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Honoring Saints and Ancestors

Dearest monks and artists,

inchgoaill stairsWe are approaching the Celtic feast of Samhain, the great doorway into the dark half of the year in the northern hemisphere and a time when the veil is considered especially thin. This is my favorite time of year, when I feel the most energized and my heart comes alive to the wisdom of those who have walked before me. I share with you a short excerpt from our Honoring Saints and Ancestors online self-study retreat:

Psychologist Carl Jung wrote extensively about the collective unconscious which is this vast pool of ancestral memory within each of us, it is a kind of deposit of ancestral experience. He believed it comprises the psychic life of our ancestors right back to the earliest beginnings, nothing is lost, all of the stories, struggles, and wisdom are available to us. Each of us is an unconscious carrier of this ancestral experience and part of our journey is to bring this to consciousness in our lives.

He even believed it comprises our animal ancestry which existed longer in time than our human existence. It is the place where archetypes emerge – those symbols and experiences that appear across time and cultures. The stories of our ancestors are woven into the fabric of our very being. As the poet May Sarton writes: “Now the dead move through all of us still glowing. . . What has been plaited cannot be unplaited. . . and memory makes kings and queens of us.”

Jung wrote:

I became aware of the fateful links between me and my ancestors. I feel very strongly that I am under the influence of things or questions which were left incomplete or unanswered by my parents and grandparents and more distant ancestors. It often seems as if there were an impersonal karma within a family, which is passed on from parents to children. It has always seemed to me that I had to answer questions which fate had posed to my forefathers, and which had not yet been answered, or as if I had to complete, or perhaps continue, things which previous ages had left unfinished.

The invitation for this season ahead is to remember and honor these stories which live inside of us, many of them unfinished or incomplete. We let the “lost human voices speak through us” and perhaps discover our own deepest longings are woven together with theirs. Consider spending some time in your journal holding this image of offering space for the lost human voices of your ancestors to speak. What stories might they tell? What wisdom might they offer?

With great and growing love,


Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE

Photo: © Christine Valters Paintner on Inchgoaill island in Ireland

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