Curious Mind Grapes

The Burning Ceremony: Ancestral Healing Through Time and Space

April 18, 2024 Mary Hoyt Kearns, PhD and Christine Szegda, M.Ed., ACC Episode 14
The Burning Ceremony: Ancestral Healing Through Time and Space
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Curious Mind Grapes
The Burning Ceremony: Ancestral Healing Through Time and Space
Apr 18, 2024 Episode 14
Mary Hoyt Kearns, PhD and Christine Szegda, M.Ed., ACC

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While visiting with her daughters in Washington State, Mary participated in an indigenous burning ceremony that offered a profound connection with loved ones who have left the physical world. Our latest episode invites you into this sacred space, where we share how performing healing rituals and sharing stories about our loved ones can bring comfort and closure, allowing us to honor their memory in a deeply personal way. We also recount a serendipitous message from a medium, which provided an unexpected sense of peace about a grandchild who passed before birth.

In this episode, we delve into the significance of rituals and collective healing and reflect on the how they contrast with the often performative rituals of our modern culture.

Show Resources
Why Rituals Work, Francesca Gino & Michael I. Norton, Scientific American, May 14, 2013

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-rituals-work/

Visit us on Instagram @curiousmindgrapes!
Feel free to share your questions or episode requests. Thank you for listening!

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

While visiting with her daughters in Washington State, Mary participated in an indigenous burning ceremony that offered a profound connection with loved ones who have left the physical world. Our latest episode invites you into this sacred space, where we share how performing healing rituals and sharing stories about our loved ones can bring comfort and closure, allowing us to honor their memory in a deeply personal way. We also recount a serendipitous message from a medium, which provided an unexpected sense of peace about a grandchild who passed before birth.

In this episode, we delve into the significance of rituals and collective healing and reflect on the how they contrast with the often performative rituals of our modern culture.

Show Resources
Why Rituals Work, Francesca Gino & Michael I. Norton, Scientific American, May 14, 2013

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-rituals-work/

Visit us on Instagram @curiousmindgrapes!
Feel free to share your questions or episode requests. Thank you for listening!

Speaker 1:

Welcome to Curious Mind Grapes with your hosts, Christine and Mary. Hey Mary, hey Christine, how are you? It's been a bit.

Speaker 2:

I know I'm doing well. I'm doing well. I see you're in a new location. How is traveling and visiting your girls?

Speaker 1:

Yep, I'm in a lovely Airbnb in Seattle just hanging out, visiting my daughters who are nearby yeah, waiting for one of them to have a baby soon.

Speaker 2:

I know it's so exciting it could happen at any minute, or? Yes, yeah, absolutely All right. Well, I hope she waits till at least we're done this podcast. So I was actually thinking of you and your daughters, because in my psychic mediumship development class sometimes the other other classmates will share readings directly for us or directly for sitters, but sometimes they'll just sort of throw something out there and they'll say I don't know who this is for, and someone was sharing the other night and I thought it was for you and I thought it was about you and your daughter and I'm wondering if you're open to hearing it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I'd love to, about the daughter who's giving birth.

Speaker 2:

No, about your older daughter who lost her baby, okay, yeah, yeah, who have passed prior to when they were due or shortly after they were due. And she shared with me that she had a baby with her who did not make it to term, who had passed, and that she was seeing mountains out West. And she said I just know that everything's okay, the baby is sending messages of love and light, and I'm okay and I'm with you, and I'm with you and I'm sending you all this love. And then she said but the interesting thing is, I'm seeing a ceremony being done after the baby's passing, a really unusual, different kind of ceremony that I don't even understand. That's not common or usually done. And I thought of you. I said I think this is for my friend and her daughter.

