Another in Moon Books' Pagan portals series, Ancestral Healing is an anthology by modern pagan healers about helping people heal from multi-generational trauma. Within shamanaism there has long been a belif that the lives of our ancestors affect us, that traumatic events they experienced are carried, perhaps within altered DNA, and are processed by us.
- In Healing in the Ancestral Soul by Kenn Day, we are introduced to the technique of Family Constellation Work.
- In Walking the Bones: Reconnecting with our Ancient Past, Taz Thornton discusses animism and the belief everything has an energy or spirit.
- Intergenerational Silence: Witnessing Yesterday to Heal Today by Irisanya Moon was the most powerful essay in this collection. Moon discusses trauma (including rape and abusive relationships) and how we as humans deal with it. In particular, the silence we keep after experiencing a trauma and the ways in which we can heal through directly confronting the ancestors who kept us silent, as well as leaning on other ancestors to speak the trauma to.
- Of Things Lost and Love Gained by Imelda Almqvist felt liek the weakest essay, but that may perhaps be the result of being up against Moon's essay. Almqvist tells us about pain and trauma and how we can become more spiritual by learning from the past.
- In Dealing with Ancestral Shame, Mabh Savage offers us absoution if we do not accept the past mistakes of our ancestors as our own and wish to remove someone from our life if they've harmed us.
- Elen Sentier disusses ancestral healing as a connection with our human ancestors as well as the land in Ancestral Healing.
- Another excellent essay, Stuck in the Rage Stage? by Dorothy Abrams discusses denial and the importance of moving on, into the next stage: anger. This work is supported by rituals, making it the most practical essay.
- Looking them in the Eyes: Animals, Ancestry and Animism by Andrew Anderson discusses the importance of all life and how he became an ethical vegan.
- Angela Paine's Recovering the Bones, Healing the Past explains how mourning for a lost loved one allows both the dead and the living to heal and move on.
- Saving the Tinkers’ Heart by Fiona Tinker is a statement from her website describing the "Tinkers’ Heart" a place sacred to Scotland’s Travelling people.
- Schism & Split: Wounds That Can Never Heal by Melusine Draco explains how words can harm as they become actions.
Overall, the strength of this book is in the broad variety of essays as either starting points for further research or if any one resonates with you personally as a call to action. That said, I had a hard time connecting as the writing tended to be dense and academic. Moreover, this is not at all useful for newcomers to the idea of ancestral healing. Day's essay, for example, has a practice in which people in the room serve as placeholders for the person's family of origin (even dead members) and they expectation is that they will instinctively know how to respond to the person and will help with their healing. I'm an experienced magikcal practitioner and I would never want to be one of those people -- the opportunity for further damage is too great.
Ancestral healing is becoming more well known, and necessary, and this collection of essays are best used as markers to find that healing, rather than doing the work on your own.
~review by Lisa Mc Sherry
Edited by Trevor Greenfield
Moon Books, 2020
pp. 352, $22.50