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In the silent whispers of nature and the touch of the earth lies an ancestral trauma healing path that transcends traditional therapy. This journey into healing is intricate, woven deeply into existence. It calls for an exploration beyond conventional methods.

I was first introduced to this healing in the wilderness of my childhood. Before I understood the depths of ancestral trauma, nature was my sanctuary. It intuitively drew me toward the earth’s healing energies where my ancestors walked. Since then, I’ve sought sacred grounds far and wide, all in search of land’s ancient wisdom.

Through personal exploration and meditation on these ancestral lands, I discovered that the earth offers profound healing for generational grief and loss. This blog post extends an invitation to women on a similar quest for self-healing. With examples from my life, it offers insights from my journey and the transformative power of connecting with natural surroundings. It’s a concise guide for those curious about ancestral healing and the profound emotional renewal the land can provide.

Getting Started

No matter where in the world you live, the area holds deep history, shaped by settlers and the spread of Christianity. This history can play a big part in who you are today. Learning about how people divided the land for different uses, like mining, farms, or parks, isn’t just about facts. It’s a way to understand your past and start healing from any pain you may carry.

Why This History Matters For Trauma Survivors

When settlers came, they changed the land. Knowing this story can align you to the place you live and to the people who lived here before. From there, you can connect the dots of your lineage to learn your role in these changes. This can offer new perspectives on the interpretation of your larger identity, which can impact your emotions surrounding generational trauma. Below are 6 strategies for getting started.

1. Confront Denial And Acknowledge the Past 

black and white trees a metaphor for blurry vision of trauma

Healing generational trauma starts with understanding that the trauma didn’t start or end with you. This can empower you with clarity and context for your experiences. By coming out of denial, you move to recognizing that your feelings and reactions are valid responses to difficult circumstances. Anger and grief are normal and may last for years. However, they do not need to last an entire lifetime. That’s not healed trauma, that’s stuck trauma. You want to reach the acceptance stage and be free, and therefore end the cycle.

Another benefit of confronting denial is gaining awareness. Sometimes a survivor blames themselves for the trauma. This is a form of denial because it gives the false sense of control over the experience. Wanting to control the terror and pain from the trauma is natural. However, it’s not effective. 

To heal, an acknowledgment of the facts must be made. From there, uncomfortable feelings must be felt  that connected to the actual cause of the trauma. This is often the first step towards healing, and can be done with a mental health professional as a guide.

Since the main path of family dysfunction and generational trauma is by the practice of denial, it’s important to address the pattern. Otherwise old hurts, including shame, incest, and abuse, are typically passed down from one generation to the next.

historical cemetery to symbolize ancestral healing

These can have a powerful negative affect in ways you might not even realize. It’s essentially carrying a terrible, ugly weight that isn’t yours. This kind of pain can make you feel isolated, but it’s not something you have to carry by yourself.

Try It

Use the history of the land to acknowledge past injustices and traumas, including those involving your ancestors or the indigenous populations. This acknowledgment is a powerful step in healing, allowing for recognition of the pain, resilience, and survival through generations. Research the settlement story of the land, and match any relevant details to your family history. With your journal in hand, lean into what you find and ask yourself these questions:

  • How do the settlement stories of my ancestors influence my current perceptions of home and belonging? 
  • In what ways have the challenges and triumphs of my ancestors’ experiences been passed down through generations? 
  • What lessons can I learn from these settlement stories that contribute to my healing journey? 

2. Discovering Roots and Connections 

Understanding the struggles and changes of the past can increase empathy and compassion for others and yourself. These pave the way for forgiveness, and make the task of healing generational trauma more manageable. 

British Isles hillwalking to represent author's family lines

In addition, these stories of the past can show you your strength. By accepting your lineage as another link in the chain of people who struggled through hard times, you can shift the narrative from negative to positive.

Try It

Research the history of the land where you live, focusing on its original inhabitants, settlements, and natural features. This can help you feel a deeper connection to your surroundings and understand the historical context of your family’s experiences. Recognizing these roots can bring a sense of belonging and continuity that helps heal generational wounds.

Questions For Reflection:

  • How does understanding the history of the land and its original inhabitants impact my sense of connection to my surroundings? 
  • In what ways can acknowledging the universal human struggle for land and power contribute to a acceptance and belonging that might heal generational wounds? 
  • What steps can I take to honor the history of the land and its original inhabitants as part of my healing journey?

author standing in the doorway contemplating healing generational trauma

3. Creating Rituals and Ceremonies

People have participated in ceremony and ritual since time immemorial. Unfortunately, many settlement stories involve breaking of culture. Specifically, holistic healing practices of ancient ancestors that naturally worked to resolve generational trauma have been lost. However, reclaiming these rituals and ceremonies is possible.

Start by following your intuition. What cultural and spiritual practices seems to call out to you. Don’t get caught up in pinning an exact ritual to an exact ancestor. Lead with your heart.

Then, take a survey of your immediate living space. What areas of your home do you feel drawn to heal?Listen to the answer, and trust what you hear. When engaged with this practice, you’re recruiting your entire lineage, not just parents or grandparents, to repair the damage. Even if you’re not aware of these family members personally, help with healing exists.  

meditate indoors and create altars to engage in ancestral trauma healing

This knowledge not only aids in personal healing but also in breaking cycles of trauma, because it gives you the insight needed to make conscious changes for yourself and future generations.