Speaker 1:

Wow, I just got chills. Thank you. Thank you for sharing that.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I'll have to go back and listen and see if there's a little more. That's all I remember from the reading and it was towards the end of class so we didn't have a lot of time to get more detail. But it's, she said it was a very positive light, but she just was so like I don't know what I'm seeing. I said I think I know what you're seeing, right.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I guess I had. I guess I had told you that we were going to be participating in a burning ceremony. Yeah, so it's. It's an indigenous ceremony that was offered to my daughter by the, the tribal leader for the tribe where she is an attorney, and it's something they hold for people who have passed. It's a way for the not just for the family, to kind of have closure, but also a way of connecting with the person who's passed and of connecting with the person who's passed and connecting with ancestors who've gone before as a way to kind of get them to come and welcome the person. That's kind of the best I can describe it. So interesting. You say mountains because from where we're standing we had some amazing view of the Cascade Mountains, like in the back, and I was saying what an amazing place to live. We're just out in the back and I was saying what an amazing place to live. We're just out in the field, with the ocean on one side and the mountains on the other and that's what she said.

Speaker 2:

She said I. I could just see the mountains in the background. Next to the ceremony, I heard the word jewel and I wondered if they were burying something or putting something to rest yeah, yeah, not burying what.

Speaker 1:

What the ceremony entails is bringing clothing that belong to the person. In the case of a child an infant, um, or a child that died before full term, they um vary four years worth of outfits to represent seasons, their lives and um, and we then you also make uh meal, like food, small amounts of food for all the ancestors, like the things that were their favorites. So that was really fun just thinking of people who who've gone before us that and think about what gave them joy to eat it was.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it was really fun because talk about hits like my daughter had just thought of my parents who both passed her paternal grandfather, um, her husband's grandparents and um, but on a couple days before the ceremony, we both had dreams about people or woke up thinking about people, and it was like they wanted to be invited. So she asked the tribal leader is it okay? Like what if it's non-family members? And they're like, sure, and as a matter of fact, if people, she said people will start to want to be invited. So it's wow, people who want to support you. So my great grandparents, who I never met, from Japan, um, one of my, uh, one of our, my husband's cousins, who passed a couple of years ago or a year and a half ago, um, a friend who, um, I worked with many years ago, who's kind of been a guardian angel for years, but he's not related at all.

Speaker 1:

Like they were all asking to be invited and putting in their orders for food, which is weird and in the case of three of my great aunts who wanted to be invited, they were like oh, we don't really need much, we just would like some goldfish crackers and ginger ale, a snack they used to give me when I was a kid. Oh so my daughter and I went shopping the next day to get everything to prepare, because there were a few meals that we had to cook, like pasta primavera and cioppino and I was wondering why you said you had to cook you, but you sent me that message.

Speaker 1:

Like I have to cook for Friday, I'm like yeah, so we and then some, um, eels with rice, all sorts of different things, and um, so, anyway, I hadn't, I had, I had made a whole list, we had made a whole grocery list with all the different drinks and foods they wanted and, um, I had forgotten to put down the goldfish and ginger ale because that just seemed it didn't. It wasn't something I had to cook, so I didn't even think to write it down. But my daughter picked them up when we were shopping, like we went off and did our own thing, and she came back with those. And there were a couple of incidents like that where we hadn't communicated on things but we just knew, oh, she didn't know that that was on the list, she just felt the urge to pick them up.

Speaker 1:

So there are a couple things like that and when we were telling these things to the tribal leader and the people running the ceremony, they're like, oh yeah, that happens, you know. So it's very affirming, um, yeah, and it's just really beautiful. So they made this beautiful wooden table that could fit. I guess. In the end we had 22 plates of food with beverages and things and a big basket in the middle of things for the baby representing four years of her life, like bottles and toddler food and snacks and things.

Speaker 1:

Um, and why the four years again uh to represent the four seasons of life four seasons, okay, so yeah, which sounded kind of like, kind of like um erickson's stages of life. You know, many, many traditions have that. In hinduism, I believe there's also four stages and I don't remember what they were, what they are, but things like the student, the, it kind of represents childhood through adolescence, then young adulthood, old adulthood and old age. So I assume that's what they meant by the four seasons. I didn't ask.

Speaker 2:

Were there other people at this ceremony also honoring their loved ones who had passed or other, or was it just for your daughter and the baby? Yeah?

Speaker 1:

And she was told she could invite anyone. But they wanted people who could hold the space and not doubt it or be cynical, or think it was weird. Doubted or be cynical, I think it was weird just being our immediate family with, um, both daughters and their husbands and my ex-husband and me, and that's yeah, so oh, and then the a couple of tribal members came the tribal chief and her husband, who's been trained in these ceremonies. He's one that built this gorgeous table. I wish I could take pictures and things, but I thought that would be disrespectful.

