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How the Unacknowledged can shift everything when it appears

Constellation Evening May 19, 2017 A look into the institutional side of the United States - Presidency, Congress, Judiciary and their roots.

What is missing and yet still right in the middle of all the current turmoil? Not seen or acknowledged and asking to be healed?

Harvest - May 19, 2017 Constellation Evening – Boulder at the YWCA

Collective Healing Constellation – the USA, struggling to sustain an identity while extreme and polarizing elements are arising all around

We gathered once again to step into the ‘field’ to explore the often hidden dynamics of what is at work in our country, the USA.

An overview of what emerged before delving more deeply into our evening.

This was an evening of experiencing more deeply the energies and characteristics held by some of the institutions of the US. The 3 branches of government were represented as the Presidency, the Congress, and the Judiciary, with the Future Potential of the US present as well. As you will see in this harvest an unknown entity emerged to take a position directly in the middle, at the very center of the others. When this was revealed as Slavery (the institution as it lives in the US), the whole system was ajar and no one knew quite what to do.

Please continue to read the unfolding of the evening leading into a more detailed account of the constellation. It was certainly as if the “elephant in the room” had shown up, huge but not seen before. And it held a very important place and likely clues for truly realizing our full Potential Future.

Resourcing as part of our check in Circle

To set a sacred space/container for our time, we entered into silence, and then checked in - first naming and honoring the resources there for each of us and present this evening – be they ancestors, friends, archetypes – trusting what is showing up.

  • Celtic Warrior Queen, Boudicca – very fierce and when her husband was killed, she fought to lead the people which was not done by a woman. She resources that part of this person that cares deeply about the equalization of the masculine and feminine. One on-line source

  • A local woman leader in Longmont that passed over the night before was dear to another and her presence still felt. The one in our circle had helped her switch gears from battling to live to surrender to her cancer and to know her gentler self. She was a fierce warrior and her presence was felt by this person as if here with us. One lesson this person is learning is to be gentle, to reconcile, and to learn to be with others - even when we disagree.

  • Paternal grandfather who was most kind, supportive, and accepting. A grounded and generous man. He is very missed.

  • Maternal grandfather, a Jewish man who dropped part of his last name to fit in in NYC and at Columbia University where he played on the baseball team. He endowed this grandson with a sense of play, even as he struggled to be accepted in his life.

  • The strength and fierceness of the women in her female line. Honoring what they must have faced 400 years ago coming to the New World and the courage it took to leave the known behind.

  • Crazy Horse – as an archetype, a man of Council, listening and learning, to make positive change and to help the people.

A little deeper check in (after some moments of silence)

How are we (each of us) experiencing any of the extremes that seem to show up almost daily? What is your inner experience? Where do you see hope?

  • Feeling overwhelm. And rolling my eyes – other things feel more important. This all feels like divine theater. My inner place is good. Hope comes from having my friends, they mean a lot. I receive courage and strength from them.

  • Also overwhelm. I try to go back to the place of acceptance. Chaos can really drag me down. I want to get back to the place of trusting things are working somehow for the better. There is a heaviness like the snow weighing down the tree branches. We will all be OK, I tell myself. And I am letting go of what I cannot do.

  • I am tracking what is going on, but not caught up in the divine theater. I teach life skills to kids – breathing, kindness, gratitude, and much more – planting seeds that will sprout in the next generation. I believe bigger things are at work. I will be where I need to be.

  • I have gone through several stages since election day. At first, I thought there were only 2 sides – those like me and then the others. In the interim it is good that I am seeing sparks of agreement across the lines. I see a web of interconnected concerns. No one is static. It’s like spring with lots of new sprouts. I am in a listening mode, listening beneath the words people share. It is exciting. I am making little discoveries in so many conversations.

  • I am always overwhelmed with politics and so I have avoided it. Whatever they do, they will do. Since being in the school system, I have not liked how things have been run. I am powerless to change it. I prefer one-on-one or being with groups who care. I have withdrawn the last few years. Hearing this check in, I feel more hope, more engaged.

