If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all the 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 Hanh
I had a friend who—even while in our orthodox high school—began to gamble. He would sneak out at odd times, as if under some mysterious spell, to go bet on horses, blackjack, anything at all. Later he found out that he had an uncle (whom he had never met) who was an incorrigible gambler. He had died young and apparently never finished his game. My friend seemed to have picked up his hand!
All of us carry the imprint of our ancestors, their wisdom as well as their pain. It’s part of being in the human family. For years I ran from this truth. I felt the willies when I thought of the weirdness in my lineage and didn’t want anything to do with it. Now I am learning to face my ancestors—and by this I mean all who have gone before me, like my brother and sister who died young. I am learning to call them by name, honor them, and even ask them to be my allies.
Throughout our lives we store thoughts, emotions and past memories below the floorboards of our conscious minds. And not only our own, but also the stored material of our parents and grandparents live beneath the surface of our awareness in what I call the ancestral realm.
Even though they are dead and gone from this world, our ancestors’ strong feelings and experiences—whatever they were—still have a vibration and a gravitational pull. This pull affects us. Sometimes we don’t realize that the strong impulses we feel are really reiterations of patterns set in motion long before we came around.
Sometimes these impulses are high-minded—like the pull I have to study and teach. These activities seem to satisfy a deep need in me. Maybe this has to do with the fact that I came from a long line of rabbis. Study is what they did, alone and in groups.
But other impulses take me and those around me downhill. Like bouts of anger, gloominess, or ennui. Are they mine alone, I wonder? Or am I continuing some unresolved pattern of those who came before me?
I have discovered that we can work to alleviate our negative family patterns and dissolve their disruptive influences by turning to face and honor our ancestors. Join me for a deep day of ritual and meditation as we connect and restore our fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters to their rightful roles as loving allies and guides from the world beyond.
Join Tirzah and friends on March 26 for her Ancestral Healing Workshop just outside of Boulder, CO. For more information: Call 303. 819. 1339