"Happy Halloween" we say in the US. But what's the source of the happiness here? Perhaps it means "enjoy scaring or being scared." Jack-o-lanterns, lit mostly by electric diodes now, glare from the porches. Gruesome plastic monsters, zombies, nasty spiders and skeletons fill up more and more front yards.
They are all available at your nearest, nationwide chain of "Party Stores." Or even Lowes and Home Depot. Kids come 'round to feed the national obesity crisis with sugar. Before all that plastic ends up in a landfill.
True, the pumpkins are reminders of a harvest. But reaping happens many times a year now, off in giant, iPhone-managed, agribusiness farms. Who really thinks of gathering in foodstuffs from the land? Groceries come from supermarkets, obviously.
Death for us is thus largely supposed to be scary, threatening--fought off at all costs in giant mainstream hospitals. We just have our little, spider-web-draped thrill with it in late October.
"Dia de los Muertos"--a Different Holiday
Let's now contrast this grim, increasingly competitive horror contest with the "Day of the Dead" festivals in Latin America and Spain. There, the day and night are not laced with fear, but graced with remembrances of bygone relatives and close friends. Compare these images from the two cultures.
The Latin version is a time of joy, designed to keep death part of the natural cycle of life, to remember and aid beloved souls further on some spiritual journey. Maybe even help ourselves. The dead can be beautiful, voluptuous even, as opposed to macabre corpses in advanced stages of decay.
But do the Dead
Live Somehow on in Us?
Recently, however, we in this country have begun to be aware of how profoundly connected we are to the strengths and weaknesses of recent ancestors. Serious enough traumas they did not or could not process come to life again in our lives, even though it is not our fate to suffer the original damage. Still we inherit the aftereffects. They land in us via epigenetic, behavioral, and likely also psychic channels.
These are the real ghosts--these traumas re-enacting in our lives. So long as we try to ignore or repress them, we remain haunted. But ancestors also support us with inherited resilience. As Mark Wolynn's excellent book title says, all of it: "didn't start with you."
So what do these different attitudes towards the Autumn holiday have to do with family constellation work? How are they related to getting and staying well in North America? Interestingly enough, the Disney-Pixar movie "Coco" has something possibly substantial to say about this.
It's often first the problem we know, feel, or hear about. Whether it's our own, a client's, a loved one's, or a friend's--the facts as they present themselves are all from the problem space.
At times, of course, it makes sense to inquire even into what's wrong. You can't change what you don't know is problematic. But even though change does arise from perception of negative patterns, it makes less sense in the beginning to leave what you see and feel wrapped in that negative awareness.
Coaching or therapeutic trainings often talk about something called “the problem space.” Staying lodged in these perceptions of what’s wrong keeps us stumped somehow about how to fix it. As the saying goes, “you can’t fix the problem from within the problem space.” You have to push out of it into a wider, richer, “solution space.”
Step into the Solution
Here’s a simple process that's excellent at doing this. It produces in my experience and that of my client's and student's better positive changes faster.
First ask yourself or the other person to try to reverse the problem statement. Ask something like, “Well, if that’s what’s wrong, what would ‘right’ look like in that area?” So “I’m exhausted and scared all the time and my business is failing,” turns into something like “I’m energized, calm, and my business is booming.” This is a good start. We have at least some brushstrokes in the solution space.
This is the beginning of what I call a “desired positive change,” and my students have dubbed it the situation's “DPC.” But it’s as yet diffuse, and rather global, in one fell swoop, probably impossible. So better, faster change can benefit greatly from three further steps. I call them “focusing,” “instantiating,” and “opening to the universe.”
At the age of 20, I read Siddhartha… more than once. Herman Hesse’s short novel retold the story of the Buddha so eloquently, I thought. Sitting in the back of buses, lonely and estranged from both family and my religious upbringing, criss-crossing Europe on art history tours during a junior year abroad--I dreamed of walking the path outlined so beautifully in the book.
