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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.

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