The Path to Remembering

The path to remembering can be long and difficult. There are many different paths, but how do you know which is the best one for you? If you are looking for a an alternative spiritual path to the norm, what do you choose and how do you know whether your choice is correct?

What do you do when you reach a dead-end or a crossroads?  When your prayers aren’t being answered or your questions have no reply.  Do you start with a DNA test so that you can find out more about your ethnic make-up, or do you go straight to the source and explore your direct ancestral roots by ‘returning home?’

My ancestral journey started by looking for ‘the’ path, because I too was struggling to remember and find my way home. Home to an ancestral land that I didn’t really belong to, but which none-the-less I was a part of.

Many people  in search of their ‘roots’, return to their ancestral homeland and are disappointed at what they find. They may be considered a foreigner, an ‘obruni’ in Ghana, or a ‘little Englander’ in Barbados.

It can feel disheartening or discomforting, but the truth is ‘home is where the heart is’ and the heart is a place to find peace and harmony in your identity and sense of self. No-one can teach you how to belong to a community or nation, or how to create a self-identity that supports your life.

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Returning to an Unknown Ancestral Homeland

But you can find a stepping stone, a path to explore and find a way to reconnect to what has been lost, an ancestral heritage and a clear sense of the gift and purpose that your were born to fulfil.

If you find yourself on this page it is likely that at some point in the past, you have become disconnected from yourself and know that you need healing.

A part of you is lost in the trauma of old family or community wounds and your soul may be wanting to find a more peaceful place.

If you stop and listen, your heart may open to the ‘wisdom’ that the ancestors can give you.

If you follow the path as I have you may find more reassurance and a sense of inner peace.

I have long debated why I am writing these posts, what they offer me and the reader.  Often it feels like an indulgence or just a page of words.

And then I facilitate a group workshop on family constellations.  I talk about ancestors and the role that they play in African family life.

And I realise that there is a growing hunger to learn more.  Know more and be reconnected to our ancestral roots.

And so maybe that is enough?

Until next time Ashe!

A Wake-up Call to Remember the Ancestors!

I have recently come back from a dynamic and powerful ancestral journey to Africa to find out more about who I am, and where I came from, because if you do not know who you are, how can you know where you are going?

When I came back from Africa, I talked to me father about my journey and he was interested and happy for me.  Born in Guyana during colonial times, people who wanted to advance didn’t talk about anything African, so he was pleased for me; ‘I know that you have been searching,” he said, I’m glad you’ve found some of what you were looking for.

The Tree of Forgetting

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This picture was taken at the Tree of Forgetting in Ouidah Benin in January.  It get’s its name from the practice of making slaves that were leaving Africa walk around the tree to reinforce forgetfulness of their homes, men 9 times and women 7 times.  I am smiling because returning was a form of healing ritual and part of the process of ‘remembering’.

One of the things that those of us from an African diaspora background have lost, is our connection to ancient African wisdom.  We have ‘forgotten’ who we are and where we come from.  Part of the work of Ancestral Constellations, is to help us to ‘remember’ and wake up to the fact that we have lost something from our heritage, deep connection to our ancestors, to spirit and to nature.

Reconnection to an Indigenous Past

Many people who come to constellations work, regardless of background or ethnicity come from an ancestral line who have suffered greatly.  In the shadow of this traumatic past, whether it be the middle passage of the slave trade, the impact of colonialism and Empire, of the ravages of war and suffering, it has affected who we are and often our family identity.

Over the past couple of years and especially the last few months, I have deepened my understanding of African indigenous wisdom and I am fore-grounding that in my workshops and one-to-one work.  Constellations work can help to show those of us who are searching for identity and belonging, what has been lost and how to start to heal.

The Ancestral Constellations approach to systemic constellations as a healing ritual is constantly evolving.  In the African tradition ancestors are part of family and community life, past and present.  If you are reading this blog post you may be interested in exploring this approach further. When you come to a constellations circle or workshop, you are invited to reflect on your own ancestors and in what ways they may be trying to speak to you.  Our Constellations Circles run on a monthly basis, find out more here!

Ashe!

Old World-New World

I have just returned from a trip to Africa, an ancestral journey if you will!’

