Skip to content

Constellation Therapy 5/8: Maternal Line and Field

What is the significance of the maternal line in family and ancestral constellation therapy? What does it mean for our clients when this line is ‘reversed’? In the fifth part of her blog series, Nicola Mackay, a clinical physicist turned constellation therapist and researcher, explores a common theme in so many family histories – that of missing children and grieving mothers.


The seat of our emotional belonging and the root of so much of our invisibly inherited relationship entanglements reside in the emotionally weighted connection with our maternal line and field.

Our mother gives birth to us. Life comes from her. A rejection of our mother, and an inability to accept the connection that comes from her to us, can have serious consequences in all areas of our life including our ability to love and be loved. We can become thoroughly entangled and stay focused on the dynamic with her instead of participating in our own life.

This disruption of the mother-child relationship leads to some common but highly destructive patterns, which I have regularly observed in my practice. Possible entanglements and beliefs held within the Maternal line and Field (MLF) are:

  • I am not enough.
  • I am not worthy of love. 
  • My mother didn’t do enough, give enough, love enough. 
  • Waiting to be seen and loved. 
  • Waiting to be worthy of love. 
  • It isn’t safe for the line to continue. 

The maternal line and field is also influential upon creativity, learning, emotional communication, and sacrifice. If it is disrupted or entangled in any way then we suffer greatly with our self-worth and confidence. We can lurch from one relationship to the next, or suffer in an emotionally vulnerable relationship, in the hope that we will eventually be loved and belong emotionally.

A reversed line

The most common entanglement within the MLF is the reversal of the maternal line. Instead of the connection flowing from mother to child down the line, it flows back from child to mother through the generations to the original root cause of the reversal and entanglement.

The root cause might be:

  • The unacknowledged death of a child in the current or previous generations. 
  • The forced adoption of a child.  

These are very common occurrences in the history of our family fields. 

Symptoms of a reversed maternal line: 

  • A child takes on the role of parent and holds safety and emotional safety for the mother, sacrificing their own safety and emotional belonging. 
  • A need to exclude our self from our mother, and the line, in order to find a safe place to belong.  
  • Waiting to be seen by our mother.  
  • Attempting to replace or carry the unseen and missing children with our own. 
  • Replacing the lost loves with our own partner. 
  • Unconsciously holding the broken promises and dreams.  

There are so many missing children in each of our family fields and so many grieving mothers, each separated, isolated, and displaced from one another. In order to heal this and emotionally belong, the root entanglements must be honoured, witnessed, and acknowledged.

The mother of my client, Abigail, had given a child up for adoption before she had Abigail and her siblings, and a part of her had stayed with that adopted child. Abigail felt unseen and unloved by her mother and desperately wanted her to see her. She also felt she had to ‘mother’ her younger siblings.

We gently worked with this entanglement in a map and brought in spaces for all of them.  Placing the adopted child in the map was transformational for Abigail. The adopted child was waiting to be seen and Abigail was unconsciously waiting with her. The mother was lost in her own grief and unable to see.

Abigail was able to say to her adopted sibling:

You were before me.
I didn’t take your place.
I didn’t steal her love from you.
I was just a child too.
You are worthy of love and I am worthy of love.
We each have a place. 

Abigail was able to then work with her mother saying: 

I can see this, but I can’t see this for you.
I cannot hold your responsibility as a mother.
I am your daughter; I am not their mother.
I am not your mother. 

It was a very emotional experience for Abigail. She was able to let go of the weight of the unacknowledged grief and pain and come back to her own place.

In our next blog we will be uncovering the significance of promises and broken promises as we look at love through the lens of constellation. 

/getmedia/e1a7f984-8d4c-4522-a40b-f4e4d923db00/Nicola-Mackay.png

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 nikki@nikkimackay.co.uk

Related Blog Posts

Here are some similar posts that may interest you.