  • Lately I am more MSNBC. Fox I can take for only a couple of minutes at a time. Comey, Israel secrets – bizarre. Don’t fuck with my country! I have not been a patriot, not participated in any war. I have disgust for the GOP. I am tired. I have hope with the Washington Post, the New York Times, and even the Wall Street Journal. The Press gives me hope. And I hope that will create an unsustainable amount of pressure on the GOP. 80% still support Trump. They are powerless. It may become too great to ignore.

  • It is like divine theater, all that is going on. And yet I have a sense something much larger is going on – and it is not possible to see yet what that is. How can I be present in a way that keeps that possibility open and that I, and each of us, can bring our full presence in ways that help support the new that is unknown.


This constellation could seem a bit abstract while also being a way to embody and represent large institutional entities that hold strong positions in the USA; and make the country who and what it is and has been through time - as well as now.

Intention/Question – to seed the field, call forth the energies to be worked with, knowing that the constellation’s unfolding will be what is needed now.

How are our current US Government Institutions possibly reflections (or not) of their ancestral roots? How might they be part of the American identity in the process of trying to change or to realize its full potential?

The Presidency. We began with one person representing the Presidency (as an institution or branch of government, not any specific individual). A man stepped in and found his place slightly back from the center and looking in.

He felt expansive, and responsible. (He looked strong, he had a strong stance, and a wide view).

The Judiciary. Next a woman came in as the Judiciary (the court system). She took a position at some distance and in direct alignment with the Presidency and looking at him.

(Not remembering all she said or the sequence) She felt the responsibility to be fair, to make good decisions, and some of the weight of that. She was stable, and somewhat soft spoken. Not dynamic; more staid. At one point she said at first she felt like the Supreme Court. Later in the constellation that seemed to include all courts.

The Congress. Congress entered and stood on the side between the Presidency and the Judiciary and looking into the center. He seemed to be feeling the need to be between them and yet see them. Bringing a sense of balance. He felt divided and yet knew his two sides can at times work together.

The Presidency was not much affected by the Judiciary. He did appreciate the Congress. He felt like the people were now present.

When the Presidency said that, Congress moved over closer to him. Congress knew that they needed to work together and seemed to feel recognized. Neither were much interested in the Judiciary, but were fine with it being there.

The Future Potential for the USA then came in. At first she went to the very edge of the circle slightly behind Congress and between the other too. When asked she said she was actually outside of the circle and felt far away. As I continued to question the other 3, she started to come in more and move behind them a bit. She said she wasn’t sure of her place or which way she wanted to look. She needed to look around and see what was going on here.

I placed a mat behind each of the 3 branches. This was to represent their ancestral roots/heritage. It seemed to strengthen each one of them. No one said anything that was particularly memorable. However, the Future Potential seemed more interested. She was now on the edge of the circle looking in. A one point she moved to the other side from Congress and could see all three. (I think this was a bit later.) There seemed to be something about the ancestral heritage that made the whole picture more complete, or coherent. However, no one representative said a lot and the 3 did not move. (I thought of having each stand in the ancestral heritage position/mat but it seemed that there was not a lot of energy to go that way.)

I then decided to bring in a representative for one of two elements I had written on a piece of paper to use as blind representative(s). One in particular I chose, and a woman came in and was told not to look at what she represented. For now I will refer to this as the Unknown #1.

Unknown #1 slowly went to the very middle of the circle. She felt like that’s where she needed to be. So the 3 branches and the Future Potential were all in their same positions looking at her in the middle. She actually blocked the view between the Presidency and the Judiciary. The Future Potential could still see them all. None of the other 3 moved. The Congress felt like everyone wondering and looking at this unknown was a waste of time. They had stuff to get done. “We are always in paralysis. Let’s just get down to work and not worry about this.” Unknown #1 did not say much. She was not looking at any one of them but looking straight ahead and out of the circle. At first the Future Potential was behind her. The Unknown felt her presence back there, and did not like her, or felt a little threatened by her. And when the Future Potential eventually took a position on the other side of the circle where she could see everyone, the Unknown did not like her there either or looking at her. However, Unknown #1 felt she needed to be where she was; she did not want to move. The Future Potential was the only one that ever moved much as all (only earlier Congress had come closer to the Presidency)

So all the reps were kind of stuck in position and likely representing the picture of how they were meant to be and work. As Congress had observed, they were to be checks and balances on each other.