My journey took me to Benin and Ghana and much has changed since I was last in Ghana in 1987.  It’s exciting and forward looking with some surprises!  A very a modern city with a lot of new investment in some areas and also its fair share of poverty and hardship.

A Tale of Two Castles with Different Visions

I stayed for a few days in Accra and went to Elmina Castle which I had visited in 1987 and Cape Coast Castle which was new to me.  What a difference between the two ‘slave castles’ and maybe a testament to changing times as well.  Elmina Castle looks very much like when I last visited it, whilst Cape Coast Castle looks very different, more ‘restored’ through the grants given to the Ghanian government by the Smithsonian Institute based in Washington America.

 

Both were moving to visit, how could they not be, but I felt that Cape Coast Castle was aimed more as a ‘tourist’ experience.  There is much ongoing debate in Ghana and the US about the ‘make-over’ and restoration of the castle.  I don’t have the time to get into the debate here but if you visit, you will have an opportunity to make your mind up for yourself.

As I didn’t have any particular expectations, I felt that both were worth the visit.  But Elmina Castle is quieter and and gives more space for your own thoughts and reflections on ‘remembering’, for this I appreciated it more.  Both visits reminded me that it is the ‘African Diasporan’ coming back to Mother Africa who are leading the way in Diaspora Heritage travel in Ghana and beyond in Africa.

African Diaspora Ancestral Journeys

Just last weekend at one of my Constellations Circles, I was talking about the importance of reconnecting to our Ancestral heritage.  And I realised what an impact my own journey has had on my family constellations practice.  For some time I have been thinking about offering an African Diaspora centred tour to Ghana and Benin and when i raised the idea at my workshop, I was surprised by how positive the response was from several group members.

Ancestral Heritage in Benin

I will be exploring different options and possibilities over the coming weeks and researching what interest there may be from past workshop participants, as well as friends and family. I have already decided to return to Ghana and Benin next year, so for me the question is not ‘wether it is possible to create this trip?’  but rather ‘who would like to join me on the journey?’

I will be sending out some more information on African Diaspora Ancestral Journeys in the near future,  if you are interested in finding out more please visit my Ancestral Constellations contact page and let me know, I will add you to my News Circular.

Until next time, Ashe!

Connecting the Traditional and the Modern

‘We’ve forgotten how to remember and as a result we are increasingly lost from our past’.

As part of the journey to connect with my family heritage and ancestral lineage I find myself increasingly being drawn on a healing path to connect with what feels like an ‘Ancestral Call’ to remember.  Remembering past histories and ancestral wisdom that has been lost to many of us, who survived the the ‘middle passage’ of the transatlantic slave trade.

When I was getting ready to visit Bukina Faso early in 2016, I didn’t realise that it would be the start of the ‘remembering’.  And an ongoing journey to find my ancestral home in Africa.  Little did I know that the path would lead me to explore ‘the Diviner’ in the constellation and my role as an African Diaspora facilitator.

A Diviner for our Times

Although this word ‘Diviner’ can seem off-putting, like ‘messing around with the extra-ordinary and our ‘departed ancestors’, it’s really a role that supports the emergence of a our personal abilities, our gifts and our life purpose.  And it has another role, it helps to heal our transgenerational line.

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Today as I stand here, I can see the dots being joined between the modern practice of family constellations and the old traditional practices of divination and ritual healing. It has become clear to me, that the path I am on, is one of personal and professional development.  And a journey to learn some of the old ways and up-date them for a modern world.

A Healing Rite of Passage

It’s like a ‘Rite-of-passage‘, remembering in the present, what I knew from the past, a common experience in many indigenous communities.  But in the modern world we have increasingly forgotten how to honour those that came before us.  And we have forgotten how to conduct many ‘Rite-of Passage’ ceremonies.

Often we want a quick fix, or to find alternative ways of knowledge without having to navigate some of the difficult and traumatic histories that have gone before’.  We have forgotten some of the ‘old way’ in seeking the modern and increasingly we are turning back to study the past wisdom that would serve us well in the present day.

​To embark on a journey to help us embrace what has been lost, is to acknowledge and respect family and community traditions.  In doing so, you help to heal the wounds and trauma from the past, so that you can sit peacefully in the present and create positive change for future generations.

