War is a special kind of hell. This is what a friend and colleague and survivor of the War in Lebanon said to me recently as we spoke about what is going on in Ukraine. Though I have not personally experienced war, I understand his words. So many clients over 16 years have come to me with unexplained anxiety, fear, dread, and even anger. When I have delved deeper through the intuitive tools I use in shamanic healing sessions, I have encountered within them the ways the dark shadow of such events—even going back many generations—have an unconscious grip on them.
Yes, war can carry on in the human psyche even when the actual, physical events are long past. When these wounds are not healed, they reemerge in imbalances not only in the individuals who were there, but also in their descendants. Even worse, the repressed grief, anger, hatred, and fear can result in some individuals continuing the cycle of abuse in their families, communities and even their nations. We are seeing this play out in Vladimir Putin’s actions towards Ukraine.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Several years ago, I had a client come to me complaining of dark dreams and chronic, unexplained feelings of dread. As I did an energy reading looking for the source of this issue, I heard the words, “There is no place to hide or run to.” There was a sense of imminent threat and the presence of an ancestor—a blood relative of my client. I felt an energy that over the years I have done this work, I associate with such mass events such as war, slavery or genocide.
I returned out of my light trance and asked her if she knew of any family member or ancestor who had such experiences.
She replied, yes. Her grandmother was a survivor of the Nazi invasion of France during World War II. She lived in a town that was held hostage for 4 years under conditions of near-starvation, constant reprisals, disappeared neighbors and friends, murder, and rape.
With this information affirmed, I started the process of clearing my client’s energy body. When the crystallized energy of anxiety was lightened, I entered even deeper within her to the domain of familial and societal wounds. With a beautiful Vogel 12-sided cut crystal, I was able to find the source of the trauma and extract it energetically from both my client’s psyche, as well as along the energetic pathways of her maternal ancestors. Usually when one individual has an experience of war, I can connect into similar events going back in the ancestral line. Truly, there are very few people living on the planet today whose lineages were free from this disease.
When the process of extraction and transmutation was complete, I felt light. My client then reported later for the first time in her life feeling peace.
This is but one of hundreds of examples in which I have encountered the reverberating, energetic imprint of this type of ancestral wound in the deep psyche of a client. In some individuals and, even in the collective psyche of a particular group, an indelible scar is often left from violent mass events. Many generations later, it can appear in the form of challenging symptoms akin to PTSD that seem unrelated to a person’s lived reality. They could be raised in a stable, loving home and have never experienced any major trauma and yet still be an unwitting victim of violence.
This phenomenon is not just confirmed by my personal excursions as a shamanic energy healer into the domains of the subconscious where unhealed wounds are found; 30 years ago, clinical psychologist, Yael Danieli wrote about the children and grandchildren of survivors of the concentration camps in World War II developing nightmares with images of the camps, in addition to exhibiting symptoms of PTSD seemingly unrelated to their own lives. Her findings were then expanded on by other psychiatrists and psychologists. More recently, the emerging science of epigenetics has proven that when a trauma is experienced, there are chemical changes in the DNA that then is passed down from mother to child.
We all understand that war, slavery and genocide can indelibly mark a person or group. Some cultures and nations today, such as Native Americans and African Americans, are well aware of this harsh legacy, even as present-day racism and oppression continues downstream from the originating set of events that calcified into ongoing systemic biases.
Let us not forget, as well, as the psychiatrist, Judith Lewis Herman noted in her seminal book, Trauma and Recovery, that perpetrators, as well as victims are psychologically harmed in the terrible dialectic of violence. There are also soldiers who unwillingly did the bidding of their leaders or who got caught in the nasty web of war and who committed atrocities—all against their better nature. We have all heard the stories of veterans of the Vietnam War who return haunted by unspeakable things they were ordered to do or even did on their own recognizance out of a madness that overcame them from the stress of fearing for their lives and seeing their comrades suffer and die.
There are also the bystanders who felt helpless to do anything for fear of their own lives or who were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. And there are the family, friends, and neighbors who were left after the murder and mayhem. They are the survivors who then went on to live “normal” lives and who yet were also the victims left with guilt, shame, grief, anger, and hatred.
What can be done?
In many indigenous cultures that have robust rituals and relationships with ancestors, it is known that the living have a responsibility to assist our forefathers and mothers in releasing what they were not able to resolve during life so that they do not continue to have a negative impact on their descendants. This is also considered a service to their ongoing growth and journey back to spirit.
With the distortions in human thought and action reverberating through and from all forms of violence all around the world today, it is time to increase our efforts through inner work to end the madness. One of these ways is to reach for energy healing modalities designed to get to the subconscious—and ancestral—sources of these wounds. Healing then becomes a powerful form of sacred activism for peacemaking. When we do this type of multidimensional transformation back through the layers of time and space, we are impacting humanity’s collective matrix of experience and memory.
As you consider these facts, think about what would happen if even just half of the Earth’s population did such deep healing for themselves and the ancestors.
I believe violence in all its guises would eventually end. No one would believe war, slavery, genocide, and all forms of oppression is right or good.
An enduring peace grown out of compassion and wisdom would reign. May it be so.
Rachel Mann, PhD is a sacred activist, social scientist, healer, and spiritual mentor. She is founder of the movement called Sacred Activism for Peacemaking and Ending Violence. She provides an intensive 1-1 Mentoring Program and courses and retreats supporting passionate individuals with a vision to integrate the wisdom gained through their own healing and spiritual study into creative service to others as a healer/therapist, spiritual teacher, writer, artist, and/or social entrepreneur. Through on-demand courses and trainings, she provides businesses, universities, NGOs and non-profits wishing to anchor into with the sacred values of positive inclusion, compassion and a renewed, spiritual ethics. She is currently a member of the faculty of Atlantic University in the MA programs for Transpersonal Psychology and Mindful Leadership. Find out more at rachelmannphd.com.