Updated: Jan 30, 2021
I have been called a 'Witch' many times in my life and told I would have been burnt alive not so long ago for talking so openly of my love of and use of herbal remedies and 'alternative' therapies. Many of my female ancestors will most certainly have been called a Witch and been persecuted and murdered as a result. For as long as I recall I have been afraid of the dark. As a child I would cry uncontrollably at the sound of cats calling outside my bedroom at night time, believing they were babies crying. For years I have woken up almost every night in a state of panic about 15 minutes after falling asleep, and sometimes later in the night, without any concept of why or what the panic was related to. When I was married I had nightmare after nightmare about drowning and being held under water by the man who was my husband and men who were my friends. I have fluctuated between overly trusting to not trusting at all and I have ‘clung’ to relationships for fear of living alone. More recently as I’ve grown more into sound therapies and using vocal harmonies as a therapeutic tool I have been so fearful of being heard before each class that I would go into total ‘melt-down’, even though I have received amazing and humbling feedback, I would continually berate myself as ‘useless’ / ‘rubbish’ and feel energetically drained for days afterwards.
Of course I'm not ruling out some aspects from childhood, but that doesn’t account for the abject fears I have described above. When I began looking at ancestral healing it led me to the ‘Burning Times’ and ‘Witch Hunts’ where millions of women across Europe were persecuted, tortured and murdered as ‘Witches’ and ‘devil worshipers’ for 300 years.
These were women like me and many of my friends and soul sisters who have a deep love and connection to the Earth, have knowledge of healing plants and herbal medicines, work with various forms of energy healing and in what is now described as ‘alternative’ / ‘complementary’ therapies. The women who were killed during the ‘Burning Times’ were wise women and elders, midwives and intuitive healers who used their heart driven intention and wisdom of the Earth gifted plant medicines to help others. Thousands of wise women were taken from their homes during the night, were tortured into false confessions of ‘devil worship’ and into ‘naming’ others as witches within their families and communities.
Cali White’s research into these atrocities has shown that our “epigenetic understanding of trans-generational trauma carried down through potentially 20 generations can help us to realise just how our ancestors’ experiences and trauma can still affect us three hundred years later” (White, 2020).
‘The Medicine Spoon Memorial’ was birthed by wise-woman Caren Thompson in 2020 and was introduced to me by Andrea Jackson during her daily Spiritdance® Women’s Circle. Caren “committed to a year-long inner journey exploring the inherited trauma of the Burning Times. Caren’s project is unique; she uses the symbol of a spoon printed on to pieces of recycled fabric. Each piece of fabric has the name of a wise woman (witch) who was killed attached to it. These are then sent out to whoever requests one for decoration. Caren’s intention is to “individually honour and remember women who names lay forgotten in trial records and inviting others to join her in this creative project of remembrance”. (https://www.madeonthemoors.co.uk/medicine-spoon-memorial-1)
I received my first Medicine Spoon with the name of Scottish woman Christiane Craig, from Turriff, Aberdeen. Christiane was killed in 1627. Whilst decorating the cloth and honouring her journey I felt wounds surfacing in me that I could not explain any other way. They were visceral and raw and I felt them rise from deep within my core, seeming to sense the trauma Christiane went through and how she died. Similar wounds arose from within as I honoured wise-women Issobell Durie of Dalkeith, Edinburgh. Issobell was accused of being ‘demonic’ by making a ‘demonic pact’ of ‘anti-baptism’. Issobell was killed in 1632.
With a circle of friends we each honoured the names of 10 more wise-women called Kathrin and decorated their medicine spoons and I received the names of Kathrin Blak and Kathrin Huntar:
Kathrin Blak was from Fyfe, There were no case notes related to her and yet a total of nine male ‘commissioners’ were involved in her case and a ‘confession’ was obtained! Kathrin was killed in 1662. Kathrin Huntar was from Dalkeith, Edinburgh and was recorded as an ‘indweller’ with a socio-economic status of ‘middling’. Kathrin Huntar was characterised as ‘demonic’ and allegedly carried a ‘demonic mark on her shoulder’ which could have been a birthmark or mole. It was noted that she made a ‘demonic pact’ of ‘anti-baptism’. Thirteen men were involved in her case and her notes on characterisation state that “she seems not to have been tried due to being 'grossely ignorant'”. Kathrin Huntar was killed in 1661.
Caren’s work has opened a door not just for me but for hundreds of women to understand and release deeply embedded traumas from their genetic bloodline. I believe her work is inspirational and ground-breaking and I will continue with the names of more wise-women when the names of the Welsh, Irish and English names are released later in 2021.
In 2020 I was privileged to be one of forty women to the Oh My Goddess Retreat© organised by Andrea Jackson. Andrea's intention was to both individually and collectively honour the names of forty Scottish Issobells’ from the Medicine Spoon Memorial remembrance project. Caren was able to attend for the afternoon as we decorated the medicine spoons of our Issobell’s and to witness where we planted a wild rosebush for each woman as a symbol of their rising and our love and respect for their wisdom and courage during a long and traumatic period or tyranny and fear during the middle ages. I have also been able to release many of these ancestral wounds through being part of a growing number of women in circle at Andrea’s daily Spiritdance©. Dancing is a way to help the body to release and free itself from all manner of bindings and is also very good exercise.
