African-Centred Therapeutic Practice
Today many of us are living in a multi-heritage world, side by side with people of different ancestry. Often we are distanced and separated from our homeland or place of birth. As a result we are looking more and more to our family heritage to hold onto something that is grounded in our customs, our traditions, our roots.
Ancestral constellations seeks to explore these conversations on history and legacy and trauma through a systemic constellations lens. When we fear the taboo, the unspoken and the unknown and keep silent, there is a danger that others in the family or community may take them on and recreate the family patterns from the past.
We do not Talk about TraumaThere are many issues that we know exists in our communities that we do not speak about, Often these conversations are suppressed and kept within our families and communities for fear of shame, guilt, judgement!!
My cousin told me a story about a young woman in America who entered her boyfriends house and looking at a picture on the wall enquired “why is my grandmother on your wall”.
We do not speak of this, or the fear of our other losses, the missing brothers and sisters in our clan, those we have heard of but never met, those we do not know yet are known to us. Young women from Africa and Asia are involved in skin bleaching, a hang-over from colonialism and issues of ‘shadism’ and colour favouritism still exists in many families and communities
Many families who come from communities that have migrated and raised second and third generations in their new homeland face other issues of identity, belonging and stigmatisation. The dis-ease of living with these stressors impact our families and communities.
The Healing Edge of Ritual
My own perspective is that, from an African heritage cultural perspective, family constellations could be adapted more clearly as ’a healing ritual with a therapeutic edge’. I have been interested in bringing a more ‘African-centred’ perspective to my work as a constellations facilitator because – for most of the people that I work with – these dynamics are either in the background of fully up-front in the issues that they want to address in their families and communities.
Looking Down the Generational Line
Many African cultures see ancestors as having a part-in and role to play within the wider family and community. Healing rituals are used to help manage conflict in the community and other health, social and family issues restore harmony to the ancestral line. From this perspective there is similarities with the systemic constellations process, that views transgenerational patterns as repeating cycles of behaviour that will continue unless addressed.
Telling Ancestral Stories
This work can be viewed as an ancestral method for the of us who are in the diaspora who are both Western and African. This is a way of telling ancestral stories and reconnecting generations, if you like a modern Griot approach – but reframing indigenous wisdom using systemic western language.
Middle Passage Work
It can be a therapeutic way of reconnecting to the pain, the shame and the feelings the anger that has created our family community stories. I see it as Middle Passage work that can help those of us from the African Diaspora journey back to reclaim , reconnect with and most importantly Remember our ancestral heritage and traditions. It unites the modern western within us and with the traditional indigenous.