A Question of Identity!
My parents are from Guyana, South America and I was born in London, England. My husband is Swiss-Cuban and I feel most at home in the Caribbean islands. There are roots in many places, but where do I really belong? This question led me to find out more about my ancestral heritage and to family constellations work.
I have always struggled with issues of identity and belonging, starting from my early childhood. And it has taken me many years to find a peaceful place to sit with all the contradictions. I began to ask myself many questions including………..
- ‘What the source was for my tension and difficulty?
- ‘Why was I so often in conflict with my parents?
- Why did I feel so disconnected from much of my family heritage?
When I thought back on it, it didn’t make much sense, it felt like “this couldn’t all have come from me?’ Where did the past play a part? As I didn’t know much about my family ancestral line, I decided to start searching. I didn’t know where to begin, so I looked through old photograph albums and then asked my father. As I learned more I re-visited Guyana and met other family members. I found a story of fragmentation, separation and migration and also a place of ‘belonging’ and a renewed sense of identity.
‘Classic’ Family Constellations theory and practice was developed in Europe by Bert Hellinger, but it also has deep ‘African Roots’ which I draw on in my practise as a practitioner from the African Diaspora. Hellinger spent many years working with the Zulu community in South Africa and acknowledged that he incorporated some of their family and community traditions into the constellations method.
Many cultures in Africa, Asia and beyond believe that ancestors are part of the current family system and should be remembered and honoured. They are often included in ceremonies and rituals so that they can be called on for support during difficult times .
From an African perspective a constellation can be seen as a type of Healing-Ritual as it incorporates indigenous wisdom that is concerned with the deep level of spirit and soul in the individual and family. You can see these more clearly during the constellations process in the form of healing words that are spoken between family members and also ……….
- Call and response sentences to help ease painful situations in relationships
- A clearly defined order to how family members stand in relation to each other
- Rituals like ‘bowing’ to elders and acknowledging authority and precedence
- Ancestors being welcomed into the process as a part of a trans-generational map
Exploring the Traditional Wisdom in the Constellation
This blend of Western and Indigenous knowledge has led me to my professional path as a systemic constellations practitioner. On the day that I stepped into my first constellations workshop, I felt that I had found something, a model or a process that spoke to my heritage, past and present. I felt an inner peace and alignment and knew that I wanted more.
Alongside growing my professional practice, there has also been my personal journey to reconnect to family, parental homeland in Guyana and ancestral heartland in Africa. This personal and professional searching has led me to a Professional Doctorate in Systemic practice. I will be combining these two interests as Ancestral Family researcher and Systemic constellations practitioner, looking for ways to integrate the western and the indigenous, the European and the African, the Black and the White. Ashe!