I also put a mat for ancestral heritage behind Unknown #1. She(#1) felt the power there, but could not access it. She was not connected to it. It felt separate, but powerful.

At one point Congress also noted that maybe the country needed a war, because that was one thing that seemed to unify everyone. The Unknown #1 felt very uncomfortable with that. Later she would say that she thought maybe she was the people.

As an experiment, I asked another to come in as another unknown element (but no intention on my part behind this one – just to see what showed up.)

Unknown #2 went to the other side of the circle – closest to the Judiciary and looking into the circle. She didn’t seem to feel much of anything. But she stayed there.

At some point the Future Potential said something about how she would like to bring more connectivity or a unifying way of being. (not remembering exactly). This caused Unknown #2 to wake up. She said all of a sudden she was more interested and wanted to pay attention. She felt awake and alive. Later she would say that maybe she was Hope. And at another time maybe the People (or the populace)

At some point soon, I asked the Unknown #1 in the middle to look at her folded piece of paper. It said Slavery in the US. (so really the institution of slavery as it has played a role in America; historically it has been there from the very beginning – before the other 3. Accounts tell that the first ship with 20 Black slaves arrived in Jamestown, Virginia in 1619. {Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, p. 23})

Everyone was taken aback. And began to really think about what it meant to have Slavery there. She was in the middle; in some way Slavery had been (or is) an essential part of how the whole thing operates and maintains itself. Each rep gave insights to that effect.

I could see how an unknown surprise could be a catalyst to the system, revealing a kind of darker side of who we are, a kind of shadow element present in our country, our institutions, and America’s very identity – the country has become ever more divided while ignoring what is right at our center. Like the shadow no one can really look at it and yet it is right there. And it also can be a catalyst for what has not been acknowledged to begin to be grappled with. Congress said we have passed anti-discrimination laws (seemingly saying we have done what we can). But that did feel to Slavery like it had changed much. (It really hadn’t changed attitudes or a lot of abusive practices or attitudes toward some people being “less than” and “subservient”). It was mentioned that slavery takes many forms still as Corporations use people, or have abusive practices against women or minority groups, in spite of laws passed. A lot still goes overlooked and unspoken.

Still in the middle of everything, Slavery felt acknowledged and felt she needed to be there to be seen. Being acknowledged felt good to her. The others continued to offer insights about what this might mean.

Slavery wondered how it would be for them if she left; if she wasn’t there. When asked if she wanted to leave; she said no, but she said it could be interesting to see what would happen if she weren’t there. I suggested she leave.

Slavery went to one side of the circle – ½ looking out and ½ in – so not completely out, but away. She could look back to all of that; she could look at them and was just away. She would later say she felt unattached, both out and in.

The others really noticed how they needed her there. It created a kind of vacuum, like a hole or void, like some kind of focus was missing. At some point before Slavery was revealed, someone had said that maybe this unknown was the banking or financial system. A relationship to slavery and the American financial and economic system seemed evident. I had thought of having the economic system represented but had not, given the limited number of reps and time possible. It was noted that slavery or unpaid and oppressive use of labor was how the American economy and resulting financial systems were built. Without slavery present in the middle, the whole thing seemed kind of lost. It seemed the system has not seen or even begun to acknowledge the central role slavery has played in America - America’s economic success, in our history, or even as an institution where there is a long history of resistance to giving true freedom and equal rights – like voting rights - by white privileged men (women and Native Americans were excluded for a long time as well as other looked down upon these groups). And it seems the system and country do not know how to be whole without to do.

More insights were offered. I sensed there was such astonishment in the group that they were beginning to move out of representation into themselves. And it was time to conclude anyway.

