Who are the Ancestors? We are arriving at that time of the year when the ancestors are especially close to us, according to many spiritual traditions and cultural practices. Whether as Dia de los Muertos, as it is known in Mexico and throughout Latin America, or Halloween as it is called in places with stronger English ties, or by some other name – the time when the light begins to wane and the presence of darkness creeps ever closer and deeper into our consciousness and our body is that period when it is said that the veil between us and the ancestors is more permeable. As we prepare for this time in the circle round of the year, it is worthwhile to take a pause and consider who are the ancestors – yours, mine and the planet’s.
Beginning at the broadest and widest expanse, the stars and the meteors are our ancestors, for it was from them that life was engendered on our tiny little planet Earth. We are, after all, cosmic beings.
We are also planetary beings – and here in the terrestrial realm, it is the rocks and stones, the boulders and pebbles, the mountain peaks and valleys deep that are our ancestors. Rock is the most ancient life form here – just think that the stones and rocks we walk upon and touch also knew the earliest humans, during the so-called Stone Age. In some languages, stones and rocks are addressed as “grand-father” or “grand-mother”.
I was recently winding my way through the basement of the Regina museum when I came upon a sandstone boulder, grainy in texture and tannish in color, of a dimension decidedly taller and wider than I am. I felt drawn to it and approached it slowly, allowing its energies to penetrate me gradually. It felt so good, solid and steady, grounded yet so very buoyant and full of light.
I noticed at the top of the stone, above my head, the faint markings of a sun that someone had carved long ago into this simple rock; the sun’s rays extended out in all directions: east and west, north and south, up and down. Next to this stone a large sign in bold, black lettering said: The grandfather rocks are very ancient. They were here first, and all other life evolved from them. Grandfather rocks must be treated with respect. Most aboriginal people believe they were once people or animals who were changed into rocks to be interpreters between humankind and Great Spirit. The gift of rocks are strength, wisdom, power and love.
We don’t often equate rocks and stones with love, and yet why not? If they are our grandparents, in a manner of speaking, in our shared planetary home, how wonderful that they have the gift of love, just as we do.
Now we move closer to our own ancestors, that is the human ones. Most of us don’t know that much about our own ancestral lineage – how many of us can trace back our family lines in all directions seven generations back? And yet while we many not know intellectually that much about some of our generational ancestors, there are still patterns and attributes that we carry within us – in our bones and in our blood – that link us to those that came before.
I have been spending quite a bit of time in recent years coming to appreciate in a more loving way some of my own ancestors. I suppose that this journey began about ten years ago or so, when a friend suggested I do a family constellations workshop. And so I found myself one weekend drawing on a large piece of paper, in crayon colors, symbols for all my various aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents.
One of them I did not know where to place or what symbol to choose because I had only heard negative things about this person – my father’s estranged brother who I only met once, albeit very briefly. His name was Uncle Dick. “That’s the one you need to work with,” the facilitator told me, pointing to the black shape I had positioned as far away as I could from the rest of the family tree. “There is where you will get the healing.” Of course, she was pointing to the symbol I had created for Uncle Dick.
How could I find love and healing from this man, whom I had only heard horrible things about? This is what I thought, at first. However, a few years later, I learned from a man who knew my Uncle very well in his later years about how kind Uncle Dick was. I was told how he tried to help people that he even travelled to Poland several times when it was still part of the Iron Block to help get children from orphanages – paying much of his own money to do so.
And then a few weeks ago, I happened to meet a man who had had my Uncle as a Professor of Nuclear Engineering. He told me that my Uncle Dick was more than a professor, he was a true philosopher as well. And very kind. How easy it is for us to fall into judgmental, negative patterns and stories – about ourselves and about our ancestors.
We can sometimes forget that at the base of it all – in some way, shape or form – is love. Just as the Rocks and Stones can give the gift of love, so can our ancestors of our blood and family lines. But to move towards a healing of old stories and patterns and shift towards more loving ones can take hard work, and it can sometimes be awfully scary – maybe even scarier than a spooky Halloween mask or vacant eyed skull. But if you can find the trick of how to do this (and sometimes a stone or rock can help) – you just may be in for a sweet treat in the feast of your life.