Decolonizing the Maternal Bloodline by Cathy Skipper
My journey with the feminine has been a long and intense road. It started by being born to an Anglo-Indian mother who had come to the UK in the thirties as a child. She and her sister were very close, and both mothered me in their different ways.
The wound that I carry comes from this maternal bloodline. This wound has since transformed into my gift and my way of honoring the feminine.
We were never allowed to talk about our Indian roots. I knew nothing growing up about who we really were, except that whoever we were, we had to hide it.
I lived a difficult and traumatic adolescence and young adulthood and suffered from the symptoms of PTSD. Drug addiction, domestic violence and sole parenting dominated my marginal existence. I couldn’t understand what was underlying my trauma, I had grown up in a privileged society and had a good education…what had gone wrong?
It took me over forty years of soul searching to realize that I was suffering from historical trauma passed down from my hidden maternal bloodline. And this is where the story really begins. I needed to bring the inherited trauma into consciousness, to tell its story, in order not to continue repeating it. Little did I know then that I was unearthing not only my own lineage’s trauma, but a collective trauma. I was being called by the feminine, by the ancients, by the indigenous women of our bloodlines.
The Anglo-Indian community are a result of British colonization in India.
“The Anglo-Indians were brought into being by the direct policies of the Portuguese, Dutch, and British traders and colonists. The Directors of the British East India Company (which had been founded around 1629) paid one pagola or gold mohur (a guinea coin) for each child born to an Indian mother and a European father, essentially, a family allowance. (Younger, C.1984) These children were “country-born” and amalgamated into the Anglo-Indian community, forming a bulwark for the British Raj (rule), a buffer but also a bridge between the rulers and the subjects.” (1)
Of course, India was not the only place where the European colonials were raping indigenous women or taking them as their wives and lovers and having children with them. This phenomenon has happened in every continent where colonization has left its footprint.
And this, I believe, is where my deep connection with and understanding of the feminine aspect of life takes it root.
In most cases, these women and even more so their children were ripped from their indigenous cultures. The women’s names were often changed, their children were taken from them and educated in ‘orphanages’, where their mother’s names were omitted from the paperwork, and they were prohibited from speaking their native languages.
My great-grandmother and my grandmother were bought up in Anglo-Indian ‘orphanages’. My mother and my aunt never mentioned our roots and yet since being a young child I was led by a deep, inner sense that something was missing.
In 2014 my mother and her sister died, months apart. In 2015, I was diagnosed with cervical cancer.
My journey to heal my trauma became a journey to heal my maternal bloodline. My journey to heal my maternal bloodline became a journey of decolonizing the feminine.
The key to this work is the mitochondrial DNA also called ‘maternal inheritance’. Apart from our nuclear DNA found in the nucleus of the cell and that we inherit equally from our mothers and our fathers, we also have a small amount of DNA in the mitochondria, which are organelles found in cells that generate energy for the cell in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate).
What is interesting about mtDNA is that it is passed down uniquely through the maternal bloodline in the cytoplasm of the egg. There is a living, embodied part of us that is the same in every member of our maternal line. There is a She that is in me, that is in my mother that is in my grandmother and that is in my great-grandmother and so on.
This living thread connects us and cannot be severed—it can be hijacked but never severed. I believe the feminine is rising through these unbreakable threads.
The gift I received from the wound of being separated from my maternal roots was that, once I wove my way back through DNA testing and ancestry records, I quickly found that these roots were strong, powerful and indigenous.
But research isn’t enough to reconnect. I worked simultaneously through shamanic journeying to connect and build relationship with my indigenous ancestors. When I found them, I knew it. Feeling their love and wisdom and strength was the most beautiful experience that has happened to me. My clan had been waiting.
The magic of this story is that my great-great grandmother was from the Khasi tribe in North-Eastern India. This tribe is known for its matrilineal structure. The women in my bloodline were guiding me and parenting me, even though I was not aware of it. I look now at my four sons and I realize that my bloodline, the energy of my clan, bought them up.
“The aim (of a matrilineal society) is not to have power over others and over nature, but to follow maternal values, i.e. to nurture the natural, social and cultural life based on mutual respect.” (2)
The feminine is rising through these unbroken threads of DNA in our maternal bloodlines. These unbroken threads lead us—yes all of us—back to our indigenous roots.
The gift of those maternal bloodlines that were hijacked by colonization is that our indigenous roots are close. What is repressed comes back with greater force. That, is I believe why my life’s work is helping others decolonize their maternal bloodlines, reconnect with their indigenous ancestral clans and give the feminine back not only its voice but its true power.
Western women have been fighting since the sixties to reclaim child-birth. We are now beginning to take back the language, the definition and the experience of menopause. Now is the time to remember that we hold the ancestral line, the clan in our DNA. This is our birthright, an aspect of the feminine that has been so expropriated that we don’t even realize it is the very essence of the feminine. Just as gestating a child and birthing it through our physical bodies is inherently feminine, so is the holding and passing down the clan through our physical bodies. This indigenous thread of the world’s people is held in our bodies and transmitted unchanged from mother to child in the mitochondrial DNA.
Our responsibility as women is to listen to the call of the feminine deep within us and to reconnect with our ancestral clan. In my work, I have witnessed different women from various backgrounds reconnecting. For some the journey back to the indigenous people is longer, the obstacles are bigger, but for all it is possible.
Once the bloodline has been decolonized, it is like putting a plug back in a socket. We feel the connection, the strength, the love, the wisdom of the feminine incarnated through time holding us, mothering us, guiding us. It is an energy that we must nurture, like a hearth fire, it mustn’t go out.
My sons are part of my clan, we have the same mtDNA, the same living thread. Their children will be of their mother’s clan. My sons will guide and father their children from a place of belonging, from a deep sense of where they come from and who they are that comes from their feminine aspect and that is held in their physical bodies.
I am not suggesting that we should all go back to living in matrilineal societies. What I am suggesting, however, is that our ancestral clans come through the feminine and we need to reclaim them. This thread that resonates through the mtDNA that connect us to our ancestral wisdom is real and is alive. We are being asked to reconnect with this indigenous knowing, listen to it, be guided by it. This is the feminine rising in each and every one of us, men included. Our sons and our brothers are connected to our bloodlines. If every one of us decolonizes and reconnects with our maternal, ancestral clan, think of the guidance we would receive. Think of the power of the feminine coming through the mother lines that would show us how to move forward in harmony with the natural world.
Our children are our ancestors. The feminine births the children and embodies the living connection with the ancestors. This is unbroken line in resonance with the earth. The masculine beholds and acts upon this indigenous, earth-based force, knowing deep within that it is the embodied truth.
This is true Eco-Feminism.
- Anglo-Indians: The Dilemma of Identity by Sheila Pias James
- Heidi Goettner-Abendroth founder of the International Academy HAGIA for Modern Matriarchal Studies
If you are interested in Ancestral Healing, including decolonizing your maternal bloodline, consider my new online class “Plants and Ancestors.” We are also teaching this class live around the US. See our Schedule of upcoming live classes of “Plants and Ancestors” here.
Subscribe to our email list below: