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Daan van Kampenhout - 'Shamanic Rituals'

Interview by Renate McNay 

Renate:  Hello and welcome to Conscious TV. My name is Renate McNay and my guest today is Daan van Kampenhout. Hello, Daan. Daan is here with us from the Netherlands where he lives, he is a shamanic practitioner, he is the founder of Systemic Rituals and he has lots of books out, eight books which are translated in ten languages.

Daan:  Ten languages.

Renate:  Wow, that’s impressive, I have one book here with me which I read over the last days which is called The Tears of the Ancestors and we will talk about it later. But first of all I would like to…and he has CDs out and… What is shamanism? What is that, a shamanic practitioner? 

Daan:  Shamanism is, I would say,  it’s the art of communicating. The essence of shamanic work is to communicate between one soul and the other and the traditional shamanic traditions, the cultures that use shamanism, are nomadic cultures in Siberia and in the Arctic region in North America. And people have learned to communicate with spirits that are in trees, in brooks, in the water, the river, with the souls of people in dreams, in trance work and all of that in order to find information that will help to bring back balance, if that’s lost or to improve the quality of life in communication between different people.

Renate:  So you would say it’s the art of communicating with nature.

Daan:  It’s not so much the art of communicating with nature but really communicating between one soul and the other. So the human being has a soul, but if we say the water also has a soul or a kind of awareness, consciousness actually, and the flowers and anything, then the shamanic work can be used to communicate with nature, but also with the souls of the dead, also with people who are missing for example. For example one of my teachers, when somebody was missing on the reservation, or in a tourist area nearby the reservation where he lived, he would be called in and he would start praying and singing and he would ask the trees and the river and the water: “Have you seen this person walking by?” And they would tell him where that person went and where he could be found.

Renate:  Then it’s also the ability to listen, to hear to nature. Is that something we can learn or something which we all have? We all have this ability?

Daan:  Yeah. That’s a good question. And different cultures and different teachers disagree about that. Traditional shamanic cultures say that the shaman, the role of the shaman should be taken only by one or two people in a community because… hm…maybe you can compare it with like in the western world, modern world, you only need one baker, you only need one butcher, you only need one smith in the village. If everybody would be a baker, what would be the use? So the idea is that there would be just one or two shamans in a community doing the work that the shaman would be doing. More western shamanic practitioners that have come to practise since the last few decades, they found that actually every human being has the capacity for this type of communication but certainly when you practise a lot you get better and some people are more talented than others. Maybe you could compare that with playing music. Everybody can learn to play some piano or guitar and some are just good at it.

Renate:  Reading your biography you sent me I had the feeling that shamanism was finding you rather than the opposite, is that right?

Daan:  That’s certainly…

Renate:  How did it start?

Daan:  That’s certainly a more traditional way for it to come. In my case the most clear moment that I can point out where the shamanic work started was…I had been in India, I was just eighteen years old and I got also parasites and illnesses there and finally I got malaria. And actually I got my first malaria attack on the flight back to the Netherlands. And after a few days I was basically nearly dead. I was really close to dying and then…

Renate:  Were you aware of that? 

Daan:  Not any more.

Renate:  Or were you…unconscious…?

Daan:   Not any more. Because malaria gives you very high fever and then very low temperature. So you bounce up and down between way too high and way too cold and you lose your sense of physicality and the pain threshold at some point did just get numb, you don’t feel the pain any more. So by then I was basically gone already and luckily my mother came to visit and she said: "Something is very wrong". She took my temperature and it was way and way too high and I was taken with an ambulance to the hospital and just barely survived actually. And very soon after I had recovered I started having dreams in which I would change into an animal and I never dreamt that before. And then I would perceive the world as the animal would do. So my senses would be different, I would smell much more, I would see different, I would feel different, I would move different. And beside these dreams I also started to get visits from one old man in some kind of leather coat with some weird hangers on it. I had never seen it, at least not seen it consciously.

Renate:  How did you feel about that?

Daan:  Quite normal. I  had always had a very, very active dream life and dreams already were by then a source of guidance for me. So that in itself did not surprise me, it was just another development in the dreaming. But when this little old guy came in several times and taught me several things and talked with me and… that was interesting. I didn’t have such dream guides on a regular basis up till then.

