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Entering a Different Level of Dialogue with the World
Conversation with Susan Lanier, MFA
October 17, 2003
Cambridge, MA


Otto Scharmer
For other interviews by Otto see Dialogue on Leadership



[click on any heading]

Otto: Claus Otto Schamer
Susan: Susan Lanier

Otto: Were you trained by Bert Hellinger?

Susan: I’ve witnessed hundreds of hours of Bert Hellinger facilitating family constellations and Movements of the Soul. And been in supervision with him, and I’m very grateful for that. But I trained at The New York Hellinger Institute with Harold Honen. I have a particular orientation because of my connection with the indigenous people and my deep respect for the ancestors and for the process of invoking them.

The way Hellinger now works feels shamanic to me. His way has evolved so much that he says very little. And sometimes what he does say is so astute and to the point it’s almost like the psychological equivalent of psychic surgery. Looked at from a distance, it’s very disturbing. I saw John of God in Brazil. He’s an indigenous faith healer who uses no anesthesia but physically operates on tumors. His patients don’t experience pain at all. So on an emotional level, people will look at what Bert says and they don’t understand it. It looks terrible, but when I’ve asked the people that he worked with afterward, most of them are fine with it.

What’s going on here? When someone with these gifts goes to work, their auric field expands. The patient, in John’s case, physically enters this field. Within the safety of that field, John’s field of faith, if you will, the patient experiences a physical anesthesia that allows John to remove the life-destroying force from the body. My experience of Bert is that he does this kind of thing but through the emotional body instead of the physical body. What he says is like a seed in the emotional body. It ripens with the healing movement in time, when the client is ready for it.

Otto: Does Hellinger train to do that or did he have some kind of spontaneous awakening?

Susan: I don’t know. You’d have to ask him. John, I know, was chosen by the 33 saints and ancient physicians that heal through him. He awoke as a healer very young and had a hard time with the authorities. My impression with this work is that you work in a respectful way with the energies that come in. It’s true in the constellations, too. When you become a representative, you learn something about life. When you become a representative and spirits come into you, they inform you. They come into your body and inform you on a cellular level. Their experience comes into you, and your experience informs them as well. So it’s teaching that goes both ways, and you’re forever transformed by the experience of being a representative.

Otto: Being a representative of . . . ?

Susan: If I’m facilitating a constellation for someone and feel that the issue is lodged in the relationship between the client, her mother and grandmother, then we would set up a constellation with representatives for her, her mother and grandmother. The client then places the representatives in the space. They stand silently until they begin to have physical or emotional sensations.

Otto: How did this line of work first show up in your own life?

Susan: I was raised in the country, outside of Columbus, Ohio, so I was always a country person and oriented to the outdoors. I think that is very important.

My earliest memory was being in a crib right by the window. I was lying there, looking at the light coming through the trees. The tree spirits and I were playing. It’s one of my very earliest memories.

Otto: At what age was that?

Susan: Well, I wasn’t even old enough to crawl.

Otto: Very few people have memories from that early.

Susan: Yes. It was a very early memory. But it was of the natural world and my relationship to it. On the outside, my life was pretty conventional. I was middle class, white, and went to a private girls’ school. My parents tried to sequester and protect us. So my adventures were in the woods and wild areas. But in the summers, we went to Canada. I was intrigued by the native people there, although I didn’t have any way to meet them, which isolated interaction. But I was always drawn to the indigenous people. When I took piano lessons as a young girl, I composed a song that was a native chant. I don’t know where it came from. It just happened.

Then, in my twenties, I took Silva mind control. I had married a man who would do these different things. He’d become embedded in a new system of thought, and I realized that if I was going to be able to talk to him, I’d have to follow along and get the language.

Otto: What is Silva mind control?

Susan: They taught about the power of thought and also about how intuitive we are without realizing it. I discovered that I had certain psychic gifts. It frightened me. I had no context for it. But David and I were interested in all this, so we explored it. He would guide me in meditation and that began the whole thing. We moved to Vermont and lived on a farm.

Otto: When was that?

Susan: The early seventies. I was communicating with the spirits of the land. They would tell us what fertilizer to use and where to put this and that. It was very specific.

Otto: You communicated with whom?

Susan: The plant devas, the major spirits.

Otto: So you could have a direct dialogue with them?

