“You can’t play in my key,” Jimmy Duck Holmes said to the other five blues musicians on the stage. They all had jammed together beautifully during their performance. When it was Jimmy’s turn, he played solo, the others listened respectfully.
On a superficial level the situation was easy to understand: Jimmy’s guitar was tuned differently. However, there was a deeper layer that he touched on.
Listening to this black musician from Mississippi as he sang his raw blues, only accompanied with his acoustic guitar, a great heaviness sank down on me. Endless pain born out of the abuse and drudgery of slavery rose up in me, images of black men on the fields, of humiliation and deepest grief, emerged out of his music. I looked over to my wife Barb who was sitting by my side. She had tears in her eyes. I knew that she saw the same images. The lyrics seemed to describe simple present day life.
The energy that we felt was rooted in atrocities which not only happened long ago, but were undoubtedly still very much alive in their effects today. Slavery is intrinsically woven into the social fabric and history of the Americas. In that way it did not end in 1865 with the ratification of the 13th Amendment, it is very present in its consequences in the social structure and politics of today. As most people feel uneasy talking about it, the awareness of its presence is pushed into the collective subconscious where it is not only waiting quietly to be dealt with, but it regularly erupts violently into our conscious awareness.
Traumas of the past are often passed down through generations. Just as individual abuse has a tendency to reoccur in a family, in the same way violence is being recreated on the collective level. History has a shocking way to repeat itself and a lot of this is caused by collective traumas that are not integrated. Unhealed, collective traumas inevitably cause a continuation of pain; often it can lead to a re-enactment of the past.
So why even talk about it? Should we not just forget about it?
Stories might be forgotten, energy stays with us. When this energy dwells in the darkness of our subconscious, then it has power over us and we might even encounter it as fate. In the very same way as at a certain time in our lives we might have to revisit a trauma that happened in our childhood but still haunts us today, we also should revisit past collective traumas like wars, genocide, and disasters like the fall of the Twin Towers, the holocaust, colonisation, violence against women, violence against nature, and so on. All of this has to be dealt with if we want a future that is not only a continuation of the past but that is born out of our love for life on this planet, out of our hopes and joys. Unhealed trauma keeps us stuck in the past and steals our future.
A few weeks ago I met with 150 representatives of 39 countries in Israel in order to learn about collective healing. The modern mystic Thomas Huebl had invited professionals who are interested to contribute to the healing of cultures. The goal of the project is to create pockets of clarity in traumatised areas all over the planet. If you are interested, the web link is www.pocketproject.org.
A lot of research has been done and a lot of experience gathered about individual trauma integration in the last fifty years. Collective healing is still, to a large extent, uncharted territory. It needs our attention.
One thing is clear: We do not heal alone. We need each other to heal, we need relationships to heal. As cultures we also do not heal alone, we also need each other as cultures. We get wounded in connection and we heal in connection.
An Australian Aboriginal elder once said it poignantly:
“If you are coming to help us, you are wasting your time. But if you know that your liberation is tied up with ours, then let us work together.”
As a German-Canadian I am very interested in work about the holocaust. Other topics, like colonisation of First Nations, also need our attention. Many more issues are waiting.
If you feel called to be a part of a trauma integration process, please do contact me. Even though it might take many generations to integrate something as huge as the holocaust, we need to contribute what we can in order not to pass the whole load on to future generations.
The world needs us and it needs us now. We are the people we have been waiting for.Dr. Roland H. Guenther