I’m heating Myrrh and Geranium in the burner as I sit down at the altar and stretch my soul out to connect with my Ancestors.
The combination is strange: the rich depth of Myrrh contrasting oddly with the sharp, sour invigoration of the Geranium. Spiritual depth and courage in this combination of scents – just what I really, really need right now.
I feel Pied Crow settle into my God-Soul while Black Panther rises from the Earth, insinuating himself along the sushumna. And I reach out my hands, and find them taken, on both sides, by female antecedents. Mom and Granny Banning, welcome. The space behind the oil burner is gradually being filled in now by the shape of a man – hair oiled and swept back off a slightly receding forehead, he’s all shades of iron-grey. My Grandfather Banning is not someone I have any conscious memories of – only that indelible memory of my mother, sitting crying by the phone one day in New Jersey. That memory which has never left me, like the recall of a head-on blow to the Spirit. Her father had died, and I, being too young to really understand,nevertheless gathered that here was something noteworthy, something of subtle and gross meaning, of undertones and grief-laden overtones. My Mom, who was the solid foundation of our emotional lives, was battered by sorrow and guilt and many other emotions which flew straight over my 5-year-old head at the time.
I have him take the Spirit-hands of my Mom and Granny – his daughter and his wife – and we sit like that, in circle together, for some time, me breathing slowly and deeply, directing the energy around my bodies, and grounding – oh, so desperately grounding – as I open my Self a tiny bit for these three graces.
The disease of alcoholism has run strongly through my family – and in particular, through my Maternal family, to the point where it has become the unhidden secret, hardly talked about but felt to the core of every member. Where does it come from? From which well of fears and misalignment rose this terrifying spectre, which still haunts my dreams every so often with visions of glass bottles half-full of clear, stinking liquid, and a heaviness of dread when I awake?
I’m making a little progress in trying to fathom my distaff kin. For, unlike my paternal family, who appeared in this land as members of the conquering race, these people of my Mother had no land to call their own for three, four,maybe five or more generations.
Foundering on an island to which no member of the population was native, they put on the culture and appearance of the gentry, which may have been a deception right from the start. They moved then to this land, where they once again faced a lack of rootedness – a lack of the presence of their own Ancestral Spirits all around them, which seems to be important to humans. For rare – although increasing in frequency – is the person whose mind can accept and encompass that the entire Earth is our home and mother – and beyond that, that we are truly at home in the Universe, and it is Us as We Are It. In my great-grandparent’s generation,that state of mind was uncommon and unacknowledged.
I’m looking at an entire side of a Family Tree whose branches do not apparently connect directly to any roots; whose leaves are fluttering unanchored in the breeze of Culture. This sickness, I think, has its origins right here – in a lack of origin.
This is just a start,mind you. I’m putting my feet upon that path which should, if I am mindful and careful enough, and if I have a depth of empathy and understanding which will overcome ancient fears and hatreds, lead me to the wellspring of the illness itself – and thence, without a doubt, to the core of the healing of it.
Pic: Francis Plain, St Helena. Doris Francis George, do you remember this?