Seven years ago on Mother’s Day eve, when my kids were ten and six years old, I decided to sit in ceremony with a dear medicine woman sister. It was just the two of us.
In my fantasy, it would be a sweet, nurturing Mother’s Day gift to myself, a chance to open my heart, gently pray, and simply receive. Famous last hopes. 😉
Not long into the ceremony, I found myself over the bucket, purging violently. My entire matriarchal lineage came to me, generations upon generations of mothers.
One by one, they showed up with all their unattended grief and traumas, their disappointment, and losses.
I was viscerally aware of the despair, remorse, and false identification they had gone to their graves with.
Into the bucket, I purged countless sorrows of limited self-perception, self-doubt, and self-hatred.
The horrors they had faced, experienced, and perpetuated. The torch of self-betrayal passed from mother to daughter to daughter.
I saw their sublime beauty-way too. Their utter regality and elegance and hard-won self-respect.
The graciousness of service, generous acts of empathy, exquisite works of art, and impactful moments of refusing to collude with the lie.
The small, everyday ways they had lived for love.
The breathtaking gardens they had grown, the businesses they had tended, and the children they had raised.
The courage it had taken at times simply to survive.
The ways they had fought for sovereignty, for power, for equality, for liberation, for a voice. All they had struggled through to pave the way for the generations who would follow.
I sat with the flame, my feathers and smoke, fanning my own heart, hardly getting a moment of peace before another violent wave of purge would come.
Ancestor after ancestor came to my awareness, with their carefully bundled burdens of pain, offering them up at my altar.
I sat there for a while with the ancient mothers of my lineage, overwhelmed in tender gratitude for them, floored by this honor to serve them through my little lifetime.
I felt an angel come in close, gently behind me. She directed my attention back to my own form, my own life, and my own unresolved pain.
My perceptivity heightened, I tracked and scanned my own body and psyche. I hunted down the unique signature of grief, shame, and fear alive in my nervous system, carefully woven into the tapestry of unmet ancestral trauma I had been handed.
I prayed to release what was no longer useful for me to carry. I asked to let it be done and finished, here and now, this Mother’s Day.
Then my attention went to my children—my daughter, and my son. Soberly, I noticed the places where they had each already taken on the imprints of unresolved wounding, unattended blind spots, vital misperception, and grief.
I prayed to clear what I had unwittingly passed on to them and would likely continue to. I prayed for ever-deepening impeccability in my actions and my words, and I opened wider to self-compassion and self-forgiveness.
As I allowed my heart and body to resonate with the courage of self-love, I feathered this truth in all directions, backward and forward, throughout all space and all timelines, to all my relations of earth and stars.
When the light of dawn began to fill the room, and I had done all I could see to do, cleared all I could see to clear, forgiven all I could forgive, I sat then, feeling quiet and unspeakably blessed.
What a mystery: the chance to love like this.
I could see the far-reaching possibility of widespread, multi-generational, true ancestral healing, inside our simple willingness to face and meet these wounds within our own bodies, minds, hearts, and souls.
As I sat there in stillness, pure, emptied awareness, a vision came to me, a gift I will never forget.
I could see my future ancestor, many generations from now, a luminous young woman of elegance, power, and love, sitting at the altar of her own making, lit by the light of her own flame.
And I could see her working with her feathers, her smoke, her voice, and her tears—reaching back through time, healing me, her great, great-grandmother, clearing me of what I could not clear myself.
Then she cleared her own sweet body, heart, and psyche, and then she stretched her feathers forward in time, healing and clearing the future generations, the ones who have yet to come.
We are alive for but an instant. We do what we can while we can. We trust it is enough.
We reach backward, inward, and forward, with prayers of healing, clearing, and protection to all we can touch, all we can see, and all we can imagine.
We offer our lives: as a prayer of self-love in all directions.
Happy Mother’s Day. I love you.
Visionary Art by Autumn Skye.