After De-Roling – a very important piece

Closing Circle – debrief - Circle sharing

Each to speak of what they experienced, noticed, or what further insights arose. And an additional question for each of us – what am I learning about myself in this process?

Slavery – thought maybe she was the people. She felt not knowing who/what she represented was a real experience of Not Knowing and learning to trust it will be appropriate. She also felt more insights would come as things show up in life.

The Presidency – The 3 branches seemed to have a solid understanding of what we were to do. When Slavery came in, he felt lost; the focus was on Slavery in the middle (maybe wanted it more on him??). He also noted that the Presidency is 1 person; the others are groups. (of course, the executive branch is a host of agencies and White House Staff, but still we think of the office of the President as 1 person and attribute a lot to him – so far it has been a ‘him’).

The Judiciary – this person noted first that her knowledge of government is minimal. (I would say all the better for true representation.)

She said that at first she felt like the Supreme Court with high ideals of how democracy was envisioned. She was shaken up by Congress talking about war. She saw Slavery as a huge piece, Blacks and even other kinds of slavery. She noticed that when Slavery went away, it was like being in the Chrysalis; we are in the mess. We must acknowledge our heritage.

Unknown #2 (hope?) She recalled a recent visit to a pharmacy where a girl and her dad were on their phones. They were caught in a world where the system enables corporations, government, capitalism – everything runs like a business. And they advertise to children. I see a future where we take care of our kids, and the natural world. There is peace, love, kindness, and local community, and business. We realize our potential as human beings. Stuff is coming up to be healed.

Ending with silence to close our sacred space for this evening.

Follow-ons - Ripples from the field

And then more came over the next few days. Here are some of those ripples.

Most is left as written by participants showing the flow of emails over the next few days. They are altered only to keep the people involved anonymous; my name, Judy may could still be included.

May 21 Thank you again, everyone, for a deep experience. I appreciate how we work to create a field that, as Judy pointed out, does not mean we arrive at a resolution. I think the forces of stagnation, on one hand, and hopeful thinking are so entrenched. We've mostly held together as one nation indivisible in spite of events, remembering that we became two nations for a time during the Civil War and at times in our current context, we seem cleaved into Red and Blue with no guarantee of re-knitting our fabric.

Yet, there is an evolutionary pull at work that probably means including and transcending these sharp-edged differences. I know Congress on Friday night seemed unable to detach from stagnation and some rage. It embodied impatience, disgust. It was not pretty to feel nor see nor speak this representation. At the same time, I got a glimpse, as we completed our last speaking round of the evening, that quite possibly the entire power structure of Congress and nearly everything else our System it’s part of, needs to crumble. How else can we hold oppression plus the stain of slavery? Maybe we all got a sense that what we represented cannot hold? I'm curious what you think.

Also, since Friday night, I've gotten some insight into my grandfather, Sam, who I shared about. I felt like I was making light of him because of his charmed life during the time I knew him. But, was it always so charmed? What might it have been like to carry the name Lopinsky around in NYC after he moved there from Jacksonville (he later dropped the "sky" from his name to fit in), being one of probably very few Jews in an academic environment that deliberately sought to exclude people of his type? Easy for me to skim over this: I've never known anti-Semitism directly as he did 100 years ago. How quickly privilege (such as I've known), too, can turn into difficulty to really see and hear others (such as people from the coal country, e.g.)?

Also, I wonder how my grandfather's experience gets passed down two generations later? In what way might it affect the field, too? How quickly, in the American context of (generally speaking), social progress, we can forget what others before us experienced.

May 21 later - I, Judy, responded with some thoughts.

Thank you for all you bring forward here. I honor and appreciate your introspection and deeper sensing of what is surfacing in you and sharing with us. It is also likely an indication of what is moving in the larger field. I did not pick up as much as you offer here about Congress. You say it well and you offer further insights. I too wonder if our institutions are in the process of crumbling. So much painful history has been building over time – including the great schism of the Civil War. For a time, other institutional ways and structures were arising in the South. Those vestiges and history are still resisting release in quite a few people.

