This story offers a stunning example of the complexities of ancestral obligations and ties to any unresolved loss or trauma, and the extent to which an individual’s difficult, personal battle with an illness, can become a cure on the soul level for ancient familial wounds.
R. was a shamanic practitioner and a dear friend. She had been suffering from the complications of a long encounter with metastasized breast cancer. During this intense illness she began to rely on shamanic practice and spirit allies, for insight and vision around treatments and other necessary decisions. When her prognosis worsened, R. asked my partner and I to look in on her ancestry. She suspected that there was a lot of ancestral ‘baggage’ as she put it, and wanted to address it before she could no longer help with our work, or benefit from hearing the results. We all held high hopes that this intensified work might alleviate R.s prognosis of impending death.
We discovered she was part of a long line of unresolved incidents, dating back, with her combined ancestry in Scotland, to the time of Robert the Bruce. He was “King of the Scots, from 1306 until his death in 1329. Robert was one of the most famous warriors of his generation, and eventually led Scotland during the Wars of Scottish Independence against England. He fought successfully during his reign to regain Scotland’s place as an independent nation and is today remembered in Scotland as a national hero.” R.’s relations were tied to him in his quest for independence, and later to Scottish lords in allegiance with Bonny Prince Charlie, the alleged Stuart heir to the English throne in the 1700’s.
Her parents, both of Scottish ancestry, joined us in our intention to help acknowledge and clear the influence of these past events, some quite horrifying, from this time of Scottish clan wars and battles with the invading English. We were in the unusual position of having R.s elderly parents tp provide information along with our otherworldly investigations. They were able to add genealogical information and credibility, as we turned up and relayed stories. It was in some ways as though we were all together, back those times of bloody rebellion as solemn witnesses. R.’s parents were often silently incredulous at this unusual process, but clearly involved and scrupulous about the historic details. We traveled one by one through each unresolved death or deed, resolving and acknowledging the sacrifices and even misdeeds of war, with rituals and prayers. R. was obviously enlivened by this work, and at times seemed not to be ill at all.
One spirit meeting in particular stood out. My partner and I were each journeying, with R. in the room. We both encountered a sorceress in her line, who even gave us her name, and said firmly that ‘We should offer R. the hemlock!’ When I researched the origins of hemlock as a poison, and the Hemlock Society, I realized it was about choice. Her ancestor was saying R. needed to be able to choose when she would leave and how. her conscious choice was especially important for all who had gone before her: the unexpected deaths by drowning, violent deaths in battles, or from starvation and imprisonment. It was clearly R.’s prerogative to refuse certain medicines and procedures, and to leave when she felt it was time to go. I think this unexpected ancestral support relaxed her tremendously. She was in great pain sometimes, and at others completely pain free and lucid, even excited about the progress we were making. Her medication had taken away her voice and she could only whisper responses. Often when we were there she was lively, engaged and anxious to work on the line of souls before her even though her medications had reduced her voice to a whisper.
One night R.s husband, a loving, but very rational engineer, who supported her visionary inquiry, but really had no belief in it, heard a drum beating in her room in the middle of the night. He thought it odd because she had been so fatigued and it was very late. He assumed maybe R. was using a drum, which she had in the room. When he opened the door, he saw her sound asleep. The sound of the drum was clearly emanating from the center of her body. He later told us ‘we had made a believer out of him that night’. We had no knowledge of this working from afar, but shamanic healing is not tied to linear time, and we were working constantly to unravel the threads she had asked us to address.
Soon after, R. called us one evening from the hospital, where she had been moved for treatment and observation. She asked us to please ‘ramp up’ the protection around her, because she was on the basement floor with the morgue, and was being visited by spirits who did not know they were no longer in their bodies. They were not in any way threatening, but were taxing her energy and attention, as they wandered about without restraint. This is not the first time I had encountered, or heard about spirits walking the halls of hospitals, or care facilities, where people die frequently without conscious awareness of their transition. Night shift nurses at hospitals, and other attendants are very familiar with this activity as a common occurrence, though they may only talk about it with colleagues.
Our dear R. did pass eventually, peacefully at home, after completing the ancestral healing work, and on her own final say so to remove medications and breathing assistance. What we did not know at the time, was that she and the spirits were very intentionally clearing the way for another family member to leave. We were only marginally aware that R.’s father had emphysema, and was also unwell, because R. had been the family’s main focus. Her father seemed so hearty whenever we met him. To all of our amazement, he died within twenty-four hours of R. When we asked our spirit allies about this strange double transition, they responded that R. had been enlisted in clearing the way, with our combined help, to allow a clear passage for her father and any descendants who would follow in time.