Posted in:   Goddess

An Ancestral Teaching: My Body of the Ancestors

A Spiritual Journey to the Land of the Ancestors

As the season shifts toward Winter, and the mysteries of death settle upon the land, my mind turns to the Ancestors, and the insights that came to me during a week-long spiritual retreat in the wilds of British Columbia.

My body is the body of the Ancestors: the Ancestors are alive in my body, and through my body and lived experiences, I can heal and transform my ancestral line.

It’s day one of my spiritual retreat, and time for our morning learning circle.  I’m part of the Ancestors Path that meets in the shade of a mighty willow tree, with a pristine mountain lake and craggy peaks to one side, and untamed West Coast rainforest to the other.

Our teacher leads us on a guided trance. We’re going to meet our psychopomp: our personal spiritual guide in the land of the dead, and then journey with this ally to connect with the Ancestors.

In the trance, I come to an ancient wooden door. There’s a key in a lock, the key of conscious choice, that I turn and then enter the space beyond.  I find myself on silver, shining path suspended in a black void — a vast, fertile emptiness of infinite possibilities.

My psychopomp meets me on this silver path. She takes the form of a sleek black panther who greets me by placing a paw on each shoulder. Even though I’ve never worked with a psychopomp before, my soul immediately recognizes my spiritual guide as an old ally and friend.

The teacher continues the guided trance, and tells us to seek out the land of our Ancestors with our psychopomp.

So I climb onto my panther companion’s back, and as we begin to walk, she says me: “the land of the Ancestors that calls to you is your own physical body. Your body is the body of the Ancestors, and each part is connected to a different piece of your ancestral story.”

Although there’s more to this guided-trance experience, this one, crystal-clear insight stayed with me: my body is the body of the Ancestors.

My Body is the Body of the Ancestors

On a surface level, this may seem like an obvious statement. My physical form is the result of the coming together of the DNA of my parents, and this DNA holds the material characteristics of the generations that went before me.

But below the obvious is something far more profound and life changing: the Ancestors are still alive in my body, and through my body and lived experiences, I can heal and transform my ancestral line.

In simple terms, this means who I am, how I live, what I give my attention to, how much I let the past and my family patterns determine my now thoughts and actions, and the myriad of other big and small life choices and experiences that make up my everyday existence matter deeply.

Each of us inherits not only the physical DNA of our family lines, but also the energetic DNA of generational stories and experiences, especially those of trauma. For many of us, it’s the unacknowledged trauma, passed on generation after generation, that’s our shadow partner in life. These things live on in our body and life choices.  And they can also end, be healed and transformed, through our body and life choices.

Beyond the trauma, how I care for my body speaks to how I treat the body of my Ancestors. Giving my body the food, sleep, relaxation, exercise and pleasure it needs to be happy and healthy are the ways I honor myself and my Ancestors, and how I show respect and gratitude for the precious gift of life and physical form that my Ancestors have given me.

This body of mine, the body of my Ancestors, is a great responsibility.  It’s a miracle — a living, unfolding story  — an opportunity for healing, growth and transformation  — an invitation to joy, pleasure and love. Our Ancestors in the land of the dead no longer have access to this gift and miracle. There are things that they can’t undo, can’t experience, can’t touch and care for.  Yet I can do these things on behalf of my Ancestors and family line.

My Body Is an Ancestor in the Making

Life is short, and there will come a time when I’ll leave this world and join the ranks of the Ancestors.  My physical body will be gone, but what I did with my body in this lifetime will continue on in the energetic DNA I leave behind.  I can pass on the energetic lineage I inherited, or I can make this DNA anew, and gift the Descendants in my family line with something more healed and whole.

Perhaps more importantly, my son and the younger generation in my family witness and absorb how I’m living my life now.  All the things I do, or don’t do, to respect and honor my body, and the gift of my life are on full display to the Descendants of my family line.

My body is an Ancestor in the making, and this too is a great responsibility.

No one can live a perfect life. These insights from the Ancestors aren’t coming to me as a burden, or to increase my self-judgment and guilt.  Instead the Ancestors are calling me to claim and rejoice in this precious body and life of mine, and to know that I have a great responsibility to them, to my Descendants, and to myself.

As always, the lessons from the dead remind us how to live.

Photo Credit: Benji Aird on Unsplash

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