Renate:  And what did he guide you into or what did he tell you? Do you remember?

Daan:  I remember  that he would come in and look at me and start singing for me and the singing would have an effect on certain parts of my energy, my body, and then he would sometimes invite me to sing with him so that I would learn this melody. And actually then I started to learn melodies in my dreams which has lasted till this day, thirty years later. And by  now I have hundreds of melodies recorded that I learned in my dreams. So it’s really a teaching situation.

Renate:  So what does this singing mean? Is this something like we would use…some people would meditate, I know shamans don’t meditate. Is this instead of meditation, where does this song lead you, what does it lead into?

Daan:  Yeah, well, actually so many spiritual traditions use singing as a way to elevate consciousness to open up the awareness for something larger. Shamanic singing has some specific effects. It can work with energies in the body to readjust them, to open up energetic centers, to move energy.  And actually… hm… the idea is that every organ, every part of our body has its own vibration…hm… and sometimes the liver may sound off-tune in relation to the rest of the body.

Renate:  And are you able to hear that?

Daan:   Hm, sometimes, sometimes. But I have to get myself into a dream state or trance state and then the perception changes slightly and then these things can be heard or seen in colour variations. Some people could feel it kinesthetically that a place would be colder or way too hot, there are different ways in which you can perceive that. But the shamans work a lot with the sound in combination with vision and also the singing…imagine it like this: I am sitting here and I am sleeping,  and my soul is out there in the dream world, a part of me is travelling in the dream world and then I encounter a spirit, an entity, an awareness that has a gift for me, a healing gift. And if this spirit would teach me a little melody that resonates with the energy of this spirit, say it’s like a key or telephone call actually, and if I wake up from the dream, I come back, I wake up, and I sing this melody then I bring this connection with the spirit world in my physical body, in my physical awareness and I can contact this healing power.  And that’s how almost all shamanic melodies that you will hear in a ceremony like the sweat lodge or the sun dance or a healing ceremony from other shamanic traditions, almost all these songs are found in dreams or in visions and they are considered calls that you use to activate very specific healing powers that are necessary for this client or this illness or this community or this situation. So it’s a way to activate a whole field of healing and in that way the singing does have an effect of opening the awareness, and some songs are actually there to unite people in their awareness, to give them a sense of community and shared experience. But many shamanic songs have aside from that a function to call in healing powers to activate them and to let them know they are wanted and welcomed and necessary.

Renate:  Can I ask you to do a very short melody for us?

Daan: I can do that.

Renate:  Yeah? Ok, so I would encourage everybody to close their eyes and maybe we will receive some healing.

Daan:  I think just very briefly…

Renate:  Just a taste, how it sounds.

Daan:  (clapping hands softly and singing: Heioio…)

Renate:  Beautiful. You know, I really could feel that. I could feel the energy of that song and…

Daan:  That’s what it’s for.

Renate:  Over that I forgot my next question. (both laughing)

Renate:  So shamanism, can we say, is your spiritual journey?     

Daan:  Ahm…Shamanism is since that it started all those years ago, thirty years ago by now, absolutely the main path of my spiritual development. But shamanic cultures are so different than contemporary western culture where I live that the language of shamanism isn’t were it developed for the kind of experience that we all have today in our life. So I found that shamanism cannot help me with certain types, no, aspects of my spiritual unfolding or development. So there is a few different paths that have been important for me. One is the school from Almaas, the Ridhwan school, where I was a student for about ten years.

Renate:  That helps you. What do you get from this school you don’t get from…

Daan:  In the Ridhwan work we learned to be very, very precise about our experience: the thought aspect of it, the emotional aspect, the kinesthetic aspect, and it’s a process that includes the mind and it very gently, very slowly makes the personality and ego structure permeable for true nature or what I would call the soul, the essence of the soul. Shamanism hasn’t developed a psychological language. You will find shamanic healers which are extremely gifted healers who can take away diseases or help people restore after accidents in really amazing ways. But in other aspects they will be like a spoiled child or… brutal. Because there is not the integration of spiritual power, because in the traditional shamanic context the culture would keep them in check. So that’s this psychological level which is on some level missing in shamanism, in classical shamanism.

Renate:  And isn’t that incredibly important when we work with people, if our stuff comes in between we can never see…I mean, do we not only perceive our own stuff in the other then?

