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Rituals for Personal and Family Healing
Table of Contents
About The Book
A practical guide to connecting with your ancestors for personal, family, and cultural healing
• Provides exercises and rituals to help you initiate contact with your ancestors, find ancestral guides, and assist the dead who are not yet at peace
• Explains how to safely engage in lineage repair work by connecting with your more ancient ancestors before relating with the recently deceased
• Explores how your ancestors can help you transform intergenerational legacies of pain and abuse and reclaim the positive spirit of the family
Everyone has loving and wise ancestors they can learn to invoke for support and healing. Coming into relationship with your ancestors empowers you to transform negative family patterns into blessings and encourages good health, self-esteem, clarity of purpose, and better relationships with your living relatives.
Offering a practical guide to understanding and navigating relationships with the spirits of those who have passed, Daniel Foor, Ph.D., details how to relate safely and effectively with your ancestors for personal, family, and cultural healing. He provides exercises and rituals, grounded in ancient wisdom traditions, to help you initiate contact with your ancestors, find supportive ancestral guides, cultivate forgiveness and gratitude, harmonize your bloodlines, and assist the dead who are not yet at peace. He explains how to safely engage in lineage repair work by connecting with your more ancient ancestors before relating with the recently deceased. He shows how, by working with spiritually vibrant ancestors, individuals and families can understand and transform intergenerational patterns of pain and abuse and reclaim the full blessings and gifts of their bloodlines. Ancestral repair work can also catalyze healing breakthroughs among living family members and help children and future generations to live free from ancestral burdens. The author provides detailed instructions for ways to honor the ancestors of a place, address dream visits from the dead, and work with ancestor shrines and altars. The author offers guidance on preparing for death, funeral rites, handling the body after death, and joining the ancestors. He also explains how ancestor work can help us to transform problems such as racism, sexism, homophobia, and religious persecution.
By learning the fundamentals of ancestor reverence and ritual, you will discover how to draw on the wisdom of supportive ancestral guides, heal family troubles, maintain connections with beloved family after their death, and better understand the complex and interconnected relationship between the living and the dead.
My Personal Journey with the Ancestors
Nothing about my early life explains my affinity for ancestors. Born in suburban Ohio to a loving middle-class family, I was not raised with a strong awareness of my ancestors or any framework for relating with the dead. Unlike some naturally gifted psychics or ancestor mediums, I did not talk with dead people or see spirits as a young person, nor did I experience profound trauma that cracked me open to other realities. I have also never been struck by lightning, never had a neardeath experience, and never endured a truly life-threatening illness. I do know that long hours playing in the nearby woods and creeks as a boy helped me to feel at home in the natural world and that reading fantasy novels as a young person established a foundation from which to explore ritual, shamanism, and other ways of seeing the world.
My first conscious contact with the unseen happened when, as a teenager, I put into practice basic ritual instructions from an introductory book on shamanism. Through my early experiments I made contact with nonphysical beings or spirits that I experienced as quite real. My immersion in popular pagan culture and academic study of world religions, combined with the guidance of my first spiritual teachers, provided a critical context and grounding for my early experiences with ritual and spirit work.
One pivotal day of training in 1999 introduced me to relating directly with family ancestors. By this point I had been practicing shamanic journeywork, ritual magic, and other types of trance work for about four years. During the training I made contact with a spiritually vibrant and historically distant European ancestor from my paternal grandfather’s lineage. I was invited to ask this supportive ancestor if there were any among the recently deceased that could use healing. Immediately I knew I would visit with my grandfather. When I was seven years old, my father’s father died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. His death rippled through the family, particularly affecting my grandmother and his sons. As a child I was shielded from much of this impact, and before this moment I had never sought contact with my grandfather as an ancestor nor considered in any real way the possible effects of his death on the family. Fifteen years after his passing, the ancestral guides and I contacted my Grandpa Foor in spirit and determined that he was still in a state of relative confusion. He appeared to me as fragmented. The guides repaired this damage and helped him to understand who we were and what had happened. He then shared a kind message for my grandmother, which I later conveyed to her while standing together at his grave. The ritual repair ended as the guides and I helped my grandfather start to assume his place among our loving and supportive ancestors.
I have led more than one hundred trainings for over a thousand people and have spoken with hundreds of others through talks, monthly circles, and personal sessions. By holding a supportive space for others to directly contact their loving ancestors, I have witnessed profound transformations that also convey benefit to relationships with living family of all ages. Three key lessons from guiding others through the work year after year are that
1. the work is about relationship,
2. everyone has loving ancestors, and
3. relating with our ancestors is entirely normal.
First, getting to know and love our ancestors requires a deep and sustained reckoning with our family, our culture of origin, and our selves. This process takes place over years, not months, and certainly not in one weekend training. The ancestors are not a “subject” we can master or complete; the point is building a relationship with the collective spirit of family in ways that help us grow into wise and loving human beings. Although there may be natural stages or cycles to the work, we are never done with the ancestors until we join them after our death, Ancestor work is both deeply personal and inherently relational.
Second, we all have family ancestors who lived, loved, and worshipped in intimate relationship with the Earth, and getting to know our ancestors can heal and empower people of any ethnic or cultural background, including adoptees. You don’t need to have some kind of spiritual calling from the ancestors themselves; it’s fine just to go knock on their door. We are all unique and blessed, and no one is more special, more human, or more deserving with respect to the topic of ancestors.
