Ancestral Healing is an ancient form of healing and a way to honour and remember all those that have gone before us. It is a way of understanding who we are and where we come from. If we do not have a reference of where we come from, we are metaphorically without roots.
This work is like a service to the greater world community, and by working with one person and their family you never quite know how many people the healing actually helps.
Whilst this service has ancient roots there is much scientific research being carried out on previous generations and how their lives impact on us today. The scientific name for this study and work is called Psychogenealogy and basically translated it provides a therapeutic framework to free an individual from the negative effects of transgenerational transmission.
What is Dynamic Theatre?
Dynamic Theatre (DT) was created by Mark Wentworth and Filipe De Moura in 2003. Both share a desire and a passion to make a difference in the world. It is their belief that Dynamic Theatre can be a way to achieve this mission. DT is an “action method” using spontaneous drama to help people understand the underlying issues that run through their lives. What makes Dynamic Theatre unique as an action-method is that when playing a story none of the chosen actors (representatives) know who or what they are representing. By playing “incognito” it enables the actor to connect and become almost like a channel for what Carl Jung would call the collective unconscious. In Dynamic Theatre we allow for the invisible and impossible to become both visible and very possible. It is a technique that offers hope, inspiration and resolution to the challenges of daily living facing young and old throughout the world today.
What is the objective of Ancestral Healing?
The objective of ancestral healing is to enable people to live their own life free of the unfinished business of the previous generations. Sometimes people have repeating negative patterns, which they can never seem to be free of, it is only after looking back at the family history do they realise that the root cause maybe in another generation. When we are caught up in these energetic patterns it is sometimes very difficult to see or know what is happening to us. Through Dynamic Theatre we can bring to light these hidden patterns giving the person an opportunity to heal themselves and their ancestors. This type of work also brings out in people a deep sense of compassion and understanding of how it must have been to live this other person’s life. We find that it is not just the individual who benefits from this work but also everyone in the family receives some kind of healing. There is, if you like, a deeper sense of harmony within the family system.
Ancestral healing is not just about family; it also offers the opportunity for people to begin to heal the wounds of history of a country and a culture. There are many conferences and workshops happening around the world with the specific goal of bringing people together to heal the unfinished business of the previous generations. For example, recently in Rwanda there has been a conference to bring together people whose purpose is to bring peace to all those who were slaughtered in the 1990’s genocide. The objective is to bring peace to the lost and wandering souls whose lives ended in such a brutal and horrifying manner. By using different forms of creative expressive arts such as art, drama, ritual theatre and storytelling the participants re-told the events of that tragic time allowing the anger, the fear, the deep sadness and the rivers of tears of those who died to pass through them. By allowing these emotions to be expressed the people attending the conference were contributing to the healing of these lost souls, and to make sure that this part of Rwandan history is never repeated. The objective and importance of this work is multi-layered, if we want peace in the world then we need to start by looking back to our ancestors.
What is the importance of ancestral healing?
We all have stories to tell about who we are and how we came to be here. If we don’t know where we are in our story we lose our sense of focus and belonging. As individuals we all have a life story but our families have stories to. How many times have you heard how your grandmother met your grandfather or how great Uncle George set out on an adventure to save his family from poverty? It is these stories of heroism and love that inspire us, but what about the stories of loss and tremendous suffering? What if Uncle George did set out on an adventure to save his family from poverty but he died of pneumonia on his way home, or he set out on his journey and no one ever heard of Uncle George again. It is all these stories that flow down the generations to impact on us today, it is these stories that shape us physically, mentally and emotionally.
75% of our presenting physical, emotional, mental and spiritual issues can be connected with ancestral influence. That leaves only 25% for our own personal history. This is how important ancestral healing is. Psychogenealogical researchers are now suggesting that the more we become conscious of family history the more we free the future generations and ourselves. Don’t let your ancestors’ biographies become your own biology.
What are the benefits of Ancestral Healing?
The benefits of ancestral healing are that as we heal and free our ancestors from their unfinished business, we free ourselves from the unconscious need of repeating those patterns. We are then able to connect with a support system that wants nothing more than our complete 100% happiness. Imagine a football stadium full of people encouraging and supporting you to live your own best life, imagine that same football stadium with all those people loving you for you, not wanting to change anything about you. Somewhere back in time someone hoped and prayed that one day someone just like you would be born, we are the conscious creation of our ancestors; we are the answer to their prayers.