Speaker 1:

But he made this gorgeous elaborate table and it had, um what? It was just stacked wood, but it looked like a table like that you could have in your living room, a giant one if you had a big living room. Um, and then they brought in a man from a different tribe whose wife grew up in the area and they do the ceremonies. It sounds like some of it has been passed down through his family, so they just essentially present the food on the table, invite in the ancestors, and it was really interesting to see he was telling us beforehand. You know it could take a while, like if anyone in the any of the ancestors are resistant to this idea or if there are people that are kind of resistant to the idea here. It can take a really long time for the fire to start. And he talked about one woman whose grandmother was not native um, who, like it, took them an hour and a half to actually get the table lit because it kept going out.

Speaker 1:

And then we heard about other things where wind would come along and blow things off the trip. So there's one guy tried to put some um marijuana on the table his deceased friend and the wind blew it off. So he put it back on and the wind blew it off again and like, by the third time she's like just don't even bother, like clearly he doesn't want that. So there are little things like that that are interesting, and in this case the table caught on fire before they even finished going around, like they had, um, stacks of wood and newspaper rolled up underneath, up underneath it, so it's a stack of newspaper, then the wood and then the tabletop, and before they even got around the table it had just like gone up in flames right away. And they said that means that they just are really into this. Yeah, it's really beautiful ceremony, oh yeah.

Speaker 1:

So the all the foods were on the table and, interestingly, even though the table was just like totally in bright orange flames, it was wonderful to look at there were two dishes on the edge that didn't catch on fire till the very end and then, once they caught on fire, like a piece of grapefruit went flying off the table. Someone clearly didn't like that. Not bad, not bad. Um, I asked the guy who has had he and his wife put everything up, like who was that? And he said, um, it was these people whose name I couldn't pronounce. I thought that's kind of rude because I told him how to pronounce it, but it was my great-grandparent, my father's parents okay and um, yeah, apparently they were.

Speaker 1:

he said that can sometimes happen if people are waiting just to be polite and so everyone else make sure everyone else is okay. So it was almost like they were just watching over everyone. At some point he said that an older couple had stepped forward to say they would take care of the baby.

Speaker 2:

I mean, it sounds like it was beautiful, but I mean and had to be incredibly emotional how did this transform you and your family?

Speaker 1:

Well, it was very well. I definitely saw a change in my daughter and her husband once he lost the baby. They they seem more at peace afterward. I mean, they were getting the same assurance that the baby was fine, she was happy, you know, feeling at peace and um, and I think it was a bit of closure to um, like knowing that she was okay and to know, I guess also just knowing that the ceremony is done has been done for you know what forever, um, in celebration of people who do pass, like there's this connection um, I noticed a change in them after like yeah, he's it's comforting to think about death that way, that people are still there, that spirits are still there, that they're really they're.

Speaker 2:

They're not in physical form, but that they're with you. I think it's why people like psychic readings and mediumship media readings so much, because it's it's it's that that person is still there with them, which I believe is true. I believe that they're still with us, they're just not in physical form. And then the idea that there's so much support, all the ancestors you just don't feel so alone in things.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah. There's a beautiful episode of reservation dogs which I think I've talked about before on this podcast because I love that show so much where, um, one of the teenage lead characters comes to her friend's mother, who's in prison, who's kind of lost her not lost her way, but lost her hope, her connection, her faith in the world because her son had committed suicide and something else happened. We don't know what happened, um, but apparently she was very much like a medicine woman in a way, um, very connected to spirit. And so this girl comes to her because she figures she might have some answers. Plus, she has a letter that the son had written in his freshman year of high school and it's their senior year, and the teacher gave this girl the letter because she was his cousin and wants to give it to the mom. But mom doesn't want it.

