Issue 28, June 2016
Barbara Morgan: Editorial
Wolfgang Malworm: Tribute to Bert Hellinger
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
- Susan Pogue: In Conversation with Eve-Marie Elkin
- Barbara Morgan: In Conversation with Anutosh Foo
- Diana Claire Douglas: In Conversation with Sneh Victoria Schnabel
- Stephan Hausner: In Conversation with Thomas Hübl
HISTORY OF NATIONS, CULTURES & RELIGIONS
- Zaquie Meredith: Brazil
- Christa Renolder: Humming in Constellations
- Franziska Pretsch: Music & Systemic Constellations - The power of hearing your own voice
- Elena Veselago: Constellations for Cats and Cats in Constellations
- Yildiz Sethi: Family Constellations, Neuroscience and Epigenetics
- Ann Hughes & Tanya Mena: Empowering Results from Combining Family Constellations with SoulCollage®
- Richard Pantlin: British ghosts and orphan culture: Reflections on a traditional Family Constellations workshop
- Leslie Nipps: Freedom vs. Containment
- Alemka Dauskardt: Abortion - A 'Pro-Soul' Approach
CONSTELLATIONS & RITUALS
- David Presswell: Case Studies from Workshops run by Judith Hemming
- Anngwyn St Just: Gertrude of Iraq: At Paradigm's Edge Vol. III of the Trauma and the Human Condition Series
- Anngwyn St Just: Svetlana Alexievich: Lightning on the Horizon Vol. IV of the Trauma and the Human Condition Series
REPORTS ON CONFERENCES & INTENSIVES
- Diana Claire Douglas: Report on Integral European Conference 2016 in Siófok, Hungary
- Max Dauskardt: News from ISCA: Update from the Chairman
Issue 28, June 2016
CONSTELLATIONS & RITUALS
Case Studies from Workshops led by Judith Hemming & reported by David Presswell
A year later, Ciaran could still recall the experience of those next few moments: “The effect on my body was that my entire body changed when that man went and stood behind me. And other people in the room noticed it too.”
Judith certainly did: “Constellation work is difficult to put into words because it’s so hard to find ones that accurately describe the energetic shifts we see. I saw Ciaran standing with this man behind him – somebody he’d never met, pretending to be a father he’d never met – and it was as if he was being injected with something. It was awesome. There was a lump in everybody’s throat as they watched.”
That ‘something’ was, for Judith, Life – the force we receive specifically and only from our genetic parents:
“What I understand about this work as I’ve learned it from Bert Hellinger is that we take life from somewhere far off, but that it comes to us through our family history and in particular through our biological parents. And if our access to either or both of those parents is blocked, then so too is the life that comes through them. What we were doing with Ciaran was to plug him back into the life-force, through his father. And I saw that. I felt quite heart-stopped. It was a tangible thing.”
Here she sees a vital distinction between the ‘entangled’ parent (caught up in their own family patterns and personal history) and the ‘essential’ parent (whose heart-felt wish is to see their own off-spring thrive in life).
“The entangled parent in me may be jealous and spiteful or unavailable and wish my child was different from how they are; whereas the essence of me as a mother is that I want more than anything in the world to make life and have it thrive. And there is always some gap between the two. But if a child only sees the entangled parent they have every reason to be neurotic, and if they just see the essential parent they’re not well-guarded enough to live their life. So it’s a delicate business. Ciaran’s view was either a father loves you and is a good father, or he is a rejecting and bad father. It was his essential father I invited into the constellation.”
Ciaran himself is clear that it was this experience that fuelled a quest to find out more about his family. He returned to Ireland to visit locations and meet with other family members. He contacted his half-sister and developed a much fuller picture of what had happened in his mother’s life, including a visit to the children’s home in which he had spent his first few months. He also tracked down his father’s family and watched as they came out of church one Sunday and they ‘half-recognised’ him. A first cousin later told him he was his father’s ‘living image’, another that he was even more like his father’s brother.
“This was very profound for me,” says Ciaran now, “to look like somebody else.”
