Greetings from Mama Bali,
The little island in the Java Sea, part of the Indian Ocean. Bali has a rich history and like many when I arrived here I new I had found home, home for at least the next chapter of my life following my divorce of my partner of 21 years and without my 2 boys now grow and flown the coup I too was free to go where my Spirit called me. Now I have been here for almost 5 years… Wow how time flies when you are having fun! I feel more at home here now than ever.
As much as the near perfect tropical weather, access to organic food, abundance of all my favorite tropical fruits- jack fruit, mangosteen, coconuts, salak, mangoes and dragon fruits, it is the people friends and soul family and strong cultural family ties which keeps me returning year after year.
Somehow just being in the vibration of the Balinese people always praying and coming together for ceremony is healing and they are so allowing and forgiving of us Boleh- foreigners. Recently i witnessed a mass cremation in my village. For months people of the entire village have been gathering and working together to complete the elaborate offerings that needed to be made to send their dead off to Nirvanas great resting place.
The families gathered dressed beautifully with offerings and prayers and music.
Great bulls and Garudas brightly decorated were proudly paraded through the streets and lead to the graveyard where they would be opened, the bones of their ancestors would be placed inside. The ancestors were dug up from the Earth, their bones carefully washed and wrapped in a ceremonial white cloth and banana leaf and were then lowered inside the bull in preparation for the burning. For Balinese, Community, family relations, and ceremony is everything!
Yesterday when the mysterious Gamalan rang out poly rhythmic grooves in perfect synchronization, it touched every part of my Being so deeply I could not hold back my tears. I have deep past life memories of living together in tribes. Of course I do not want to over glamorize tribal life as it is also wrought with many limitations for the individual, but having been so separated from my family, my ancestors, my children in this lifetime, I felt the deep longing to “belong” to tribe. It is a huge part of our Human Evolution.
I also experienced this in Aboriginal communities in Australia where people didn’t even introduce themselves first, they would say, my father is so and so, my mother is so and so and my people are so and so and I am “me” in relation to all of them. Take “me” away from all that and I have no reason to exist. Which is what has happened to most indigenous people and why the excessive addictions to alcohol and drugs. In Aboriginal it is called Kanyini- right relationship with land, family, Ancestors, and Source
Aboriginal Children learning their family dances and songs with their Grandmothers Arnhem Land 2010
In Africa it was the same thing, a culture built upon Ancestral worship. Realizing this connection at a very early age, I knew I was standing on the shoulders of those who came before me and I wanted to know as much about them as possible. In 1994 my distant African Ancestors guided me to journey to Africa with my family to heal the wound in my bloodline. That journey was incredible and gifted me with such precious wisdom I am forever grateful to both my Ancestral lineage and to the Ancestors of Africa who have informed me and continue to guide me. It was one of my African Teachers who told me, it is time for the Westerners to connect with their Ancestors. They could not have done to the Earth what we have done if we had listened to their wisdom.
Me teaching African Dance at Bali Spirit Festival 2016
After the ceremony yesterday and the deep grief I tapped into because I belong to a culture, well devoid of culture. My life is steeped in rituals and ceremonies that I create because it brings community together and 5Elements Dance originated as a way to bring people together to dance together, heal together, meditate and connect as part of my longing for community. In Yoga it is called our Sangha or Spiritual Family and I always include the Ancestors.
Testimonial after a 5Elements Dance Activation™ from a woman who healed her ankle after invoking her Grandfather and then dancing and allowing the energy to move.
"Incredibly, I experienced --ANOTHER-- profound healing in my right ankle last night at 5Elements Dance™ with the amazing Malaika MaVeena Darville. I was running as fast as I used to as a child around and around the center altar. Just as I recognized the presence of my grandfather--whom I had called into the circle along with my father and all fathers and grandfathers with Malaka’s invokation—I felt my Grandfather running with me, lifting my feet (he too had been a great sprinter in his youth), I felt the outer edge of my right foot (which had been habitually pulling away from the bone, despite all kinds of stretching and healing) shift out and solidly down, hitting the earth with the rest of my foot for the first time in over a year. After the session there was no more pain! Salaam, Waha, Amen, Aho! Peace and love y'all!"
- Ann Humphreys Oct 2013 Sacred Circularities.
Lets face it the last remaining ceremonies we have in Western Society is the wedding which is also dying out and has become a ceremony for a good photo shoot, its all about money the dress and the ring and getting plastered on alcohol to say “now that was a good wedding”!
Where as in Indigenous Cultures its about the marriage of the ancestors of two bloodlines, its about the family and the future children and continuation of that bloodline. There is a connection to the unseen realms, which so much of our Western World is devoid of and people are craving for.
After witnessing the final burning of the bodies and all the offerings going up in smoke, I was touched to my core as my Great Guru's words on the Law of Impermanence “This too shall pass” Rang out loud and clear in my head.
