Walking the paths our ancestors laid for us

How did you come to the work?

It’s something I’ve been asked again recently – actually, it’s something I get asked a lot. Perhaps it’s because my ideas about healing, energy, magic, etc are not considered mainstream – although there are more of us knocking around than you might think! I meet them everywhere, even in the most unexpected of places.

I came to energy healing work over 18 years ago. At certain points in my life it has been my full-time job and at other points I have stepped back from public work, but it never stopped being the central axis in my world. And it didn’t start 18 years ago, I was practising the magical work from my mid-late teens. And it didn’t start then either, I must have been only in my early teens when my mum first taught me tarot on my own deck. But that, too, was not the start… I need to go back further.

What if we are walking a path laid for us before we were born?

I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t aware of spirituality and mediumship. Psychic work, readings, mediumship similar to that of the Spiritualist Church was something never hidden from me as a child. It was talked about, with my mum and my nan. It was normal. I don’t recall having any strong experiences of my own as a young child (which is not to say there were none); I always felt that I only fully stepped into my abilities when I left home at 18. Unlike many others I know who experience this kind of sensitivity when they are still young, I always had my mum and my nan to ask questions of.

When I was younger I had a lot of origin stories for my way onto the path. Yes my heritage played a part – “all the women in my family are mediums”, I would say, in an offhand way. Offhand because, after all, I don’t work in those traditions, not really. Shamanism and Reiki healing, magical groups, that was my own thing. My path was mine, and very different from the traditions I came from… wasn’t it?

Me and Sylv, near the end.

Do you know your family story?

Last year I had the extraordinary privilege of training with Dr Martin Shaw at the WestCountry School of Myth. On residential weekends over six months I was immersed in myths and fairytales, and I discovered that the deepest stories have the same healing power as the most sacred spiritual ceremonies. (That understanding changed my life forever, but that is a tale for another day!) On the final weekend we were asked to bring a ten minute story about a specific ancestor to share with the group and, with my mum’s permission, I’m now going to share that story with you.

Not all of us are lucky enough to be able to hear such stories from our own history, I do understand that. But many of us that could do not make the time to ask until we are older – sometimes not until the door to the story has closed. If you are able to draw on any stories, heirlooms or memories from your lineage, I hope that you will ask for those stories – and let them nourish you.

My great-great-grandmother Min, front left, surrounded by her adult children including my great-grandmother Lil, back right.

The story of my great-great-grandmother, Min, has changed my understanding of who I am and how I arrived here on this healing path. My circumstances are different than hers for sure. The world is different. As I publish this blog I am about to enter into a retreat with an Apache elder, filled with days of sweat lodges and tobacco ceremonies. This would have been unimaginable to Min, a working class mother from South East London, born in the late 1800s. But what I’ve discovered as I researched her story is this: she would have loved the idea. It would have made sense to her. And she would have loved that I am doing it.

It has led me to ask: is my path really so different from hers? Or am I just blessed to step on to it later, after the women of my line walked it before me?

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