I recently facilitated a beautiful healing ceremony for a woman whose twin brother died a month after their birth. Decades later, the energy in the family system was still out of balance because the death was never properly met.
The brother had never been ritually conveyed to the Village of the Ancestors, and the sister hadn’t been helped to reconfigure their bond so she could relate to him as an ancestor, rather than a living sibling. He was, in a sense, still here, and his energy was intertwined with hers. She struggled with not being able to tell where he ended and she began; he had always been so close that she couldn’t find herself.
Jung talks about the need for individuation, where we come to know who we are, and cohere that Self into a unified whole. From this place, we can be in right relationship with others. It’s ironic, but the deepest intimacy first requires clear differentiation.
The ceremonies and rituals around a death are designed to facilitate a similar differentiation. They help the dead to leave the Village of the Living, cross the sacred river, and establish themselves in the Village of the Ancestors. And they help the living to accept that the person has left, to register at every level that they are no longer on this side of the river. After a death, the clarity of this energetic delineation allows those on both sides of the river find a new and healthy way of being in relationship with each other.
The month-long ceremony with these twins began on their birthday, and culminated with a ritual at the brother’s grave on his deathday. It involved a slow and gentle untangling of the intertwined energies, a ritual conveyance of him across the river, and a clarifying of who’s who, and who’s where with respect to the river that separates the realms. It was deep, magical, and very, very healing.
One to the many notable parts of this process is that it was done from a distance. My client and I have never met in person. Good cell reception at the cemetery, a hands-free headset, and lots of emails made it all possible. She even had long distance support; along with the friends and family members who held space for here at the cemetery, there were others doing the same at home. It’s gloriously convenient that rituals work outside of time and space!