Speaker 1:

But in the course of this visit she tells her how their core friend group had fallen apart since this. Their friend had committed suicide, her cousin had committed suicide and was asking for advice on what to do, how to bring them back together, and the mom reluctantly helps her by reminding her that she isn't alone, that they're never alone, and to just close her eyes and breathe deeply and think of the ancestors. It's this beautiful, beautiful moment. The mom's played by Lily Gladstone, who won an Oscar for Flowers that Kill Her Moon, so she plays the role so beautifully. It's so tender and beautiful. By Lily Gladstone, who won an Oscar for Clouds that Kill the Moon, so she plays the role so beautifully. It's so tender and beautiful and I cry every time I've seen it.

Speaker 2:

I've seen it like three times, thinking about death that way for me has. I mean, I still get sad about people and pets who have passed, but it this, it's, it's. It's tinged differently because it's also I find myself talking to them. It's not this. I yeah, it's still sad, but it's sad in a different way. It has more hope behind it.

Speaker 1:

It's that hopeless feeling isn't there as much right for me yeah, I agree, it's the same for me once I began to realize how powerful it is. I mean it is sad not to have people there in person in corporeal form. There is a power to that, knowing that, like people do leave residual, residual influence, effects, support whatever, even if it's not tangible and sometimes it actually is tangible. The fact that, yeah, the again, the fact that these people were coming to me and julia either in our dreams or just in our meditations and saying they wanted to be this and support us, was like.

Speaker 2:

And then hearing from the, the tribal leader, that this is what happens, that's so reassuring you know I forgot to mention earlier when my friend in class gave me the reading and she was trying to see through this thing that she just didn't understand. She said I don't know what's going on, but they have a jewel. I'm hearing the word jewel, so I think that was actually her name, cause that's happened a couple of times in class where it's like it was like a pun, like you get a pun from spirit. You don't know what you're in, you don't have that word, so I had I had forgotten to tell her that I'll have to go, I'll have to message her and let her know. Oh, that's actually her name no, we call her Jules.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, and that was one of the things that the guy who ran the ceremony said don't forget to keep. He didn't say we had to continue to do ceremony it's nice to but he said continue to talk about them, tell their stories and I know other traditions say this too that that's how you keep people alive is by continuing to tell their stories, to remember good times and share that with others. It was really. It just was all of us standing near the fire, as close as we could. It was a super hot fire. A a couple of deer came and were watching and a hawk came in to sat in a tree and watched the whole thing. It was magnificent, it was big, and then, once the fire died down, it was like doing these big circles around oh, they don't just come hang out like that, that's magic.

Speaker 1:

It was there when, when they were setting up, the food was out, so it wasn't about that either. So, yeah, yeah, yeah it was, it was very cool, yeah, and they said that was a really uh kind of auspicious sign do you think like is this something that you want to do again now, like now that you've experienced the beauty of this?

Speaker 2:

are you you're thinking this is? I mean, I don't know if you can do this with this tribe, since you had sort of special permission, but would you be able to, and if not, would you incorporate it in a different way?

Speaker 1:

um, that's a good question. It's, it's so. I don't. I don't know the answer to that. I have the feeling they would not be opposed to it, given that they first one. Yeah, it would be amazing. It was one of the most beautiful and powerful ceremonies I've ever attended.

Speaker 2:

Oh, I was thinking about you guys all week. I just could sense how amazing it was going to be.

Speaker 1:

One of the cool things that came out of it when the man who was running the ceremony said that an older couple had come forth to say they would take care of the baby. And I knew immediately that it was my father's parents, who I never met, and I just got the sense that their lives had been just destroyed from World War II. Their home was burned to the ground, like everything they owned was destroyed, and I know my grandfather became an alcoholic who then died of cancer 15, 20 years later, and so it was devastating to the whole family. It sounded like he never recovered from it and I'm sure my father never talked about any of this. I just heard this through my mother, the few things my father said to her about his childhood and, um, the trauma of it. So I just I knew, when he said this older couple was coming together to do this, um, that that it was them. And, and actually when my daughter had said the name they were naming their daughter, sora, I got this image of my father's sister again, who I never met. Um, I got a sense that she was kind of being a guardian for this baby. I got the message from her that she or someone in the family had lost a baby with the same name at some point.