The meeting he most wanted was with his father, but it proved not to be the one he had hoped for: his father refused to meet him and the closest Ciaran got to seeing him was at a distance in the street:
“I’d found the man who is my father and it was not romantic – not the guy I’d wanted wanted to be my father. He doesn’t work, he lives on a rough council estate and it was all a bit grim, to put it mildly. And I went to see Judith and she helped me look at the situation in a completely different way. She asked me to look beyond his economic and social situation and she asked me to look at his ability to sustain a relationship with his wife over a long period of time, his ability to have a relationship with his children, to have relationships with his grandchildren. And she invited me to go deep inside me and to see how it was for me emotionally when I got rid of those extraneous, material circumstances.”
With this greater respect for his birth father, Ciaran came to see the same potential for relationships within himself. He made further connections with family members and these in turn dispelled the notion he ‘fell out of the sky’. He felt more grounded, an impression his friends confirmed – “I’m less of the lost child,” he says now. “It’s not something intellectual, it’s more that I feel stronger than I did 30 months ago. Making these connections with real family has been life-changing.”
Reflections on Abortion
Beyond morality, religious views and issues of women’s rights, abortion falls like a heavy stone on the soft tissue of our soul.
It rips apart relationships, damaging not only the love and passion, which started a new life, but also our ability to ever fully connect in this way again. A deep hole appears instead, where the promise of new life once was. This hole, filled only with black emptiness, has the potential to swallow us whole, to seep joy out of our lives, to darken the light and erase the taste of all the good things of life. Yes, it threatens our very existence. And the worst of it is that we don’t even care.
With aborted pregnancy, a part of us dies too. The leftover part can’t wait to follow suit.
The terminated life leaves a permanent scar on our soul – the wound that doesn’t heal. There are no ameliorating circumstances. There is no absolution, no atonement, which appeases the Gods. And there is no going back. This is one decision, which we cannot change or turn back from. It’s final, deadly final in its consequences. There are no explanations or justifications, which would make it easier. The only thing we are left with is this black hole in our life, of our own choosing and without an exit sign.
If and when we really allow ourselves to look at it, to acknowledge that it is there, which often comes after decades of trying to avert our gaze from it, we are faced with overwhelming grief, which feels like it will swallow us whole. And if we agree to it, if we say yes to this unimaginable grief and surrender ourselves to pain without defence; if we open the flood gates of guilt and the heavy load of personal responsibility; if we are consciously and willingly prepared to give up our life for the one taken – then sometimes by the miracle of grace, we are blessed with a new chance, but only if we truly surrender to the heaviness of guilt, pain, and responsibility, to the full consequences of the decision we made for us, our relationship, and most importantly – for the child.
Through constellation work we can witness the real effect of abortion on us. This is generally something which we are often not consciously aware of, but one which nevertheless wreaks havoc on our lives and on the lives of those nearest and dearest to us, like our other, living children, for example.
Both, women and men, often unconsciously continue to punish themselves for their decision by ‘deadening’ themselves and limiting their lives in one way or another. They can sacrifice their relationship, the possibility of connection with other partners in the future or their work success. Many other good things in life are put on to the imaginary ‘altar to abortion’ which we create in our souls. The sad fact, which many find out the hard way, is that there is no lessening of the burden, even after decades of such sacrifice. What people in these situations find out through constellation work is that the sacrifice they devote their lives to does not help, does not allow them to move on and does not change anything for the child either.
Feelings of guilt are a poor substitute for opening ourselves up to the real guilt we can and must do something about. Feeling pity for ourselves or the child does not help either. Neither do self-blame or directing blame and anger towards our partner. Hoping for forgiveness and compassion is just another dead road, another expectation put on those who we have already taken everything from. We certainly cannot and must not expect anything from the child who has already paid the ultimate price.
If there are no ameliorating circumstances which can soften the blow of our decision; if there is no running away from responsibility and guilt, if there is no absolution, no atonement possible which would even things out, what then is left for us, these childless parents who pretend they can take matters of life and death into their own hands, thinking they can decide what the right and wrong circumstances for life are, as if this was in their power? Is there anything left but suffering in this black hole of our own making?
