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Ways of Wisdom study circle, fall 2021

Inviting the ancestors

Biweekly, October 6–??, 7:00-9:00 pm

Note: this group is now closed.

Dates and topics

October 6. Inviting the ancestors. Host: Marion

October 20. How our ancestry positions us to be helpful in the world. Host: Laura

November 3. Prayer. Host: Michael

November 15. Invoking ancestry through sensory moments of poetry, music and art. Host: Laura and Molly


October 6

Inviting the ancestors


Host: Marion

Consider what you have inherited from your family ancestors; the gifts, strengths and inspirations, and from the Shadow side, what traumas, unresolved legacies and burdens. How are the gifts alive in you now,  and how do you reckon with the traumas? In our community circle, we’ll have an extended check-in, sharing with each other a strength and a challenging legacy from our families. I’ve included questions at the bottom of this email to spark your contemplation.


No doubt, we’ll get to know each other better, and hopefully there will be time to explore how the threads of our ancestral legacies continue into current life. We find ourselves in a time of environmental degradation, structural racism, inequity, gender bias, political polarization, the pandemic, (and the challenges of our personal lives!) What enduring ancestral resilience do you rely upon? What remains to be healed and brought into the light? And how is all this connected to the work that needs doing in our world?


See if any of these questions strike a cord: (questions are written in past tense, but change to present if that fits better)


Where do your family ancestors come from? Where did they belong?

What was their relationship with the land, nature, food, the 4 seasons, animals..

What challenges did they face?

What did they accomplish?

What were their hopes and dreams?

What privileges did they have? And not have?

How did they celebrate?

What did they suffer and how did they demonstrate courage?

What did they contribute to their communities?

What is being passed on from them, through you, to your children and your community?

If you’re in touch with a sense of their spirit, what is it like?


What gifts have you received from your family ancestors?

  • What did they demonstrate was possible?

  • What permissions did they give?

  • What did they value and love

  • What did they sacrifice?

  • When was joy and contentment evident?

  • What are you proud of?

  • What were their successes?

  • Which of their qualities do you admire and hope to emulate?

  • Have you considered the women? The men?

As you peer into your family’s shadow side, hold yourself and them in tenderness:


  • How were they traumatized? What extreme beliefs did they hold as a result?

  • Did they face violence? Were they marginalized?

  • What was their place in the landscape of social class, race, power, gender bias….?

  • What guilt and shame did they hold?

  • How did privilege or lack of it come into play?

  • What suffering were they unable to heal?

  • What/who did they ignore? What were their blind spots?

  • Were there failures?

  • What breaks your heart about them?

  • What unhelpful messages did you take in from them? What does it take for you to step through these?

  • How are you making friends with, and transforming the above?

  • Gazing 7 generations back, what do you wish for your ancestors? And what do you wish for your children/the next generations?

October 20

How our ancestry positions us to be helpful in the world


Host: Laura

Bring an object that represents something you are concerned about in the world today.  Recall the resilience and challenges you might have spoken about at our last meeting or reflect on some new ones. To contemplate: as the face of your people in the world today, how are you uniquely well suited or particularly challenged to be helpful in the world today?

November 3


Host: Michael

This session will be based on a presentation by Tara Brach, Discovering the Power of Prayer, a 47-minute YouTube video you’ll find here: Please watch the video or read the transcript (attached) before our gathering Wednesday evening. After the customary sitting in silence and check-in we will play a ten-minute section of the video, which is a guided prayer practice, and explore and share from there.

November 15

Invoking ancestry through sensory moments of poetry, music and art

Hosts: Molly and Laura​

We will explore the resilience of our Ancestors, through our memory, senses and creative juices!


We encourage you to reflect on an Ancestor whose strength and resilience have inspired you in some way—a family member, or someone else important in your life. Consider how you might evoke and introduce this person to our group—tell a story, embody or describe them, share a ceremony or ritual, give us something to hear, taste, watch, or work with…


Please offer whatever you wish (or pass if you wish).  Our aim is to share more of ourselves, and help us make connections between the strength and resilience of those who came before us, and who we’ve become.


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