Just as you wonder about how your grandfather’s experience as a Jew 100 years ago may affect you today, we might also wonder on a societal level how our collective history, wounding, and wrongdoing to others still lives in our collective consciousness – and we are often unaware. That is one of the gifts of constellation for me – the appearance of hidden dynamics that are like the elephant in the room. The obvious often still in the shadows because we are not ready to look. Slavery in this case.

I do sense that the immigrant experience of being “less than” and so not included (slavery is one drastic form of that) still lives in the collective American psyche. The need to be better than. And as is often the case, many who came here were poor and oppressed in their homelands. And eventually these immigrants would become the perpetrators of rejecting the newest group of arrivals. It has become an imprinted and repetitive pattern over time.

Interestingly I saw Brian Stevenson (a Black Harvard Lawyer working to free death row prisoners in Alabama) interviewed about racism. He said many interesting things. One I recall now was that the Courts (Judiciary) some years back ruled that African/black former slaves were only 3/5 human and therefore shouldn’t vote. And of course, only white men had the right to vote – no women of any race.

May 22 Judy. A friend with whom I shared briefly what came forward in our constellation sent this. It seems more layers of history are coming to the surface to be healed. (and this also refers to the collusion of the courts). It is worth the read.

Mayor of New Orleans hours before the removal of Confederate monument.

He said, in part: "But there are also other truths about our city that we must confront. New Orleans was America’s largest slave market: a port where hundreds of thousands of souls were brought, sold and shipped up the Mississippi River to lives of forced labor, of misery, of rape, of torture. America was the place where nearly 4,000 of our fellow citizens were lynched, 540 alone in Louisiana; where the courts enshrined ‘separate but equal’; where Freedom riders coming to New Orleans were beaten to a bloody pulp. So when people say to me that the monuments in question are history, well what I just described is real history as well, and it is the searing truth. And it immediately begs the questions: why there are no slave ship monuments, no prominent markers on public land to remember the lynchings or the slave blocks; nothing to remember this long chapter of our lives; the pain, the sacrifice, the shame … all of it happening on the soil of New Orleans. So for those self-appointed defenders of history and the monuments, they are eerily silent on what amounts to this historical malfeasance, a lie by omission. There is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence of it. For America and New Orleans, it has been a long, winding road, marked by great tragedy and great triumph. But we cannot be afraid of our truth. As President George W. Bush said at the dedication ceremony for the National Museum of African American History & Culture, “A great nation does not hide its history. It faces its flaws and corrects them.” So today I want to speak about why we chose to remove these four monuments to the Lost Cause of the Confederacy, but also how and why this process can move us towards healing and understanding of each other. So, let’s start with the facts. The historic record is clear: the Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and P.G.T. Beauregard statues were not erected just to honor these men, but as part of the movement which became known as The Cult of the Lost Cause. This ‘cult’ had one goal — through monuments and through other means — to rewrite history to hide the truth, which is that the Confederacy was on the wrong side of humanity. First erected over 166 years after the founding of our city and 19 years after the end of the Civil War, the monuments that we took down were meant to rebrand the history of our city and the ideals of a defeated Confederacy. It is self-evident that these men did not fight for the United States of America, They fought against it. They may have been warriors, but in this cause they were not patriots. These statues are not just stone and metal. They are not just innocent remembrances of a benign history. These monuments purposefully celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy; ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, and the terror that it actually stood for."

May 22 Usually through the Constellations, the field shifts in such a way that the darkness gives way to more light. I find the darkness, e.g. of the White House and fake news, the erosion of democracy, the disenfranchisement of so many of our citizens, to be healthy to experience the way that we do. I appreciate that nothing about the process is forced. We grope and we grapple. My own shadow side is so ready-at-hand, too. It's discouraging to see that and encouraging when other voices emerge so my own thought process expands as it did Fri night, especially after one person spoke in her final turn (after we had de-roled). At the end of the day, and this applies to Slavery energy, we find ways to hold all of the energies? Can we integrate them?Can we find a new center for ourselves and society as we evolve?