Daan:  Yeah, yeah, of course. So that is always the risk of the non-integrated spiritual work, especially when people develop real powers. Because others will admire them and will come to them begging for this healing experience and if it’s not integrated then this person can believe they are really special. And, well… shamanism has some answers to it because it’s really discipline of prayer and of all the time offering yourself into the hands of something larger. And, for example, a beautiful image is that in some Siberian traditions when the shaman is installed and gets the permission to do the work because the elders say he or she now has the integration enough to do the work and the power is strong enough, then the whole community will gather, then the shaman will serve which is usually like a clan or village or extended family group or bigger. And for some days all those people together will make a costume that the shaman will wear during the ceremonies. A sacred costume  with images of the spirits and of the powers, it’s beautiful, beautiful material. But of course that’s also like: we provide the costume for you and it’s beautiful and elaborate and whatever, but when the shaman wears it he knows this is the gift from the community, they gave it to me and I have to return something. So in the traditional context there is all kind of check and balance mechanisms for to work with the power and that can get difficult in the modern world. That’s why I find that this Ridhwan work has helped me a lot. And also my Jewish roots have helped a lot. I have led an active Jewish life for some years where I was also singing in the synagogue. That’s another type of discipline, another type of community oriented spirituality. That helped to develop certain parts of me. But I always returned to shamanism and it always stays as the main path for me.

Renate:  You talk in this book I read about the pure soul and the wounded soul. Can you explain what you mean by pure soul and wounded soul and how those two…or that the wounded soul can become integrated in the pure soul.

Daan:  Yeah.  Ahm. First I think, it’s a…

Renate:  Or maybe you can give us an example of your own experience. If you have one.

Daan:  Yeah. Well, you know, when we talk about the soul it’s almost as we are looking at an art work that gives us a feeling or a sense or understanding, but the cerebral mind can never a hundred percent get it. So talking about the soul always has some kind of symbolic archaic quality that actually belongs more to the world of dreams. And as such, whatever I can say about it, can never be the full truth, it’s a way to get a sense of it. But what I learned both in the mystical Jewish tradition, the chassidic kabalistic tradition, and from my traditional shamanic teachers is that the soul has different layers. Christianity sees it, I think, as one soul – we havea soul that is with us and when we die it goes into the light or to the creator or whatever.

Renate:  So you would not say: I am soul?

Daan:  Yes. I would say that. Because the soul is layered from very, very high vibrations to more dense vibrations, more dense. And in the end our physical body is the most dense. But in a way you can say we have several bodies or we can say we have several souls and then it’s like a sliding scale, we have the physicality and the pure untouchable soul at the two ends of the two poles. And all kind of stages in between. But in a way this is soul, so… in the form of matter.

Renate:  So I guess everything is soul.

Daan:  That’s exactly what shamanism says. Everything we see and experience in this world is an embodiment of soul and is permeated by the soul. And illnesses and imbalances come when our life style or disease or accident makes us hard and dense and the physical structure cannot be permeated by the soul so it cannot do its work any more.

Renate:  You know, I like the expression Hamid, I mean I am in the same school as you, the Ridhwan school, and Hamid said one time: The soul is God’s dress. Through the soul God becomes visible.

Daan:  Yeah, that’s a beautiful image.

Renate:  So it’s the unseen part and the seen part of true nature of God.

Daan:  There is all these wonderful images that we can use to understand a little bit more about it.

Renate:  Yeah, yeah. So the shaman or you work when you do… I think you work all over the world and you work in big groups and so you work with the wounded soul and through this work on the wounded soul it becomes more and more integrated into the universal soul or into true nature.

Daan:  Well let’s say the soul can be wounded in a variety of ways. One of the ways that you can speak of a wound of the soul is that parts of our soul can actually split off and go somewhere else. And that is a very shamanic concept. Maybe a modern psychologist would speak about dissociation.  Like we do not feel a part of ourselves anymore, we compartmentalize.

Renate:  Through traumas.

