Ancestors and Death by Franco Santoro

A warrior considers himself already dead, so there is nothing for him to lose. The worst has already happened to him, therefore he’s clear and calm; judging him by his acts or by his words, one would never suspect that he has witnessed everything.

(Carlos Castaneda, The Wheel of Time, Penguin, 1998, p. 121)

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With the term ancestors I identify here all our lineage of relatives down into the origin of the human species and all the beings that have lived on Earth, the solar system, this galaxy and universe, not to mention what is beyond that.

Yes, they are quite a lot! Some are close and other are remote ancestors. Yet they all make up that huge puzzle of which our ordinary awareness is just a minuscule fragment.

According to different perspectives, close ancestors can be related with past lives or express through historical beings or archetypes that either inspire or disturb me.

The quality of being a close ancestor can be extended to divine beings, animals, plants, minerals, geographical areas, etc.

In shamanic and tribal cultures ancestors are honoured with great respect.

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An ideal time for connecting with them is autumn or fall, especially during the days in which the Sun is in Scorpio, and also winter.

Ancient people were much aware of their close ancestors and all their decisions were made by consulting with them.

When we address our ancestors we relate with the most ancient parts of ourself.

In such occasions we can retrieve images, events, memories and situations that help us understand who and what we are now.

In this way we become conscious that we are the product of a past which is not limited to what has happened to us since we were born.

If we authentically wish to explore the past and connect with our roots, it is essential that we are open to include all, especially those people and situations that we tend not to acknowledge.

“Some native traditions teach that our departed ancestors are old friends and important teachers of detachment because they have faced the process of death and have given themselves to the unknown. Many believe that these ‘ancestors’ stand fully behind us ready to help and assist us with our life dreams. Often, stories are told in our families where a close ancestor relative has ‘visited’ one of the family members to give them help and assurance in their time of need. Frequently these visitors come in the night-time, either just as we are going to sleep or sometimes in the middle of the night. […] It is entirely appropriate to seek the counsel of these folks directly, as you are tied to them by strong connecting cords. They have the wisdom of their earthly and heavenly lives, and in most cases are more than willing to assist you with your life challenges and dilemmas. You may wish to envision these ancestors as a council of wise elders who are there to give you good advice about your lives. Many believes that our ancestors are deeply invested in seeing that the ‘good, true and beautiful’ that is carried in our heritage is passed on to future generations“.[1]

Ancestors, besides giving us support and guidance, can also hold major grievances and pass down destructive models of behaviour or belief systems.

Such grievances constitute the root cause of all our current, as well as collective, problems in life.

In order to effectively heal them it is necessary to be aware that they emanate from ancient heritages.

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When strong conflicts develop among couples, lovers, friends, relatives, colleagues or people casually met, what actually happens is that the same conditions that once engendered separation and pain are being reproduced in the present for correction.

These situations are momentous for healing as they allow to face the opportunity to invert the trend of separation, to forgive and open up portals in my conscience.

These openings have inevitable effects on the collective awareness and on present or future generations.

Thyme for evoking departing souls and rosemary for remembrance are traditional herbs burned during ceremonies devoted to ancestors.

A typical musical instruments to call the ancestors are the claves or click sticks. They are two sticks of hard wood (generally rose wood) that are clicked together. Their function is to remind of the bones of ancestors and invite to halt the insane patterns of hate and separation that are still present in life.

“Oh may you be the one who will bring forward the good, true, and beautiful in your family lineage; oh may you be the one who will break the harmful family patterns or harmful nation patterns”

(An old European ancestral song).[2]

Ancestors are also connected with the mystery of death and what lies beyond it.

The period of Scorpio is a fundamental time for creating a bridge between the reality of my fellow travellers on Earth and those who have left their body or space suit to move into other worlds. Here funerals and mourning play a major role.

These practices can be powerful shamanic and transformative tools when employed with sacredness and focused Intent. In many tribal cultures funerals are major cathartic rituals where all kinds of grievance are released and not only those related to the departed. Unlike most people in western society, the Dagara of Burkina Faso (Africa), for example, believe it is terrible to suppress grief.

They assume that the dead have a right to collect their share of tears.

“A spirit who is not passionately grieved feels anger and disappointment, as if their right to be completely dead has been stolen from them. So it would be improper for a villager to display the kind of restraint and solemnity seen at Western funerals. […] Public grief is cleansing – of vital importance to the whole community – and people look forward to shedding tears the same way they look forward to their next meal”.[3]

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Adult people who cannot cry or express their pain are considered dangerous or ill as they have lost the connection with their emotional side.

