How Ancestral Remembrance strengthens the foundation of being sovereign in today's world
My Ya and me outside our ancestral home along the river in central Thailand (1979)
BECOMING A SOVEREIGN BEING is about having autonomy within the community. It's not about being independent, rather, it is a deep connection with self while participating within interdependent relationships - the recognition of our own part in the web of life that holds us all.
One of the ways in which we can deepen our sovereignty is in reclaiming our relationship with our ancestral lineage. Reclaiming this relationship can offer us ways of being and connection distinct from the current social and cultural narrative which has a very limited and narrow (and often dysfunctional!) view of how to exist in the world.
Ancestral lineage recognises, not only our ancestors past but our future ancestors. This phrase may seem paradoxical, but it is a way to describe something that exists in perpetuity, not only in the "past" or the "future" (linear) with physical points of reference, but our ancestors exist in the present moment, which is expanded, malleable, and infinite.
We are a thread in an ancient continuum of belonging and caretaking, a thread that continues as the dream of our Ancestors and the distant echo of emerging generations. Along with energetic imprints in this web, we hold memory in the cells and DNA of our bloodline (like genetic memory which is currently being studied by biologists). We remember other ways of being in our very bones, and other ways of being are so crucial in diversifying our existence and how we can honour different systems that may be more healthy for ourselves, our community and this planet.
We all have indigenous heritage. We have a shared ancestry as people who belong to this Earth right now. Healing our relationship with our lineage offers the opportunity to know ourselves, and connect with others in a shared sense of belonging. The word "roots" is very telling - this is foundational work in becoming and belonging that is extremely nourishing and needed for us to thrive and grow as a species, especially in these times of disconnection and oppressive power systems.
Nearly all people of the world have a historical culture of acknowledging their Ancestors in their daily lives. For some people today this may simply be having framed photos up of their grandparents who have passed on. In other cultures, for example, my Asiatic culture, it mostly remains a daily altar practice that honours spirits from multiple generations past.
Some of us have the privilege of actually knowing who our Ancestors are - their names, where they lived and their occupations while they were alive. For many of us, this kind of remembrance can be patchy, and for many more, our ancestral remembrance stops at our grandparents. For others, there may be no physical evidence at all, however as we carry our Ancestors within us and in the land we came from (and for some they may even appear as feelings or spectral beings outside of us or in our dreams) this is not a worry, as we will discuss how this will have no substantial bearing on how we connect with our Ancestors.
So how DO we connect with our Ancestors?
Every person has their own journey in reconnecting with their Ancestors. There are many ways to do this, and it may take a little time to practice, or feel comfortable, or not feel silly doing things that are outside of our cultural "norm". But it is the work of our intuition, and so this is where we must go.
Some people may feel comfortable in setting up an altar and sitting there once a day for a few minutes, in a prayer of connection and guidance.
Some may feel more comfortable working with dreams and seeing what comes up there (you may even research dreaming herbs your ancestors may have used to do this).
Some may have the privilege of talking to you living family members for stories and information.
Some people begin to embody their ancestors, and start cooking the same foods they ate while alive, or by getting traditional tattoos.
Some may feel comfortable taking a DNA test and getting the physical evidence of their bloodline (although I highly recommend, as we are addressing new ways of being, that we try other avenues first in a practice of deepening our intuition and "bone knowledge").
It is important to note that in these times, when there is such a loss of ancestral lineage and knowledge, tapping into the imaginal is a big part of knowing and exploring who we are, and may have been a significant way your Ancestors tapped into wisdom and knowledge. We need to remove the stigma around the word "imagination" and "imaginary" because it is not about creating a fantasy, but waking up and tuning into what may be an inner knowing in ourselves, and this way deserves exploration. The imaginal world, from a shamanic perspective, is a way of knowing and coming into being because our imagination is at the very heart of absolutely everything that we create as humans.
There is a point here that can be made about confusing past lives with ancestral lineage (if past lives are something you believe or not right now). This is something of a deeper conversation, but I find that the more practised we become with deepening our intuition, we just begin to know these things and how they feel different.
It can be difficult with imposed romantic myths (especially after watching Outlander) to not romanticise and fantasise that this may be part of our own lineage, but take a moment and sit with an image of the natural landscape of that area. How does it make your heart feel? Does it yearn? After time practising you will know the difference between a romantic story and something that moves in your bones, not just your heart.