To deepen my personal healing around the ‘Burning Times’ I attended a workshop called ‘Healing the Sister Wound’ by Sarah Nicholson of ‘ExploreDiscover’. Sarah uses carefully guided meditations and creative techniques to help you to uncover any deep seated wounds that may be held in your cellular memory. Thanks to Sarah’s talent I was able to tune into a number of issues related to trusting other women. The rough sketches that followed each meditation depicted me as both victim and perpetrator of ‘back-stabbing’. This is an important issue to recognise when we delve into ancestral healing as it is likely that we carry the trauma from both sides. Acknowledging both aspects is a vital part of the process in order to create balance in our lives. The meditations and subsequent sketches also brought up some significant issues around guilt which has been a real challenge for me over the years and led me into some unhealthy relationships and negative self-belief. Sarah holds an incredibly healing and safe space to both discover and release buried trauma and at the beginning of each session she reinforces that all ‘judgement is left at the door’. Through the work I have done with Sarah I have been able to recognise and release some of these inherited traumas which has made my life more fulfilling and purposeful. Sarah is indeed a wise-woman and very skilled at her craft!
I have also used reiki, sound therapies, vocal expression, singing and light language to release my own bindings from genetically inherited traumas and fears. Whilst exploring my own wounds from the connection to these wise and brave women I have recognised why I am so deeply affected by particular thoughts that trigger strong physical and emotional reactions. This exploration invited me inwards to form a deeper understanding of the inherited trauma passed down through my ancestral line and lodged within my cellular memories. I believe these wounds have also had a detrimental and lasting effect on my mother, aunties and grandmothers and our relationships with each other.
Sophie Bashford believes that “working with both energetic and emotional body-focussed therapies can powerfully heal these traumas and release centuries of oppression and fear (Bashford, 2018:162). During my ‘unbinding’ I have come to understand my night terrors and previously unfathomable fears and insecurities and how they are intrinsically connected to past persecution of so many wise-women.
This process has not been an easy one but has been a crucial part of my own unbinding and a necessary part of my spiritual growth. “Fears arising from buried trauma must be excavated” (Bashford, 2018: 161). On the occasions that I wake at night in a state of panic I now have a fuller understanding of what’s happening and how to release and feel comfortable. I move more freely in my own home in the dark without feeling afraid. It has encouraged me to create change for myself and others and to honour the spirit of those brave and wise women who were hounded, tortured and murdered for doing what I now do as a way to care for my environment, community, friends and family and to earn a living. I embrace the title of 'Witch as my heritage as I step more fully into my Wise-Woman-Crone years and I honour all those brave, earth loving women for their courage and wisdom.
So why am I telling you this? Well, before I began my healing journey I had what I now know to be termed as a ‘dark night of the soul’. I was almost completely physically disabled and could not wash, dress or care for myself. One night my partner had to carry me up the stairs, undress me and physically put me into bed; it was the most desperate time of my life. As I stared at the bedroom ceiling I asked my guides to help me to know “what the hell was going on, why, why me?” The answer came almost immediately in the form of tiny blue lights that spread across the ceiling in the shape of Angel’s wings. As I stared at the lights and kept trying to refocus my vision they continued to shine. From out of nowhere I heard the words “Heal yourself to heal others” over and over again. This experience lasted for around fifteen minutes and I now believe it to have been my ‘calling’….and I now I know why!
….We as the human species have an innate ability to release and heal our bindings from the past through intention and by giving our body the right conditions. We can free ourselves from that which keeps us bound in fearful patterns and habits. I was so bound in fear that my body felt like it was physically stuck in concrete, and although it took me a while I had to find a way to crack it wide open and free myself; to face my fears on all levels of my existence, including inherited bindings from traumatic memories and experiences.
For me it’s been important to have an understanding of why certain things have manifested in my body, the roots of my fears and distress which previously made no sense to me at all. I have also come to understand that by healing myself I have helped others to heal and that was / is my ‘calling’. The energy that resides within us has ancestral genetic lines from behind us, and through intention and focus, we can heal ourselves and our ancestral line. It has also given me a deeper understanding of how to help others on their journey of unbinding. Healing my own wounds and unbinding myself has moved me to be a facilitator for others and to answer the call more fully.
We know now that at a cellular level we carry past traumas. We know that our past can affect our present and our future.
During some of the energy treatments I've done with other women using Reiki, sound and light language whether remote or in person, I have experienced a 'felt sense' of a number of the experiences that our ancestors are likely to have gone through during their time of persecution: Heavy shackles attached to ankles, bindings around the throat and weights upon chests. I have felt a strong sense of us holding hands while releasing past traumas and through this painful process sensed an intense light coming through to carry them back to a place of expansiveness and liberation. Some of the feedback I've received has confirmed these feelings of being shackled and then subsequent release and I feel very privileged to have been a witness and holding the space through this part of their journey.
My work is not yet done, not for me or the women who lost their lives. It is a journey that has just begun and, as Cali White says, it is a “collective wound that runs deep and as such, it requires collective healing. We need to work to clear our inherited trauma, transform how we connect as women and to restore true sisterhood held by strength of our ancestral lineages” (White 2020). I now understand the root of my fears and have the tools to recover and free myself from their impact on my life and on the lives of some others who tread a similar path.
Intention is everything and when we as strong wise women gather and reconnect with the intention to release and heal, to trust again in love we make the most amazing transformations. We have the capacity to lift the Divine Feminine back into being, we can unbind the trappings of a patriarchal, misogynistic, fear driven tyranny and in doing so bring rise to the Divine Masculine to meet Her so that we have balance once again. That is why we are here, We have been Called!
Julie Keen. 21.01.21.
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