Most of us have multiple converging and colliding lineages in our ancestry; many of whom left their traditions behind to “become” American and without any wisdom ways or spiritual practices intact to reclaim. We hold a deep, often unseen, wounds and subsequent grief over the loss of these connections. Where did your family come from? Why did they leave? Was there pain and suffering that lead to their leaving? Was sacrificing their ways to integrate into a new culture and society by choice or forced? What was sacrificed to assimilate? How do you carry these wounds in your body?
Access to Spirituality + Appropriation
Because so few of us have ancestors who carried forward the traditions and medicines of our heritage(s) to claim, we’ve been indoctrinated and encultured to believe we have no lineages of our own. Starving for connection, we become eager for tangible ways to connect to self, community, land, and spirituality. Mistakenly, we often turn to those cultures that seem to have living, visible ways of connecting to Spirit and Land and take from them, instead. While harm may not be intended, it’s important to recognize that harm is inflicted in instances where a culture which has historically been oppressed is then scavenged for the bits and pieces of its culture that are serving, especially for capitalistic gains.
Unraveling Cultural Curses
This is how cultural appropriation has a direct connection to the theft of Indigenous land, colonization of Indigenous people, and the contemporary kyriarchy in which we live (a term which encompasses all intersections of systemic oppression). So wherever your ancestral lines begin, however they’ve arrived to Turtle Island, both oppressed and/or oppressor; your lineage carries a legacy of colonization as well as a genetic memory of oppression, hardship, and trauma.This healing work leads us down a path of unsettling settler colonialism as we discover those in power benefit from ideas and ideals that strip us of our sovereignty, tell us our worth is based on our ability to perform, and degrade all meaning and substance by convincing us we are small and worthless and need to me more X, less X, or need X product in order to be accepted into a system that perpetuates our over striving to achieve goals we can never reach. Systemic violence is perpetuated by fear based responses to the need of ownership: land, wealth, power. This, purposefully, keeps us from the thoughtful, sometimes painful, self-examination that leads to healing, empowerment, and change.
We carry a tremendous responsibility to understand how we fit into and are part of the system, and how to work towards dismantling the ways oppression manifests in our ideas and actions. As we embrace relearning our traditions to heal the grief and loss we carry, we are working to overcome both externally manifested and internalized oppressions around race, gender, sexuality, age, ability, class, and education. For some of us, this work is about decolonizing, and for others, it’s about unsettling settler colonialism.
Ancestral healing naturally happens as a byproduct of other transformative healing experiences as we begin to pull on the threads that keep us bound to outdated beliefs and practices. Ultimately, only you can do this work with yourself and your ancestors but I can offer space, suggestions and support as you do this healing work.
Twice a year I offer a 4 part ancestral healing and reconnection class, co-taught with Sharon Arnold. In this class we explore how we’ve become severed from our lineages, how to acknowledge and hold space for who our ancestors were, how the trauma of loss shows up in the body, and how to reconnect to our ancestors through introductions, good practices, and building right relationships.