Susan: Right.

Otto: You’d ask questions about what fertilizers to use, and you would get responses?

Susan: Usually. Then people began to come to me for psychic readings. I also discovered that I had healing touch. All of this was really overwhelming me. I was uncomfortable with the way people would project power on me, saying, “Oh, Susan, I need you to tell me what to do with …whatever.” Or asking me to touch them. Sometimes it helped miraculously. Sometimes nothing happened. Why? I was so confused. I felt too young.

Otto: When did you first notice that you had capabilities in that direction?

Susan: That first memory. But it was not unusual; it was not a capability. It was just there. My parents had no context for it, so it went underground. I’m sure that happens for many, many people.

Otto: Maybe at that age, everybody can do it. We just don’t remember.

Susan: Yeah. I explored those gifts, but then got freaked out and felt I couldn’t handle it. I had children. So I decided that I was going to be a normal person.

Otto: [laughter] When did that decision come?

Susan: In the early eighties. I decided that I was going to be conventional, write poetry, and channel it into my poetry, and play tennis.

Listening to Your Call in the Food Co-op

It was just too much for me. I didn’t have the maturity for it, but at least I had the wisdom to know that. I didn’t have a teacher, and I had no idea how to find one. I didn’t know anything about indigenous people and what they remember. It wouldn’t even have occurred to me to find a native teacher.

So I decided to be normal, and of course, it ate at me. I was divorced and remarried and divorced. It was a hard, hard time. Then a friend I hadn’t seen in years, who lived in the same community, came up to me at the food co-op and said, “Susan, you have to go to this school. I’m going to this school. This is your school. You have to go there because this is all about your gift.” It was the Barbara Brennan School of Healing. She gave me Barbara’s books and I just devoured them. I was so excited. So I went.

Otto: Where was the school?

Susan: It was in New Jersey then. It’s a four-year program. It gave me community and helped me get past my fear. During that time, I heard about the Maya Spiritual Elders from Guatemala who were going to do a sacred fire ceremony and some teaching about their calendars. I thought, “Well, here I am going to this school and learning all about energy--the energy field and energy healing and all these techniques. It’s all wonderful, but it’s really like reinventing the wheel.” I thought, “Those people know all this, and they’ve always known it.”

You see, I was on my path. A couple of years before, I’d gone to a psychic, which I do only about once every 15 years. She said, “There’s a Lakota elder who has something for you.” I didn’t even know what Lakota meant, but then later, I was looking through The Rowe Conference Center catalog and there was Grandfather Wallace Black Elk, a Lakota elder, who was going to be there. I thought, “I know that word. Maybe I should go to this.” So I went. I’ll never forget driving there and thinking, “Why am I doing this? I have no idea who this person is. I have no idea why I’m doing this. I just don’t know. Well heck, I don’t know anything.” I was laughing and crying then. That was my state.

So I went in a state of not knowing. Grandfather Wallace did a stone people’s lodge. Have you ever done a sweat lodge?

Otto: No.

Susan: We were jammed into this domed hut covered tight with blankets and canvas sitting around a pit. Stone people, glowing hot rocks are brought in. It’s completely dark, you can’t see a thing, and it’s very crowded and very hot. The Medicine Person prays. There’s drumming and singing. My knees were up at my chest, with my arms around. I heard over on the other side a great flap, flap, flap, like a huge bird. I thought, “How did that bird get in here? There’s no room for a bird. How did he get in here?” I heard this flapping coming right at me. I put my hands up like this because it sounded like it was going to fly right into me. I felt this wing brush across my hands. I thought, “This didn’t just happen. Did this happen? Oh dear.” Then I looked up and I could see the whole night sky. At that point, I realized that there was another dimension very close and that I could walk there awake and in my body with the proper guidance.

Later, I went to learn from the Maya. They taught me a lot about approaching these other dimensions and how to do it in a respectful way. It’s not something that you just do, like you don’t just pray when you pray; you live a life of prayer. Or you don’t walk with the spirit world only when you’re doing a constellation; you walk with it as a part of your awareness. So you’re always conscious of coincidence or signs, or you’re always aware and altering that awareness.

