I was recently introduced to this idea of Ancestor Deficit Disorder by author Steve Crandall. I thought it was an amazing look at the possible impact of divorcing our ancestors from our lives. Crandall lists the symptoms as follows.
Symptoms of Ancestor Deficit Disorder
lack of wonder
loss of individual destiny
low levels of gratitude
disconnection of heart and mind
loss of faith
atrophy of joy
Right away you get the idea that we suffer from not having contact with our ancestors. That’s my thought too! I believe it contributes greatly to what we call first world problems. I was recently in my home town and drove past the hospital where my friend’s mom was sick. We went there with her a lot. At the time I thought it was huge, but seeing it now, it’s teeny tiny in comparison to the huge ones we have today. The whole hospital is the size of only one wing or department today.
Our life spans are extending (although this is no longer true. Life expectancy in the USA dropped
for the third year in a row recently), but we are living longer with disease.
Mental health problems are epidemic. Pharmaceuticals only treat symptoms and give people more side effects. So they have problems that defy categorization. They don’t have this or that, but they certainly aren’t functioning well.
Spirituality is a big part of health, so I believe that one of the things that can turn this around is returning to our roots. Connecting with our spirit and our ancestors. We have plant, animal, mineral, and human ancestors, so it could be a reconnection to any of those realms. However, I am speaking primarily of the human ones.
After all, if you don’t have roots how do you have an identity? How do you belong? How can you practice sovereignty, connection, and oneness? It’s really easy to violate people when you don’t see any connection to the past or future. It’s easy to destroy the environment when all you see is dead things or resources versus living relatives. We can see our bodies even as meat wagons versus holy temples, so we eat garbage, take drugs, and run ourselves into the ground.
Animism is a holistic spiritual path. It’s relational. Putting the ancestors back into your life immediately gives you a place to belong. It immediately makes you a significant link in the chain of past, present, and future because you are that! I am that. We are all that.
Maybe you don’t like your parents. Maybe they weren’t great people, but seeing your connection to them can make you more compassionate. It can help you to forgive. Perhaps you even take it upon yourself to help to heal their burdens so that they don’t pollute you or your children. Maybe you start to see that you are not them. You are greater than your mistakes. You are the result of the love of thousands!
When you look up at the stars tonight, perhaps you realize that you are stardust. It’s amazing to think about, isn’t it? You are part of the plants, trees, oceans, lions, icebergs, mountains- every holy thing. So plugging in to nature is just a way of getting to rediscover yourself. It’s a way to BE yourself. How liberating is that?
The good news about ancestor deficit disorder is that it’s voluntary. We don’t have to suffer. We can plug right back into life. All it takes is intention followed by action. Autumn is the time for the elders and ancestors, so it’s the perfect time.
How to Reconnect
Here are some ideas on how to reconnect and restore the ancestral connection.
- Go to a moon circle. Use this to get in touch with your inner self through your relationship with the Moon.
- Observe the solar holy days. This can help you to tune in to the wheel of the year. “As within, so without.”
- Create an ancestor altar. Honor your people every day. Get to know their names and stories. Share them. Know that their strengths reside in you.
- Forgive. Anger, resentment, and any type of withholding of love harms you. Be the change that you want to see in the world. This doesn’t mean “be the doormat.” Remember to practice healthy boundaries too.
- Get out in Nature. Walk. Breathe. Observe. Be present until you see no detachment from it.
- Change your language. Our words reflect our inner world. Watch for words and phrases that divide or curse. Remove them from your thoughts.
- Plant and nurture plantlife. Watch it grow. Talk to it. See how it responds.
- Consciously nurture an animal or person. Release any expectation of what you will get in return. Make it an act of love.
These are just a few ideas to get you started. Let us know your ideas and what you see changing. Together we can make this a healthier more connected world and heal ancestor deficit disorder.