My Path to the Ancestors
I love to wander through vintage stores. When I enter the realm of trinkets, gadgets, porcelain angels, bone china plates, and cut glass bowls, I enter the realm of the everyday life of generations past. I can remember the toys we played with, the ceramic trinkets that decorated my grandmother’s house, the dishes that were brought out for special holiday dinners. I slip back into childhood, and even beyond to a time before I was born.
As I reach out and touch these solidly real relics, I feel a connection to something that I cannot name. It is a yearning to touch the people that I loved and wondered about with intense curiosity. They were my grandparents, aunts, parents, uncles, great aunts, and second cousins. As I pick up a stoneware mug that seems like one my grandfather may have used, I feel a connection to him and I long to know him better. I feel a deep desire to retrieve a life line to the people, the time, and place of my ancestors. I want to know more about who I am, where I came from, and how I fit into the larger story of my lineage. I believe that knowing the truths, stories, and experiences of my ancestors can help me to know myself.
I have learned, through my own recovery from childhood trauma, that my family was full of dysfunction. There is much in my ancestral history that I am not proud of, and that I don’t even want my children to know. Yet, I know all of it is significant. I have had moments of deep anger and dread as I thought about approaching the work of speaking with family members that have left this world. But I find that when I do access the stories and the lessons that my great-great aunts and grandmothers want to share with me, I leave the session feeling the power and stunning grace with which these women and men carried the burdens of their lives. I am awed by their desire to live and find beauty wherever they could.
This book has been designed to facilitate your own journey into the ancestral realms. It is meant to be an interactive workbook. There is narrative for each section which is followed by a collection of suggested exercises. The “Personal Reflections” are stories about my own personal experience which are interspersed throughout this workbook. These are meant to give you examples and to evoke your own thoughts and feelings about your personal recollections and experiences.