The Importance of Ancestors in Our Lives Today
I am delighted to share an excerpt from my latest book, High Beings of Hawaii: Encounters with Mystical Ancestors, published in 2019.
When most of us think of ancestors, we think of blood ancestors who have lived in the past and from whom we have received DNA and learned family patterns. Examining our blood lineage is important as the increasing popularity of websites like Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org and WikiTree.com attests. Our motivation for engaging in these practices might stem from curiosity to discover where we come from and the gifts of our lineage to healing ourselves and not passing our family wounds onto our descendants.
Thinking of ancestors in a linear way, which is how most often we view our physical ancestors ranging from past to the present (great-grandmother > grandmother > mother > daughter) does not accurately represent the multi-dimensional reality in which our ancestors exist. Rather than viewing ancestors as existing only in the past, it is essential to embrace the reality that they exist, like us, in all dimensions, including those outside of space and time. Yet, they can influence us from these non-physical realms.
Ancestors in physical lineage include our family (such as parents/ grandparents/ etc.), our tribe (Celtic/Jewish/Sioux/etc.), and our nation (Canadian/ German/ Egyptian/ etc.). For instance, if our ancestors descend from Ireland (even if we were not born in Ireland) we carry within our genes the poverty and suffering of the Irish people who endured successive famines. And if we have German heritage, we inherit the trauma of two world wars. For this reason, many individuals with German heritage feel guilty for something that happened long before their birth.
Let me go further. The land on which we dwell carries a memory of what has happened on that land and these themes transfer to the people who live there presently. For example, if our country was occupied during a war, we might become suspicious of others.
It is important that we don’t immerse ourselves in blame or self-flagellation due to actions of our physical, tribal or national ancestors. ALL of us have been both victims and persecutors in our past lives, and perhaps even in our present life, but blaming self or others will never take us out of the cycle of wounding. Only compassion and forgiveness will do this. In fact, because of both our victim and persecutor human heritage, it is more common that we may find ourselves a blend of both guilt and self-righteousness, fear and arrogance.
Actually, if we are fully to include ALL of our physical, biological ancestors, we need to acknowledge that our biological heritage ultimately includes all beings (animals/plants/birds/etc.) on this planet because we all evolved from the same chemical stew billions of years ago. This is the foundation and life view that Indigenous peoples around the world have always maintained and, as science is continually reinforcing this truth now, this understanding is moving into our mainstream consciousness.
Our spiritual lineage, because it is non-visible, is not as obvious as our physical/biological lineage, but is equally as important. To believe in spiritual ancestors we need to realize that other realities exist where elementals, angels, and many mythical beings dwell. Whether we are aware of this or not, these beings also influence and guide our lives.
These astral realms where ancestors dwell exist outside of space and time and we have now entered the era in human evolution when we will begin to access these realms consciously. The astral worlds of elementals and ancestors interpenetrate the third-dimensional reality of our visible world and it is our destiny to become conscious in these invisible realms.
To understand the many kinds of spiritual ancestors in these unseen realms, it may help to refer to the following diagram. The first rung on the spiritual lineage ladder, and the one that most people may be familiar with, is their past lives. Our past lives include the diverse countries in which we have lived, and the variety of racial and religious traditions we have experienced. It has been my experience, and that of many people that I have led on past life regressions, that most often we are our own ancestors from our past lives. This means, if you see yourself having a past life starving in Ireland, you may have passed down this wound genetically through successive generations to yourself in the present day where, bringing it to consciousness, you can heal it right back in time to that original starving life.
The second rung is our “hybrid” lineage, which is the race from which we originated. For example, although we have a human body this lifetime, we may be descended from an angel, elemental or dolphin. In other words, we may not only be an Earth being but also an Interstellar being. Interstellar beings are mentioned in human myths around the world and have been seen across the ages by seers in all spiritual traditions. It is too much to go into this topic however, if you are interested, read more about your hybrid lineage in my book, Hybrids: So you think you are human.
