Harvesting the Evolutionary Gifts of All Our Ancestors
Adapted by Constance Washburn
Opening – Welcome
The intention of this ritual practice is to reconnect us with Deep Time, our ancestors and the long lineage of evolution of life on this planet .
This practice uses our imaginations to take us back in time through our evolutionary history. On our journey we gather the gifts of our ancestors so needed today and to pass on to future generations.
We will do this practice either sitting or standing, whatever is comfortable for you. It will take about 10 minutes.
We are going to go on an inner journey together. Close your eyes or lower your gaze so we can go inward into our imaginations. Take a few breaths and settle into the place in your body that feels most grounded. .
We open with a poem by Rilke:
We are one generation through thousands of years,
mothers and fathers shaped by children to come,
who, in their turn, will overtake them.
We are endlessly offered into life:
all time is ours.
We are the Earth perceiving itself.
Bring your awareness to your body, the weight of your bones and your flesh as they sink into the floor or chair. You are the Earth aware of itself.
You are made up of elements of the earth that have been recycled for over 4.5 billion years. All matter, atoms, molecules of hydrogen, carbon, iron of which we are made were once in trees, rocks, oceans, dinosaurs, or coral reefs. Earth gave birth to us and all life; Earth is our oldest ancestor. We co-evolved together with all our siblings of other species. We are all related.
Now take a moment to feel the pulse at in your wrist……. the ability to pump fluids around your body was evolved in the first multi-celled creatures in the primordial ocean….
And the heart , the big muscle of your heart. That heart was evolved by your ancestor great grandmother worm. Give thanks to the gifts of those ancestors who developed the many miraculous systems that make our bodies work.
Now place your hands on the back of your neck and move your head and spine a little back and forth. Notice the ingenious design of your backbone. It is solid enough to protect your spinal chord, yet flexible enough for you to move. This spine was designed by grandfather fish so he could swim through the ancient oceans.
Move your hands up to your head and feel under your hand the hard skull which protects our amazing brains. Our reptilian brain came from our ancestor who crawled onto dry land survived because of the fight, flight or freeze response they evolved. Our limbic brain is a gift from our mammalian ancestors and it allows deep pleasure and a primal sense of connection to family and tribe….
Brings hands down in front of your face wonder at all that it can do…. It is the only thing like it in the whole universe. These hand evolved from life in the ocean to our primate ancestors who lived in trees so they could grab the branches. Put your thumb and forefinger together and that space is just the right size for a branch that will hold your weight.
Now imagine climbing down out of the trees as we evolved into our early ancestors who stood on two feet. In your imagination look around. You are now standing with a very small band of early humans from whom we are all descended. There is an unbroken lineage of grandmothers and grandfathers whose lives have made your life possible.
This small band set out into the unknown without the protection of fur, fangs or claws; they went out naked to explore the world…. But they had each other, their friends and family, and these amazingly creative minds and agile hands.
Imagine now walking out across the planet with these ancestors and use your arms and hands to gather the gifts they evolved in order to survive. What did it take for these first human ancestors to travel across Africa and explore and settle in most every corner of the earth? They crossed deserts, oceans, mountains, deep forests; they foraged for food and hunted game. They withstand floods and storms, earthquakes and fires, extreme heat and cold ….
What were the gifts that helped them survive that we need now? Gather the gifts of courage, curiosity, strength of limb, keenness of eyes.
The skills of the hunter and the healer.
Gifts of leadership and caution,
Some of this band stayed in one place and learned to live in community in communion with the natural world. .
What gifts did they pass on?
Understanding and compassion,
caretaking of the young and the sick…..endurance.
Knowledge of plant and animal medicine,
Gifts of storytelling, dancing and music-making so important for building community.
Gather the gifts of our ancestors who were the makers….
of those who made tools and wove cloth,….
love of beauty and creativity of the art makers,
Gather the gifts of the Wisdom keepers, the shamans, the elders, the midwives, historians…. Insight, connection with Spirit, right relationship with all beings,
Settling down –
Now we are coming into the age when many of our ancestors began to settle down in one place….. Plant crops, domesticate animals and accumulate surpluses….build large communities, walls and temples and forts … create trade routes and travel again.
All our ancestors survived through the rise and fall of many civilizations and many empires – through times of war and times of peace, through times of plenty and times of famine.
Walk with these ancestors…. some were landless and some controlled the land…Some the conquerors and some the conquered. Some were enslaved and some the slave holders.
Gather the gifts they had to survive
grow food, raise animals, and organize communities
The gift of strategic thinking and planning…
The ability to use their heart, minds, and hands to nurture, heal as well as
the ability to fight and die to protect your family or tribe or to survive.
The ability to bear great sorrow and loss,
The gift of laughter and forgiveness
Now we are coming into the industrial era –
the age of the machine …… For some of our ancestors it was a time of great discoveries and the building of wealth….. for others is was a time of misery toiling in factories or being forced off ancestral lands…. What were the gifts from all our ancestors? …those who just survived and those who thrived.…through great wars and pandemics.
Gather the gifts of your ancestors who fought to protect the land and their sacred ways as well as those who fought for those in power
the knowledge of how greed and fear can warp the mind,
the ability to love in the face of evil….
…. Hard work, the gifts of the dreamers, adventurers,
gifts of patience, stability and steadfastness.
Gather the gifts of our more recent ancestors, our great grandparents and grandparents and parents. ,,,Some traveled great distances leaving homes and family to start new lives in new lands. Some stayed on the lands of their ancestors and some were forced off their homelands……Some lived in bounty and others in poverty.
Gather the gifts that allowed them all to carry on their line so you could be here today……
gifts of responsibility, fortitude, resolve, creativity, daring, cunning, deep knowing of plants and animals, and spirit ways. ingenuity, and morality……
Now step into your own life and your body and spirit which carry the gifts of your ancestors today.
Take a moment to harvest the gifts of your own life,
your resilience, your intelligence and creativity,
your determination and your deep desire for the healing of our world.
Rest for a moment with your hands before you holding all the gifts you gathered.
Like our first ancestors stood looking out into the unknown, we today face a very uncertain future together. We face wars, extinction of species, climate disruption, oppression, and diseases. We also face opportunities for great change and evolution, liberation, unity, and love.
We don’t know what lies ahead but we face it together and we go bearing the gifts of our ancestors to pass on to future generations.
Imagine in front of you your children or your neighbors children, then imagine in front of them the grandchildren, and their children, and their children. Visualize all the gifts of our ancestors pouring out of your hands into the future generations of descendants who will carry them forward through deep time.
Put your hands together and bow to the ancestors and bow the future generations pulling us forward through time. Bow to the other human beings on your screen who share this world with you today..
Ring bell to end.