Daan:  Or split off to trauma. In shamanism they say:  The soul literally goes away from us through boredom or through suffering or illness or sudden accident or trauma. And the work of the classical shamanic checkup, I would say, of the system would be to connect to the various soul layers and to see which ones are fully there. Because you find that some soul layers or bodies or souls, you know you can call them as you want, they are always in the body very close, they can’t move very far, they can just shift a little bit. Other parts of us can really go somewhere else. And I can give you an example that comes to mind. I was working in a group, I think it was in Switzerland, years ago, and there was a woman and she was a model actually and she had trouble with her eyes, her vision was kind of blurry and she was worried about it. And as I prayed for her…often I pray before I work with a client or ask guidance: "Is it ok to work with a client, what way should I work?" And my image was I should do a calling-back of a soul part. So we asked one person of the group to represent her soul part.

Renate:  So that brings us, sorry, that brings us into your constellation work.

Daan:  We can go back to that (smiling). If I can finish this example?

Renate:  (smiling back) Yes. Sure.

Daan:  And then we can move on with that? So the client, I call the lady the client now, she chose one person to be her soul part and we put that about five meters away from her. And we put the lady herself facing this soul part. And I was singing in the back of this client (Daan singing: heiyoyo…) not so hard, but that song goes in her body and changes something there. And I said:  “Send the song through your heart to your soul part and you add your prayer to it. Tell your soul you want it to be close to you. Tell your soul you need it with you. Tell your soul that whatever made it go away that was years in the past and you’ve become more wise and more experienced, you can take better care of it now in the life you are leading now”. So she was praying like that and you could see the person representing the soul…She was standing with her eyes closed and she starts to orient herself to the song and I said to the soul part: “If you want, follow the movement”. And the soul slowly wandered closer and closer and in the end they embraced each other.  And I said to the soul: “Imagine you are a cube of sugar melting in warm coffee”. And I said to the client: “You are the coffee and you take in the sugar”. And they understood it immediately what  that means. And they merged in each other, very gently and beautifully. I sang a little bit for them and then the soul part was integrated. And I said: “Continue to meditate with that a few days, actually take a beautiful piece of chocolate, like a nice haute couture bonbon or something and pray with it and say: "You are my soul and I want you back and I want you in me". And then deliciously (making a slurping sound) eat this chocolate and imagine your soul is coming in you with this sensuous pleasurable experience of eating this favourite chocolate. You know, it can be as simple as that, these images everybody understands. And she did that. And then two weeks later I got a letter from her and she said: I am thankful to you and a bit frustrated because, she said, I really feel better, I can see the colours more sharp, my presence is more clear. She could feel she is more complete. More crisp, more there. But, she said, the eye that was troubling me, was already for years a little bit smaller than the other eye. And we just had a photo shoot. Part of the photo shoot we did before the session with you and a few days after your work this eye that was smaller opened up more and so literally she could see more of the world and see the colours better and she said, we had to do all those photos again because it didn’t match the first ones with the last ones. And so, she said, that frustrates me a little bit. Anyway, thank you, that was a good, a good… 

Renate:  Great!

Daan:  A simple way to…sometimes  it’s a bit more complex because you have to work with the reason: why did the soul go? And then you have to do work with  trauma and address history in some ways but in this case that wasn’t needed.

Renate:  So you just touched on something else here, you have founded the Systemic Rituals, which .. .yeah, how those two are linked. It comes through the Bert Hellinger constellation, yeah?

Daan:  Yeah. I was teaching shamanic work for quite some years and I think I had been leading year-trainings already for about ten years. And I felt something was lacking. As if some people who came to the shamanic work were very willing and able to go to the spirit world and have wonderful dreams but they would not see their family any more. At some point that felt strange. Communicate and pray for all the world but to hate your mother and your sister and don’t speak to them, something felt… I started to notice this imbalance and although in some cases it may be ok that you don’t speak to your brother but it seemed to me like a pattern, like…as if some people wanted to avoid some stuff. And so I was thinking about that. And then just by chance my partner and I were invited to join a workshop in family constellations because in many spiritual works there is much more women than men. My partner is a man like me and so they said, ok, we invite these two guys, we have two men more immediately in the group and we could come to join this group because we were men. We said, ok, let’s try. And it was actually a very surprising experience. And that was classical family constellation work, the way it was done fifteen years ago when Bert Hellinger was doing what we call now classic constellation work, and people who were leading that work were all very close to him, were all really strongly influenced by him personally. And that seemed to me very powerful work and I wanted more of it for my own development.