Somehow, like the Buddha, I would leave the family for asceticism and training. Maybe I already had. But then would come immersion in business, passion, and wealth, followed finally by that enlightened epiphany in which I saw it all as “illusion”-- and realized my essential oneness with everything. It was the classic, heroic, individual quest for unity with a transcendent Divine. I drank it in like a starving child.
But What About the Planet?
Roughly four and a half decades later, that quest remains. But progress has not come in the ways I thought it would. The grand vision absorbed in my youth had some things totally backwards. In some respects, it started me (and many others) walking more or less in the wrong direction.
Take the idea, still evident in Christianity and in Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi, for instance—that Mother Earth and this life on her are really just a platform for private spiritual evolution. She’s all maya—illusion—anyway. Or worse, sinful. Get on to nirvana, or heaven, as fast as you can. That’s all that matters.
While there’s some truth to this, still, with a whole planet it crisis, it can be irresponsible, escapist, and downright dangerous. Not too long ago, it was identified as “spiritual bypass.” It can foster the attitude that we may plunder and destroy the great, nurturing ecosystem that gives us all this chance to incarnate and evolve. Or ignore it at least. How can that not matter? The traditional message—“live for the afterlife, this one’s a mess”—has turned out to be a deadly half truth. In our world, it’s one of the memes that has created the worst of the damage.
And What About Families?
But more recently, into the awareness of many healers anyway, has come another kind of reversal. Not only must the transformational pilgrim be ultimately responsible to the Mother Earth and the rest of humanity, but even the “I”--the distinct, individual seeker--is a kind of reductionist fantasy. That lone “I” is far more bound up with collective families than we in the West have tended to think.
So what does that mean for getting and staying well?
What powers the body is a very slow fire. We take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide just like the flames you sit around camping out at night. Though "antioxidants" and "free radicals" have given it something of a bad name these days--combustion still powers our cells.
But if that's true, if we are fueled by internalized oxidation, perhaps we can learn something from the life-path of that simple campfire. What if what's healthy for fire, always, but especially in its late stages, is also what's healthy for us?
I've been sitting with small fires recently on Sunday afternoons. It tunes me in to the accelerating Earth Changes. So I've been thinking about this. Especially as it relates to chronic suffering, and mainstream health care's current fetish for extreme specialization.
Nurturing the Flame-Child
The tiniest flames, like you as an infant, need special care. They need lots to learn and grow on, but also shelter. Too much oxygen, as in a strong draft, will cool them below ignition temperature and—blow them out. Dampness also cools them, because water evaporating steals lots of heat in order to become a vapor. Dampness, we might say, is like trauma in the young family. Areas of learning and growth get shut down as parts of the tinder cannot ignite.
So you start a good fire by creating a cone or teepee-like structure with three layers. The inner core is tinder. It consists of flammable materials that are dry, lightweight, and present lots of surface area. Crumpled paper, bits of cardboard, and brittle twigs up to the size of pencils work well. You make a small pile with the twigs leaning against, and above the paper.
What a Good Firestart Looks Like
The next layer of the cone has no name in English—but I call it "bonewood." It's dry sticks about the thickness of the bones in your arms or legs just long enough to lean up against the core of tinder and touch at the top. As you surround it with these, you begin to see the form of the teepee more clearly. The final layer is branches or split logs more like the thickness of your whole arm.
Let's compare creating this foundation to the perinatal period in human life. Do it well and your child is off towards a good firestart. Now what?
Violent Weather Extremes are the New Normal
So How do YOU Stay Safe?
Global warming puts way more moisture in the air. That means a "normal" thundershower or cold front slamming through can dump 3, 4, 5 inches of rain in an hour or two. And, as the Weather Service says, Harvey's 40 to 50 inches in a few days is "unprecedented."
Well, it WAS unprecedented... It's very "precedented" now.
