I have been intrigued with the notion of generational trauma: trauma that can be passed from one generation to the next, imprinted on our DNA. The trauma can be personal, such as rape, poverty, disease, etc. It could also be racial (enslavement, genocide, discrimination) or national (war, economic depression, natural disaster). The emotional wounds that our ancestors suffered have left a lasting impression on the present generation, consciously or unconsciously. It takes seven generations for wounds and traumas to fade…unless we work to heal them.
There is a practice, rather new here in the West, but one that has been present in indigenous cultures for a long time called ancestral healing. The idea is that we can heal not only ourselves in this life, but also heal the traumas of our ancestors, therefore paving a healed path for our descendants to walk.
This story is not going to be about the nuts and bolts of ancestral healing; there are plenty of other resources available about that, as well as many healers with varied practices.
This story is going to be an exploration and a speculation of my seven generations, at least as far back as I can go. That’s 254 lives going back approximately 175 years to around 1842! That’s the year Karl Marx became editor-in-chief of Rheinische Zeitung. The Seminole Wars ended and Native Americans were removed from Florida to Oklahoma. Over four thousand British and Indian troops retreated from Kabul during the first Anglo-Afghan War, many being massacred or dying from exposure or starvation. A train going from Versailles to Paris caught fire and 50 people died. That’s a lot of racial and national trauma across many countries.
What racial, national, and personal traumas affected my ancestors? How did these traumas shape their lives? How did it shape their children’s lives? And their children’s children’s lives? How did it shape my life?
In attempting to answer these questions, and in learning more about the times my ancestors lived in, I hope to honor their memories and respect their experiences. I also hope to shine light on the fact that everyone has dark places, many of them shared. Many of us are products of the same ancestral wounds. Being aware of this, perhaps we can find common ground on which to stand together in the here and now and leave a healed place where our children can play together.
“A woman armed with ancestral wisdom is a powerful force. You’ll find her powers come from within, she is in tune with her spirit, and the magic of the universe. She trusts, values and follows her intuition.” ― Lori Bregman