“It takes millions of tears to produce a flood capable of washing the dead to the realm of the ancestors, so refraining from weeping wrongs the dead. Rhythm and chanting crack open that part of the self that holds grief under control. But grief unleashed without the help of ritual drummers, musicians, and chanters runs the risk of producing another death. It is a force without a container. To the dead, it is useless energy, like food that is wasted while people go hungry. […] When activated, emotion has a ceiling it must reach. At its apex, grief turns the body into a vessel of chaos. But it is just such a climatic chaos that can cleanse both the person and his or her spirit”.[4]

According to many esoteric traditions, after the death of the physical body, the etheric and other subtler egoic bodies try to survive by exploiting any available source (for example drawing energy from the decomposition of its physical body or from the mourning of relatives). The custom of offering candles or flowers is often a reflection of the above awareness. Cremation is by some tradition considered ideal in order to accelerate the release of the above bodies.

pic by mysticmama.com

Sickness and death may be painful, indeed, but what makes them problematic is that they are shameful to the ego. This is the same shame that we feel when caught out of role, as when a bishop is discovered picking his nose or a policeman weeping. For the ego is the role, the ‘act’, that one’s inmost self is permanent, that it is in control of the organism, and that while it ‘has’ experiences it is not involved in them. Pain and death expose this pretense, and this is why suffering is almost always attended by a feeling of guilt, a feeling that is all the more difficult to explain when the pretense is unconscious. Hence the obscure but powerful feeling that one ought not to suffer or die…

(Alan Watts, Psychotherapy East and West, Pantheon Books, 1961)

[1] Mattie Davis-Wolfe; David Thomson, “Renewal Moon”, pp. 22-23, in Walking the Sacred Wheel, Sacred Circles Institute, 1995.
[2] quoted in Davis-Wolfe; Thomson, op. cit., p. 23.
[3] Malidoma Patrice Somé, Of Water and the Spirit: Ritual, Magic, and Initiation in the Life of an African Shaman, Penguin Arkana, p. 57.
[4] Somé, op. cit. pp. 57-58.
[5] Carlos Castaneda, The Wheel of Time, Penguin, 1998, p. 121.

Holistic and spiritual counsellor, shamanic facilitator, experiential astrologer, creator of astroshamanism and a large variety of tools for inner growth and transformation, resident member of the Findhorn Community (Scotland) since 1999, rector of the Provisional Institute.

Since 1976 Franco Santoro has worked with thousands of people from all walks of life and countries, offering regular support and guidance in their search for direction, life purpose, reconciliation, healing and peace. Using his unique holistic skills of facilitation, Franco has served for decades with non-profit charitable organisations, assisting individuals, groups and communities to gain clarity about their highest intentions, developing pragmatic means to fully implement them, while releasing and transforming deep rooted grievances and conflicts.

Drawing from a multicultural, non-dogmatic and pluralistic approach to inner growth and spirituality, including consciousness research, expanded states of perception, astroshamanism (which he developed since 1976), the Western, Middle-Eastern and Eastern traditions, A Course in Miracles, Osho (for whom he was press agent as Swami Bodhi Satpathi from 1988 to 1991), the Findhorn Foundation Community and other spiritual communities.

His work honours and integrates official religions and their esoteric teachings, with particular reference to Christianity and Gnosticism.

He is the author of Astroshamanism: A Journey Into the Inner Universe; Astroshamanism: The Voyage Through the Zodiac;Iniziazione all’astrosciamanesimo and other books, a series of sound healing and astroshamanic CDs, more than 1000 articles published online on a large variety of blogs and websites, and other tools for inner growth and transformation.

As from 1988 Franco Santoro has run more than 2000 workshops, in Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Scotland, South Africa, Spain and the Middle East. At the Findhorn Foundation Cluny Hill in Northern Scotland he has held more than 200 one-week residential workshops.

Franco resides in Findhorn (Moray, Scotland, United Kingdom). He also holds events at il Casale in Lunigiana (Merizzo, Massa, Northern Tuscany, Italy).

Please be aware that Franco does not offer any form of fortune telling, divination, future prediction, or astrological character analysis. Franco employs astrology only as a strategic map of the human psyche and as a method for determining the division of time.

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(featured image by lightningwarriors.com)