“Although surrendering to our sacred longings can sometimes be quite a painful soul-stretching and soul-tempting process…our longing, with its unique quality and energy, is also a magical state to befriend, for it is a trustworthy guide.” – Frank MacEowen, The Mist-Filled Path
The sacred longing Frank MacEowen speaks of is what led me to embark on a six-month journey to reconnect with my ancestors and their lands. I can say from firsthand experience that MacEowen is absolutely correct: this longing is indeed a trustworthy guide. I followed it to some of the most profound experiences of my life.
My longing to go on this particular journey came through in a dream I had earlier this year. In it, my husband tells me he’s leaving me and I am shocked. How will I make it alone? I wonder. And he replies, “Haven’t you always wanted to see exotic places?” In the dream I remember I’ve always wanted to travel to Iceland. And so, in waking life I did.
Sacred longing comes from deep within; it’s in my bones, my DNA. Many of my ancestors were forced from their lands because of their spiritual or religious beliefs or because of war. They suffered immense trauma. And their grief lives within me: the grief of being separated from their homeland, the grief of losing loved ones, the grief of having to hide who they really were.
I went to Europe for myself, but I also went there for my ancestors.
I didn’t know specific cities or counties where my ancestors were from. My decision to visit certain places was based on limited family knowledge and intuition, and this information led me to northern Scotland, the Inner Hebrides, western Wales, northern and southern England, coastal Norway, inland Sweden, and Iceland (not sure if I definitely have Icelandic ancestry, but I certainly felt at home there).
The longing of my ancestors showed me the way. And in each place, I was transformed.
Scotland opened my heart and helped me love myself more. There, the land and the ancestors prepared me for what was to come.
In England I came to terms with my divorce while sitting under an old tree in Meanwood Park in Leeds. I also had my first ancestral dream of the trip in Leeds, which I shared in this post. Surely, my Scottish and English ancestors suffered heartbreak and their longing led me to work on mending my own heart while in their lands.
From there I went to Norway where I experienced a true homecoming. From the moment the plane flew over the fjords and snow-capped mountains, I felt an intense sensation of belonging to the land.
It was clear my Norwegian ancestors felt a deep love for the fjords, mountains, and valleys there and their love for the land lived in me. When it came time to go I didn’t want to leave, and I stayed an extra three weeks. When I sat down on the train to Oslo on my final day, tears streamed down my face as I watched the hills and fjord disappear from view.
After Norway I traveled through Switzerland and Belgium, neither of them ancestral lands. During my time in these countries, although I was with friends and in new, exciting places, I felt a sense of disconnection for the first time. I felt unmoored. It wasn’t until I returned to Sweden that I once again had the sensation of homecoming.
Sweden provided a respite for me; I’d been traveling for three-and-a-half months and I needed a break. It was here I re-ignited my relationship with the ancestors and began asking them again in earnest for guidance. At that point, I wasn’t sure where I’d go next.
They led me back to England. There I incubated a dream about my next steps and I received one of the most powerful dreams of my trip, one that guided me to return to my birthplace, Colorado.
I had major family healing to do there, and sacred longing brought be back to my most familiar homeland to begin the process. I came full circle, leaving my ancestors’ homelands to return to my own homeland. The ancestors asked me to become a catalyst for healing the familial line. I accepted the call.
Are you ready to honor your sacred longing? If you are, hold on tight. You might be in for quite a ride.