In December 2019, I began studying ancestral lineage healing, a method of ancestral work that powerfully enlists your bright thriving ancestors (often pre-agrarian and pre-patriarchal) to bring healing to any troubled ancestors between them and you, resolving blockages and restoring the channels of ancestral blessings and support so they can finally reach you.
In this work, we focus on our four primary ancestral lines: our father’s father’s line, father’s mother’s line, mother’s mother’s line, and mother’s father’s line. I began with my father’s father’s line, which I knew had been riddled with addiction, depression, and deadly cultural and interpersonal violence. The process was powerful and poignant, emphasizing ritual safety by asking the thriving ancestors who lived before the systemic cultural harms of patriarchy, capitalism, and colonization to do the heavy lifting.
The difference in my somatic experience of life now that both my father’s father’s line and my father’s mother’s line are well is remarkable. It’s like wearing a jetpack of ancestral blessings instead of a heavy anvil of ancestral burden. I have more life energy and joyful momentum than I’ve ever had before.
With this unprecedented life force, I’ve embarked on two harmonized projects this year: completing practitioner training so I can facilitate this life-and-world-changing ancestral lineage healing for you (I’ll begin offering sessions beginning in summer of 2023), and directing my first feature-length documentary film (production began in summer 2022, when we completed 70% of filming during an exhilarating three-month, 11,000-mile road trip).
In the Wake of Our Ancestors follows my 78-year-old father and me on that cross-country reckoning with our 400-year history of settler-colonizer ancestry, exploring the question: When you’re born on land your ancestors stole, can you live here with integrity?
Watch a sneak preview of In the Wake of Our Ancestors today! And stay tuned for ancestral lineage healing sessions coming this summer.
Much love and empathy,
By the time we’re four months old, our interactions with our primary caregiver reveal whether or not we’ll have a secure or insecure attachment—our foundation for all our love relationships.
We learn early and unconsciously which emotions our primary caregiver can welcome in themselves and in us. If they get angry or overwhelmed when we’re scared, for instance, we’ll show less fear, to try to keep their nervous systems regulated so they won’t leave us or hurt us. Similarly, if they can’t rejoice in our joy, we’ll minimize our joy.
Our parent’s window of welcome preexists us, largely established by their own parent’s window for them and any traumatic experiences that are still unheld and unaccompanied. This is one manifestation of intergenerational trauma—generation after generation unconsciously (and sometimes consciously) hands down a “no” to the next generation’s emotional experience and expression, and doesn’t catch our earliest cries for secure resonant connection.
When the going gets tough, the tough get going.
This is the advice our culture offers us about fortitude amidst adversity: If you’re tough, you’ll do something. If you’re not tough, well, toughen up. If that doesn’t work, there’s something wrong with you. Try harder. Rely on willpower. Buck up. Didn’t work? Buckle down. Try harder.
If trying our hardest doesn’t work—or if we can’t even manage the incredible vulnerability of trying—we collapse in shame, blame ourselves and others, numb or distract ourselves, conclude that we’re just not good enough.
We tell ourselves it’s futile to dream impossible dreams, sometimes convincing ourselves we never really wanted that dream in the first place. We give up on ourselves and each other, and our lives get smaller and smaller.
And as this happens with each one of us, collectively we get easier and easier to dominate and control.
This is not the time to give up, my friends—on your own dreams or your dedication to bringing your full heart to this ailing world.
So What’s the Secret to Not Giving Up?
I’m writing you tonight from the recently reopened community room at Wilbur Hot Springs. I hear some guests cooking their meals in the nearby kitchen and others chatting over their dinner by the fireplace. In the library, folks are reading and napping on overstuffed sofas. The atmosphere is warm and nurturing and familiar, which is quite poignant for me. [Read more…]
Do you spur on your inner critic, hoping that if you can just be harder on yourself, you can liberate yourself from your pain and inhabit your life more fully?
Or do you try to stifle, ignore, or exile your inner critic, believing that the key to happiness is to just think positively and overpower or deny your doubts and judgments?
If you regularly use one or both of these strategies, how are they working for you? Are you genuinely fulfilled? Has your critic really gone away? Or are you feeling frustrated and discouraged, wondering why you’re trying so hard and still not getting the results you’re wanting? [Read more…]