Renate:  Can I tell you my own story with that?

Daan:  Please.

Renate:  A short story…which was incredible.  My mother was ninety and she couldn’t die. She was given up by doctors twenty years ago, her body was deteriorating and she just could not die. And one day a friend of mine, she is into constellation work, I call her in Germany and say: “Ilona, why can’t my mother die, from your perspective?” And she said: “Well, who was the stronger of you two?” I said: “Well, I know, I always had to take care, I always had to do things for her, look after her”. She said: “She is standing in the wrong place. She is standing in front of you. But she should stand behind you as your mother”. So she said: “Tonight in your meditation put your mother behind you, visually, and say: Mother, this is your place. I am your child. You are my mother". I did that around eleven o’clock at night before I went to bed. At five o’clock in the morning I received the call that my mother died.

Daan:  Hm, that’s an interesting story.

Renate:  Yeah.

Daan:  Yeah, it’s a beautiful example of the power that was there in this phase of the constellation work. Where there was a very clear understanding about what Bert Hellinger called the orders of love, about seniority in relationships, who stands in which position so that everybody can relax and feel really: this is where I belong, where I should be. And with simple interventions like that people have been healed from diseases, have found balance, amazing work was possible. When the problem was indeed systemic, then a systemic solution could be offered and powerful things like that could happen. Certainly.

Renate:  So is there a link between shamanism and constellation work?

Daan:  Well, that was my question immediately because I could see that in constellations they work with place a lot. This is the right place, this is the wrong place. So the theme of this placement and restoring order through the right placement is a shamanic concept or is a concept used in shamanic healing, too. The displacement of energy, part of me can be in you. The soul of a dead person who doesn’t know they are dead, can be resting on my shoulder and I can think those thoughts are my thoughts and I don’t understand where these tendencies come from. That’s all shamanic work, working with place and restoring everybody to their right place. So I started thinking about that and then I started writing letters to Bert Hellinger, the founder of this type of constellation work, and he was at that time not yet well known, he had just started to go to America once or twice, he’d been in London once or twice and he was just opening up for the English world  through the help of  Hunter Beaumont, who was one of the people who facilitated that. So me and my partner started to go to these groups because the groups in other countries were very small and it was possible to have a personal relationship with Bert at that time. At least in the other countries. In Germany he was very big already. And I started writing him letters about how I saw shamanism and constellation overlapped, where they did exactly the same, where they had different language for the same and where they were not agreeing. And these letters... actually later I edited my letters to Bert into a book called : Images of the Soul. And that book…Bert wrote a beautiful preface for it and shortly after that, interestingly enough, I lost my interest a little bit in classical constellation work and it seemed like this period of one and a half to two years of being very close to Bert Hellinger, was important to bring about this book and as if something had been served and in a friendly way we separated. Because our paths diverged again. Bert is a ex-priest and ex-catholic priest.

Renate: He’s a Jesuit, I think.

Daan:  I think he was of one of the orders that did mission work in Africa. And for him prayer, what I called prayer, was no longer an option, he is in a post-deity state, I would say.

Renate:  Right.

Daan:  And I was strongly also in my, I would say, Jewish phase, I was really exploring the Jewish part also, and I was exploring the concept of God and what is God and how many names do we have for it or her or him.

Renate:  So what is God? (laughing)

Daan:  That’s a good question. So many books that have been written about that.

Renate:  I know, but what’s your experience?

Daan:  Yeah. Sometimes I pray I say: Life-Giver, that’s one of my names for God, or I say: Mystery that created this all. Or I say: Unfolding Creation. So I play around with names for this mystery. But the image is that there is somehow an intelligent principle that is at the foundation of all that exists. And that this could be called God in some way. The Jewish tradition has very good solutions because, just like people say that the Inuit have forty words for snow…well, in Holland we could have eighty words for rain or in London because we have so much rain…but in the Jewish traditions there is many, many words for God.  And according to your need and your level of understanding and the purpose of the prayer you change the name. And one of the names for God is No-End: Ein Sof, and another name is Adonai: My Lord.  That’s a much more directive energy. But the Ein Sof is an endless, unfolding that we can never comprehend.

Renate:  No. But we can experience it.

Daan:  We are part of it.

Renate:  Yeah, and do you with your singing and drumming sometimes fall into this mystery?

