Monday, October 12, 2015

The Ancestors

The Ancestors

Dream: I am in a glass tank and it begins to fill up with water. I am terrified I don’t want to drown. I water keeps coming I am struggling trying to break the glass, trying to get out. I can get out and the water rising over me. I start sinking to the bottom of the tank experiencing the water filling my lungs and I can’t stop it.

As we enter the month of October in New England the crisp fall air reminds me it is time for the dying. Not in the literal sense for me but in a more spiritual and seasonal understanding. The trees turn color with their last moment of brilliance before they turn brown and drop from the safety of their limbs dying so they can nourish the soil as fertilizer. The last harvest of the year is taken in and stored and the land prepares in this hemisphere for the blankets of winter. All beings do what they must to prepare for death or hibernation. Some beings going into that time of silence, rest, reflection, preparing, and waiting for the new sun to rise in January. Looking to build the energy so a new seed can be planted in the spring as another cycle begins again.

For me I love the cool crisp air and the settling in that comes with this season and preparing for the cold months ahead. And what I am also coming to honor and respect is the traditions and meaning of the Celtic holiday of Samhain. 

There are various aspects to the meaning around Samhain and the one that has been standing out deeply for me is the tradition of acknowledging our ancestors. And not just the ancestors of our blood line but all beings. The beings that offer their lives so I may be nurtured through food and warmth such as the plants and animals and the gas and wood used to heat the home I live in. The beings that give so I may be dressed warmly. The human ancestors that learned to plant seeds and complete the harvest that gave us food and found fire that gives us warmth. All those who have come before us who have offered guidance through their goodwill and the hurts towards others or us. And yes it is often very hard to acknowledge those who have caused hurt. Yet some of my deepest knowing and openings has come from those experiences. To acknowledge this in a ceremony of ancestors around Samhain assists me in letting the hurt die away. This leaves an opening for the wisdom to be embodied and the love for myself returned. It assists me in claiming my power back and in result opening to the essence of my soul, which is calling me back.

Recently I have begun to explore a deeper meaning for the ancestors and that is the acknowledgment of the ancestors of my own being. The selves that I have let die in me so I may become whole again. The dying of the old story so the new one can be seeded and grow anew in the spring. We can forget the details of the old stories but I believe the wisdom harvested from those stories will live on me. This time of year I am reminded to acknowledge the journey and the death that needed to happen in order for all that has transformed in me to be blossomed.

The dreams convey to me many stories about who I am and very often they will show me the ways I have engaged the world that are what I call dysfunctional. Some of these ways have left me, isolated, afraid, sad, distrustful and self denigrating. This has caused me to act in ways that keep me hidden from the world and my soul. And what is beautiful here is that my dreams show me all of this and the path through.  As in cultures and traditions the act of dying to the old self is critical to healing. The dream story is the same, it gives us that same opportunity to die if we are willing to work the story and feel into it.

My dream story and practice has offered this opportunity many times within my dreams.  And the kinship I cultivate with the natural assist in the process of dying as a midwife. Recently in reflecting on past practices with my dream stories I have noticed that air, earth, water and fire have played an important role in assisting me in dying.

Dream: I am in a plane several thousand feet in the air. I am standing by the open door without a parachute on. There is a man behind me and I can tell he is smiling. I jump out the open door and fall. At some point I realize what I have done and panic but there is no going back. I am going to die.

My practice is to let myself fall, to feel the letting go and when I go to the panic to feel what I am afraid to let go off. Letting go of the safety of isolation for me is a big one. The old story of you have to do it alone because no one will be there for you has carry me through my adulthood. In the dream the man is standing at the door not pushing me out but supporting me in my decision to jump. And the air takes me holds me in her embrace as I go down. She also doesn’t let me stop. Gravity is there and the deed is done. Death is not always without the struggle or pain just like birth can be painful.

And in the practice of feeling the death of that old story I begin if slowly to see the energy change in me and at the same time a new seed of a story begins to arise.

This time of year as we acknowledge those who have died I am reminded of my own dying to self. How the ancestors of my old story no matter how difficult to be with have given me wisdom in their living and dying so that I may grow whole again. How my dreams cradle the stories in a way I can handle, a way of living and dying myself awake again. I honor that deeply.