What is Family Constellation?

We spin an intricate web of connection and entanglement throughout our life from birth to death, interweaving through our bonds with our family, our friendships and our intimate relationships. Have you ever wondered why you do the things you do? Why you feel drawn to a particular path? Or perhaps why your intimate relationships and friendships turn out the way in which they do? Think about your life so far... What springs to mind? Your family and work? Your friends and relationships? Perhaps your successes and disappointments. Can you see a familiar pattern or rhythm appearing before you as you look?

I am constantly amazed at the things that are forgotten or suppressed within a family. Within every family there are secrets that are never spoken of. There are crimes and violence that have been perpetrated both within and outside of the family. All these things are swept under the carpet, but the unseen and unspoken have a habit of making themselves heard further down the line.

 

The memories of those that have gone before you are in your blood, the very souls are within your soul and family constellation and ancestral patterning is a way of accessing the fabric of this family soul as it weaves its way through and beyond you.

We are not isolated, we are connected. The fabric of our soul is linked with that of our family. It is woven within the hearts of our mother, our father, our siblings and our ancestors. When we think only in terms of ourselves as individuals, we lose sight of who we really are and our sense of self and place. To truly be connected with who you are and to stand strong and independently we must first look to where we come from. Should we not get on with our family, if we have had a difficult childhood or suffered trauma within the family, a natural instinct can be to disconnect and disengage, denying our link to all that pains us  and seeking freedom and identity via another path. In doing this we risk disengaging from life itself. As we deny our place within our family, we often sabotage our place within our emotional relationships and working lives. If we cut out part of our family, say the masculine line or the feminine line, we are cutting out and denying part of our self. The likelihood also is that the more we try to separate ourselves from a particular individual, fate or entanglement within the family the closer we wrap the vines of the entanglement around our very soul. The memories of our ancestors run through our blood.

In the same way that stars form patterns called constellations, family members and how they interact with each other create behavioural patterns that can be traced through the ancestral lines. Family constellation work, established by Bert Hellinger is based on the principle of the inter-connectedness of all things so that each person within a family, going back generation upon generation, has an equal place of belonging within that family.

When someone in the family is excluded, or there is an event or entanglement that is not seen or acknowledged by the rest, then this has an effect on the family as a whole. Patterns, events and burdens from the past are carried down and are repeated through generations, leaving an emotional, physical and spiritual imprint on the individual as they follow the fates of those who have gone before. The events of previous generations that can impact in the present are many and far reaching. Situations of war, violent behaviour or experience of violence, murder, early deaths, loss of children, abortion, adoption, addictions, missing parents and siblings, and previous relationships all leave an imprint on the family if left unseen and unacknowledged. Family constellations and ancestral patterns work provides an invaluable opportunity to explore these patterns and bring to light that which needs to be seen. I work with both individuals  and groups listening to the ancestors and helping individuals bring peace and balance to their family field, and in turn, to allow them to truly take their own place within their family. Our perception of ‘ancestors’ is often that they are far-off figures, in the distance and unreachable. Into each intimate and personal relationship you embark on, you carry with you the energy and entanglements of your mother and father and the masculine and feminine lines of your ancestors.

As we connect with others, as we fall in love, we weave the web of the family lines and the ancestors with us. We take all that we are into our relationships as do those that we love. The patterns within our love lives can be confusingly complicated when viewed from an individual and personal perspective but when we can step back and view the ancestral web we can perhaps see a way forward.

We tend to find our own and other peoples’ relationship dynamics particularly fascinating. If a friend asked you to describe your relationship history, or for details about your current relationship with your partner or spouse, what would you say? Maybe you would discuss the traits and foibles of your current partner or possibly express regret or relief at the demise of a previous relationship. Perhaps you would talk about any children you might have. Would you think about the parental and familial influences on your relationship? Would you think about your own previous relationships as having an impact?
When we make an emotional bond to somebody through a committed relationship, an engagement or a marriage we create a bond that cannot be broken, this bond is even stronger when a couple has a child together. When a relationship ends, for whatever reason, any unfinished business or  unacknowledged happenings from the relationship are carried forward to any subsequent  relationships, and very often the events or happenings will repeat themselves.

Patterns and entanglements from previous relationships can take many forms, but some of the most common involve the experience of a string of short or long term monogamous relationships that end within a similar length of time. Some find themselves unable to commit within a relationship, perhaps when a certain point in the relationship is reached, the urge to end the connection becomes  irresistible. Oftentimes the repetitive occurrence of betrayal, lack of commitment, or dominating partners will flag up entanglements within the family system. Other indicators include an inability to ‘let go’ of emotions connected to previous partners, this can be highlighted and further complicated by difficulty in communication within any subsequent relationships. Experiencing difficulty communicating and connecting with your children can be devastating and isolating for both the parent and the child. Sometimes it can feel as though the harder we try, the harder we push the more difficult the relationship becomes. How would you feel if I said that this experience often indicates a tie to a previous relationship where the children are unconsciously drawn to either the previous partner or the ancestors? In this instance your connection to your children (as well as your new partner) is ‘blocked’ by the link to the past where you and in some cases your off-spring are ‘seeing’ them rather than those around you. They can be representing that which you do not want to see or simply cannot see. This in turn flows forward and has an effect on their own relationship patterns and choices when they come of age. And so the web continues.

For me it is like taking an intuitive walk through the family tree. Stopping and looking for those missing souls who are not seen, who have no voice and bearing witness to their life stories in order that they be acknowledged and seen by the rest of the family, in order that they are given their place. If they can be seen, be heard and be acknowledged then all of those entangled within the family become free. When the dead are not at peace, are not respected and given their place then they have an influence over the living as if they were still alive themselves. The work is about bearing witness to the past and all that has been. With family constellation work you weave with the very fabric of the soul. The soul from a child just created and not destined for the world and the soul of a ninety year old who has seen and fought, lived and loved, both belong equally to the family field and each have a place. The souls that have been excluded and the souls that have been cherished both have an equal place. Life is precious and of value. All have a right to be seen, to take their place, their story told. Bear witness with me.

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