At the beginning of this book [Metagenealogy] we presented a path of studying the genealogy tree as a “hero’s journey.” The model of a “hero’s journey” was first expressed by Joseph Campbell in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces in 1949.
This journey thus goes from oneself to oneself: from the being caught in the familial trap to the being liberated from the trap. The acquired individual personality does not disappear but rather accepts, on the one hand, seeing his limits broaden and, on the other hand, putting himself at the service of the transpersonal being, the part of us that thinks “Us” and not only “Me.”
But this “Us” is not the clan’s limited beliefs, the family legend, which in essence opposes union with the world because individual or familial egoism is that which essentially separates us: me from other individuals, and my clan from other clans. When we arrive at the transpersonal “Us,” the identity becomes a collective affirmation commensurate with humanity.
From the Individual to the Transpersonal
This journey is also the passage from an infantile attitude to a mature attitude. At the opposite of the infantile being, the mature being accepts the fact that others may not change and seeks to modify his own inner reality, which has an impact on all his relationships.
This voyage of the individual being to the transpersonal being requires many trials. We must first detach from the familial legend in order to clarify the situation and the relationships, experiencing them such as they truly are. Then, with an adult Consciousness, we go into old childhood wounds to face the shortcomings and abuse, confronting anew the fears that paralyzed us before, and also—dare we suggest, at least in the imagination—confronting all solutions that might raise the genealogy tree’s level of Consciousness.
We challenge our conception, our birth, all our bonds, and even our own parents’ and grandparents’ upbringings in our fight against the rigidity of the past, which leads us to the ultimate face-to-face with death. In terms of this voyage, each person must in fact pass through the symbolic death of his or her acquired personality, forged by the past, with which it has become impossible to identify.
At the end of the path, the reward is then to have at our fingertips something similar to the Golden Fleece from Greek mythology, or the treasure from traditional tales. This elixir of long life, this priceless gem, is simply Consciousness, the reunification of the self with the Whole.
Healing the Family Tree from the Inside
Once we recognize what we truly are, we also understand that through the genealogy tree Consciousness entrusts us with a body that little by little learns to respect this recognition. But so that the voyage is complete, the hero has the task of bringing his precious booty back to the world from which it originated. The final healing consists of this: once the individual path is accomplished, each of us must return to the origin and heal the tree from the inside.
We frequently feel cut off from our clan of origin at some given moment during our work on the self. In discovering our true nature, we will also discover at what point the family ignored and neglected us. When undergoing the abuse, we feel like an orphan, yet the fruit and the tree are still joined by bonds of obvious or underlying love. Even if we leave behind the definitions of the past, the relationships, the character, and the inheritance of the tree can be integrated just as much as any contribution of energy once they have been transformed by our work on Consciousness.
Just as we have discovered the impersonal and essential Being residing in the center of our person, so it lies, latent or obvious, in each member of our family. It is therefore possible to establish a relationship (concrete or intended) from essential Being to essential Being with each member of the tree.
We build a shared experience with the members of our tree who are individuals in their own right, in the same way as others who share collective bodies, like beehives. But instead of being dependent on the risky fates of this collective and its limited level of Consciousness, it behooves us to actively participate in its advance toward higher Consciousness. “It is the fruit that defines the tree, not the inverse”—our personal realization becomes the level of healing to which the tree can also reach.
The Full Unfolding Of Our Capabilities And Talents
In the same way that on the return path the hero encounters his ultimate opponent over whom he must triumph in order to achieve his destiny and save his world of origin, a series of traps are presented for the person who wishes to obtain his own healing and that of his genealogy tree. One of these traps consists of thinking that the hero should sacrifice himself to “save” his parents and other members of the family. Actually, the redemption of the tree can only occur through our personal realizations, that is to say, through the full unfolding of our capabilities and talents.
The second trap, subtler, is that of the blind points where our old personality comes to take refuge. We can call this part of the ego that obstinately refuses to serve Consciousness the mental island, and its elimination will be the work of a lifetime. The question of when a person is “cured” is an integral part of all therapeutic approaches. If, in artistic practices, the question is in knowing when the work is complete, on the spiritual path it has to do with determining when enlightenment has been attained. In the metagenealogical approach, we define a state of healing as a state sufficient to allow the person to devote himself to healing his tree.
Once this state is achieved, work will take place on the inner characters that we carry like many inherited formations of our personal and familial histories. Following this, we will focus on transmutation of their sublime expression in order to allow us to work with our allies—how can we use our creative imagination to awaken our essential psychic energies? The development of the sublime tree will be the final artistic act that seals completion of the work.
From Having a Family to Being a Family
This healing of the tree consists of endowing each character with the fulfillment that he or she was not able to achieve in his lifetime. Once elevated to their highest potential, our ancestors all become transpersonal and transform into an energy that we can somehow absorb into our own hearts. Then the tree disappears and melts into us, and to some extent we also accept our own disappearance as an individual, ultimately recognizing ourselves as pure Consciousness.
We then no longer act as “having” a family but as “being” a family, which can transform into a completely healthy society, even humanity.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Park Street Press,
an imprint of Inner Traditions Inc. www.innertraditions.com
©2011 by Alejandro Jodorowsky and Marianne Costa.
English translation ©2014.
Metagenealogy: Self-Discovery through Psychomagic and the Family Tree
by Alejandro Jodorowsky and Marianne Costa.
About the Book's Authors
Alejandro Jodorowsky is a playwright, filmmaker, composer, mime, psychotherapist, and author of many books on spirituality and tarot, and over thirty comic books and graphic novels. He has directed several films, including The Rainbow Thief and the cult classics El Topo and The Holy Mountain. Visit his Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/alejandrojodorowsky
Watch a video (in French with English subtitles): Awakening our Consciousness, by Alejandro Jodorowsky.