The collective concerns us all
by Dr. Karl-Heinz Rauscher
This keynote speech was held at Oct. 7th. 2017 at the Northamerican Systemic Constellations Conference „Bridging the Divide“ in Virginia Beach, USA.
I am delighted to be invited to speak about the important issue of "Collective Healing" at this conference. Collective healing is defined as a healing impulse from which not only a few, but many people benefit, perhaps even large parts of the population.
The centerpiece of systemic constellation work is still the family-constellation. It remains important and valuable. On the personal level, however, we only reach a small percentage of people who suffer from the consequences of collective trauma. Plus, in the face of current wars, expulsions and natural catastrophes, the work on personal problems often occurs to me as a Sisyphean task. We work with the consequences of the 1st and 2nd World War and the Vietnam War, while every day hundreds and thousands of people die in the current wars. We work with the descendants of people who were murdered in genocides in the 19th and 20th century, while new genocides are being carried out. We work with the consequences of the expulsions of the great-grandparents, while millions of people are on the run every day.
These daily new burdens for victims and perpetrators will continue in their families for at least 3 or 4 generations.
What can we do about this as constellators? For which sun of knowledge would we have to open up, so that we are able to mitigate and heal the consequences of past collective trauma in the whole society and to prevent collective trauma such as war, genocide, misery, hunger and even natural disasters in the future? How can we stop the wheel of traumatic repetition?
In order to place a collective healing impulse at this great scale, we first have to focus on the collective level and explore the consequences of collective trauma. The information we collect there helps us to develop the tools we need for collective healing.
With the Systemic Constellation Work we have a wonderful instrument at our disposal which gives us unlimited access to important information. We just have to look and listen.
As we take this step and expand our field of vision towards the collective level, the entire field is suddenly energized.
Because concentrating on the collective level is not just another way of looking at things, but a quantum leap in view, which will lead to a rapid acceleration of the whole development, like many groundbreaking inventions in the technical world did. Think of the developmental boosts which have been triggered by the invention of the steam engine, electricity, or, more recently, by the invention of the Internet.
The discovery of the representative perception by Bert Hellinger, the ability of man to easily access invisible information in a constellation, has the quality of an epochal developmental potential for all mankind. The past decades, in which the constellation work was applied mainly in the field of psychotherapy of individual clients and in coaching of organizations, were only the beginning.
By closely looking at the collective level of human stress patterns, a major development will emerge. The expected new insights will raise the constellation work to a new level. This could lead to a leap of awareness in the whole population, which we today cannot imagine. The development which is thereby initiated will, as in the case of the earlier mentioned technical inventions, be irresistible in the long run.
Okay, what do we so far know about collective trauma and its effects?
Collective trauma such as war, expulsion and genocide creates physical and emotional burdens over many generations in large parts of the population of all sides.
Through the energetic transfer of the burden over generations, the load of trauma is multiplied. That means, over time, more and more people are suffering.
Not only the descendants of the victims are affected by war crimes and genocides, but also the descendants of the perpetrators and beneficiaries, sometimes in quite comparable dimensions and strengths. This has been early documented in the families of Nazi mass murderers. But the cooperation with Anngwyn in our workshop "Men, women and peace", which we so far have held in seven countries, I was surprised by the intensity of the suffering for example in white families in Canada in the fourth generation after the genocide of indigenous peoples and former theft of land.
Plus, the effects of collective trauma are often not recognized. The causes are mostly hidden in the darkness of the denied past.
The denial of trauma and its consequences leads to the mechanism of repetition. The recurrence of the initial trauma in later times, for example a new war, is an attempt of the whole system to heal. The system wants the initial trauma to be remembered, integrated and thus cured. But as long as this is not understood this attempt is unsuccessful. The repetition continues, sometimes for hundreds of years.
These insights are by no means new. Yet, in the light of the “collective view”, they appear more distinct and concise.
The question now is whether there is such a thing like collective healing and how it might look like.
Point 1: The good news: You all are already part of a collective healing movement, just because you are here, just by being part of this community where we think and talk about this topic.
In addition, you are working automatically on a collective level, whenever you are successfully finding a systemic solution for a personal problem of a client, because every person is always connected to other people, and the healing of one person will also affect his environment in a positive way.
Point 2: A step even closer to collective healing are constellations with large groups and a special design, in which the focus is on collective trauma and in which collective healing movements have a chance to show up.
In those constellations, amazing healing can take place which affect 50, 60 or more people at the same time.