 Try It 

Develop personal or communal rituals that honor your history in connection with the ancestral spirits of the land. This could involve gratitude altars with native species or cultural ties to plants. Or holding ceremonies to acknowledge the land’s past. Maybe simply lighting candles and reflecting on your generational connection to the people and the place. Such practices can be powerful acts of healing and reclaiming.

4. Overcome Victim Mindset-Share Stories and Histories

Settlement stories can give you hope and courage pull you out of the natural defense to feel like a victim. Trauma makes a person feel powerless and vulnerable, because the experience stripped away your sense of control. This mindset isn’t a sign of weakness, but a common response to intense pain and fear. Acknowledging this without judgment is key to healing, emphasizing that such feelings are normal reactions to extraordinary situations. 

collage of trauma words abuse fear and ptsd show courage to confront the denial

Understanding the impact of trauma in this way fosters compassion and supports recovery by validating survivors’ experiences. It allows for a shift towards empowerment, helping you reclaim your sense of strength and resilience. It moves you from seeing yourself as a victim to recognizing their courage as a survivor.

Try It

Share the stories and histories you learn about the land with safe family, friends, and community members. Storytelling can be a healing practice, creating shared understanding and empathy. It can help keep the history alive and honor those who came before.

cemetery to acknowledge ancestors near and far

The rationale is the acceptance that, like it or not, we are physically and psychically bound to our lineage. Ancient cultures understood this, and acted with great focus to repair any damage. By finding the light and love of supportive, healed ancestors, it reciprocally heals you. Therefore, providing strength and inspiration for overcoming current challenges. Keep a journal to show up for yourself and your feelings that come up.

5. Engaging with Nature And The Land 

Nature has the ability and willingness to heal, if you are open to receive. How do I know this? As a young child I was the recipient of such healing.

My family has been in the place where I live for three generations. From the British Isles, they brought fishing, military, and homemaking roots. They also brought incest, neglect, and physical abuse.

One way I experienced nature’s healing for my generational trauma has been camping in the NJ Pine Barrens. As with most families, my childhood wasn’t all bad or all good. Sadly, trauma distorts thinking and like brainwashing, tricks you into thinking it was all bad. With that distorted mindset, it becomes easier to see how the dysfunction gets passed down.

Though it was difficult to reclaim joyful and positive perceptions of my parents, nature has given me this precious gift. Today, I feel a deep bond with my family line, including my parents and the land we shared. This connection feels bigger than just my own life story.

tall beautiful tree canopies help shift energy and heal

Try It

What moments of your childhood can you recall where nature has supported you? How can you open up a small space to allow forgiveness and shifting in? 

Spend time in nature on the land where you live, whether it’s hiking, walking along rivers, or simply sitting under a tree. Nature has profound healing powers and can help you find peace, perspective, and a sense of grounding. It’s a way to physically and emotionally connect with the land and its history.

Ask Yourself:

  • How does my personal connection with nature reflect the healing needs of my generational lineage?
  • What lessons can I learn from the natural world about transformation and renewal that can be applied to healing generational trauma?

6. Participating in Land-Based Practices

You might wonder if there’s a deeper purpose or reason for being rooted in a particular place, especially through the lens of healing generational trauma. Take time to sit quietly with this question, you may find that your location—both physical and emotional—can be a powerful ally in the journey of self-healing. Land-based practices are an excellent way to do this. 

Maybe you already garden or meditate outdoors or while hiking. You can reinforce this practice by setting an intention to heal your generational trauma. Simply focusing your attention on the desire to heal, then asking for support from the land, will get you started. 

use the power of nature and forests to heal generational trauma

By engaging in land-based practices, you are opening yourself to new ways of thinking and feeling, which is a powerful step toward self-healing.

For trauma survivors, learning to trust yourself is a crucial step toward healing. This quiet time of reflection can unveil intuitive insights, guiding you toward understanding your place in the world and path through it. Trusting yourself allows you to start rewriting your story, moving beyond the trauma of childhood. 

Try It

Engage in traditional land-based practices that resonate with the history of your area or your ancestry, such as gardening, foraging, or conservation work. These activities can foster a sense of stewardship and connection to both the land and the generations before you who lived and worked on the same land.

Start an Ancestral Garden: Research and plant a garden using crops and methods native to your ancestors or the area’s original inhabitants. This act of gardening can revive and honor traditional agricultural practices, creating a living link to your heritage.

land based practices like gardening can heal

Practice Sustainable Foraging: Learn about and forage for local, native plants used by your ancestors or the land’s original peoples for food, medicine, and rituals. Always forage responsibly, with respect for the land and its ecosystems, to maintain a harmonious relationship with nature.

Final Thoughts On Ancestral Trauma Healing

Using the land to heal generational trauma not only heals you, it pays it forward for future generations. This empowering and courageous decision transcends mere forgiveness. It puts an end to the damaging negative effects that trauma’s insidiousness causes.

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