Daan:  Absolutely.  Absolutely. I think that is the blessing of being a long time on the spiritual path. And I’ve been practising shamanic work in singing and dreaming and trance work for about thirty years now. I’m now forty-eight and that starts to pay off. That starts to pay off. Where with this singing…there is various types of singing, what I did just earlier is one specific type of shamanic singing. It has a specific purpose, to create an experience or to open up something. But our ways of singing that are like spirals and you repeat and you repeat and in the beginning it gives you your own emotion, you feel touched or you get a memory or an image. And as the song repeats and repeats and repeats these layers of the personality that get activated, dissipate and you go to deeper layers and deeper layers and some of these songs, and that’s really a gift of the mystical Jewish tradition, and in shamanic work, they sing in the dark. And there is the leader of the ceremony or the chassidic rebbe, the mystical rabbi, sings and sings for hours and hours, just one song, and is becoming a doorway for the light. And this spiraling purifies you because you go through boredom with the song and suddenly a door opens and you go through and you are in a bigger space and the layers of the personality is like veils you pass through these curtains slowly and the rabbi or the shaman is in front of you leading the way. And that’s a very, very powerful experience. And you can do that yourself, too, when you have been trained and when you had teachers like that. And when you have the training you cannot start with that immediately, but anybody can already be taken by such a leader into spaces that are right.

Renate:  And I guess the challenge is to bring this place back into this world.

Daan: Oh, that is forgotten by many people. It is easy to go to a ceremony and sit three hours in darkness or from sunset till sundawn and pray with twenty people who all have the same intention with the ceremonial leader you trust already for fifteen years. Then it’s easy to open up. I make it a practice when I sit on my bike, for example, and I have an easy way, not in the middle of the crazy rush hour, but to pray for everybody I see for example, it’s a very interesting way. Or I go to the supermarket and I go in this space where I am not focussed on myself but where I feel the connection with all that lives around me. I could do that easy in my meditation room or with my clients or when  I’m leading a group when everybody is singing and praying. But to do it in a supermarket I have to fill myself with prayer. Then I open up and I start to feel. And I see a mother who is really tired and she nags at the child because the child is pulling all the candy out of the… whatever. And then I just pray for a moment. I say: “May this mother find a wisdom and strength to hold the child because now the child is only afraid of the mother. May there be a place for the frustration of this woman who has to be in this shop. Maybe she is a single mother, maybe she had bad news this morning. May this child grow up and become a beautiful person”.  Or I see a teenage couple kissing on the street, they are fifteen and sixteen and I think, oh my God, when I did my first kisses with a girl or a boy, God, what did I have to go through all those years in order to find a balanced relationship. And then I just open my heart and I say: “May the two of you, may this path of finding love may be beautiful for you. May you have friends who listen to you when you need to cry, may you have friends when you need to share your experience, may it be wonderful for you”. So to make it a practice to pray as I walk through town and in the body feeling the pain of the people in my heart or being in an empathic state and having this connection with all that lives that I can feel and let it flow through my heart in words to the ducks with their little ducklings in the water, in the canals in Amsterdam, or the people that walk there or sit there enjoying themselves over there. So that’s one of the ways I bring my practice to the market place, let’s put it like that.

Renate:  Yeah. I think we would need more of that in the moment in those difficult times.

Daan:  It would be wonderful. Many people do it of course, many traditions suggest that to learn that.

Renate:  There is something which I have found on your website then which I am really interested, if you can say a little bit about it and you say,  it was actually a BBC programme you linked to. And it talked about the ghost in our genes. What our grandmother experienced will cause disease in coming generations.

Daan:  Yeah,  yeah.

Renate:  And you also said that…I think that I read that somewhere else in one of your books or somewhere on your website… that our ancestors give the newborn a soul and the parents give the new born a body. So those are two things I picked out which I thought: oh that’s an interesting concept  (laughing). So maybe we start with the ghost in our genes.