Last year, Anngwyn and I had the chance to facilitate a constellation of this kind in Mexico City. At the end, more than 70 participants stood in this constellation, which was focused on war, peace and the relationship between the archaic man and the archaic woman. One of the touching insights of that constellation was that peace is stronger than war if we give peace its proper place in our consciousness.
The summary of my thoughts on this topic you find in my article "Peace"
A further step towards collective healing is achieved by the integration of energetic-shamanic healing methods into the constellation work.
Over the last 20 years I developed an energetic-shamanic healing method, which I call “Healing voices”, because sounds and intuitive language play an important role in it. For the last two years, I have been using “Healing voices” in constellations in which no progress can be achieved with the classical tools, especially in situations where victims and perpetrators are facing each other irreconcilably.
In such a situation, I step into the systemic position of a healer and make myself available as her or his energetic tool during the healing. This only takes a few minutes. During the course of this energetic healing, the representatives of the perpetrators often lie down at the victims’ feet and cry bitterly and full of remorse about their deeds. Simultaneously the representatives of the victims free themselves from the frozen agony of the deadly trauma, stand up and open up to the sky, ready for their further journey. This kind of healing does not only touch the few representatives of the victims, who might stand in the constellation, but invisibly hundreds of victims on this level.
One gets the impression that this healing takes place on a large scale, the effect of which may even extend to the descendants of the victims. In this way, hundreds of people could possibly profit from such a constellation.
The greatest insight given to me by working with Healing voices is:
Those healing forces are waiting for us invisibly in the field, just like the informations about human relations and past events are. But in order for them to be effective, we have to make us available for them as a medium. We human beings are needed for our own healing.
We should relate to the public and make public relations. Media work is enormously important in order to expand the consciousness of the population at the collective level. As many people as possible should have access to the findings of system constellations.
The knowledge about the consequences of killing unarmed civilians for the live of the perpetrators and the lives of their descendants should be taught at school. At the very least, young people should know about this before they go to war and kill other people. They should know this before they decide to become bomber pilots or soldiers in the army.
To achieve that all media can be used, print, books and articles, as well as film documentaries, feature films, music and all other forms of art.
Informing people on a big scale will prepare the population and all of us for the most powerful instruments of collective healing:
And this are collective, public, reconciling rituals on the large squares of our cities. In order to have the greatest possible effect, these rituals should be supported by state institutions and planned and organized with the help of non-profit organizations and representatives of all levels and parts of the population. And of course, the entire population should be invited.
The most important elements of a collective healing ritual of this dimension are:
Mutual respect for each other on eye-level as members of mankind, establishing humanity as our nation
Participation of the descendants of victims and perpetrators
Naming collective lies and establishing the truth
Rehabilitation of persons or entire groups
You can image rituals of this kind in many countries and areas of conflict around the globe. The burdens from past collective trauma and the urge for repetition could be attenuated on a broad scale.
At this level, we do not start at zero. We already have examples. Just think of the peace process in Colombia.
However, great power of vision is needed for rituals of this dimension to become reality in many parts of the world.
The international community of systemic constellators can and will play an important role in these developments and future possibilities.
Well, in short, what can you do?
Continue working with constellations on a personal level and stay connected with colleagues worldwide, open for continuous exchange of experience and skill
Discover the healing power of the collective in large constellations with many participants focusing on collective issues
Become a channel and a medium for the energetic-shamanic healing powers of the healing field, which always will touch also the collective level
Use media, books, articles, blogs, film, music and art to inform as many people as possible and
Develop visions and formats for great rituals at a national or even international level
All this cannot be done in one day. Step by step, we go into the future. But the future begins now and today in every one of us. We all are important. We all are part of the collective.
We can do something right now.
How can that work?
It begins with the high respect for yourself and the high respect for the other, and it starts with the knowledge that on a deep level we are all connected.
To experience high respect, I offer you now a short exercise:
If you want, let your eyes wander in this room until your eyes stick to another human being. Then look at this human being at eye-level as your brother or sister, no matter what skin color, nation, religion, or what may have happened in his or her past or the past of his or her ancestors, or what may have happened in your past or in the past of your ancestors. It is not important whether this person looks at you or not. It is only important how you look at this person.
After a while, let your eyes wander again and do this exercise with two more people.
You can start now.
What you just did creates connection and creates community. All the power we need for a good present and future life lies in this kind of community that connects people and peoples. Then humanity becomes our nation. One for all and all for one, but, and this is the new thing, against no one. And what we have then is repeating peace.
This consciousness is the powerful source of energy for the new time.
It starts here and now, with us.