Rituals of Remembrance
In every family there are heros, heroines, villains, and outcasts; people who are easy to love, and people who feel impossible to love. There have most definitely been great triumphs and death-defying difficulties. What we are learning in the past 30 years in the field of family constellations is that creating a space where each person in the family lineage is given a place of dignity and honor can be profoundly healing. It is known to bring positive transformation for families, relationships, physical health, and the work we do in the world.
Even if we do not know much about our family history, it is as if we carry a map of the entire family system within us. Significant events such as birth, death, migration, successes and losses make a strong imprint on this map and reverberate for several generations. We may not know these details of the events, but know the effects intimately. When the reverberations have created patterns that no longer serve us, this is where creating personal rituals can help.
We can begin the process of healing ancestral patterns by remembering the beloved ones; consciously naming those who have been forgotten or excluded; remembering where our people came from; and honoring the great cost that may have been paid for the life we have today. When faced with what looks like an unsurmountable challenge in our own lives, we can come to know that the same challenge has old echoes and we can draw on the the wisdom and strength in our ancestry for how to overcome it and thrive.
Following are some of the most common and helpful practices informed by family constellations. The encouragement is to begin creating these simple rituals of remembrance in order to come into relationship with the treasures in your family lineage that have been hiding in plain sight. The most important elements for creating any personal ritual are:
- Creating a sacred space. This involves setting aside a time and a place that is dedicated for the ritual. Setting up a space where your ritual objects can sit for a few days is ideal. It can be a shelf, a window sill, a small table. You may want to put down a small cloth to designate this is the place you are creating for a specific purpose. You also want to make sure you have the time to give your undivided attention to create the ritual — even if is just 15 minutes. You may choose to mark the beginning or end of that time with some action, like sounding a bell.
- Your intention and presence. The most important ingredient in a ritual is your intention for healing and heartfelt attention throughout the ritual. Experiment with ways to activate this moment as one where you are truly present. It may be sitting more upright, feeling your own connection with the earth where you are today. It may be lighting a candle, meditating, or listening to music that helps clear your mind and puts you in a centered state. Find your own forms for creating an intentional space.