Facing Our Past to Heal the Present – Unpacking the Myths Inherited from Our Ancestors

By Angela Kaufman

Guest writer for Wake Up World

My fellow Healers and Light Workers are familiar with the process of radical honesty for integration and healing. We know an individual must confront the Shadow. We know wounds that are ignored only fester. We help others to face these wounds, to find reconciliation and to move past the energies, patterns, and memories and move forward.

We know there is no solace in ignorance when it comes to healing. And it is time to apply this knowledge of healing the individual in order to heal our society.

Yes, White Americans, I’m talking to you.

As debates about immigration heat up, I feel called to reflect on my own ancestors and the path that led me to be born a ‘citizen’ in America. I hear people proclaim — with the bias with which we all approach our family legends — about their ancestors who came the ‘right’ way and ‘picked themselves up by their bootstraps.’

I see retelling of our cultural fables with selective attention to details, namely the details which cast some of our ancestors in a less-than-heroic light.

I see people proclaiming they are tired of feeling guilty for their ancestors’ role in oppressing others, yet unwilling to see how they are continuing to carry the torch of this oppression in the present. I see people bearing the scars of generations of dehumanization even as laws were changed to mask the racism and power differential upon which this country was built. Reinvention of oppression with new names like War on Drugs and State’s Rights. And Zero Tolerance.

Everything is energy. The heaviness of oppression, the trauma of institutional racism, genocide and discrimination has left its residue on the Aura of the United States.

The burden of history bears down on us as we face a crossroads as a society. Just as an individual can consciously clear stagnant energy and sabotaging patterns in order to heal their mind or body, I believe our society can undergo such an energetic shift. However, in any healing process the first step is willingness to see the wound in all its ugliness.

This means some of us, myself included, have the task of honestly facing as much history as we can to understand how it has shaped our degrees of privilege.

My great grandparents on my father’s side came to this country from Italy. Due to the biases inherent in family mythology I don’t know the exact circumstances surrounding their decision to leave Italy. I suspect they weren’t winning bigly back home.  I suspect that they were not recruited because of stellar talents to be contributed to the workforce, or because they would be the next Bill Gates, or the first as he wasn’t born yet.

My great grandfather died young, leaving a widow with children. She never learned English, which means she would not have passed a citizenship exam today.

My great grandmother was not picked up by officials and deported. She was not forced to prove her ability to be of value to society. Such laws requiring citizenship to simply be in the country did not exist prior to the 1960’s. If more of us faced our stories, we could begin to piece together a very different narrative void of the elitism and meritocracy of our American fairy tales. We would understand that our ancestors were given an opportunity denied to immigrants today.

 She likely faced discrimination, yet she was also allowed to be. She was allowed to have an existence with her children who then went on to contribute in a number of ways to society. Her daughter, my grandmother, had a career as a nurse. Her career was not a measure of her value as a person, but simply one aspect of how she shaped the fabric of the world. Her presence in this country saved and changed lives. She is still alive today at 97. She is still contributing to the world by being in it. And she is only one person.

At some point our society decided that immigrants from Italy were not sufficient scapegoats anymore. Perhaps it was when the Catholic/Communist take over feared by the establishment never came to fruition. Perhaps it was when a different demographic became an easier target to teach people to fear. Because her family never faced some forms of oppression such as redlining, my grandmother was able to thrive in build a middle class life with her husband, setting a foundation for my father and then for me.

Was the life she created a product of her natural ‘goodness’?

While I love my grandmother and respect the strength she and her mother had, it must also be acknowledged that something more than inherent goodness was at play in their success. I know this because I see people who are equally driven, determined, hard working and virtuous who have not managed to climb the economic ladder. Especially since the Recession.

Ancestral Psychic

Another of our beloved American Fables is the story of ascending from rags to riches, or for more of us, rags to comfortable. We are told it is a product of our hard work. What is not emphasized is the profitability of a world war, and the benefits of the GI Bill which at one time was not open to people of color. We are not told about the forms of ‘welfare’ which came to be a political pawn once eligibility was extended to people of color, but which were considered ‘relief’ when available to folks like my European ancestors. We are told about the ingenuity of people who pull themselves out of poverty to live the ‘American Dream’.