I'm reading two books that might be of interest to others. One, "On Tyranny," by Timothy Snyder, is a quick, easy-but-disturbing read (that's gotten a lot of press, deservedly). His book is a wake-up call that is timely (post-election) and great for context (what we're seeing now has roots in the recent past that we are advised to pay attention to). The other book is Rebecca Solnit's "Hope in the Dark." I read of this on Brain Pickings a few months ago and just began reading it. It is very readable and like Snyder's book, could inform our field. Rebecca's book also provides context to the struggles we're facing. She's done good research and is excellent as a story-weaver shedding hopeful light in dark times.

Thank you for the perspective on 100 years ago. Much has happened in very positive ways in terms of recognizing how limited, destructive views of ethnicity and race have given way to much more objectivity, plus acceptance and appreciation. We've also recently seen the recognition at Georgetown U. and some of the Ivies of how their foundations were built upon the slave trade, and how redress is needed.

May 22

I really appreciate what has been written & what was quoted from the Mayor of New Orleans about the need to see the whole of what slavery was/is. (I have read that there are more people in slavery now than there were before the Civil War). An additional insight about that comes from Peggy McIntosh's work on "white privilege"--racial slavery is not something in our past history and not something that just applies to Black people, but something that has given white people a "leg up" economically, which they are largely unaware of. I won't go into the details. All white people are beneficiaries of this legacy. Even as named by one in our circle, his grandfather had the luxury of blending in (more or less) when he changed his name.

What I find rich about this is that I (and the one representing Slavery also, I think) made a guess that her unknown identity was "the populace" or "the people." The fact that her piece of paper said "slavery" reinforced the idea that the populace as a whole is carrying the legacy of slavery.

I also want to comment on one man’s idea that all our political institutions (President, Congress, and Judiciary) are currently crumbling. There is something hopeful about this in spite of how it looks and feels. The shadow has been not very visible, but it has been there all along. Certainly the current political situation has served as a big wake-up call.

Barbara Marx Hubbard suggests that crisis precedes evolutionary leaps and always has--biologically speaking. But now it is a conscious choice where before evolutionary adaptations simply occurred as the environment rewarded biological adaptations of various sorts. This evolution of consciousness, though, involves choice and a new way of being based on non- duality. The old must disintegrate for the new to emerge. Barbara thinks enough people world-wide have been on individual spiritual journeys that we are now a significant enough proportion of the world's population (5%, 10%?) for a shift to occur. The next spiritual step (including and transcending) involves awakened people finding each other, opening to each other in a resonant way, and co-creating the new. The "co" part of this work is extremely important (and in a way we are doing this as we attempt to make sense of what we feel as we participate in these constellations).

It's remarkable how the insights keep flowing from these experiences.My thanks to you all for being partners in this work.

May 22 Thank you so much everyone at the Constellation for you willingness and beautiful efforts to make our world more conscious. I agree that this work is crucial to our individual and collective awakening. There are so many ways to step up, and I'm grateful to be a part of this way. I only wanted to say that the whole slavery issue has been sitting with me. There are so many points of view and so many tangled bits to explore. I've felt a bit sad and scared, off and on the last few days. Can't help wondering if our constellation journey has influenced my feelings. It's odd to feel in between two feelings, kind of like Carl Jung's "tension of the opposites." I'm nervous about what the crumbling of our old system will entail, while at the same time feeling like there are many of us who are at the forefront of a new way of being (even if it seems invisible at the moment!). I have hope and that means so much to me. Being a participant in this group is so valuable to me! My go-to process is a focus on the positive, staying open to the possibilities. I'm sure there are many ways to work through the shadow side of humanity and the U.S., and it seems crucial that we become aware of what we've kept under wraps for so long. My intuition tells me we CAN dive into this and other subjects as long as we're willing to "go with the flow" whatever that may require. I feel ready to explore.

I treasure the insights of each of you and look forward to future processes.

And I as Judy ditto the parting words of the last two. May the journey continue.

Boulder, CO 80302, USA

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