Another spiritual lineage of beings who have guided us through many lifetimes, may not obviously have biological links to us, although as I said earlier, ALL beings on higher levels are linked to each other. These soul/spiritual ancestors would include Saints and Ascended Masters, such as Paramahansa Yogananda, Archangel Michael and Mother Mary. Saints are old souls and some, like the Dalai Lama, Mother Theresa, and Gandhi, whether physically alive or deceased, guide thousands of people.
We often reincarnate in soul groups. For example, when we hear someone speak of a young child and say, ‘She reminds me of my grandmother’, that child may be a reincarnation of the grandmother who died, became an ancestor, and now is back in body again. The more we become aware of both our biological and spiritual ancestors, the more we see and feel their influence upon us and how our individual lives intertwine with all beings, human and otherwise, on Earth and in the Cosmos.
Ancestors make themselves known to us if we are willing to listen—especially when we have something unresolved or wounded in our family, tribe, or national lineage. The ancestors are here to help us. They support us in healing emotional wounds, such as abuse, abandonment, lack of love and addictions in our family line. Simultaneously, they reveal the gifts and strengths handed down to us in these same lines—gifts that empower us to fulfill our purpose. They also steer us in a direction they wish us to go, so when doors to our desired goals open and close for no logical reason, we might look for their influence in our lives.
They often lead us in small, subtle ways, such as becoming aware of synchronicities. For example, my stepdaughter and my mother have the same birthday, and my other stepdaughter, who was adopted from Columbia, shares the same birthday as her adoptive father.
Another way ancestors nudge us is through recurring patterns. Do we marry…sometimes more than once…a person like our mother or father? Do we remeet people later in life that we have known earlier? Do we fail whenever we do a particular task and always succeed whenever we do another task? If we pay attention to these “coincidences”, they may reveal ancestral patterns we need to explore.
Furthermore, we could have a negative pattern handed down in our family line, (i.e. alcoholism, suicide, desertion of a parent) and it may be a spiritual ancestor, one not in our blood lineage who will help us heal our wound. Why? Because until we do, we must reincarnate again and again to face this same issue thereby delaying our spiritual progress, which is something that our spiritual ancestor is attempting to prevent.
There is no limit to the number of ancestors we might have, but not all of them have a message for us. The ancestors who approach us do so because they wish us to act in some way; perhaps repair a wounding in one of our lineages or use our gifts/skills to fulfill a task they give us. But this is not a one-way relationship. They support us in fulfilling our purpose in this life and are strengthened and happy when we do so. Because they can see more of our soul’s purpose and gifts, they know what we are capable of, sometimes better than we do. They know that if we heal a trauma or weakness in our personality, we will become the person that we can be, not only in this life, but in all our lives.
Ancestral memories reveal themselves when something in our inner or outer life triggers them. This could be a physical problem that cannot be cured by doctors or psychological pain that cannot be cured by therapy. Pieces of the puzzle line up and we will begin to see a pattern emerging. But all is not revealed at once. A complex puzzle requires our willing participation to bring the complete picture into focus. This is how the unconscious becomes known. As we participate in the journey, more light is shed on the pieces until we see the whole picture.
We are at the beginning of the new science of epigenetics, which suggests that not only the physical but also the psychological wounds we have suffered alter our genes. These wounds leave molecular scars as memories that adhere to our DNA and get transferred to our descendants. Epigenetics lends credence to how alcoholism, sexual abuse, even genocide of our Indigenous peoples gets passed down. But hold on: We also inherit positive, emotional experiences in the same way, so if we have received love and support from our family, this gets passed along with other gifts and talents we may have inherited from our physical ancestors, such as talents in music or mathematics, having a strong and healthy body, etc. And the more we honor these gifts, the more fully they are activated for use in our present life. All ancestor’s gifts are available to us NOW.