All people on a spiritual path find a mentor, or in some cases the teacher finds them.  Usually an apprentice healer in the African tradition would study with a teacher for at least two years, often more and even then the journey continues until the end of ones life.

Spiritual Dis-ease

In many African cultures  there are two types of healer, one who is more psych-socially orientated and one who works mainly with medicine and herbs, although of course there is cross over.  As a group facilitator, mental health trained nurse, reiki practitioner and trans-generational coach, I fit very much into the former working with spiritual dis-ease.

It feels more authentic to adapt my knowledge and knowing to fit the more modern western world that I occupy.  So it makes absolute sense that Systemic Constellations and Healing Ritual would speak to me and fit my calling.

There are many problems that African Diaspora people facing in reclaiming their cultural heritage and healing their families.  Mine is just one approach, one way!

This combination of African Ancestral Wisdom and Western Systemic Philosophy supports  the transgenerational healing of individuals, families and communities and it honours a remembering of the ancestors in the African family tradition.

I look forward to walking with you on the path.

Ashe!

Cancer as a Spiritual Awakening

You know when you have an a ha moment, that just vibrates and resonnates deep within you!

I’ve just had the biggest one of my life as I come up to the first year anniversary of being diagnosed with uterine cancer.

It’s an aha about cancer as a spiritual awakening!

And it’s my journey, I can’t speak for others because some don’t make it through to the other side.

This journey has been one of spiritual awakening, because I recognise that for me it has been about choosing to say yes to life and going forward ,knowing that death will come and it is not about when, but how well you prepare yourself for it.

This is not new, many others will attest to the same.

But knowing it (in theory) feeling it, in the body and experiencing it as a profound moment in life are three different things!

My job right now is not to go into the ‘cancer’ story, for me it is just ‘another journey’ that I accept as being meaningful to my life right now.

But today as I stood in the kitchen eating cheese and putting out the washing (such mundane tasks as a background to a momentous moment) I realise, oh, cancer was the awakening journey and I’m thorough the other side!

Earlier I had two other ephiany moments.  One driving in the car when I realised that if I died, tomorrow, I have had a good life.  I have travelled to many countries, seen the best and some of the worst of what human beings are capable of and experience great joy!

I have loved and been loved

And I am no longer afraid of death.

The second, as I step up into the next level of my life as a systemic constellations practitioner, is knowing that what happens in that sacred space comes from the ancestors and is not about me.

It’s the gateway between two worlds, what has come before and what is to come!

As I write this I feel a bit twitchy, hmm who’s going to read this, do I sound a bit like an obeah woman (in the Caribbean someone who deals in the spiritual aspect of magical healing)

Well, if so, it’s true….. as systemic constellations are a product of the magic of healing in black and white, a combination of European and African thinking.

And in this world, which is haunted by the racial injustices of the past.

It could turn out to be a potent reconciler and healer,

Of individuals, families and communities!

But I am way off track, what has this to do with cancer?

Cancer has given me the gift of acknowledging and more importantly owning my calling and life purpose.

It has been a warning from the ancestors that I am heeding.

It has given me back a life that is full of awareness of light and enlightenment.

It has given me a purpose to decide to live.

And it has led me back to my ancestral roots deep in the heart of Africa

I write this blog first back in the Autumn and I didn’t publish it because then like now, I’m not sure why and who is going to read it.

But it feels like I just have to take a leap and do it and see what comes forth.

Ashe!

 

 

What Colour is Love

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle – What Colour is Love?

With the announcement of Prince Harry’s engagement to Megan Markel, it seemed a timely moment to think a bit deeper about colour in relationships.  Of course I wish them well, but having been married to a man of ‘lighter hue, (looking white, mixed cultural and racial background) for 25 years, I know a few things about the ‘colour’ dynamics in relationships.

Many people on both sides of the colour line are going to be happy for Harry and Megan and plenty will espouse the colour blind approach that people like to think means that they don’t see colour.  And as she is bi-racial (her term) and so light-skinned that many people wouldn’t notice her colour, they surely will when they meet her parents.

