Searching for ancestors in a shamanic way is like some kind of archeology, — in a shamanic way.
We all have ancestors, like it or not. But do we have a connection to them, — or they to us?
Or are there some we know nothing about?
Is there a problem that was very real and very unsettling long time ago? A problem that might still be affecting us or our families to day? Was the problem focused on one person, — or on a whole group?
Or how about a an ancestor that has been hushed up or simply forgotten altogether? There may be one, that is desperately trying to be “unforgotten,” someone who is trying to get in touch!
Retrieving the Past Through Shamanic Drumming
Our ancestors are a part of us, — and without them a part of us is missing. Ask any adoptee. To find out a bit more about this whole subject, our shamanic drumming circle went on a journey back in time.
We had three choices. To meet an ancestor, who would:
- like to meet you,
- you would like to meet, or
- one who has been hushed up by the family for various reasons.
After we all came back, we shared our journeys. The results were quite spectacular. Almost all of us had met someone, and strangely enough, many of those were fitting all 3 criteria!
The Woman with the Big Old Book
My own journey was one of the latter. I had put out the intention, and along with my spirit crew I journeyed into the unknown.
Immediately I was met by a stern looking old woman in black, who came closer and without saying anything and handed me a huge book. Before she vanished, she gave me a quick glimpse of who she ‘d been.
I remembered at once where I’d seen her before! It was during a three year course in core shamanism we were once asked to meet an ancestor who could teach us something. That’s when I met this very sweet, happy, pretty blond young woman who was willing to teach me all about plants and healing herbs.
I was aghast! What could have turned this delightful young lady into such an embittered and angry looking old hag? It took a lot more journeys by me and also by friends to get the whole story.
Birgit lived in a small, walled city in the mountains of South-West Germany close to the Suisse border. It was the 14th century. She had a husband and 3 children, and even though this kept her quite busy, she loved to go into the forest outside the city walls and talk to trees and rocks and collect plants and herbs. She also had the gift of healing hands, and many people came to her with their ailments.
Around the year 1400 Birgit’s world collapsed : Local clergy accused her of practicing witchcraft, — a serious crime in those days !! — — The verdict came down swiftly, — no, she wasn’t tortured, and they didn’t burn her at the stake either, — Birgit was banished. — With nothing but the clothes she had been arrested in , and without a chance to even say good bye to her family, she was led out of town at dawn , and then the big city gate closed behind her forever.
Nothing had prepared the still young woman for the harsh life of homelesness on the roads of that time in Europe. A woman traveling alone and on foot was fair game. She got raped, she got robbed, she got beaten and chased out of towns and villages. Slowly all her standards of proper behavior and cleanliness crumbled and had to be discarded.
For the sake of sheer survival she learned to lie, cheat and steal. It was her knowledge of plants that often saved her life. Sometimes someone would give her a loaf of bread for healing a sick child, or a worn but warm blanket. But then she had to move on again, because no one wanted her to stay. Her life became one of fear and misery.
Rescued by a Band of Gypsies
It wasn’t until a band of gypsies took her in, that she achieved a measure of basic creature comforts, and eventually even an uneasy sense of belonging. It was a vastly different lifestyle from the one she knew from back home, but it was certainly an improvement over being alone on the road! In fact, her gifts as a healer and her knowledge of plants were very much appreciated by the gypsies.
Now Birgit even learned how to be a fortuneteller with cards, beans, stones and bones. She was good at it, too! Except, that she was now doing the very things she had been convicted of. She felt she had lost her innocence. Her last bit of pride was stripped away.
For years she traveled with her new “family” along the Danube all the way to the Black Sea and back again through Yugoslavia and Italy. But the desire to go home and see her family always followed her, and often she cried herself to sleep.
It was some 30 years later, she was now old, suffering from recurring pneumonia and severe depression. She had left the gypsies when she arrived at the gates of her hometown. But the guards wouldn’t let her in. She cried and pleated with them, but it was useless. They didn’t even tell her that her family had long since moved away and started a new life elsewhere. They just chased her away again and again.
Birgit, old, weak and very ill went into the forest she had once known so well. There she built herself some kind of a shelter, laid down and died, utterly alone, unburied, unmourned and totally forgotten.
It took nearly 600 years for a descendent to remember her, to cry with her, to heal her, to mourn her and finally lay her to rest.
The Wisdom Gained
Was there anything else she wanted me to know?
“I should have lived more in the present! Instead of mourning the past, I could have enjoyed life with the Gypsies more, — at least part of the time I could have been happy.” I realized.
“Live in the present, child! Enjoy what you got right now!”
“Thank you, Birgit, rest well, and I won’t forget you, — — ever.”
I don’t know the name of the walled little city, but I do know, that my father’s family came from that general area. Many of them were foresters. She must have managed to pass this love for the forest and Mother Nature on to her children before she was so cruelly taken away from them. Because my grandfather had it, my father had it , and my brother, my sister and I also felt this deep love for Mother Nature. I credit Birgit with this relationship with nature.