All that remains is that which we could not do at the time of making the decision: to surrender to forces bigger than us, understanding that we are in their hands, that we do not have the power to decide, nor even the right to find solace in eternal suffering. We need to surrender to these powers of Life and Death, which have worked and continue to work through us in this particular way, without the wish, desire or fantasy that anything could have been different to what it was. To these powers we have to surrender also our grief, even our guilt and personal responsibility eventually.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Systemic Constellation Work meets Mystical Principles
Conversation between Stephan Hausner and Thomas Hübl
Thomas: In mysticism we say that there are natural principles that we find in both the universe and in life and that how we create our own lives also depends upon these transpersonal principles.
What I know from conversations with you and others is that there are similar principles in family constellations. What do you consider are the most important principles that family constellations work is based upon?
Stephan: This is a question with many layers and I can only answer it from my background in holistic medicine. I am sure that there are many different points of view and if you were to ask other colleagues you would get a range of different answers.
At my first workshop with Bert Hellinger, I understood that symptoms or illnesses cannot be reduced purely to a personal phenomenon. If we work with clients, who suffer from health issues, very often we only find a solution when we look at their symptoms or illnesses within a greater context e.g. the family or even beyond. When we set up constellations within the fields of psychosomatic or complementary medicine, we often add a representative for the symptoms or illness to the client’s family constellation. What we then often notice is that this representative is somehow needed to provide a kind of balancing effect on the family system. We see how symptoms and illnesses are related, not just to the patient who is carrying them, but also to other family members, or to transgenerational aspects and traumas that have occurred in this family. The constellation shows the interconnectedness between symptoms and illnesses, and reveals that it is not only individuals that have a longing for wholeness and integrity, but also that family systems have a memory and are looking for balance and wholeness by including and withholding issues from the past that are unresolved.
By including illness and symptoms in systemic constellation work we have seen that the representatives of illness are often connected to previously excluded issues i.e. excluded in the sense that they are unresolved. This happens because at the moment that they occurred there were not enough resources to deal with them. It seems that there is an underlying principle, which determines that what is unresolved does not disappear and instead remains alive throughout the generations. Whether we want to or not we need to learn how to deal with these issues, because even if we are not conscious of them, the more we try to hold them at a distance the more they find a way to express themselves in our daily life, either through symptoms and illnesses or through recurrent patterns that we cannot resist.
The benefit of a constellation is that through the representatives’ unexplainable connectedness, these unconscious issues become visible and the client has the possibility to relate to them once again. Through this process of becoming aware of these unresolved issues and their effects, there is a chance to integrate them, which in turn leads to a new balance within the system. With this broader consciousness, there may be less suffering and more freedom and flexibility for growth, potential and evolution.
One principle in constellations is to bring these so far excluded aspects to the surface and by opening ourselves up for a constellation workshop, we usually experience an expansion. Our view on our life and living situation widens and in addition we cannot help but acknowledge that we are connected to many more things than we might ever have thought before. From my point of view this leads us to another principle of constellation work, because the next step is to relate to these unresolved aspects and integrate them i.e. to consciously identify with them in order not to be unconsciously entangled with them. This movement of integration of the past is an active reaching-out movement, acknowledging that parents and family history, especially the unresolved and unintegrated aspects, are alive within us and searching for expression. Mostly we tend to avoid these identities but experience shows that instead of fearing and fighting them, through giving them a place in our heart and even in our whole body, these aspects can evolve. As a result we experience more freedom and peace and also have the opportunity to transform.
Thomas: That is a beautiful description of the way mysticism also looks at this process. From the mystical perspective we would say that energy that cannot be processed or consciously experienced leaves a residue. As a result this residue of energy, will continually try to be integrated and therefore will create recurring patterns in order to surface and be released. When we become aware of it, we re-identify with these subconscious or unconscious aspects and the energy has an opportunity to be experienced so that it is then free to continue its development. I think this is one of the basic elements of looking at the creation and how reality is created and you described the process very beautifully.