Ancestral trauma: Whose grief is it, anyway?

ancestral traumaIt’s happened to many of us: betrayal by a friend or lover in whom we put our total trust, leaving us grief-stricken. But whose grief is it, anyway? Because it could be ancestral trauma and not ours at all!

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”  William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun

It happened to me about 20 years ago: my best friend decided she didn’t want to be friends any more.

Nothing particularly happened between us. She just reconnected with an old high school friend and decided she’d rather be best friends with her than me.

I got dropped like a sack of rocks, leaving me heartbroken.

On the recommendation of a friend, I went to an energy healer for the first time. It was a serendipitous moment,  given that energy healing is now my profession.

The healer I saw was a medical doctor who also practiced energy healing. Highly intuitive, she said she didn’t feel I was grieving just the loss of the friendship in this life, but that I was likely grieving on behalf of generations of women in my family who have felt such devestating betrayal.

That was the first I ever heard about emotional trauma being carried in our genes.

But recent research bears it out.

Research on ancestral trauma

It’s been found that people can hold onto psychological traumas experienced by their ancestors because it’s stored in their DNA!

Research shows that descendants of trauma survivors carry the physical and emotional symptoms of traumas they do not directly experience, and that memories and traumas can be stored in genetic material for 14 generations!

Ancestral traits stored in our DNA may also explain how people can sit down at a piano for the first time and start playing expertly, or are able to instantly pick up a skill they’d never studied.

Illnesses and pains with no medical cause can be passed down – either from ancestors or our own past lives – but can also be healed.

In my profession as a healing practitioner, I have since experienced it happening with quite a few clients. People may have aches or pains with no known medical cause, yet a few sessions of energy healing can often help clear it.

One of my colleagues worked with a client with a bad throat. Doctors found nothing wrong physically so the client finally had a past life regression and discovered he was hit in the throat with an arrow in a past life. Within two days his throat problem cleared up.

You may know people who seem to make the same mistakes over and over: bad choice in relationships, financial mistakes, etc. Freud called it, “repetition compulsion” – the unconscious attempt to replay unresolved issues until we can “get it right.”

This also could explain generation upon generation of families repeating the same misfortunes. Jung says we’re likely to keep repeating unconscious patterns until we bring them into the light of awareness.

Or, we can also change our DNA and thereby change our futures!

The solution of epigeneetics

The relatively new field of epigenetics has come into the mainstream as a result of the work of best-selling author Bruce Lipton, Ph.D.

There had been a common belief that, “whatever my family history is, I am destined for the same: my parents are overweight, so I’ll be overweight; my father has diabetes, so I’ll get diabetes,” etc.

Such beliefs give control to our genes.  We surrender our future to the belief in a pre-destined outcome.

But epigenetics has established that genes and DNA aren’t the only factor determining our futures.

The cells in our bodies are also affected by our thoughts.  We have free choice, through healing and changes of lifestyle, to counterbalance what might otherwise be pre-destined. Our bodies can be changed as we retrain our thinking.

And through lifestyle changes, counseling, healing and ceremony, we can release the control of our DNA.

One caveat I will add from my own experience: you have to want to change!

What do indigenous peoples do?

Indigenous peoples throughout the world live lives based on ceremonies that focus on self-healing.

Ancestors are honored, acknowledged and can also be healed.

We have an obligation to heal ourselves so we don’t pass on negative experiences and emotions to those coming after us.  Heal our DNA and we heal future generations and that’s how the world will be healed.

The Maori’s, the indigenous peoples of New Zealand, have a beautiful ancestor honoring ceremony based on the teaching that our ancestors always walk before us in anything we do. That can all be good, but anything painful needs to be healed.

What can you do?

ONE: Research: Learn all you can about your ancestors. Where did they come from? What traumas did they experience?

If you have elders still living, ask them for stories of the old ones. What obstacles did they overcome?

Here in the U.S., unless you’re 100% Native American, you had ancestors who overcame great difficulties to come to North America. Learn their stories. Understand their traumas. And do a healing ceremony to honor their courage and put their traumas to rest. You are the result of their courage.

For readers in other countries, learn your history. Was your country invaded in the time your ancestors were living? What traumas did they have to deal with?

For more teachings about ancestor knowledge, read my blog post: Do you know where you came from?

TWO:  “Shamans heal through energy medicine.” Alberto Villaldo

Go to an energy healer; find a reputable guide or healer to help you through the process.

THREE:  Go into ceremony and pray for healing going back the ancestral line as far as necessary.

FOUR: Go into a sweat lodge, and if one is not available to you, go into a steam room or sauna and make it a prayerful time.

“Steaming, sauna and sweat lodge are used in nearly every culture in the world to treat everything from pain and illness to making contact with the spirit realm, and healing traumas both physical and non-physical.” The Sacred Science

ancestral traumaFIVE:  Create an altar to your ancestors and pray for their healing into the past.

  • Set the intention that you want to heal it; reaffirm it every morning.
  • Acknowledge and give gratitude for the good qualities passed down to you.
  • Write your ancestors a letter or journal and place it on your altar.

With intention and prayer, you can heal these past traumas and move forward into a new life.

“Walking, I am listening to a deeper way. Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me. Be still, they say. Watch and listen. You are the result of the love of thousands.” Linda Hogan [b. 1947] Native American writer

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Molly Larkin

Molly Larkin is the co-author of the international best-seller "The Wind Is My Mother; The Life and Teachings of a Native American Shaman”  and other books on health. She is passionate about helping people live life to their fullest potential through her classes, healing practice and blog at www.MollyLarkin.com

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