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Constellation Therapy 8/8: From Source of Pain to Source of Strength

How might collective memories of persecution, famine and conflict be influencing our clients’ experiences of the current pandemic? How can we guide clients to find a source of present day support in their ancestral lineage, too? In the final part of her blog series, clinical physicist turned constellation therapist Nicola Mackay suggests how constellation work might transform an Achilles heel into a superpower.


You are here because they were here. The unacknowledged and invisible trauma within our ancestral field forms the structure of who we are and how we live. Constellation is an amazing tool for shifting that structure and the system of our belonging, giving place to trauma that we hold entangled within us so that we are not bound to endlessly repeat the stories.  

Once we have found these entanglements, and they are acknowledged and disentangled, then our ancestors become a great source of strength and support.  

Their stories can change from being an Achilles heel to a superpower.

Inheriting the painful collective stories 

In recent individual sessions I have repeatedly observed aspects of the collective memories of persecution, famine and conflict trauma appear as a root entanglement. The individual response to Covid-19 and the experience of that trauma and threat in the present is entangled with, and experienced through, the dislocated collective memories from our past.  

One client in particular, Sophie, an American with Irish ancestry, was deeply distressed by the unfolding of the pandemic. Though she herself was not impacted physically or economically, her terror was very real.  

Sophie’s great-great-great-grandfather had made it to Canada but no one else in the family had. His wife died on the boat from typhoid. Their children had died in Cork. His parents had died. Everything and everyone was lost. He had experienced utter panic at not being able to provide, to keep safe, to hold on to the family land. It was this panic that was coursing through Sophie in her present experience of the pandemic. She was reliving their fear within her own. 

On exploration of this inherited panic during a session, Sophie experienced relief at being able to disentangle her ancestors’ migration trauma, relating to the Irish famine, and working with a representative for ‘fear’ in the present and the directed narrative of the following shifted the influent field for her: 

I feel your ancestors behind you. 
I feel my ancestors behind me. 
I can’t hold the lost souls within my place. 
They didn't owe anyone a painful death. 
They were worthy of a gentle death. 
Their descendants are worthy of gentle lives. 
I am worthy of a gentle life. 
Even though it feels similar this isn’t then. 

This did not make the reality of the pandemic disappear but Sophie was no longer experiencing it through the weight of her ancestors’ trauma.  

Connecting with our ancestral strength  

The influent field from our ancestors is not just made up of trauma. It is full of amazing, strong, creative and wonderful people with stories of joy, happiness and dreams. It is just that the entanglements tend to drown that out. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. The lineage of our ancestors is more than their pain and the trauma, and choosing to see it can transform it.  

The potential for transformation and change from the individual through to the collective is massive. Guiding a client to look back to their known and unknown ancestral lineage and saying the following can support a sense of safety and belonging in the present: 

Part of me comes from you. 
Parts of me are like you. 
I accept those parts. 
Our choices, dreams and beliefs are different. 
I can remember you without becoming you. 
I feel your strength supporting my strength. 
There is a place for each of your dreams and there is a place for my dreams. 
I remember you as I follow my dreams. 

We are not alone in this. It doesn’t matter how far back we have to go down the known family lines, or if indeed the soft, sweet point of connection comes from the unseen or unknown folks instead.  

Within that field of influence there are people cheering us on, and that is our superpower. And in the same way, we can look to our dreams and our descendants with hope, love and good wishes.  

You are their cheerleader; you are part of their superpower. 

And this is a sacred offering. 


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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