Ancestral energy lives in the stars above us, the stones beneath us. Their memory gathers in oceans, rivers and seas. It hums its silent wisdom within the body of every tree.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The German Guy

A photo by Thamizhpparithi Maari

Nine years ago, I began a journey of meditation and trance to learn how to connect to the ancestral bloodstream within me. I believe in genetic memory, in the echoes of the patterns of living we have built generation after generation. I believe you can tap into that and touch it, for I have.
Everything in life is ebb and flow. In and out, up and down, left and right, forwards and backwards. The most helpful tool in connecting to this energy for me was the labyrinth, followed closely by the spiral shell of the ammonite. Knowledge lives at the dark center of each. In order to attain it you have to go in. And you have to go furthest into the darkness in order to get out. That pattern is also true in life; in order to get past something, you have to push through it.
Though it took me years to perfect the application of the meditation, the form of it is simple enough. Meditate on the blood, flowing through your veins. Trace it’s route through your body as you breathe in and out. Sink into that rhythm. Follow the blood back to your parents’ blood, to their parents’ blood, which is where yours came from. Watch as the bloodstream divides. Follow the branches of blood backwards like waves, rippling away from shore, into the depths of generations. Each layer multiplies. Known or unknown, there are always two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, and so on. Lose yourself in the black inky depths of the ancestral ocean. And open. This blood meditation is one way to connect to the taproot of our ancestors in this physical lifetime.
When I was better practiced at my meditation, I received a visual that stayed with me long after. I saw a man with dark curly hair, stepping out of a large forest with four or five handmade brooms slung over his shoulders. He was wearing a simple shirt and loose pants with boots on his feet, all of an indeterminate time period. He was leaning against a rough lumber fence but he looked at me, looked me in the eye. The sensation that only happens in the physical world was there. He was looking at me.
I began to meditate at night on that image, willing it to me, calling him back. I opened myself up to receive any message he had to share, but what I got were more brief flashes of images that meant nothing to me. Eventually, I started to feel a presence in the house that brought with it the sweet smell of pipe smoke. In my gut, I knew it was him. Whether he was an actual ancestor, or a metaphor for that cultural bloodline, I didn’t know, but I started paying attention.
I thought that the male spirit I was entertaining was Polish or German, both of which I know are heritages that live in my blood. Later, when he spoke in my journeys, it was German, and we found ourselves at an impasse. I had sung enough songs in German to recognize a few words but that was the extent of my knowledge. Several of my houseguests eventually experienced physical contact with the spirit, accompanied by the smell of sweet pipe smoke and I used to joke that he must have thought I was dense, requiring him to seek help in getting my attention. We all called him The German Guy.
On a whim, at a wedding rehearsal party, I asked my mom what she knew about our German heritage. And my mom told me stories about her bootlegging German grandfather, where his house was when they went to visit him and what it looked like. She even remembered the song he used to sing to the sound of his windchimes:
                        How dry I am, how wet I’ll be,
                        If I don’t find, the bathroom key.*
In the back of my head, I heard the German Guy sigh. I don’t know who he is or if he, in that shape, means anything to my lineage. But I liken him to the visual representation of my German heritage, to all the Germans standing in my ancestral tree. To the known families of Art, Arth, Schmeelk, and Pils. To honor them, I leave an offering I saw in one of my meditations, of dark German ale with chunks of hard bread softening in the bottom and I thank them for their lives. And I thank them for mine.

*A brief web search led me to the information that this was a common folk rendition that was a runaway from a small lyric of the Irving Berlin song “The Near Future”, written in 1919, during Prohibition.

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