Let’s take a look at the importance of this quest. If we heal our ancestral wounds, even at the family level, this positively impacts all levels of the wounding, which can occur at the cultural, religious, or national level. As an example, many children of parents who went through wars, or children of Indigenous peoples who were taken from their families and sent to residential school, have the same patterns of fear and wounding as their parents and grandparents. If the child can heal the wound, it rewinds through space and time to heal the ancestral wound. If we have difficulty believing this, it helps to remember that time, as we know it, does not exist.
Often ancestors will not leave us in peace until we heal the wound and this process can be painful. Guilt, fear, and psychosomatic illnesses may be symptoms of our unconscious unwillingness to examine what they want us to understand. I don’t want to create the idea that ancestors are tyrants. Instead, think of them as they were when they were physically alive.
Of course, we always have free will to work with them or not. But when we heal a wound in our family, whether through family constellation therapy, shamanistic practices, spiritual transformation, or by other means, the effects are much greater than we imagine as it contributes to the healing of our tribe and nation. As we honor our ancestors, we reclaim soul fragments from past lives that we can then reintegrate back into the psychic flow that empowers us in our present life.
As we heal the patterns of our personal ancestors, ultimately, we will be healing the collective unconscious of humanity that renowned transpersonal psychiatrist Carl Jung says has accumulated over millions of years. Why? Because war, famine, violence, prejudice, loss, and grief are not new. These problems have existed as long as there have been humans, and they must be transformed into love, peace, wisdom, compassion, gratitude, forgiveness, and joy. This may seem like an overwhelming task, but we are set up to succeed, not fail, and Spirit gives us only the piece to do for which we alone are responsible.
The importance of the ancestors lies not only in the wisdom they offer, but also in the journey necessary to acquire it. It crafts us to make us worthy of receiving their wisdom; conversely, receiving their wisdom increases our worthiness. Ancestors reveal themselves piece by piece, letting us digest each morsel before adding another bit for us to consume. And like any tasty dish, once we start, we want to eat it all. Although we may not always be aware of their work, the ancestors are master strategists for our good in service to creating a conscious world.
Journeying in spiritual realms is not the same as getting in a car and driving from point A to B. It is more like a mystery story where we pick up hints that gradually add up and make sense as we arrive at our destination. We, in the western world, have lost our connection to this web of Being. The word “human” actually comes from the Latin meaning humus, the word for soil or earth; yet we are rootless. In our quest to master our environment, we have become externally focused and forgotten our roots and our lineage, which stem back to the Earth…and even further to the Cosmos.
Moving away from the land of our birth, or the land of our ancestors, breaks the link to the very land we are rooted in. The more we move, the fewer roots we have. Indigenous people know this as so many were forced to move from their ancestral lands. Without our ancestral stories and rootedness to the land, we often feel like orphans, even when we have a loving family.
Disconnection to our Earth has had profound repercussions. Ultimately, we cannot live like this. It is a spiritual disease that will result in disaster for our species. The ancestors are pressing us to listen and right the situation. The solution will not be found by adding more mental constructs. We cannot think or act our way out of this safely. We can only take the deep journey of self-discovery that involves our entire life.
Copyright 2020 Tanis Helliwell. All Rights Reserved.
Tanis Helliwell M.Ed. has given transformation and healing workshops internationally for over 30 years. She is a leading-edge psychotherapist, well-known for working to heal physical, emotional and mental traumas and patterns. Tanis teaches her techniques internationally to groups of psychiatrists, physicians, psychotherapists and other healing practitioners.
Tanis is the founder of the International Institute for Transformation (IIT) which, since January 2000, has offered programs to assist individuals to become conscious creators to work with the spiritual laws that govern our world.
She is the author of the classic best-selling book, Summer with the Leprechauns, as well as Pilgrimage with the Leprechauns, Take Your Soul to Work, Manifest Your Soul’s Purpose, and Decoding Your Destiny and Hybrids. Her newest book, published in 2019, is The High Beings of Hawaii: Encounters with Mystical Ancestors.