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Ancestral Medicine

Posted: 26/10/2017 in Blog
drum medicine
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They are as close as this conversation Sacred Drumming

This is a practical example of how Ancestral Medicine has been experienced in our lives over the past few years. The relationship is ongoing and there are not many days in which Skipper or Pop-pop as my maternal grandfather was called is not present in my life, I refer to him now as one of my guides. We were only allowed to call him skipper when we were older. One of his favourite games he played with us as children was when we went to visit Nana and Pop-pop. In the garden, on the bird bath sat a baking tray of coconut ice, but we couldn't touch it because he said that it had to cool down, he made us wait for ages. We were frantic to get Pop-pop’s coconut ice because it was the best thing we had ever tasted, but we had to wait for it to cool!

Having a house in negative equity is no joke you feel like a prisoner. So here we are owning a house that is worth less than we owe the bank; slogging away paying a mortgage that in ten years needs renewing and because of our age the bank will not give us a loan, that means in ten years we are going to be out on the street.

There is a strong feeling growing, move to Europe, sell up and leave. All our work is over in foreign parts we are frequent fliers to Germany, Switzerland, Spain and Austria, giving seminars and workshops. There are invitations from people who love us "come and live here, you are welcome, this can be your home” and then exhausted we return home to the south coast of Britain and it seems so shabby; the seaside semi detached houses flee past the train window thats dripping grey with rain, no colour, no life and for us a bleak future.

Home is home. We love the garden with its huge walnut tree and curved flowerbeds, paths and stone circles like winding streams; a tiny rusty wren skips along the fence and disappears in the ivy re emerging seconds later tail perky and bold. The colours, the lush English garden green; washing up is a pleasure with this view out into nature. A voice close suggests I cut the lawn, or I move that stone over a bit, or that tree needs to be trimmed its taking too much light. It’s not a rare conversation I am hearing him more often, and I see Skipper in my minds eye smiling with me and helping me to love and care for this piece of turf, regularly as I wash-up I see and hear him, nice old man, dapper and clean, a good face with a warm and strong smile.

"Ma” I say on one of my visits to far off wind swept north Cornwall, "I keep sensing your father Skipper in the garden, he tells me how to make the garden nice”. "You will know its Skipper because he never liked a straight line” Ma replies. I love it, not a straight line anywhere, thats my grandfather enjoying being with me, wow what fun.

Back home I start to have more and more memories of Skipper, he's sitting in his chair smoking an Embassy cigarette and having his evening whiskey, he likes my company, gives me his army telescope and ceremonial sword, tells me about Africa, he smiles a lot. He makes me wear a tie when taking my sort of cousin Victoria to the funfair in Egerton Park, trying to make me look like a gentleman at twelve.

As these recollections flood back I see clearly that he is real, he's alive in me, smiling and present, patiently here for me, he's like a good friend. "Skipper” I say one sunny bronze autumn day, as I gaze into the garden from the sink full of dirty dishes, "Skipper, you were a good business man, you knew bricks and mortar, please help us to sell this house at a profit. We don’t need much but we do need some money to get us started where ever we go, please will you help us?”

Strange things start occurring, we start doing up the rooms, really cleaning well, painting walls and door surrounds; fixing odds and ends, those jobs that take a few minutes to do but months to get around too. A leak in the kitchen behind the dishwasher floods the living room but we managed to save the wooden floor, ooo that was close. Talking to the agents we feel out the market, always they suggest selling low, below what we owe. But still we soldier on cleaning, painting, gardening and spick and spanning. A picture unfolds like in a projected movie, the summer is coming, sell next summer.

In my black Tai Qi trousers with big wide floaty legs early in the morning just before Christmas I am cleaning the house for the children's arrival, excited, rushing around with my bucket filled with hot soapy water just about spilling over the brim. Cleaned down stairs "Oh yes the bath room” whipping around the corner to climb the stairs two at a time, my right foot gets caught in my left legging. The bucket flies over my head, handle snaps and lands upside down on the oak wood parquet floor, like a thirsty French foreign legionnaire the dehydrated well waxed wood takes the hot sudsy bucket in one slippery gulp. 

As the days progress my humour turns to distress, the one real piece of quality in this thirty year old house is this real genuine, original to the house, polished oak wood parquet floor  that is now buckling and rising like the hot steamy bulging geyser in Yellowstone Park. I  carefully collect all the little wooden pieces and begin drying them out, but more and more come up, and I look at the prospect of my new year spent in sorting out this damp and complex jigsaw puzzle. "Have you got house Insurance?” says Mick my friendly and very practical neighbour, who cheerfully offers me a beer. "Yes, I think so” "Well this is an insurance job Steven, have you made many claims?” he asks as his beer dribbles off his bushy blonde moustache. "No, no we haven’t”

In come the quotes, keep it reasonable, ‘like for like’ is the term, says the small plump insurance man. Within a few weeks a brand new top quality hardwood floor is being laid. Suddenly as spring arrives with longer balmy days, yellow trumpet daffodils and bluebells bobbing and scenting the sea air, our house takes a lift and rises to the occasion. People come to view, "Oh thats a nice floor” they say, as we greet them at the front door, "You have just put it in, umm thats lovely”. A local young family take a look, they fall in love with our clean, bright sun filled home. They love the curvy garden and walnut tree, love the size and space, the children have chosen their rooms, and they especially love the new wooden floor in the front hall way, what an entrance.

All the while I see Skipper smiling at me from his armchair, puffing away on his cigarette just enjoying being with his grandson. I can see from behind the veil such laughter, enjoyment and care. It just takes asking, looking for the obvious, knowing that they are close, "The ancestors are as close as this conversation” I so often now say.

We sell at the height of a tiny lift in the summer housing market and get a price way beyond the agents expectations, who stands there scratching his head "thats the highest price we have ever got for this style of house in this area, congratulations” So we can go heads held high, released from our burden. We can leave with a little bit of cash to tide us over, move our belongings, pay our rent for a few months, and have a fresh start in Europe. On my birthday it’s a sweltering hot July evening, we have watched the huge white truck disappear around the corner, there is no turning back; "lets load the last items, leave the rest there is no more space.” Neda the spaniel and Mimi the cat get squeezed into the bulging Ford Focus and  off we head for a new life over the north sea, eastward German bound.

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