We all have ancestors who are less than fabulous. For me, coming face to face with that is like looking at myself. After all, the ancestors are a part of us. And Shadow work is not easy.
So here are some of member’s of my family’s rogue’s gallery.
King John. Yes, that King John. (It’s really not that remarkable since almost everyone with British ancestors is related to this family. If you’re Asian, you’re likely related to Genghis Khan, so we’re all descended from royalty). For those of you know don’t know, King John had an unrivaled reputation for cruelty and lechery. His barons revolted and created the Magna Carta to keep his power in check. So, he was a murderer and rapist with a huge ego and boundaries problem.
My great grandfather was a nice guy. People liked him. He had a great sense of humor. And he was also a wife beater and alcoholic who didn’t want to work. He was a dreamer who had all these schemes that my great grandmother would finance. Ultimately his irresponsibility and addiction eroded their love and their wealth.
Four or five generations back is a slave owner who bred with his slaves, one of whom is a grandmother. We know that this is the historical fact in the United States, but when you see it written in the census records, it becomes personal. It becomes real.
I’ve even got some Scandinavian blood. Were they descended from Vikings? Did they slaughter people? I don’t know. It makes you wonder.
It is not easy to see the truth of my ancestry in this light. But after my revulsion and pity party, I felt I had a choice to make. I could either heal this or carry it. I choose to heal it.
My Ancestral Healing Journey
I talk to my ancestors every day. I already have an established relationship with them, so I know that I am supported. There was no way to fail. All I had to do was begin and keep going. Eventually I’d get to the other side.
I also knew that if I heal anyone in the ancestral line, the whole line has the opportunity to heal. I say “opportunity” because you can’t force someone to heal. All you can do is make it available. Some will take it and some won’t.
While some ancestral healing practices focus on the person who created the hurt, I focused on me.
Acceptance was the first step. I stopped wanting it to be different. I stopped trying to push it away, blame someone else, or look for alternative endings. It is what it is.
And believe it or not, just doing that helped a lot. It takes a lot of energy to hide. Blaming gives my power away, so being still and accepting grounded me in the present moment and gave me energy to do the next thing.
Why walk alone when you can have help? My next step was asking my loving, helping ancestors for help. They want reconciliation as much as I do, so they have motivation to support. What helps one, helps us all.
Next I educated myself about the other facets of these people’s lives when details were available. When they were not, I looked for generalities about their communities, cultures, and locales to help flesh them out as people. Seeing them as whole people with strengths as well as weaknesses put the “badness” in perspective. It also makes the next step easier.
Next I sent love and compassion to myself for withholding love and unconditional positive regard for them. This doesn’t mean that I stopped condemning their acts. It just meant that I was allowing myself to be loving despite their acts. So, I was not making them “deserve” my love. I was just loving because that’s who I am. That’s what all of Nature is. So this is another way of saying I was realigning myself with Nature.
Another aspect of this is embracing the idea that we are One. One is light and dark, not light or dark. If I can accept their darkness, I can accept my own. This keeps me humble, compassionate, and in a state of grace.
And guess what happened? It was all okay. I could think about them, their deeds, and the consequences of their deeds without reacting. Not immediately. But over time, I could think of these people and what they did without feeling guilt, shame, revulsion, or separation. And isn’t that the goal? To be whole? Connected?
There are certainly other ways to do this. What works for you will vary depending upon a lot of things. If you’ve been traumatized, you may need to work on that first. You may need to have someone do this for you or walk with you. There are lots of energy and breath work modalities that can help. Just know that the negative programs of naughty ancestors aren’t something you have to live with.