Just to give an example from my own story, I know at this time that I haven't any bloodline from Scotland, however, I have memories of being there in pre-roman times, and again about 600 years ago. This is a novelty because I am more interested in connecting with my ancestry than my past lives on earth. However, it can be interesting - I know my life there in pre-roman times informs specific parts of who I am today (affinity with nature, a visceral love for cold atmosphere and conifer forests, energetic spiral imprints in my arms, and a gift for tracking), but other than that they were just experiences of being human and getting on, much like my life now.
For others, their past lives greatly inform the skillset they now hold and is of greater importance to them.
Back to our ancestral lineage.
When we begin reconnecting with our Ancestors, we begin to gain a greater perspective on our role here in this life, for what gifts we may have to share, and how we may need to adjust things to create a legacy (when I work with clients we talk in terms of our work or business being part of our legacy). It gives us another point of reference in informing ourselves of who we are, our purpose and our responsibilities, rather than the damaging messaging that is continuously infiltrating our consciousness from a wounded patriarchal system.
For some, ancestral work can be a way of tapping into our knowing and inner wisdom, as our Ancestors become archetypal and a way to comfortably access information that we already know within us.
There are so many ways to approach this and it changes, like everything, with each person's lens and season of life they are in. For example, when I was younger, I tuned in to my matriarchal line, and the remembrance of druidic work, word magic and my connection to the Celtic goddesses. Now that thread runs clearly through me, though now there is a deeper embrace with my paternal line, of fire, and fight, and protection, and Ancestral and spirit work. There are many layers, but it isn't complicated. If anything, reconnecting with our Ancestors makes things very clear.
And for all of us, it is an opportunity to realise ancestral wounds that may have been passed down the line that needs attention so that they do not carry forward. (It may be interesting to note here, as I am guided to say, that the world has huge wounds around scarcity and money, and it is same for many of us individually. Money wounds are wounds around self worth and survival... that is another interesting topic for someone else who holds more knowledge than me!)
Ancestral work is a part of my legacy. I have a deep understanding of the different ways we can connect with our Ancestors, being someone who has had to straddle different cultural perspectives, different timelines and both the physical and energetic / spirit world, so if you feel Ancestral Ways work would complement your way of being in the world, or other work you are doing, I would be honoured to hold space for that journey.
*Note: It's my responsibility to acknowledge how removing indigenous children from their parents and breaking those ancestral lines, is a horror that should never be repeated. It is my understanding and feeling that for indigenous people globally, being punished for practising their own culture or speaking their native languages is an axe that has wounded future generations in a way we would comprehend and grieve much more thoroughly if we were reconnected to our own Ancestors in such away. This is why I believe we hold the responsibility for reparations as a continuation of the line of our ancestors. We are all connected.
**Note: I think it is important to add, although I won't go into any great detail here, that remembering and acknowledging our ancestors won't tether them to the earth and not allow them to move on. Time and place as we see it (being "living") doesn't function in the same way or have the same meaning to disembodied energy or spirit.
***Note: In Ancestral connection work you may come across Star Beings, and that is perfectly normal. In many cultures, we have folklore of relationships and communion with people from the stars, so this is to be expected... treat them as Ancestors.
Would you like to REWILD your life?
If you feel the call to rewild your life or to move into a more sovereign way of being and would like coaching and guidance while you recover your wild senses, I would love to be a part of your coming-into-being, and walk alongside you! Email me for an obligation-free, no expectation, no hard-sell, honest conversation of where you are, what you want for your life and how we can bring that into being in a holistic, ethical and inclusive way.
*Note: I acknowledge that I have the privilege of place and resources to rewild and heal my relationship with my natural self. However, ultimately there are infinite ways we can begin to rewild ourselves, no matter our race, gender, finances, location or education. If you have a body, and a mind, you can plant seeds to your own rewilding.
Melanie is a sovereignty and mindfulness coach and facilitator, a nature therapist, writer and educator. She is dedicated to the rewilding and remembering of ancestral ways for women to create fundamental and sustainable changes in their lives, and in our world.
Title image: Melanie Tongmar