Finally, I’ve realized that contrary to fear and popular misconceptions about the unseen worlds, working with the ancestors may actually make you less--rather than more--strange. In my case, although supporting others in talking with dead people is one part of my day job, I am a down-to-earth, straightforward Midwesterner who loves and respects his family, his country (mostly), and his cultural roots. I pay taxes, read the news, and vote. I sometimes eat fast food, like going to the movies, and struggle to make it to the gym. I’m also a Westerneducated psychotherapist and doctor of psychology with a deep love and respect for the physical sciences. Sometimes people assume that having a relationship with the ancestors requires quitting your job, doing pilgrimages to Egypt or Peru, eating magic mushrooms, or adopting some kind of new, weird identity. To the contrary, ancestor work has functioned in my life as an antidote to spiritual snobbery by helping me to get grounded in this reality and to value my family and myself. I have witnessed the work have similar effects in the lives of those who take it to heart. There is nothing unusual or out of the ordinary about having a healthy, ongoing relationship with our ancestors; in fact, it’s one of the most inherently human things we could possibly do.
- Publisher: Bear & Company (July 11, 2017)
- Length: 336 pages
- ISBN13: 9781591432692
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Raves and Reviews
“Ancestor reverence is one of the pillars of Yoruba traditional religion, and it is my pleasure to recommend this book on ancestral healing by my student (omo awo), Daniel Foor (Ifabo wale). Through numerous visits to our home in Nigeria, I have overseen his initiations to Ifa, Orisa, and the ancestral medium society (Egungun), and I know him to be a person of good character. I urge everyone to benefit from his guidance on ancestral reconnection. Remain blessed.”
– Oluwo Falolu Adesanya Awoyade, Ode Remo, Ogun State, Nigeria
“Daniel Foor invites us on a journey to meet our ancestors, those we know about, those we have never imagined, and those who might like to talk with us. He draws not only on personal experience but also on the shared and tested relational practices of indigenous communities in Africa, North America, and elsewhere. This powerful book arises from years of work with groups and individuals so that as we read it we can benefit not only from the teaching but also from practical exercises. Ancestral Medicine offers a host of possibilities for our further reflection and practice.”
– Graham Harvey, author of Animism: Respecting the Living World
“In traditional societies, ancestors are venerated and considered sources of wisdom even after they have left their physical bodies. In contemporary times, few children are conversant with their cultural and ethnic heritage, much less the lives, occupations, and even the names of those family members who passed on only a few decades earlier. In his remarkable book, Daniel Foor provides an antidote for this regrettable situation. Foor’s text and exercises provide numerous ways to make one’s progenitors a living presence--one that is inspirational, instructive, and, for many readers, transformative for themselves and their families.”
– Stanley Krippner, Ph.D., coauthor of Personal Mythology
“As a priest of the Yoruba indigenous system known as Orisa (or, at times, Ifa in the form of its sacred oral literature), honoring and remembering one’s ancestors is both essential and transformative. Daniel Foor offers a multicultural perspective and practice that helps diverse individuals on their journey of spirit to grasp the liberating and empowering foundations of ancestral work.”
– Nathan Lugo (Chief Aikulola Iwindara), Orisa Priest
“The illusion of isolation and its associated fear, fury, and shame of abandonment is the core wound in the heart of humanity. The cure is in turning our love and attention to the stream we rode here on. We are boats of flesh on a river of blood born to heal the ancestors, to be healed by them, and to know, reveal, and grow our souls . . . thus elevating the stream. This river is the salve of the soul, and Daniel Foor clearly knows this. His book Ancestral Medicine is soul medicine for all. The world needs it. Life applauds it. Read, enjoy, heal, and become!”
– Orion Foxwood, author of The Candle and the Crossroads
“Daniel Foor illuminates a field that has too long been neglected in mainstream American culture: acknowledgment of the role our ancestors play in the lives of all of us. Blending his many years of study with a variety of spiritual teachers with meaningful practices he has developed for contemporary people, Foor offers a compendium for recognizing, working with, and honoring connections with our human ancestors--and in the process healing relationships with our family and ourselves. This book is profound, important, and deeply engrossing.”
– Trebbe Johnson, author of The World Is a Waiting Lover
“This book is a real treasure and, the gods be praised, is highly practical. Crafted in thoroughness, wisdom, and deep sensitivity, Ancestral Medicine gives us keys to appreciating, coming to terms with, and even healing our ancestral wounds. More than all this, Daniel Foor calls us to carry the best of our past into the present and future, and to fully live in place and time in Earth-honoring and heart-open ways.”
– C. Michael Smith, Ph.D., author of Jung and Shamanism in Dialogue
“Daniel combines extensive practical experience with intellectual rigor in his ancestral work, providing one of the best approaches out there today. I recommend his work to anyone interested in truly knowing themselves and gaining solid ground on their own spiritual path.”
– Grant H. Potts, Ph.D., Lodge Master of Scarlet Woman Lodge, Ordo Templi Orientis
“The author’s culturally inclusive approach adds much to this work, and his passion, clarity, and compassion make Ancestral Medicine invaluable to anyone interested in exploring personal healing, ancestor connections, remediation of family relationships, or healing and reclamation of one’s culture of origin.”
– Bekki Shining Bearheart, LMT, cofounder of the Church of Earth Healing
“Ancestral Medicine is a work of great honesty and integrity. Clear instructions guide the reader in cultivating healthy and reciprocal relationships with ancestors of blood, place, and spiritual lineage. The approach builds on lineage gifts and strengths to heal ancestral rifts and burdens across the generations.”
– Elise Dirlam Ching and Kaleo Ching, authors of The Creative Art of Living, Dying, and Renewal
"As with any relationship -- from your relationship to yourself to those with family members and society at large -- connections take time to grow. So it is with our ancestral relationships. Ancestral Medicine can guide you in forming and keeping those relationships vibrant over the course of years, so that as we turn to our ancestors in times of need and joy, they will know they are lovingly remembered."
– Susan Starr, Spiral Nature Magazine
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