Maybe it’s just me but I am wincing a little when I read the media reports of the engagement, just a few months ago the British press were taken to task for their biased, somewhat offensive reporting on Megan and her parents.  As the Guardian article Reporting Colour in the Royal Marriage stated “Our society is still obsessed with ‘purity’ and is shocked that a royal could marry a person of colour”. But all is quiet now and that worries me, because what people are saying in the public domain and behind closed doors could be very different.

Exploring Colour in Relationships – Still a Taboo?

Even at the best of times, relationships are difficult and the theme of exploring colour in relationships feels like a bit of a taboo.  But the  question ‘is love enough?’ is a key one in mixed colour relationships, because there are still plenty of people who don’t like the idea or would oppose such unions.

To me having a conversation on colour in relationships is positive because it explores ‘real life’ and an increasing part of modern life for many couples.  And yet if you talk about colour- relationships, especially in Europe there is a lot of discomfort on all sides.

People are either colour blind which I don’t get, can’t you see that we look different?  Or they want to reason that everything is okay and accepted here in the UK, it’s just over there (mainly US or South Africa) where there are problems.Well not talking about something doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist, it just means that it’s a taboo.

It’s Been Nearly 25 Years of Marriage

IMG_0125Jorge and I have been married for 25 years next year and it’s time to openly own and acknowledge what it has taken to get here.  People often remark, “how on earth have you lasted that long?” But they never ask “especially as a mixed couple”, but sometimes I see the question on their face and it’s a good one, it makes me think about how we have managed it too.

Ultimately we’re more similar than we are different.  We have travelled the world together, the Caribbean, Asia, Europe, North Africa, US and beyond.  Our reception has ranged from excitement in some places like Morocco where people have actually shouted out ‘black and white’ and given us the thumbs up, to laughter in Indonesia, (perhaps the hardest to deal with) to Japan, which in our joint ‘otherness’ was fascinating.

Unsurprisingly travelling in the Caribbean can be very easy or filled with rudeness and hostility. “Legally?”one female customs office asked when we said that we were married. Luckily she was rescued by her colleague who took one look at my face and saw that I was about to bite, and not a moment too soon!

And a couple of months ago, whilst travelling in the Caribbean, I saw a young couple being questioned for a really long period of time by the immigration officer, they looked shell-shocked. “You won’t last for long if you don’t find a strategy to deal with that!” I commented.  “We didn’t think it was such a big issue” they replied.  Well it is and it isn’t and sometimes, it’s just the luck of the draw about who you get interviewing you at the counter.

So the question is ‘What Colour is Love?

I guess this is an issue not just across the colour line, but also for couple from many different cultures and some faiths, but I have brought colour up because it can still be a taboo subject and…. ..well I’m a family constellations practitioner, it’s part of my professional work as well as the life I lead.

At times in my marriage it would have been great to just be able to explore ‘colour dynamics’ in a more therapeutic context.    Sometimes it’s good to get support on how to deal with emotions and managing others in public space.  And I am regularly asked in my coaching practice about colour-dynamics in relationships, maybe because it is so much part of my life, for example………..

  • A colleague talking to me about adopting and the issues around her being blond and blue-eyed with a dark-skinned boy baby
  • A friend sharing her thoughts on dating a man of an opposite race
  • An English client exploring how difficult it can be to  listen to family members making racist or offensive comments.
  • An African heritage manager who I was working with taking about managing discrimination in the workplace.

Restoring the Flow of Love in Colour Relationships

If systemic constellations is about how to restore the flow of love in relationships, then it also has to be about how to heal the ‘colour bar-boundary-barrier’ that still exists in society.  Whether in a personal relationship, in the worplace or in the community, it’s becoming more of a pressing issue for many of us.  How can we deny colour when facing oters who are different from us?  How do we honour and respect others personal experiences around colour if we haven’t explore the issues for ourselves? How can we  ‘see’ the other person in all their humanity whether black or white.

It’s a journey that requires a really deep look inside ourselves.  I’m on that road and it’s a difficult path, I can’t deny it. It has required me to face some uncomfortable truths and to look at some ancestral legacies and honestly, it’s not for everyone.  But for those of us committed to therapeutic life and being open and authentic with everyone that we see, regards of their background, I think it is a journey well worth taking.

Until next time!

Ashe