I just read a fascinating article by Doreen Carvajal in the science section of this week’s New York Times. In On The Trail of Inherited Memories the author explores the idea that we can carry the memory of our ancestors, even those long dead, with us into the present day. Carvajal travels back to Spain, where her family lived in secret as Sephardic Jews. Their secret identity, held for generations even after they moved to the US, compelled her and drew her to the ancient places where her family had lived.
Geneticists and psychologists are researching the idea that descendants may draw on the experiences of their ancestors, not through oral or experiential learning, but through a kind of cellular transmission. The "ancestor syndrome" a phrase coined by French psychologist Anne Ancelin Schützenberger, explains the concept that "we are links in a chain of generations, unconsciously affected by their suffering or unfinished business until we acknowledge the past."
Like butterflies who instinctually know their migratory path even though it takes three generations to complete the journey, our ancestors’ sensations of life can be passed down. Perhaps through cells, or maybe through some other vehicle that we don’t understand yet.
I’ve given this concept some thought in relation to spiritual healing work. I do believe that some of us replay patterns from our familial line until they are cleared. Shamanic work sometimes delves into past experiences that are more multi-faceted than personal memories. Recognizing that you may be carrying the burden of your forebear’s challenges can be the first step in moving past them. Personal Evolution Counseling can help with this.
The logical extension is then to focus on what we are passing along to our descendants. That certainly motivates me to work with my "ancestor" issues.
Wishing you a peaceful heart,