Speaker 1:

This was a while ago, and then, when these grandparents came, I just got the sense that they were repairing something that they had lost or someone in the family had lost. It was their chance to like fix things, wow. So that was really powerful. Um and um. Then later, when um william, who was running the ceremony, said that the he couldn't pronounce the name of the two plates that were left and unburned for most of the ceremony, with the grapefruits right off to the side later, um, that it was the people whose names you couldn't pronounce. I knew it was. I knew it was them, and I thought that was really interesting.

Speaker 1:

It's almost like they somehow took ownership of things you know, took responsibility, or like they were the hosts, I guess, because they had decided to to take care of the baby. It was so fascinating oh, I see they sort of stepped back a little bit and took that's what he was saying, though that sometimes that someone will take charge, kind of sure everyone else has what they need before they sit down and eat or whatever.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's healing through time and space, right, yes, healing them as well. I've heard that in readings too, where someone's you know, I believe that in spirit, you know, people are no longer suffering, they're not experiencing those same heavy emotions that we, but they are still reaching out to us to apologize, make amends, you know, recognize that their actions had an impact.

Speaker 1:

Um, fix things Right. Say that they, yeah, say that they love you, even if they never had a chance. Yeah, it's fascinating.

Speaker 1:

I know you hear more and more about ancestral healing, ancestral trauma and all different things like family constellations is a method for connecting with ancestral trauma and healing it. There are a lot of different methods that are pretty popular right now, so this was a really cool kind of tangible way to experience that and to hear from people who do these ceremonies who've done hundreds of them to hear about these patterns that they see or things that are happening that um yeah oh, yeah, I don't know a lot about family consulate, but it's been brought up to me several times as something I might find interesting yeah, I did it once.

Speaker 1:

It sounds really weird. But, um, they use, like I don't know, playmobil or logo figurines to family members and then you kind of tell this you ask, ask the facilitator to position them in certain ways and they represent different people in your family, and then you kind of just like as a kid would you start to tell a story about the dialogue they're having and it's really interesting what comes out. Um, it's, it's very healing, it's very strange. But it's really interesting what comes out. It's very healing, it's very strange. But it's also, I think, tapping into our subconscious in a way, and, like all these methods, whether it's something that's true or not, whether we're making it up or not, it kind of doesn't matter because in the end it is very healing.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and if it's in you and that's your perception of things, that's you know, perception is reality, right? So if that's how you perceive it, then that's how it's affecting you. So I just think it's amazing that the individual who was leading was giving you guidance of oh, I sensed this couple, I sensed this, but he wasn't the only one getting hits.

Speaker 1:

Right, yeah, to some extent everyone was. I was just really glad to have that opportunity. It was, again, the most powerful thing I've ever experienced.

Speaker 2:

Oh, wow. Well, I just really so appreciate you sharing this with me. There was a part of me that was like, oh, I wish I could see that, but obviously that would in no way have been appropriate. But being able to hear about it, I just I feel so lucky to even just know about this. I mean, I, from the moment you told me about it, I honestly just couldn't stop thinking about it. I thought it was such an amazing thing, so beautiful, and we've talked about this in other podcasts. We don't make time for this, we don't make time for grief. It's an investment sort of in your future, in your healing, so that you are not just spinning your wheels, not really fully healed, as you go on through the days and weeks and months and years.

Speaker 1:

This helps you move forward that make sense, yeah yeah, and I think that's something we need more of in in our society is these, these rituals?

Speaker 1:

we have some rituals, but, um, they seem more performative and not as meditative. A big part of this was just standing. You stand in front of the fire until it burns. Down to the ground it's just a little pile of ashes and in in this case it took an hour and a half. Um, in many cases it's three to five hours. Wow. So the whole time people are just standing, or if they can't stand, they'll sit, but, um, just not saying anything, not seeing that anything, just kind of essentially meditating in front of the fire, and we don't have anything like that it makes you feel more connected, less alone.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and I think other societies which are more collective, collectivist than ours, do realize that, that we are all connected and that one person's grief affects all of us. One person's unhealed wounds affects all of us. Thank you for listening to Curious Mind Grapes. For more information, please check out our show notes, where we provide links and references to the topics we've covered.

Ancestral Ceremony Honoring Loved Ones
Healing Through Ancestral Ceremonies
Fire Rituals for Collective Healing