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With the explosion of the Black Lives Matter movement, there has been a lot of talk in spiritual communities about healing ancestral wounds. What is that?

What Are Ancestral Wounds?

In traditional animist societies, ancestral healing didn’t exist – or at least was a very rare occurrence. When people encountered physical or emotional issues, they were handled in the moment. Families were more connected because they needed each other more. Funeral rites helped spirits cross over fully so that there was a complete separation from this life to the next. People died “clean.”

Today there are no rituals. We don’t have healthy families to help us carry the burdens of life. We don’t have rites of passage to help us know who we are and where we are. There are no tribes to give us a sense of belonging or identity.

Instead we have an abundance of fear. We pretend to be happier, more successful, and more connected than we really are. We don’t feel our feelings and don’t know how to take care of our spiritual needs. Everything is outsourced. And that leads to wounding. When the wounding is greater than one person can carry, it spills out onto others. The energy trace continues to be passed down.

What Do Ancestral Wounds Look Like?

How your family line is impacted can vary widely. It can be more generic like patterns of poverty, addiction, being overweight, mental illness, violence, sexual assault, or low self esteem. Or sometimes it’s very specific like an unconscious pattern of fearing water,  being unwilling to take risks, or avoiding people with blue eyes.

Do I Need an Ancestral Healing?

The general answer to that is “probably.” It’s been so long since modern society has had rituals to help people live and die well that we’re all probably carrying at least one unconscious negative pattern.

If you or your siblings share a behavior or symptom that your parents also have, and it didn’t start with a single incident, suspect an ancestral connection. For example,let’s say that you know that your grandparents were Holocaust survivors. Many family members struggle with anorexia or suicidality. It may have all started with your grandparents’ inability to cope with overwhelming stress. It didn’t end when the war ended. It continued in their bodies and was passed down to the children and grandchildren.

World war one wasn’t that long ago. Ancestral wounding can go back centuries. It could include famine survivors, victims of the slave trade, soldiers in wartime, victims of gender inequality, or racism. You may not be aware of when it started. Generally speaking, if you can heal the ancestor who started the pattern, the whole family line heals.

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