I call it the ancestral curse. Pain, illness, struggle and turmoil disproportionate to your lived experience and reflective of a compounding of unresolved historical trauma in your lineage. It becomes more evident in individuals who have either a) completely ignored their personal healing and growth and trauma imprints and b) those whose pain has taken them very deeply into a healing journey.
What is transgenerational trauma ?
Research shows PTSD type symptoms are evident in up to three subsequent generations (Barel et al, 2010) in families where ancestors have been affected by war, genocide, displacement, natural disasters, systemic oppression and severe trauma. Actual trauma transmission mechanisms are varied and complex and include psychodynamic, family systems, socio-economic and environmental factors and psychobiology (Lehrner & Yehuda, 2018). War, genocide, displacement, natural disasters, systemic oppression, inherent suppressive culture have consequences that ripple through up to three subsequent generations (Barel et al, 2010) affecting physical and mental health, culture and family systems (Walters et al, 2011).
Adaptations or coping mechanisms are typically unconscious and frequently lead to enactments especially evident within the family system - this is arguably a child’s first experience of community, elders and belonging.
Studies show in descendents of trauma behavioural, social, cultural and biological factors can compound existing stressors and activate epigenetic mechanisms leading to illness and disease.
Parents who survived war were found to often pass down a culture of harsh, hostile and inconsistent parenting (Eltanamly et al, 2019) and frequently resorted to to physical punishment and withholding of food to enforce discipline (Zuilkowski et al, 2019). Furthermore, adverse health conditions in children and grandchildren (Conching & Thayer, 2019) has been linked to epigenetic modifications triggered by this sort of environmental upbringing. Often it is disguised as culture, as a necessary norm, as in the welfare of the child themself - in this way the curse is engrained deeply.
In times of great paradigm shift we begin to notice culture that serves vs culture that distorts our true nature and highest potential as human beings. Culture supports the formation of personal and family identity, meaning, cohesion and belonging.
For a child, adhering to the family culture, however toxic or dangerous, is the safest way to stay alive. Rebellions risk being outcasted, deeply misunderstood and can lead to disconnection which especially for children and teenagers, can be deeply painful.
Clinical observations: The nature of the curse
Trauma, particularly ancestral trauma wounds collapse time in the body (Gray, 2001). What this means is, a person is literally re-living the inner torment of their ancestors through their own body, unknowingly and usually unable to articulate the depth or strangeness of the sensation.
As a healer working with clients who are often deeply entangled in ancestral trauma webs, immersed in fear based cultural conditioning and often holding the somatic experience of their parents and grandparents from trauma that was never brought to light or resolved I notice some common traits: -Chronic health conditions are often preceded by an elusive and deep seated confusion or loss of self, a persistent hopelessness and a deep disempowerment that is evident in previous generations. -Somatically speaking there is often spinal misalignment that cannot be put down to injuries, a total lack of rooting and inability to ground and an inaccessible emotional inner world or numbness. There is often chronic fatigue and long term hormonal imbalance. -Upon enquiry, there are patterns of repeating trauma throughout the generations including alcoholism, neglect, violence and sexual abuse.
-There can be a stuckness (traced back to in utero or even earlier), an aching or pain or fragility or pain in the bones, severe disconnection, dissociative tendencies or emotional numbness. -The emotional world of those who have fallen under the ancestral curse is often characterised by an insurmountable grief, shame or rage (that threatens to destroy them if they dare try to access it. -There are big blocks, blind spots, numb areas and arid landscapes in the psyche and soma and an inability to make coherent meaning from personal experience. -Often, there is existential confusion, despair and disconnection from soul purpose. - They feel held back by forces far bigger than them, unable to move forward in pursuit of their dreams, to grow, to thrive, unable to experience themselves - perhaps the greatest grief of all, unable to know who they. -Clients have often tried other avenues of treatment for pain and for their mental health, have received conflicting diagnoses or have endured years of therapy and medication that have not worked. Sometimes, they come to me at a total loss, nobody has been able to help them and doctors are not able to tell them what's wrong with them.
Healing ancestral trauma: The cure
The power of ancestral healing work is to deeply release and reintegrate held somatic charge that cannot be articulated and through which methods such as talking therapy are often not deep enough to penetrate. Through vibrational, psychological , spiritual, somatic and physical structures a client can be guided to develop a deeper self coherency that encompasses their ancestral history and trauma patterns as well as lost ways and gifts that long to be rebirthed. Considerations must be made for a client’s level of transpersonal development and support systems they have in place as well as their own cultural and spiritual beliefs and that of their ancestors.
Rather than just repair and restoration an integral somatic and energetic based healing journey can invoke resolution., purpose, deeper compassion, profound existential meaning and spiritual reconnection. Whilst unresolved and unconscious ancestral trauma can feel like an insuperable curse, I suggest it’s dimensions, characters, teachings and messages, the profound intensity of the energy held and contained in ancestral trauma structures once released and re-integrated through the body-mind-spirit, is also the cure.
