"If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people."
- Thich Nhat Han
What is ancestral ceremony?
Clearing up ancestral memory and subconscious beliefs
A few years ago, I remember working with a very memorable client. He was born in Canada to an upper class Middle Eastern family. He was a kind, handsome and charismatic, with a strong worth ethic and a brilliant mind. When people would ask, he was proud to say that he knew very little of his family's cultural or religious heritage. When we began working together, he was having chronic sleep problems. He was a high achiever and with a reputation for pushing the limits of his workplace culture. In one of our first sessions together, he excitedly shared some of his plans for an upcoming project that was going to bedazzle his senior executive team and then shrugged his shoulders and said: "and probably everyone is going to hate me for this... " His words stood out to me and left a ringing in my ears. It was clear that in his mind, he was somehow merging high standards for achievement with a sense of social contempt and alienation from others. This was not a good formula for success! I closed my eyes and the story of his ancestral lineage came clearly as a vision in my mind : This man had descended from a long line of Christian merchants in the Middle East. They had attained a high social status for their business savvy, work ethic and sense of beauty, but as Christians, had always faced cultural persecution and were constantly moving from place to place. They were able to secure some sense of safety through service to the ruling powers, the colonial elite of that time, but there was always a great sense of insecurity weaved in with feeling fearful, superior or condemned by others. I could see that many of the gifts of his ancestral lineage were alive in him -- his charm, his charisma, his drive for excellence -- but deep down, the buried ancestral memories of being unwanted, persecuted and insecure were undermining his health, his relationships and his true success. More than a new sleep remedy or supplement, what was needed was to be able to acknowledge the stories of his ancestral lineage, and how this untold story was playing out in his present reality. By simply acknowledging this deep-seated belief, things started to shift for him.
Ancestral Ceremony + Subconscious beliefs This man's story is not that different from what most of us hold as ancestral influences in our subconscious. Most of Earth's history is riddled with stories of famine, war, persecution and hardship -- which may be very different than the reality we live in today. On some level, these ancestral memories live within our cellular memory and can be healed through intention and ceremony. This also presents an alternate perspective on why we may feel "stuck" with the experience of certain health issues, energetic patterns or limited beliefs in our lives -- as well as why we may feel inexplicably drawn toward certain places, people, foods, dreams or passions. Ancestral ceremony is a beautiful practice which allows us to honour those who have walked before us, and to open a space to heal energetically from the power of these influences. In my experience, working with these ceremonies opens a space that is far more powerful and revitalizing than what the Western linear mind can offer us, connecting us on a deeper level to all forms of life across human history, and to each other.
Upcoming series on Ancestral Wisdom In the Vedic calendar, the period leading up to the New Moon of September/October is considered the most auspicious time to work with ancestral ceremonies for healing and wisdom. If you are interested in exploring this further, I'm honoured to be hosting an upcoming series on Ancestral Wisdom starting September 19. Seekers of all walks of life are welcome; details are here if you're curious to learn more. In Service, Briya