“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
– African Proverb
As a young boy, I remember participating in community experiences through things like church, sports, music, and the boy scouts. I always enjoyed the feeling of being in community and the way it helped to foster a sense of belonging, a sense of safety, and a sense of fun. Throughout my 20’s and 30’s I continued to experience community interactions but often the intentions were rooted more in having fun, food, and drink than in any type of conscious intentional healing.
That all changed for me back in 2016, when I began my journey into the world of shamanism with my elder, Ann Sousa. II was introduced to the experience of divination and ritual through my elder and during our initial meeting, she mentioned to me that during the summer she would be hosting and facilitating a community ritual that was called Ancestralization. Ancestralization rituals are practiced in the Dagara tradition of West-African shamanism and are practiced as a way to help the deceased make their way from the earthly realm to the spirit world. It also helps the living in letting go of attachments that might keep souls bound to this earth plane. According to Malidome Some, “The Dagara believe that the deceased can become powerful allies once they are fully “at home” in the ancestral realm.”
Back then, I had no idea what community ritual experiences could be like and I remember feeling scared, stuck, and ashamed of being with a group of absolute strangers to potentially grieve for people that I never even met. I remember my elder gently nudging and encouraging me to attend and I can honestly say that it was the best decision I could have ever made in my journey of self-discovery.
Coming together as a community allowed for me to feel seen, witnessed and supported by others who in some way shape or form, could mirror for me aspects of myself that I needed to see and feel so that I could heal pieces of my life that I had not allowed myself to fully feel. As my elder always says, you have to feel it to heal it. Furthermore, the rituals we all shared and connected with together allowed us to walk in alliance with the energy of the elements and the way they help us come into alignment with ourselves and with others.
This ancestralization ritual was the first of many community rituals that I would get a chance to experience and eventually facilitate for others through various group sound healing ceremonies. As a guide, it is always fascinating for me to witness the way that Spirit moves through each person that gathers in community and weaves together a comforting and supportive blanket that allows each person to be in their process without any blame, shame or guilt. Even if those feelings are part of the healing, they are often feelings and energy that become transmuted through the experience of group ritual and group healing, in a way that leaves a participant feeling more peace, clarity, and empowerment in their lives.
There are certain aspects of community healing that creates a framework for people to experience powerful and profound changes in life.
First, the presence of a community allows others to hold space for themselves and each other, which makes it easier for someone to lessen the burden of the weight they may be carrying from their wounds, traumas and dramas.
Second, there is an energy present in community healing which allows the individuals to experience connection in a way that resets their own thoughts, ideas, and ultimately choices so that they can shift from feeling powerless to feeling empowered and connected to their spiritual alchemy.
Finally, community healing connects each of us to a way of being that existed before modernity. In a village, when one person is sick, the entire community comes together to help the individual heal. In many ways, we have lost and become disconnected from these traditions which still hold wisdom for us that transcends time and technology.
As we move forward through these times of transition and transformation, I believe that community healing will be an instrumental part in how each of us heals from the experiences we have lived through in these last 16 months. It brings me joy to see more and more communities coming together during these times to help individuals transcend their pain and ultimately reconnect with their path and their purpose in a way that is healthy, functional, and sustainable.
In closing, I encourage readers to connect with community and see for themselves the gift and the grace that community healing has to offer as a way to help you move through life in alignment and in balance with your highest good.