Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Who Are My Ancestors?

Ancestor worship is a strange idea for most Westerners. It can be the most challenging part of Ifa for us. In Ifa, our ancestors are one of the three pillars we stand on. The other two are the eternal energies of the Universe (known as Orisa) and our Ori (our guide for destiny).

Ifa has a very strict definition of ancestor. An ancestor is a blood relative who has died. No exceptions. I am adopted. After my grandfather’s death I had a crisis. The idea that he was not my ancestor made me very uncomfortable.

I had a very deep ancestor connection one day.  I felt my grandparents’ presence. It created a powerful connection to my own ancestors. As I listened they explained the Ifa rules to me. I can communicate with, remember and honour my grandparents. They are still interested in my wellbeing. My grandparents have work to do with their own blood-lines. My ancestors are there to play that role for me. I didn’t fully understand, but, I was willing to accept what they were telling me.

I felt powerful emotions coming from my ancestors. I still get goose-bumps when I think about it. It is as if all of my ancestors reached out to my adoptive family with love and gratitude. It was beautiful and overwhelming. I realized that adoption has a profound effect on the ancestral realm. It is as if all the blood-lines have been linked through that love and gratitude.

My ancestors are grateful for my family having taken me in, loved me and supported me. My family and I share a piece of each others' journeys.  Adoptees have a unique perspective on another family. I wonder what that means as new generations of the families are born.

The experience has allowed me to make peace with my dead. I now have a more open connection to my ancestors. They have become an important source of spiritual support in my life.

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Monday, September 12, 2011

How Well Are You Getting Older?

I turned fifty recently. Even when you plan on living to a hundred and five this is middle age. I have been pondering what fifty means to me and here are a few of the thoughts.

Fifty is a critical age where fashion or hairstyles more suited to twenty-somethings look completely ridiculous. I’ve said goodbye to short shorts, speedos and magazine hair forever.

On a more serious note, it has occurred to me over the last several years that my body now demands a gentler and more consistent approach to exercise. I love to run and have had to really pull back on both my speed and time in order to prevent injuries. It is a matter of wanting to run for the rest of my life. Pushing hard now will severely limit the likelihood of that. I have also opted to replace my gym workouts with daily yoga. My body is feeling better than it has in a very long time and I’ve noticed that it seems to be staying relatively tight and fit looking without pushing weights around. I have enough lean muscle mass so building muscle is not a priority, but, flexibility and a healthy spine are.

The last thing I’ve been thinking about is attitude. I’m not upset by birthdays. Even this milestone is just fine. I think it’s important to be realistic about what we can and can’t accomplish given our age, experience, fitness level etc. The real key to staying healthy and happy is to keep growing and moving at whatever age. Beware getting stuck in a rut or wanting things to stay exactly as they are. I will continue to explore my world, myself and all of the wonderful things that they both have to offer until my journey here is done. How can anyone do anything else?

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

To Tribe or not to Tribe?

It seems you can’t walk through a bookstore without running into a hundred titles that deal with tribal culture. I’d like to share some thoughts on why that might be true.

In our busy lives we are looking for a smaller group of like minded people to spend time with. We are looking for a deeper kind of adult connection that fosters support and growth while allowing us to contribute. The essence of our attraction to tribal cultures is our desire for community.

Much of the literature exploring this topic idealizes traditional societies. I don’t really have an issue with that. After all, we’re not trying to run off to the jungle to hunt and gather. Well, at least I’m not. We’re trying to learn from the good things that these societies create and to incorporate them in a new way into our modern lives.

The tribe has a deep understanding of its need for every member. Tribes accept diversity within the context of shared values. The flip side of this coin is that the individual learns to understand their part in the larger whole and begins to consider the tribe as they make decisions about their own lives. The individual needs the tribe and is willing to contribute in their unique way.

We are not born into our tribes. We come together based on shared values. What better reason to form a  tribe than to be with people who are like you? Experiencing the way in which our core values play out in other people’s lives gives us a broader understanding of what’s important to us. Understanding and accepting others keeps the tribe open to growth. Your tribe must support growth and development and not force you to conform to a rigid ideal.

The best tribes give us safety, acceptance and challenge us to be better people. They allow us to see the larger picture and to understand our role in it. Do you have a strong circle of close friends? Perhaps you are already a member of a tribe.

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