Welcome Home

The Maya Spiritual Elders were doing work for the Journey of the Feathered Serpent. I can talk about it only because they have permitted the story about the serpent energy of the planet to come out. The feathered serpent, a great earth energy, exists in many indigenous cultures. When it moves and comes up, there’s a rising of consciousness. Some of the Maya Spiritual Elders still live in caverns where they have kept the sacred fires burning for more than a thousand years. They can describe where the serpent comes out, the landscape, the people. So it can be tracked. Anyway, when the Panama Canal was dug, it severed the spine of the Americas. This earth energy moves through the Americas. It is to the earth what the Kundalini is to the human body. In the Mayan calendar, the year 2012 is very, very significant. It’s critically important that this energy be allowed to follow its course through Central America to its destination in 2012.

Because the canal was cut across the spine, these Maya Spiritual Elders were told by their Elders to do ceremony on both sides of the canal to generate an energetic bridge. The ceremonies served to stimulate certain points not unlike acupuncture but on a planetary scale.

They wanted to do a ceremony in Canada. They first thought to go to Vancouver, but that didn’t happen. So I said to my Mayan teacher, “You know, there’s this place I go in the summers near a sacred site.” She said, “Well, that’s the one. You have to set it up.” So I ended up going . . .

Otto: They’re using that as an acupuncture point of the earth?

Susan: Yes. For each of these ceremonies, there would be representatives from North, South, and Central America. So I had to go to the particular nation that keeps that sacred site. They were the Ojibwa I had wanted to meet and that was how I met them. We then worked together, putting up teepees and building cooking shacks, all for these people to come and do these ceremonies. That’s how I came in close contact with them. We did some hard physical labor together. At the end of the ceremonies, we all were doing a hugging circle, where you’re in a circle and one end doubles back and you hug everybody along the line. I came to Lillian, an Elder Ojibwa Medicine Woman. She’s a big, big hearted woman. She embraced me and I burst into tears. She said, “Welcome home.”

Hellinger Work

Then I was introduced to the Hellinger work. It was the only work that changed my relationship with my father. I had had Jungian therapy and this kind of therapy and that kind of therapy. Nothing shifted, until I did that work.

Otto: Who was the connection to the Hellinger work?

Susan: I had a friend who knew Gabrielle Borkin, a Hellinger facilitator who lived out in California. She brought Gabrielle to Vermont. That was in 1995.

Otto: So you went to a workshop. What happened?

Susan: I did a constellation and I learned things.

Otto: So that means there was a facilitator, you explained your situation, and the facilitator chose other people from the group who then represented your father, your mother, and all the key players, right?

So I Was Able to Have Compassion for my Father

Susan: Yes. The energy of my father came in, and the energy of his father and his father’s first wife and his father’s second wife. Things were revealed that allowed me to see my father in a different way. I was able to have compassion for my father, even for things that he himself may not know, but that were revealed to me through the constellation. Hellinger facilitators will say they don’t use constellations diagnostically, but it is uncanny what it is revealed. I did another constellation months later in another city with an entirely different group of people and exactly the same thing happened, even though none of them had any knowledge of the first constellation. So it’s there in the field. Hellinger talked about the family soul and the family conscience. It’s in there, and that’s what you’re tapping into when you do the constellation.

Meanwhile, back in Canada, I was working with the Ojibwa Medicine Women. They do a traditional cleansing ceremony called a cedar bath. They work with the energy in the body and, if they find a blockages, they may intuit the history connected to it. It may come through as a visual image or a physical sensation; they’re very kinesthetic. They work to move the block and free the system. Because I had done energy work, they asked me to assist. The more work I did with them, the more I realized they were accessing different dimensions of reality. So I said, “You know, I could introduce you to the Hellinger work. I want you to see it because I want to do this work with you. Because you’re giving me your work, I want to give you my work too.” So I took three of them to Florida, where he had come from Germany to do a workshop.

Otto: Who was there?

Susan: It was a workshop with long-time facilitators and first-timers and everything in between. The Ojibwa could see that he works across generations like they do. And Lillian asked to meet with him. None of this was planned. We met and they drummed. They sang their songs, offered him tobacco, and invited him to come to Ontario to work with their front-line workers. He was very respectful. He said, “I will sleep on this, dream on this.” The next day he came back and said he would come. There is a lot of work to do for this because it must be a weaving of their way and Hellinger’s way. He likes to work with people who are doing the work. So it fell on me to teach them and learn on a deeper level. Some of my friends offered to help. The Women wanted those who came to work with them to have a cedar bath. They wanted the helpers to have a sense of who they are and what they know, so there is an initiation for each person who comes to do the Hellinger work and assist us.