Once we heal the unhappy ancestors we find that life flows much easier, we feel an inner strength and support that maybe we didn’t recognise before. A good metaphor would be once we heal our ancestors it is as if we upgrade from a slow speed Internet connection to a lightening speed connection, allowing us full access to the world wide web of ancestral wisdom.
Does Ancestral Healing offer a total cure?
When a person begins ancestral healing it takes them on a kind of healing journey, it becomes so much more than just their presenting symptoms. Sometimes the ancestral healing offered in Dynamic Theatre is too much for the person at that time, what I mean is that it requires the individual to be actively involved in their healing process and some people do not want to take that path of action and change. It certainly is not a sit back and let someone else do it for you kind of healing.
Also it would be inappropriate and unethical to say ancestral healing offers a total cure for everyone, all healing methods work in different ways for different people. Yes of course we have been witness to some quite profound and remarkable healings that happened in ways we could not have imagined, to see a lady entering a workshop in physical pain from a long term back problem walk, easily and liberated from pain, out of the same workshop is quite a humbling experience, to be witness to a mother crying with joy after her son no longer expresses the symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and literally saves him from a life of medication, purely because a week earlier she had healed an unknown paternal uncle who had died young many years before she was even born, to be witness to something as precious as this is both an honour and privilege. Ancestral Healing is a much-needed service for all.
How are the treatments?
Treatments vary from person to person, in some cases we will use a lot of Dynamic Theatre to explore the hidden patterns that are involved in creating the issue, or we might decide that working with colour psycho-dynamics is the best approach to start with. In all cases we start with gathering as much information about the person’s family as possible, including those family members who are considered the “black sheep” as well as those who died young or may have even disappeared. It is quite surprising how much information people start to remember as they talk about their family. As we talk we may also start to draw a family tree, this again seems to wake up a lot of forgotten stories, it is as if we are waking up the family soul. More often than not as we draw the tree and talk about it a noticeable pattern between some family members becomes apparent, we see how maybe one generation compensated for the previous generation or how a belief system has been carried through the generations because of actions taken by previous ones.
The problem in itself already starts to decrease, because now the person is free from carrying the burden of the past generations, it becomes, if you like a shared problem.
As much as we offer individual ancestral healing we also work at times with the collective story of a country, people often overlook that whilst we have our family ancestral history we are also connected to our culture and country ancestors. It is sometimes the unfinished collective stories of a country that keep certain stories alive.
In Portugal we have worked many times through Dynamic Theatre on healing the wounds of the country’s past, be it from the times of the great explorers where many men went away and many women and children were left behind never seeing there husbands, fathers, sons or brothers again, to the times of Portugal’s involvement in colonialism and the slave trade, all have left their mark in the psyche of the Portuguese people today. To give voice to centuries of tears of loss and longing, or the raging and revengeful ones vowing to cause chaos in the families of those that ripped them from their roots of Africa, is no easy feat and requires skilled expertise to create a container strong enough to withstand what hundreds years of silence and repression sounds like when finally given a voice.
Recently we were working in Izmir in Turkey and the group of about 25 people from all different walks of life decided that a theme they would like to work with was the youth of today to see what effect, if any, the previous generations were having upon them. No one quite expected the depth Dynamic Theatre would take this story to. The person representing “Turkish youth” could only look down and had no voice to express the depth of sadness and feelings of being lost. What happened next left the whole room in tears, the group decided that it was very important to have Mustafa Ataturk represented, for many people Ataturk is considered the “father” of modern day Turkey. The person representing Ataturk equally could only look down and said he felt unfinished. Keep in mind that where the magic of Dynamic Theatre happens is that none of the players know who or what they are representing. As the youth of today started expressing more feelings of sadness at being lost and not knowing where to go, Ataturk slowly moved across the room towards youth. He knelt on the floor in front of youth and gently took hold of their hand and looked up at them and said softly yet with strength “I will always be with you” with these words youth let out a deep cry of relief followed by many tears, as did everyone in the room. When we finished our Dynamic Theatre none of us could speak for quite a while after, it touched something very deep in the hearts of all those present. Many people reported back to me from that group that this forever changed their view and interaction with the Turkish youth of today, realising how important it is to honour and remember those that have played a part in making our countries what they are today.
Ancestral healing is a powerful tool for healing the wounds of history, as we release these emotions we are filled with a joy of living in the present and excitement for creating a prosperous future for everyone.
