A History Retold

Constellations as Modern ‘Griot’ Story-telling

In the West African tradition, ‘griots’ are the ‘story-tellers’ for a village or community.  Their role is to help preserve the genealogy of the people by acting as historical narrators in the oral tradition, often with the support of music and singing.  In the modern Western world the role of the ‘griot’ in family life is often lost.  Constellations can help to fulfil this gap by re-connecting us to the past and bringing it into the present.

The story of constellations work connects the past to the present and the traditions of Africa to the Western systemic process developed by Bert Hellinger who spent many years in Africa ministering to Zulu communities.  Malidoma Some, Dagara Elder, who has experience of family constellations has this to say about the family constellations process……

“Family Constellation is an old ritual practice rooted in Africa that sees individual challenges as linked to some forms of entanglement, the nature of which needs to be understood and dealt with for healing to happen. In it, the crisis of the individual is the crisis of the collective or the community.” 

Read More Here Malidoma Some E-Village News – September 2010

African Roots

When I first started learning the constellations method in 2011, I was immediately curious about the history of the process.  I could see African connections in the method and I wanted to explore this more.  The vision of Ancestral Constellations is to re-connect with the lost traditions that are implicit in the process and adapt them to fit better with the families and communities who use our services.

Examples of African traditional family structures that can be found within the constellations process relate to levels of authority, rules of respect and the different orders within the relationship system, these include

  1. Call and repeat patterns with clarifying or healing sentences that the facilitator leads
  2. A clearly defined order to how family members stand in relation to each other.
  3. Rituals like ‘bowing’ to elders and acknowledging authority and precedence
  4. Ancestors being welcomed into the process as a part of a transgenerational map