Constellation Work and Shamanism

Otto: You said that, in the constellation work, you worked with the family soul, not just with the souls of the individual people, right? Is that how Hellinger would describe his own work? How does that relate to the more shamanistic line?

Susan: In a constellation, there are different energies within the family soul that emerge, and different people will perceive different things. One thing that the facilitator understands is that there’s no one person in the field of the constellation who has the ticket to truth. Each person has his or her vision of it, and the energy will shift from individual to individual as the constellation begins to make the healing movement. It will come over one person at a certain time, and he or she must follow the movement with his or her body or with certain words or sounds. These may arise spontaneously or may be prompted by the facilitator who moves with acute sensitivity and no expectation or judgment through the physical space of the constellation. Then the whole becomes engaged in the story within that person’s field, which is like the holograph of the family soul.

Three Conditions

Otto: What conditions allow such a knowing field to emerge? I have come across three different conditions. The first one is unconditional witnessing, right? A group of people who really pay attention to the story or the person or whatever is at the center in order to support that. The second one is that there is a person putting herself into the opening, to the vulnerability, showing your wound, you could say. It’s putting yourself into this vulnerability. I think an example is the weekend workshop you offer in your story. And the third is that you evoke the field by representing it in some manner, for example, by doing a constellation. Somehow you create the representation of the larger situation, which is, say, a landing strip.

Susan: Yes. That’s good.

Otto: Those are three elements. If one is missing, it would not work. If somebody were sharing his vulnerability, but there was no good holding space, it would go nowhere. Just the holding space without somebody coming into the open is also going nowhere. So it seems to be very important, particularly in all the Hellinger work, that there is a landing strip factor somewhere. I don’t know how to describe it. These are three critical conditions that must be in place and if any one is missing, the coming-into-presence of the family’s soul or whatever we call that would not happen.

Another illustration is a sacred passage workshop done by John P. Milton. His work is based on the shamanistic, Daoistic, and the Buddhist tradition. In very small groups, he gives some practices with some principles up front. Then you are at a sacred site on your own for a week.

Susan: Are you fasting?

Otto: Not necessarily, but it is suggested. So I did. You find your own way there, and then you reconvene and share your experience. What he is doing and also what the group is doing is the holding space, right? Then your own process is putting you into a vulnerable state, which happens very naturally when you’re on your own for a week at the sacred site. Then there’s the third element concerned with relating to mother earth—to nature—as a teacher. It seems to me that it may function as a landing strip. When you’re in a sweat lodge, there is a very precise structure on which your opening takes place.

Susan: Yes. And this is true at the sacred sites, where there have been ceremonies down through generations. They are gateways that are maintained.


Otto: Is the field or group phenomenon, in your experience, limited to families? What’s the boundary around that? Is it a family situation or could it include any kind of, say, social settings? Is that a property that every community or group could have?

Susan: Well, the Hellinger work is also done with corporations. There is a danger of abstracting too much. We steer away from people with too big a problem who want to do a constellation.

Otto: With too big a problem?

Susan: For instance, a woman who comes to the group from a country that’s torn apart by political strife. She says, “My country is my problem,” and Hellinger says, “It’s too big for me.”

Otto: So the relationship is with your family of origin?

Susan: It varies. You can see that in the organizational work. Hellinger facilitators do a lot of work with family-owned organizations and non-profits.

It can be a family issue or the overlay of the family and the organizational hierarchies that cause the problem. Sometimes, within an organization, there’s a disorder in the hierarchy. Sometimes, within that, a person who is involved in their own family system’s soul issues is projecting those issues into the business system, and it can throw everything out of whack.

If there’s a disruption in the systemic order of the business, it’s like a crack in the field. When there’s a crack in the human field, it’s an entry point for other energies. For example, maybe somebody has a big desk by the window who is actually lower in the hierarchy than someone with a smaller desk in a more obscure corner. This dis-order creates a crack in the business’ field. And the big-desk-person will attract projections. The whole system will lag as a result. But if that person is moved from that desk and the right person is put there, then the system becomes harmonious and these other issues don’t have such an opportunity to come in. Sometimes the solution is very simple and doesn’t involve dealing with any one person’s family system.

