy your experience with your Ancestors, and please share your insights!

Sending you blessings of Love!