Daan:  Yeah. The ghost in the genes. You know I worked a lot…I was leading a group of psychiatrists and psychoanalysts and medical doctors in Paris in a small group, about twenty people, and for four years we did a training with them. I went to Paris and had a training with them.  Because they wanted to learn more about this.  And one of the well known psychoanalysts in France called Didier Dumas, he talked about ghosts in people’s minds and he also spoke about the ghosts and he meant exactly the same thing as what this BBC  documentary The Ghost in our Genes is speaking about. And the difference is that Didier and others like him found through psychoanalysis that…for example Schuetzenberger is another French psychoanalyst who found exactly the same; very interesting work… that unresolved traumas in our ancestors’ lives actually create patterns that will re-show or will enforce themselves on people one two three generations later.  And these links are often not recognized by normal medical science and even if they would recognize it, what would that mean? That two generations ago your grandmother nearly died in a famine and lost her brother. What would that mean for a medical doctor now? So even if they would recognize it they would not be able to work with it yet. And this documentary on the BBC is so wonderful because it is the first time hard scientific proof, that this is really true that traumatic extended trauma of people will have an effect on the health of people two, three generations later. And that’s I think the gift of that documentary that it takes it out of the room of speculation but offers the first proof of it, scientifically. Hard scientific western proof.  That’s why I linked to that movie on my website.

Renate:  Well, it shows also how we are all connected.

Daan: Absolutely.

Renate:  And how trauma is searching for healing. It has to come out.

Daan:  And that’s one of the reasons why in any Tibetan practice for example, before they practise they will dedicate the practice, they will say: We dedicate our practice today to the health of the animals that are suffering today in the animals’ shops, or to the father of one of the people here who is dying or the well-being of all that lives. That is to things that make us feel well and whole, to connect them to something that is suffering and there will be a blessing going from our wholeness to this place of lack.

Renate:  Right. So let’s say I am aware that there was trauma in my grandmother’s life, so I can bring healing to myself and to this trauma by directing my energy to it and pray for that. Is that what you say?

Daan:  Ahm… 

Renate:  How does the healing work?

Daan:  Imagine that…this is one thing I did for a woman, a young woman who came to the group and she had some kind of asthmatic limited breathing and she was worried about it because it started to hinder her a little bit more than before. And there was a big group of people of forty, fifty people in a group.  And I said to her: “Imagine,”... I put her in the group in the center and we were sitting around... and I said: “Pray that whatever influence from the ancestor field that is having a negative effect on your health that we need to know about and that we can handle today that we are able to deal with. Make itself known in your soul”. I speak like that with a client and I will sing, it’s like a dream induction, like a hypnotic induction in a way. But that brings people in a certain space of possibility to start visualizing and seeing. And she was standing there and I was praying and singing and she said: “There is a man there and there is two girls and I see a woman there and there is somebody there, I don’t know if it’s a man or a woman”. And we would ask a representative, somebody from the group, to stand in that place. In the end we had eight or nine people standing there in the group room that according to the hypnotic induction or the prayer were somehow related to her asthma. And then the only thing we did was I said to the group, and they had been trained by then to do that, I said: “You are all healers now. That doesn’t mean you have to be anything else than what you are, but how you are, what you are is a healer. So whenever somebody who stands in the ritual calls you, go there and trust that you are enough and your presence is only what’s needed, you don’t need to do anything unless to be there with them and to connect.” And then I said to people in the constellation, the nine people:  “Whenever you feel a symptom that’s not comfortable, call a healer out of the circle. If your heart hurts, say: Put your hand on my heart and just pray for the pain in my heart. If you have weak knees ask two people to hold your knees and add their strength to make your knees strong.” So there were these nine people and symptoms started to develop, one or two were waling after some time, crying in deep, deep grief. One or two felt they were burning like children burning in a house, and they were in pain and panicking and we asked the healer for them and then the intervention was: Take me out of the place of pain to a place of rest. That’s what we did. And the client was standing there and her breathing deepened as we worked and it slowed down and it deepened and in the end her breathing was unimaginable, she breathed so slow and so deep and you could see her chest very, very gently powerfully expand and expand and expand and expand. And then it would go, very gracefully, back. And she breathed and breathed and she took in the air and she just stood there and I said: “You just pray for the people there, pray for yourself, just go with the melody, with the prayer.”  And she just freed up her breathing. But it happened as the symptoms released in the ancestor field her breathing released, it was very literal and that is the kind of thing that I had been developing. On shamanic principles working with the souls of the dead the understanding that ancestors do influence us, that is in shamanism and that is in systemic work. But the systemic world is bound by certain rules, traditional shamanic work is bound by the traditional concept. And when you take the best of both worlds, and I’ve been experimenting for years how to do that very precisely, and out of the two, it was like a fertilization. There is a mother shamanism, fertilized by systemic work and a child comes out and that’s Systemic Ritual. And you can see the mother in the child and you can recognize the father in the child, but it has its own life, its own qualities. And systemic work, systemic ritual uses the representation from constellation work. It uses some of the orders of love but not all of them because I simply don’t agree with them through my own experience. And shamanism has different orders of love, based on different paradigms. And I take this singing and praying from shamanism, the concept of the soul from shamanic work. The western way of speaking, so beautifully developed also by Bert Hellinger, the use of the sentences which also comes from script analysis actually, transactional analysis, they used also sentences to release contracts, like what you said with your mother: Mother, you stand behind me, I stand in front of you, you are my mother, I am your child. That’s the release of a script.