I could go on about drought, wildfires, terrorism, fascism, nuclear brinkmanship, and more--but you understand. So what does "safety" look like as these Earth-Changes accelerate?
Apprenticed to shamanic teachers in the 90's, I was taught one thing before all else. There's a real but limited amount you can do to prepare physically, but way more important is whether you prepare spiritually, emotionally, psychically.
Look, even animals know when Nature's emergencies are imminent--so why don't we also FEEL what to do when?
Earth-changes Push Lightworkers--
Go Deeper Now, We Need You WELL!
I think it's fair to call most of us alternative healers "lightworkers" And many more of my readers here I know are lightworkers, regardless of profession.
So I ask you, have you felt it over the last few years?
That intense push to move through the layers of your personal and family trauma and get clear of it?
I know I've felt it big time, and so many I know have. That push is there because Earth needs us to be open, fluid, resilient, and compassionate. And it's much harder to do that carrying the scars of a heavy personal or ancestral wound system.
The Parallel Worlds Perspective on This
A couple of years ago I spent 5 hours under hypnosis with a very evolved Thai woman. As part of that, I saw Earth's futures splitting.
A patient named Karen was being interviewed after an operation that split off the right from the left hemisphere of her brain. It was done, as it has been for decades, to cure severe epilepsy. The corpus callosum, the thick bundle of fibers connecting the two halves of the brain, is severed.
“What are you doing?” asked the doctor, shocked to see Karen’s left hand unbuttoning her blouse. “Oh my goodness,” said Karen, and she fastened the buttons again with her right hand. But the left hand followed along and just unbuttoned them once more. The doctor called his colleagues and said, “Hey, we’ve got a problem here.”
Split Brain = Split Awareness
I heard this reported on NPR, but it goes back to Nobel Prize winning work done by Roger Sperry in the fifties. In most people, the left brain controls the right side of the body, and the right brain, the left side.
By studying people who had undergone this “split brain” operation, Sperry proved that the two hemispheres had distinct jobs and even quasi-distinct consciousnesses. Sever their connection, and you often get a “secret self” that can and does do things, but cannot speak about them.
So what’s that got to do with family constellations, with recovery from personal and/or ancestrally inherited trauma? Well, actually, quite a lot.
In group constellation workshops, the intake interview is a short one. It homes in quickly on the problem, guesses at ancestral blocks, and moves directly into setting up representatives. It’s in the nature of a workshop that it has to be this way. Four to six constellations happen in a day.
But what happens in one-on-one constellations? Or rather, what should or could happen in private versions?
Do We Just Copy the Workshop Approach?
Many facilitators I know do something similar. The constellation, whether remote or in person, happens in one sitting. Some exploration of the issue and creation of a shared set-up of representatives is followed by the client and constellator both “feeling into” being parts of the family system.
A dynamic is observed, and a resolution is achieved, more or less—and the interaction is over. It is, in many many cases, an isolated, one-time event.
Early on, I stopped doing and teaching private constellations this way. Too many things, starting with sufficient rapport with the client, and moving on all the way to subsequent follow-up—were left out in this approach.
So an initial private constellation with me, whether remote or in person, evolved quickly into three sessions. Here’s what happens in them.
(Take advantage of a special, August price on this package from now until 9/9--see how HERE)
Halloween, Day of the Dead, and How Family Constellations Work
Family Energetics--Why, What, & How
Five Facts About Personal and Ancestral Trauma
Personality Layers--Why Some Wounds Need More Than One Healing
Solution Focus Solves the Problem
3 Steps to Safety in Extreme Weather
Power up Your Affirmations with Breath
Seed Time--or Grow a Good Future
Can Empathy Win at Armageddon?
Earth, Families, and Personal Transformation
Good Health as a Sacred Fire
Your Safety as Earth-Changes Accelerate
Karen and the Alien Hand--Why I Do Inner Family Constellations
Music, Migrations, and Health--In Tough Times
Better Private Family Constellations: The Three Session Package