I know it is all so perfect and my life is perfect the way it is and I choose to experience this as much as I choose in past lives to experience tribe and living intimately with family and tribe. So I thought I do live in community, the same community I have been coming to for the past 5 years of musical gypsies, artists, creative eccentrics, yoga teachers and ceremonial leaders and I wouldn’t have it any other way! I love each person’s uniqueness and what they bring to the whole!!
So I initiated our community dinner to be dedicated to our Ancestors and for each of us to share something about one patrilineal and one matrilineal ancestor. What unfolded was so beautiful and so connecting as each person shared the trials, tribulations and stories of their Grandparents, parents and a small window into their genealogy.
For me I felt so much love, and compassion as tears flowed, hearts opened and the pain that was still there was released and we laughed together in a rare moment of true authentic relating!! More of this is needed to bring our world back into harmony and balance.
I also witnessed a few AH-HAA moments happening when people spoke about their grandparents relationships and different aspects of the story revealed patterns that were repeating in their own lives or highlighted the need to go make peace with either someone who had passed on or is still alive and to make the effort to make that peace before they leave.
From my own personal journey being born of Jamaican and British Ancestry and my family carrying a lot of shame about our potential black ancestry, it was this that sent me on a trajectory path to discover the truth about my ancestors. And I did!!
When I started teaching African Dance I would include a pray to our Ancestors at the beginning and it was fascinating how many Australians would rather say they come from the moon than say they are of British decent. In fact there is so much hatred towards the British or Pommies as they are derogatorily referred to I found it hilarious as that’s 90% where they come from.. I realize that the connection to forgiving and respecting our Ancestors is key to Self Love and Self Love is key to loving the Earth and All That Is!!
So I continue to bring people together, to bring light to the shadows and skeletons in our family closets, so that we may really move beyond even the limitations of what we have inherited and choose from a place of clarity, respect, and peace as we collectively move forward taking the best of Tribal Societies and the best of Individualistic Societies to create a new way of living, dancing and Being in harmony with the Earth and all of Creation.
So the invitation for you is to look in the mirror and honor the refection of your Ancestors you see looking back at you. Take a deep breath knowing we are all chain breakers and as we find courage to break through repetitive patterns that no longer serve us which have been held in our very DNA and past on for generations as we break conditioning, out dated beliefs about ourselves, life or how we must behave and create real freedom and sovereignty, while acknowledging the many gifts passed on to us from our facial features, body type to our spiritual, artistic and intellectual vocation all has roots back to our Ancestors.
“if you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body.”
- Thich Nhat Hanh
Before I dance or do sessions or any ceremonies I invoke my Ancestors. However I also always add, …”those who love me unconditionally and are here to support my highest good and the highest good of others” as there are plenty of our Ancestors who had terrible histories and lives and may possibly not moves onto the higher realms instead are stuck in the bardo as wandering ghosts and can latch onto the living to try to fulfill their own incomplete life.
I have worked with these Ancestors to help send them on, but if I am doing healing work or holding space for others I only invoke the ones of the highest vibrations as that is what they are for! They are there to help us, to guide us and their realm of communication is our intuition, our dreams and our deepest knowing. Learn to listen to the subtle vibrations and sometimes not so subtle communications when we are seeking clarity on small things like what should I do today to great things like is this in my highest interest to be with this partner?
Let your breath be thy chariot- the only difference between the living and the dead is YOU ARE BREATHING! You are alive!!
So I pray and give thanks to all our relations, to all our Ancestors and I pray you have the strength to carry on until the vibration of Love sweeps over this Earth like a mighty Tsunami, making war a legacy of our past, making poverty superfluous, and sexual crimes against woman and children bombastic!
As part of your healing work sometimes you need to clear and release Ancestral traumas. Something you can do to connect with your Ancestors which is as old as humanity itself, make a small shrine or alter in your home dedicated to all those who have come before you, passed away and left you with their legacy- whether good or bad. Light a candle and place any objects that represent them from photos, objects or jewelry passed on to you or anything symbolic of your roots. For example if you have Scottish roots find a tartan cloth to place your objects on, If you have German Roots find something that is a typical to Germany and place that o your alter Be creative and make it beautiful! Add flowers and incense for beauty and offerings of food that you may later enjoy with your living friends and family! Sit comfortably and quietly and connect to your breath. Make a prayer or invocation to connect with those who have passed if they wish to share any messages with you now for your highest good. Then just wait and see what happens! Magic is only one breath away.
And for all those women reading this as Shakti energy is awakening globally I hope you are becoming aware of the immense power you have inside your womb.
Listen to the wisdom of your Grandmothers and Ancestors from here and for men, thank the womb that carried you and birthed you and connect with your Ancestors through your hara.
5Elements Dance Facilitators Training 2017
Giving thanks to the Ancestors of Bali at sunrise.
Aho Mitakuye Oyasin (a phrase borrowed from the Lakota Tribe which means All are related, or to All My Relations)