Two years ago, I attended a Family Constellation workshop. The founder of this alternative form of counseling, Bert Hellinger, also called constellations "movements of the soul." The main idea: Each family has a group energy field, or soul, where patterns of behavior and experience repeat over and over throughout generations. Out of love and loyalty, a family member now living will sometimes take on the painful fate of someone from a prior generation who left the family -- or whom it demeans, has forgotten or rejected as shameful, or talks about as a static figure stuck in past events.
L'Incompiuta (Community Suit) - The Unfinished One by Maria Barbone
I Am One Who
has not been allowed to be mother till the end.
I Am One Who
is willing to change this fate for future generations.
I Am One Who
wants to change this history.
I Am One Who
has worked to break this painful chain for all the women of my family.
I Am Free
from my name and my past.
live in the Light and I Am safe. Life loves me.
Often the current family member has no conscious awareness that their current actions or stunted life situation reflect those of a dishonored ancestor. Or they may dread the ancestor's fate but in some doomed way repeat it. The aim of the work is to heal the family field, through allowing its stuck places to flow again, as expressed through the intuitive, involuntary movements of Constellation participants who have opened themselves to its presence.
As a mother of two, I was scared by what seemed to be our doomed fate. Generation after generation, all the women on my mother's side either lost a child to death or died themselves, leaving their children motherless. I also bear the name of one of these tragic ancestors, my great grandmother.
In the Constellations workshop, when it was my turn, I told the group these facts. Then I chose people to represent these women and children and the facilitator placed them in relation to each other in ways that felt right. There was a silence, to encourage them to "tune in to the resonance of the family field."
Afterwards I thought that the people I chose to represent my family just played themselves, moving and reacting as they would have in the situation, not as the members of my family actually would have. But at the time, I had a revealing and liberating experience. Standing in front of these strangers playing my family, all of a sudden I thought: "Why should this be a pattern? Why should it keep repeating itself? There are some clear flaws in it."
I told myself, "Stop thinking it's your turn, or your sister's." I realized that the real burden had been having heard those stories of losses so many times -- they were told and told in the family. I felt that,
pattern or not
, it was time to turn my back to all that suffering, as
I physically did in the Constellation
, and to set myself free from that past which did belong to me,
but is not my own life, especially from now onwards.
Some days after the workshop I made the SoulCollage® card at the top of this article, which turned out to express the essence of the revealing experience I had had with the constellation, and the card spoke to me clearly. Its title in my mother tongue, Italian, is
, which, in music also, means "the uncompleted, the unfinished, the unaccomplished": these women couldn't finish their "job" as mothers. I also had in mind Schubert's Unfinished Symphony No. 8, in which a pattern keeps repeating itself -- and above all, the fact that Schubert died before he could finish it.
The shadow side of the card was healed by at least two subsequent joyous cards I made in the following months:
I acknowledged so clearly, once and for all, that I could stop feeling guilty to be alive and happy. I have stopped thinking only with grief of my ancestors; the stories told generation after generation have stopped haunting me. SoulCollage® has helped me to visualize this new awareness and to come to terms with my feelings toward family members. Through these cards, I began to celebrate joy and life. Many more joyful SoulCollage® cards were then to come.
I don't know if I have been able really to break this sad chain of mourning by acknowledging and honoring its existence, which was the Constellation's aim. I do know for sure that
is a powerful card in my deck. And I am deeply grateful to SoulCollage®, which gave me the tools to bring it to light and to heal my own sorrow and fear left by memories of my family's past.
became a SoulCollage® Facilitator in 2015 in Italy, with Mariabruna Sirabella. She has focused on facilitating SoulCollage® workshops for women in a small community and is planning to bring SoulCollage® to local schools and associations for children. She volunteers for SoulCollage Inc., helping to translate materials into Italian. You can reach Maria at