“In every nation there are wounds to heal
In every community there is work to be done
And in every heart there is the power to do it”
Some case studies of what was cured and the transformation and work that took place
Individual Ancestral Healing
I think one of the most memorable individual cases was Michelle who came for a session to explore her fertility problems. Her and her husband had been through numerous tests and various fertility treatments over the years and all had been unsuccessful. As she said this was a last hope. We explored her maternal ancestral line through a mix of Dynamic Theatre and Colour Psycho-dynamics and discovered somewhere in the 5th generation there was a very unhappy lady with a story connected to motherhood. As we were working Michelle told me that she was feeling a mix of heat and pain in both her ovaries, from this I knew we had found the root ancestral cause of her fertility problem.
When Michelle stood in the space of this 5th generation lady an overwhelming sense of sadness and grief took hold of her. I asked Michelle if she were this lady what might her story be, and asked her to trust whatever images and feelings emerged. Her story was of a simple young woman who gave birth before she was married, it was decided by her family that she was not responsible enough to take care of a baby, as soon as the baby girl was born she was taken away, never to be seen of or talked about again. The young woman later married and had other children but never recovered from having her first child taken away from her. She lived a comfortable life, loved by her other children but always feeling as though a glass wall existed between them and never feeling good enough as a mother. Michelle felt that the lady died from an illness in her ovaries, once free of her physical body the first thing she wanted to do was to find her first born. In ancestral healing, the healing comes from allowing to happen or to do what the person never had the opportunity to do. Michelle embraced the small cushion I gave to her as if a mother was holding her newborn baby for the first time. Centuries of withheld tears flowed in that moment.
Michelle said afterwards that the pain in her ovaries had subsided but the heat was still very present, she said she felt lighter and freer
One evening around midnight I received an SMS text just saying “Congratulations Mark you are a father” needless to say I was somewhat shocked, as it wasn’t signed by anyone. A few minutes later another text arrived from a friend of Michelle’s telling me that she had just given birth to a healthy baby boy. Michelle later told me that she is absolutely convinced that the very same night after our work, of course with the help of her husband, she conceived her son. This is the power and depth of ancestral healing.
Collective Ancestral Healing
In December 2010 Filipe and myself worked in Istanbul with a Dynamic Theatre group with the theme of ancestral healing, what came from the group was a need to acknowledge and work with the unfinished business of the earthquake victims of 1999 and their families, in our group a large percentage of the people present came from the town which was the epicenter of the quake.
Whilst the work was powerful dealing with liberating those still “unfound” and giving voice to the workers helpless to know how to answer the questions of “could we have done more”, all groups were given a voice, people were happy to speak and act on behalf of others, all groups apart from one. No one would or could stand in the group space of those that were found and survived, it was only by Filipe’s experience and intuition that he was able to give voice and emotion to those suffering with survivor’s guilt, when told by another group that the survivors, were the hero’s he said that speaking as the survivor’s a part of him had died with those that had died on that fateful day, and that part of him remained in the “land of the ancestors”.
This piece of work was for many the most painful and yet at the same time most liberating to finally speak out about their feelings of guilt about living, for many they were then able to acknowledge that they lived daily with a feeling of being more dead and empty inside than those that were actually dead. Through a process of ritual honouring and the beginning of forgiveness the day ended with a feeling that a new day had just dawned.
Each generation does the best it can do with the life circumstances presented, each generation hopes in some way to improve on the last, taking from it what was good and trying to improve or change what was not. The important thing for any person in any generation is to live the best life possible whatever his or her circumstances, knowing that if the passion and desire is strong enough and change is desired enough then life will support the individual to make his or her dream a reality. We believe that Dynamic Theatre acts as a tool and a support to help anyone recognize his or her own inner resources and strengths. There are many stories from all parts of the world where against all odds people achieve the most amazing things, mostly these are ordinary people like you or I, who have believed in and followed their dream. They have not been put off when someone says No, they have not given up when their attempts to change or do something fail, and it has only given them more passion and more desire to carry on. These are the people we ought to choose to inspire our own lives. If we want to have a hope for ourselves and for our children and our grand-children’s grand children then we have to remember how it is to be inspired and develop a deep love for what we want to do. It is important not to give up on our dreams; we need to remember to tell the stories of our families and those that inspire us in general. Whether you choose to recognise and act on those dreams is ultimately your own choice, but before you make that choice or think that maybe it’s all too difficult or too much responsibility ask yourself this, how do you want to be remembered by your descendants, what is your gift to yourself and what is your contribution to the ancestral melting pot life? Before we look forward to the future we must first look back and liberate the past, as Ghandi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world”, you are the one your ancestors and your descendants have been waiting for.