We are not told about the ingenuity of people who are still struggling as the wealthiest become wealthier. Instead we are told they are our adversary, and our family Fables are used as propaganda to convince us of this.

We are not told just how much times have changed.

Words like “stagnant wages” or “gentrification” do not factor into the Fairy Tale.

To honestly face history means we admit the wrongs that led to the wounds now festering in our collective energy. The wounds of oppression, domination, exploitation and dehumanization. It means understanding how our beliefs and biases were shaped by our inherited experiences and energy. It means examining myths that drive our biases. From racial prejudices to the myths of meritocracy. We now have the opportunity to sort out our own true experiences of what is right and wrong from the rules and reactions handed down in the consciousness of our lineage.

Some of my fellow Americans of European descent are quick to proclaim that people of color should ‘get over’ generations of oppression and enslavement, all the while clinging to remnants of institutional and intergenerational racism. I wonder how different the picture would look if we white folks were as willing to ‘get over’ our biases?

How can we integrate the disparate views of who we idealize ourselves to be and who, in our darker moments, we have revealed ourselves to be?

For healing to occur we do this on an individual basis whether we realize it or not.

The 12 Steps require a searching and fearless moral inventory. Jungians call this Shadow Work. Shamans and other energetic healing practitioners also use methods to reconcile the dark and light within the individual. On a macro level, this is essential to truly moving forward. Our past practice has been to mow over the Shadow side of our society. I believe the turning of the tides in recent years is an emergence of the American Shadow and a recalling of the past which we have not yet dealt with and healed. It is a call to reconciliation which never occurred.

Reconciliation does not mean self flogging. It does not require moping in guilt. In fact, guilt alone is not productive. In some ways it further drives the excuse making and justification. Reconciliation requires acknowledgment, and a willingness to reconnect with who we are as a society outside of the structures that wounded us to begin with. In this case it requires us to be willing to acknowledge the structure that favors some and oppresses others. To be willing to envision a system that does not rely on this disparity of power. And to stop making excuses under the myth of meritocracy.

Reconciliation allows release not only for ourselves but for the energies, Spirits, and those from who we descended. It is an act of healing of our past generations.

The ways in which we will do this as individuals spans beyond one act, one ritual, one mantra, one rally, even beyond one vote. Yes we can do all of these things. We can protest and educate and agitate and pray. We can meditate and ask for our Ancestor’s guidance and help in ritual. And we must use all the resources — mundane and spiritual — at our disposal.

But it is not one act that will bring healing, it must be a part of our every act. Our every decision. Our every moment, asking ourselves are we moving toward reconciliation or further polarity?

I believe we can respect, honor and love our Ancestors, but we must also be honest with ourselves. When we stop telling ourselves American Creation Myths and take an honest look at our country’s Shadow, we will begin to finally heal these wounds.

Are you willing to trace back your family story? To understand the trials your ancestors endured but also the privileges they may have received? To unravel the imprint their biases left on your consciousness, the perception of merit, or the fear of ‘others’ who they were taught to fear? How will you work with the tools of holistic healing and energy shifting as an individual to help turn the tides of generations of oppression?

About the author:

Angela Kaufman is a Certified Intuitive Consultant, Psychic Medium, Intuitive Empowerment Coach and LCSW. She is passionate about blending the mystical and mundane to help women at the crossroads redefine themselves and create fulfilling lives. Angela also writes spiritually-based social commentary and is an activist for the rights of humans and animals.

She is author of Queen Up! Reclaim Your Crown When Life Knocks You Down (Conari 2018) and has co-authored three other books: Wicca, What’s the Real Deal? Breaking Through the Misconceptions (Schiffer, 2011), Sacred Objects, Sacred Space; Everyday Tools for the Modern Day Witch (Schiffer 2012), and The Esoteric Dream Book; Mastering the Magickal Symbolism of the Subconscious Mind (Schiffer 2013).

You can connect with Angela at:

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