Through vibrational, psychological , spiritual, somatic and physical structures a client can be guided to develop a deeper self coherency that encompasses their ancestral history and trauma patterns as well as lost ways and gifts that long to be rebirthed
Somatic - particularly bones Ancestral memories are held in tissue structure, fascial web, nervous system charge and patterns of spinal misalignment. These battles can be felt in the structure, form, function and mobility of bony matter in particular. Much more than just protective and supportive scaffolding, bones actually communicate with the brain by secreting osteocalcin and are always undergoing a sensitive death-rebirth process as they maintain balance between osteoblasts and osteoclasts (cells that build up and break down bone) dynamics. Catabolic processes if unbalanced lead to excess break down and conditions often referred to as degenerative such as osteoporosis. There is literally a charge trying to release and dissolve, held by many generations which if the individual does not heal, will literally break them down from the inside. The spine, cranium and pelvic bones are a particular focus, as is supporting proper spinal alignment, mobility and deeper grounding. In ancient times, osteomancy or ‘oracle bone’ would be used in ritual for ancestral invocation and reparative processes if an individual was very sick - this is because there was a deep energetic sensitivity to the role of the ancestors. The ‘suld soul’ or ‘bone soul’ (Floor, 2017) reflects individual personality and links back to the suld ancestors.
In ancient times, osteomancy or ‘oracle bone’ would be used in ritual for ancestral invocation and reparative processes if an individual was very sick - this is because there was a deep energetic sensitivity to the role of the ancestors.
Psychological & Emotional
Ancestral trauma narratives need to die (aka take on radically new meaning) in order
for an individual to rebirth and become the new ancestor. Deep reconstruction of meaning, self perception and purpose is the only way that an individual who comes from a lineage that has experienced catastrophic and tragic events, can begin to orientate into a world that is safe. The self trauma narrative is where coherence and continuity of self is experienced and research finds that individuals with impaired ability to derive meaning from their trauma experiences face higher risk of suicide (Chandler, 1994). There's a difference between suppressing what you have experienced, acknowledging it happened,integrating why it happened and bowing down in gratitude and deep understanding for how it served you- this is how you unlock yourself from your own ancestral cages. Higher levels of consciousness arrive through self realisation and re-embodiment of the purpose of pain. Supporting the heart to self soothe, eventually to soften and open, so that its insight can be accessed and emotional receptivity and intelligence can be restored where it was shut down..
There's a difference between suppressing what you have experienced, acknowledging it happened,integrating why it happened and bowing down in gratitude and deep understanding for how it served you- this is how you unlock yourself from your own ancestral cages.
Energetic The cure is a willingness to let the internal structures collapse - which often feels like a collapse of entire kingdoms, to rebirth the entire energy field, to be fleshed out at a soul level. This requires spiritual knowledge of the realms of death and birth and deep energetic sensitivity on behalf of the healer who can literally feel the way the energetic components vibrate within a person's field, consequently affect fluid flow, brain functioning and structural formation. Ancestral healing is a deeply energetic process. In some sessions I will call in a person's ancestors to support the release of certain structures in their field, and the client is able to not only feel it happening but witness the lightning, the support that their ancestors want to give them, and how instantly the weight can lift out of their field. This creates a sense of deep felt support and connection that is often indescribable especially for those who never experienced family love or belonging.
The cure is a willingness to let the internal structures collapse - which often feels like a collapse of entire kingdoms, a dissolution of identity. This requires spiritual knowledge of the realms of death and birth and deep energetic sensitivity on behalf of the healer
As a healer my role is to be the space as well as the bone - a solid, strong but alive and compassionate force of support, connection, structure and protection that allows for intelligent mobility, communication and is highly attuned to the client’s carnal desires and distractions of flesh, whilst being connected to the spirit of the ancients that calls their soul home. I need to acutely aware of what is being broken down and what is being rebuilt and find a balance between the two, based on the client's level of consciousness.
Artist Kuba Ambrose
MEET THE ANCESTORS - a Poem
Forgiveness is your golden key
It is the safest place to be
Here you can watch timelines collide
Deep inside the grave you find
Your ancestors reside
If you listen with your heart
You'll find they’re all alive
Forgive one, forgive all
So that all is forgiven
This mercy will heal
What generations kept hidden
Set them free in your forgiveness
Let love weave through your field
Set them free in your forgiveness
Let them show you the power you yield
Ancestral healing is potent and transformational, revealing a deeper purpose, and offering an anchoring in deeper self compassion and self empowerment as shackles and binds of all previous generational conditions are released. With this, comes a liberation, a new start in the world and an inner revelation of a position of immense value, worth and importance, as the the one that has transmuted the old, honoured the sacrifices and forgiven the battles, they become the new ancestor. Lifting the ancestral curse is a journey deeper into spirit, soul and inherent purpose.
Healing work is potent and transformational, revealing a deeper purpose, and offering an anchoring in deeper self compassion and self empowerment as shackles and binds of all previous generational conditions are released. Lifting the ancestral curse is a journey deeper into spirit, soul and inherent purpose.
For me personally, healing has brought me closer to the ancestors that were displaced from their lands, who faced constantly discrimination and who suffocated their true expression under the safety blankets of cultural and religious dogma, to recognise that their ability to survive inherently reflected a resilience, a passion for life, a deep drive to be alive and never to give up. Culturally I have experienced a metamorphosis, choosing soul over role, choosing my own path over the safe road, choosing non dual devotion inplace of religious fear based dogma, choosing freedom to be alive - because that is what my ancestors fought for me to have. I honour them, their struggle and their courage. I declare and take responsibility for all that I am. I am the life/death/life force of the new ancestor, creating a new lineage.
If you are ready to dive deeper into your own healing and ancestral trauma history, to resolve and revive your body and soul, get in touch with me for a personal healing programme and free consultation. You can also attend my group healing event, Meet the Ancestors.