Ancestral Healing


Iya Ifadoyin Ogunsina Carter-Daboiku

When asked to write an essay on Ancestral Healing, the first thing that came to mind was, “What does Iya want me to say?  Why is she asking me to do this?”  After 48-hours of stewing in the way only an Ogun head can, I laughed to myself and accepted that it was not she who was extending the request; it was the Egun themselves!  And, interestingly the request came as I was under the psychic influence of Odi-Irosun, which mandated a party for Egun as ebo.  How propitious!

The path toward Iwa Pele has been a 30+ year journey, and in that time I’ve learned that a positive relationship with Egun is essential to personal growth.  To attempt to expand our consciousness without nurturing the roots from which we ascend is like expecting fruit from a stunted, diseased tree.  What’s that old proverb:  “You get just what you sow.”

When I came into this practice, the old, revered elders taught that we humans are indeed spirit locked in matter living on Earth to interact with Creation so that we might know the power of divine creativity.  Being recycled back to spirit when we detach from our physical form (commonly known as “death”), we return to the Source adding our experiential knowledge to the grand collective we call Egungun.  So, they said, there is no initiation more power than manifesting from the spirit world into human form and experiencing the interaction we label as “living.”  They taught that we as spirit consciousness either choose or are chosen to come to Earth to complete or further engage a cosmic task.  Some even said that the indentation above our upper lip is the contractual seal from Olodumare’s hand.  Neverless, the journey through our lives on the path toward Iwa Pele is our testimony to accomplishing that task.

Our elders teach that this contractual task continues to be refined until the principle is manifest fully within the lineage(s) assigned the task.  This means that family lines may be challenged for generations in a specific area unless “somebody breaks the mold” (which was the old adage) or until “somebody stops the madness” (current vernacular).  You know what’s being said here:  Everyone knows someone who just can’t seem to “get it together.”  They cheat, lie, envy, hate, scheme, deny, argue, assume, worry, consume too much, and find themselves so unproductive that they are ostracized from family gatherings or can’t generate enough positive energy to meet their basic needs, while blaming their parents, the world, or “the man” for their issues.

Within the traditional African (and Native American) worldviews, our psychological balance and feelings are directly related to our ancestral experiences.  I was taught that our feelings are not even our own.  We are simply ‘tapping into’ an existing pool of collective emotions generated by those who have had experiences similar to the one we are in at the moment.  Since there is a pool of this energy swirling around on the Astral Plane, based on our telemetric frequency, a response is readily available to attach to our consciousness.  This is the place where elders say we often miss the opportunity to use our divine power.  And, this is the place where we must focus on Ancestral Healing.  Plainly said, when given the opportunity, we must make the best choice available.

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When we choose to walk the path of Ifa, we come to understand that our psyche is “attached” to ancestral issues, we realize that an “Afro-centric” solution does actually exist, which may (duh!) be a totally different solution than the one most ‘professionals’ are taught in their degree authorizing certification, licensing, and practices.  When we are focused on the tenets of Ifa, we recognize that our emotional issues ARE ancestral issues.  For example, there is a young woman in my life who is struggling with so-called “gender issues”; her body is female, while her psyche is male.  The professionals in the European model may counsel toward acceptance and finding ways to support the transition to a different physical manifestation – surgery and psychological counseling for the individual and the family.  However, the Afro-centric, Ifa-based perspective is that the child’s ori is male, while the body is female.  [In this case, the child actually has been identified as having the influence of Shango around!]  From the Ifa perspective, the appropriate counseling is to have the child reflect on how women in their traditional past have successfully negotiated such internal “conflict”.  I almost laugh at the modern concept of and solutions to “conflict” as if those phenomena are somehow avoidable and unnecessary for personal growth!  How many plants are able to grow from seed without struggling to break free of the soil that is packed above them?  And, why are hummingbirds and bees able to fly despite the science of aerodynamics that says such phenomena are impossibilities?

Ancestral healing is personal healing — giving ourselves permission to analyze our genetic past and choosing different solutions than the ones our ancestors may have chosen; or, using their experiences to analyze our own choices.  This is NOT an intellectual pursuit; rather, a personal, internal, reflective  (shall we say ‘astral’) process that does mean that each of us actually is a Christ.  We are all sent to “save” our families from being drowned in the turmoil of human reactivity.  Our work is to come to acknowledge, accept, and polish the Divinity within ourselves by acknowledging and accepting the struggles of those who came before us.  And, instead of condemning them or ourselves, we should see the same talents and flaws within ourselves and consciously work to serve the mission as we were sent; and, work out the kinks and nicks that keep us from being as effective as we could be.

This is the work.  If we do this work, they our ancestors can support us as we stand on their shoulders. Ase!

Article by Iya Ifadoyin Ogunsina Carter-Daboiku

Traditionally, storytelling has been the mechanism for maintaining a culture's collective memory. Major events were held in memory by an oral historian who retold the highlights over and over, keeping the event alive generation after generation. Other stories taught proper social interaction or explained spiritual principles and creation. Stories have helped me define myself. As an American of mixed ancestry born in the Appalachian hills of Southeastern Ohio, defining myself was very difficult. Listening to family elders recount the stories of talents, skills, conflict and migration helped me know my own worth. I am a griot, an oral historian, and carry responsibility for keeping memories alive for the next generation. My residencies focus on storytelling as a traditional art form. Research into telling styles will introduce a multicultural aspect to the work, allowing students to explore such styles as blackbox oration, shadow puppetry, dance and totem creation.
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