Constellation Work in Organizations

Otto: How would you do practical constellation work in a company. An organizational issue is not just one person’s story.

Susan: But you set up a constellation and then the energies come in and they show you. One person tells the story and then you set up the representatives. So you’ll have the representatives for all the different parts, and they themselves reveal the dynamic.

Otto: Okay. So it doesn’t really matter what entry point you take; the field will come in anyway.

Susan: If you have permission.

In a family issue, any sibling or parent could tell the story. But there are different identifications. For instance, usually a girl will identify with her mother’s family system, and a boy will identify with his father’s family system. What the daughter would set up could be different from what the son would set up. The initiating dynamic that’s involved in an issue may be different for each. Still, the healing movement may be the same and will affect them both.

Otto: How do you handle that? Do you do both? I mean that would be similar to a more complex organizational situation.

Susan: Yes, and organizational is very challenging work. It’s still young work: The facilitators of organizational constellations are discovering how complex and challenging it is. In a family system, when a man and woman approach each other in love, you see that woman’s family system--her parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents—and his, standing behind them. Through them runs the current of regeneration, that longing for sexual contact and progeny that is bigger than any one or even any two of us. So under every family constellation is this simple but powerful movement. Think about it, how old it is. In contrast, with businesses, the facilitator has to locate the source of power, the source of cohesion, the source of motivation. And yet the orders themselves are simple.

Entering a Different Level of Dialogue with the World

Otto: When you’re doing your work, how would you relate to whatever that collective entity or field is? What practices do you use in order to establish a functioning relationship?

Susan: It’s not really a practice. It’s an orientation. For instance, last night in Vermont I was very tired and thought, “I’m going to have to get up really early, and I don’t know where the place is I’m meeting Otto, so I should get out the map and figure it out tonight so that tomorrow I can just get up and know where I’m going.” Instead I decided to watch the dusk settle over the hills, and I went to sleep and slept like a baby. I got up and thought, “Well, I kind of know where I’m going. I’m just going to go.” It’s a peaceful feeling, trusting. I trust those helpers in other dimensions who see and know so much more than I do. And that’s exactly what happened. I got to where I usually get totally turned around in Cambridge. I lived here in the seventies, but everything now is different. I guessed that I should really turn left at a certain point, but I thought, “Oh, but I don’t know that way,” so I went one more street. Then the thought came to me, “Turn left. You really need to turn.” So I turned left. I was not sure where this was going to take me, but I came right here. I didn’t make a single wrong turn.

So then I do things like burn sage, offer tobacco. I carry some sacred objects. I have a drum. I have ways, but I don’t think they work unless your orientation is to that dimension. Does that answer your question?

Otto: Yeah, sort of.

Susan: In other words, I don’t burn sage and do other traditional practices because I want to manipulate the spirit world to come in and give me directions. Will is not at work here. I do these things because they arise. It’s a question of being tuned in. I am in this state of trusting that this is meant to happen and that something will come of it that will provide a channel for my soul and your soul and my ancestors’ souls and your ancestors’ souls. Toward truth. Yes. And the fact that I came right here against some pretty big odds means to me that what is here to happen in this interview is in alignment with not just your curiosity and my gabbiness but with something that is ripe to happen. It’s a ripeness that’s informed by more than this three dimensional reality, bigger than you, bigger than me, and they’re going to help us find a way. In this case, the way for me to get here!

Otto: So it’s tuning in to your soul’s intentions and to what you feel is wanting to emerge. That seems to be the entry point; you connect with the feeling and follow that.

Susan: Yes.

Otto: It seems as if you are describing a kind of trust of the environment with your own intelligence.

Susan: Yes, and it’s not only of the environment, but that the environment is constantly informed from another dimension, which has intentions that are interweaving with my intentions, if I allow that.

Otto: So it’s almost a process of surrendering into that, right?

Susan: Yes, but there is also dialogue. As Westerners, when we begin to go into this state of mind and heart, we receive signs, get guidance, and all this stuff, and it’s take, take, take. If it’s going to really be true, there needs to be dialogue. You need to cultivate relationship with the spirits who are in alignment with your soul’s intention in being here. Discernment is appropriate. And vigilance.

