In-person lineage healing intensives provide a three-day immersion in ancestor work and, in the last year, have been held in eight countries and guided by fifteen teachers of diverse ancestries. The annual five-month Ancestral Lineage Healing Online Course is accessible to anyone with an internet connection and includes abundant additional resources and time for live interaction, including with a team of trained supporters. And finally, personal sessions with people trained to guide ancestral healing work is a great way to get started, to get unstuck, or to stay well resourced on the journey. The ancestral lineage healing practitioners are amazing and, if needed, there are options for low-income sessions. Follow whatever pathway helps you to shift from thinking about your ancestors to directly engaging them and allow for a cycle of ritual repair and tending until your specific lineages are a source of potent, sustained support for your life.
Over the past fifteen years of guiding others in ancestral healing work, I’ve observed again and again that personal and familial healing gradually gives way to more explicitly cultural healing. Of course, the personal and cultural are inseparable, but consider ancestral lineages as you might think of a specific person. If someone is in acute agony due to an injury, it’s probably not the time to deconstruct the gender binary or uproot internalized white supremacy. When enough healing has occurred to reduce the pain to manageable levels, new pathways of reflection and introspection open up. Likewise, if your lineage dead are acutely troubled ghosts, they first need healing and reconnection with the older, healthy collective of the ancestors. At that time, from their new-found place of wholeness, their journey and our own often become indistinguishable, and our ancestors can become more conscious allies for the critical work of cultural transformation.
Cultural literacy includes taking personal inventory of how your education about the world is incomplete or reflects problematic biases. In my case, since my early twenties, I’ve been fairly conscious with respect to the ecological crisis due to immersion in environmental activism, attuned to LGBTQ equality due to coming out as bisexual at age seventeen, and critical of American imperialism due to studies abroad in Europe, Latin America, and North Africa. In the last decade, I’ve had to actively pursue ongoing education concerning legacies of racism in North America, the importance of an embodied feminist ethic as a cis-gendered man, and how my experience growing up middle class shaped my views on socio-economic class, privilege, and accessibility. I’ve also become more able to recognize and respond to anti-Semitism, ableism, and more subtle forms of colonialism and erasure of the voices of diverse Indigenous peoples.
This education is ongoing for me and for anyone else who seeks to be a culturally conscious human being. Staying open to ongoing cultural education is selfishly useful in that we get to enjoy more meaningful relationships and more opportunities to deliver on our gifts in the world. A Yoruba proverb states, “May my character not interfere with my destiny.” Similarly, we can intend that our cultural conditioning and blind spots not interfere with our ability to realize our potential. Where are you already secure in your embodied ethic of cultural healing, and where do you feel more vulnerable and in need of growth?
Ancestral healing is not a substitute for this ongoing cultural education; however, seeing our lives in a broader ancestral context can lead us to ask more insightful questions around ways that systemic troubles like patriarchy, white supremacy, settler-colonialism, and empire intersect our lives and lineages. Although my offerings don’t presume to address this vast terrain of potential learning, I do attempt to weave aspects of cultural literacy throughout, and all ancestral healing practitioners are trained to facilitate lineage-level cultural healing work with the ancestors. Consider identifying one gap in your current knowledge, work for a period of time to remedy that, and in doing so, affirm an ethic of life-long learning.
Personal integration refers in this context to the movement toward congruency between worldview, core values, and everyday life. Sustained personal and ancestral healing combined with increased cultural awareness can lead to significant changes in our relationships, our vocation, and how we chose to spend our time. This reorganization is rarely predictable, but a common theme might be something like embracing the journey or committing to a values-driven life.
One of the most important ways to facilitate these changes is to find allies on the path, people who share your values and can kindly hold you accountable to your potential. This may include work with living teachers and mentors, just make sure this mentorship helps you to come home more and more to yourself in authentic ways. This is also a time to care for your physical health and to honor meaningful long-term relationships with people who truly are able to honor your growth even if they do not have the same experience. Ancestral healing, ritual work, and cultural inquiry can all change our daily flow, our habits, and our very body. Allow for this, and value yourself enough to call in the support you need.
Consider finding ways to deepen your understanding of the intersections of culture and ritual with heart, mind, and psyche, even if you have no interest in the practice of clinical mental health per se. Staring in October of 2020 I’m guiding a new online course in this inter-disciplinary terrain titled Animist Psychology: Earth, Ancestors, and Mental Health. Finding teachers and traditions that speak to your soul in as many ways as possible at the same time can help to unravel harms incurred as a result of cultural fragmentation. Be hopeful there are such voices and guides who can speak specifically to your life path and that you can be well-resourced through the challenges of further psychological, cultural and spiritual integration.