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Constellation Therapy 7/8: Healing the Ghosts of the Past

Invisible influences from our ancestral pasts can prevent us from really seeing our children in the present. In the seventh part of her blog series, Nicola Mackay, a clinical physicist turned constellation therapist and researcher, discusses how one client’s ruptured relationship with her adult daughter began to heal when she confronted her family history of anger and sacrifice.

The influences from our ancestors flow down to us through the gateway of our parents. The influences from our siblings and relationships flow around us. However, the connection with our children and dreams flows from us to them. It is our legacy. 

We each need to take responsibility for our own choices and actions. The lives that we are living in the present will eventually become a memory for our children and descendants. The aspects of ourselves, the cost of our choices, our pain that we cannot ‘see’ and accept will become their legacy.

This movement to face forward and look at the cost of our own choices, rather than remaining embroiled in the inherited cost of our ancestors’ choices is a difficult place for many to transition. It can be really hard to face forward and to see the children. Instead we can be stuck in aspects of our own childhood and ‘see’ the children through that entangled pain. 

Healing one mother-daughter relationship

Louisa came to see me for an individual session. Her intention for the session was to work on the relationship with her daughter, Lola. They had been estranged for a couple of years and Louisa did not know where or how Lola was. She was full of regret for the difficulties in their relationship and desperate to make amends. 

They had fallen out over her daughter’s choice of partner. When we set up the initial constellation map there was an inherited relationship promise between Louisa, her father, and her paternal grandmother, and it was clear that there had been an inheritance of this that had impacted Louisa and her daughter’s relationship.
The trickiest part came with inheritance of the pain from Louisa’s grandmother. She was entangled with the unacknowledged dead and missing men within that line that did not return from war. Both Louisa and Lola were pulled to the entanglements and the entrenched sacrifice was strongly present. Louisa at first did not want to clear the anger between her and her paternal grandmother, who had been abusive to her when she was a child. 

The grandmother resented Louisa’s place and dreams, and Louisa was not ready to release her own anger yet. There was a strong need within Louisa for him to see how abusive the grandmother had been, and to see how much she had carried for him. However, when she realised that her daughter Lola was also entangled and that the anger and sacrifice were in fact being held between them, she immediately let go of her place as a child and stepped into her place as a woman and as a mother. Louisa said:

I have been looking at you through my childhood.
I have been looking at you through my pain.
Part of me was asking you to hold that with me.
I couldn’t see that then, but I can see it now.
I don’t need you to hold that anymore.

I am not a child in this.
I am a woman.
I am a mother.
You are my daughter.

We then worked to ensure that none of the broken promises from the previous generations or Louisa’s relationship line were being held within her daughter Lola’s marriage.

There is a place for love with you.
You are worthy of love.
I accept that you are free to choose love.
You are a free woman.

Six months later I received an email out of the blue from Louisa. Her daughter had spontaneously contacted her after the session, and they had exchanged a couple of very emotional phone calls. Louisa was delighted to learn that she was to become a grandmother and wanted to let me know that she was continuing to work hard on her own sense of place as well as the line that flowed onwards from her. 

The sparks of hope amidst the pain and trauma of the entanglements are why I love working with constellation as much as I do. 

Our final blog in the series will be discussing the strength and support we can access by acknowledging who, what, and where we come from. 


Nikki Mackay

Nikki Mackay (BSc, MSc) is a Family & Ancestral Constellation therapist and teacher. She previously worked as a Clinical Physicist within the NHS, specialising in Neurophysiological measurement and exploring the efficacy of energy healing on the autonomic nervous system. Nicola has been in private practice for 20 years. She has a busy therapy practice and teaching school based in Western Europe and the USA and offers training, workshops and individual family constellation therapy. Since 2016 she has been exploring the possibilities of constellations at a macro level, working with the International Relations Department of a University in Scotland looking at using constellations as a tool for understanding collective memory and trauma. Her fifth book, Your Invisible Inheritance,  was published by Rebel Magic Books in May 2020. She can be contacted at

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