Here’s a powerful exercise that can help you feel rooted and connected in a time of change. In the modern west, we don’t think of the ancestors but they’re there, real lives lived. They’re often forgotten but they remain powerful in our psyche as you see if turn your attention to them. Ancestors are psychic roots and you can connect to those roots.
Play with this exercise to connect to the strengths in the sex you are and see how those qualities are available to you. It also helps you connect to the strengths and values in the sex you’re not, and see how the two sexes complement each other. It takes about 10 minutes or so.
This is a ceremony and a celebration, not a rigid protocol. Take it seriously by entering into it, not by trying to do it perfectly. You may notice that the ancestors very much appreciate the attention and have a lot to give you.
I’ll use male language but substitute if you’re a woman. A man could connect to is maternal line (and vice-versa) but perhaps the simplest way is to start with the sex you are.
Begin with the first direct forebear in the line who has died, your father if he’s dead, or his father if not, or his father – the first direct forebear who died in your line going back.
Chant the name of that first ancestor, “John, John, John, John …” until you sense you have his attention. When you do, pause a moment and say deliberately, “I see you, I thank you, I honor you.” Bow to that ancestor and allow yourself to receive his blessing for your life.
See him turn around, and face his father while you walk up beside “John.” Chant the name of the new ancestor, “James, James, James, James…” until you catch his attention and he turns to you. When he does, pause a moment and say deliberately, “I see you, I thank you, I honor you.” And bow to that ancestor and allow yourself to receive his blessing for your life.
Continue going back in just the same way for some number of generations that feels right to you. When you don’t know the man’s first name, which may happen very quickly, chant “Father, father, father, father…” and establish a connection. Bow to that ancestor too and allow yourself to receive his blessing for your life.
After several generations and when you feel it’s the right time, look ahead down the long line at all the men who are there going back into the mists of time, real men just like you. See them all and say, “I see you, I thank you, I honor you.” Bow to them all and as you do, receive their blessing.
Go back to the start of the line and bow before the ancestors and once again receive their blessing. It may or may not appear in a symbolic form, a gift for you.
Receive whatever comes with gratitude and humility and let it find its way in your life.
This exercise is most powerful if we thank and honor ancestors who may have, or who have, done things badly. There’s no need to whitewash what happened, but giving them a good place in the line is an alignment with reality. They belong there as you do.
Part of the way this exercise works is that it aligns with a fundamental truth about how things are: love flows down from the earlier generations down toward you. The ancestors are big and you are small; they give and we receive. By receiving from them you honor them and get in touch with a fundamental movement of life. Love flows down from the past to us. All that they learned and achieved has been passed down to you.
Our job is to receive it with gratitude.