Renate:  Right.

Daan:  And Hellinger took that from script analysis and developed it further in a beautiful way. So these elements combined trance work, conscious use of trance through singing, calling in spirits, healing powers, working with dream images, the ritualized movement from place to place. And these place energies are returned to where they need to be. And that’s a wonderful weaving of…

Renate:  You know that’s something also fascinating I experienced. I did a week with Iain with Hunter and family constellation. It was a few years ago, giving a workshop in London. And the fascinating thing is my experience. I was chosen to be somebody’s grandmother or mother or sister several times. And you enter the field and you go into the circle and you become this person.

Daan:  It’s amazing, ha?

Renate:  It’s amazing. And you start feeling the pain, you start crying, you start releasing,

Daan:  We are not as separated as we think we are.

Renate: (laughing) Of course.

Daan:  Yeah, and the constellation work, when it’s done in a good way, and any work can be done in a good way and in a less good way, but when there is an experienced constellation leader who can work with that in a respectful way it’s a very powerful, spiritual transforming experience to feel like that you are really not…on the most basic level you have people come into a constellation, stand as somebody’s grandfather and say: “My right leg is missing. I simply don’t feel I have a right leg”.And then the client would say:  “Yes, my grandfather lost his leg in the war”. But nobody knew that, consciously. But the client, who is the representative, experiences that and, kinesthetically, has this information available.

Renate:  So that means the space is full of information.

Daan:  Absolutely.

Renate:  We just have to tap in. Or is this information constantly looking for a release, through us?

Daan:  Ahm, that’s a good question.

Renate:  I’m sorry, Dan, but we have to finish. 

Daan:  Oh no, no. I would say that sometimes this unresolved, when there is pressure around it, it will find in and then it’s still moving,  it’s finding balance. So there is a search for equilibrium there in the ancestor field, in the world around us. So certainly the energies move and we can experience that and hopefully contribute to balancing it.

Renate:  Well, it was certainly fascinating talking to you, Daan.

Daan:  It was nice.

Renate:  And I realized we only touched on certain things, there is so much more I would have loved to explore with you. So, I just show your book again: The Tears of the Ancestors which is a very wonderful book in many ways, fascinating. And after this interview Daan will do a singing meditation for us, or healing meditation, a shamanic singing meditation, maybe that’s the better word. And if you like that, he has a CD out with some of his healing songs (showing the CD cover). Well, thank you for being with us coming all the way from Amsterdam.

Daan:  Thank you for the invitation. It’s my pleasure to be here. 

Renate:  And thank you for watching Conscious TV. Bye bye. 

Give Us Life Meditation

Daan:  My name is Daan Van Kampenhout, I’m here on Conscious TV.  I’d like to sing a short song for you. It’s a song that I learned while I was teaching a group, I was leading a workshop. We were doing a ritual about life and death and one of the ladies in the group had a very intense experience where she felt really at the edge of death. She actually had a terminal disease and it became very intense for her and I prayed for guidance for her. I said what will be able to reconnect this woman in this moment of crisis to life. Simply to the gift of life. And as I prayed I felt this presence standing next to me singing this melody and I sang it with this spirit, with this presence. And it soothed the energies and the lady calmed down and I always remembered that melody and I sing it often and for me it’s a connection to basically the gift of life.

Daan:  Heieoio………(singing/praying and playing a maraca)

Thank you.


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