When Belvie told me over the phone about her experience with “healing constellations” at a conference she recently attended in Boston I didn’t really get it.

“It’s hard to explain” she said. Then she told me she invited the man who led the process to join us in facilitating the all-day workshop we were scheduled to lead at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco on April 22. So I knew she must have been greatly impacted by her experience.

Belvie Rooks and I have worked together many times now. We’ve led workshops and done presentations on what healing from the legacy of slavery looks like in in several states; at conferences and colleges. We’ve developed a deep and trusting relationship so I had no concerns; just curiosity. I was unfamiliar with Dan Booth Cohen but ordered a copy of his book, I Carry Your Heart in My Heart, and read about the use of constellations as a healing tool with men in prison serving long sentences; many serving “life without the possibility of parole” for murder. It’s a powerful book. It helped me understand the constellation process better… sort of. Many questions remained, which isn’t surprising when I read in his book, “Even in the most ordinary case, a Family Constellation is difficult to explain or fully comprehend.”

At their core, constellations operate from the same basic foundation that the STAR program at Eastern Mennonite University does: that historic traumas, harms experienced by people many generations in the past, continue to impact us today. Science proves this. It turns out that traumatic events create physical changes in the genes of those impacted. Those genes are passed on to future generations. Trauma is inherited (check out this YouTube clip: the key part begins at 1:52 after the beginning).

The concept is that the constellation process reveals hidden dynamics from past trauma and allows participants to transform and heal. Having now experienced this process one time I am even more intrigued and look forward to learning more. I believe that many people who attended the workshop that day would agree that constellations may well be another valuable healing tool in dealing with the historic trauma of slavery and its lingering legacy today.

I’ll write more in the future about constellations as I learn more. What I experienced that day was a combination of things that I still have a hard time putting into words. So rather than try to explain what happened from the perspective of my limited base of knowledge, I strongly encourage you to read what Dan wrote about our constellation experience on his blog.