I’m going to give you an example. Here is a woman who dreamed of a bear. Within a week, she’s driving down the road and a bear runs up to the side of the road in front of her car, stands there and looks at her, comes right up, and then runs back the way it came. She could say, “Oh, isn’t that wonderful? It’s so exciting. This bear came up to the road and looked at ME. I can’t wait to tell…” In this way she takes it and makes it her story. Or she can pull over and offer tobacco. She says, “I see you. I honor you. Thank you for appearing to me here. I am listening.” So she’s going to a different level of dialogue.


Otto: What is the importance of offering tobacco? In a good moment, I may have appreciated the bear that crossed the road. But to offer the tobacco would never have crossed my mind. What’s the relevance of it?

Susan: I think that the appreciation may be all that’s required. But for me, I feel that to stop myself physically from whatever I was doing to acknowledge that something has come in from another dimension, a door opens just a little bit more. A gift has been given to me by the native people. They have taught me how to be with sacred plants. The native people work with cedar, tobacco, cornmeal, and pollen. These plant spirits are sacred to them. When invoked with respect, they can move like a cathedral. They open sacred space. That’s how powerful they are. Offering a sacred plant is what the Maya call payment. You make your payment. Hellinger calls it the balance of giving and taking and it’s one of the Orders of Love.


Otto: When I asked the question concerning practices, I was thinking, for example, of when you do a workshop in which you put your own intention fully into the service of whatever—whether a group, family, or social situation—is wanting to emerge. How do you as a facilitator or moderator “tune in” to this deeper intention, which isn’t just your personal intention but which is connected to the field you’re working with?

Susan: First, I clear the space. I will burn sage, partly to demonstrate that my intention is to serve within sacred space.

Otto: You go to the actual place where the event is going to take place?

Susan: Right.

Otto: The day before?

Susan: Or just minutes before people arrive.

Otto: But you do go to the physical place?

Susan: Yes. Then I also offer a prayer.

Otto: How do you clear the space?

Susan: Well, I burn sage and walk around. I pray to open sacred space and I say a prayer to the ancestors of the people who are coming. You need to create safety for more than just the individuals who are coming. It’s really a field of safety; it has to be multidimensional safety because, in many families, the wounds are indeed traumatic. There may be murder or difficult fates, and it’s a struggle for the spirits of the ancestors.
They have to have a sense of your whole being, your intention, your truth. A new movement will bring a deeper peace. So where there has been restlessness and a revisiting of fate upon subsequent generations, you hold the potential for this fate to be taken back where it belongs and the living generations then freed. That’s a big order for us and for them and it doesn’t always work.

At a constellation I did up north, one of the representatives was on the floor and the spirit would not move. You just could feel where the movement within the family soul wanted to go but she would not move. I tried many different things and finally said, “I don’t have permission. This isn’t going to work. We’ll end it here” People started to move out of their places in the constellation, but she just stayed frozen on the ground. All of a sudden, she started to scream. All of the agony was to come out, and I had to go to that place where I said, “You either do or you don’t.” Then she did and the whole system shifted, but it was very, very hard work.

Otto: What makes it so hard?

Susan: It’s the attachment to what happened. It doesn’t want to move. In that case, and I’m going to patch and extrapolate here to protect privacy but the principle is the same…in that case it was an Ojibwa woman who was taken as a small child from her parents to a residential school. She was denied her family, her language, her culture, everything that was hers by right of birth. In that life, she had to repress her rage and her grief to survive. But it stayed with her in death and reappeared in her grandchild as physical symptoms and as an inability to speak her native language. When this ancestor, through the body of the representative, gave voice to her agony, the emotional torture of her fate was revealed and she could be fully seen, heard and honored by the living. She could find peace. But it meant surrendering into the agony and trusting the living to hold that suffering with deep, deep respect.

The Field of the Future

Otto: A few days ago, I talked to Arthur Zajonc, a physicist and educator at Amherst College. He described sitting in numerous board meetings for founding a new school. Whenever the meetings got stuck, he pictured little children, unborn or not, watching this board meeting as if they were sitting at the same table. Whenever he did that exercise, it allowed him to open up and to perform his facilitation of that meeting much more effectively.

Susan: That’s wonderful. There are times in a constellation when it may be reluctant to move or you may have an individual who is stuck and you present them with their children or grandchildren and that begins the movement. I haven’t consciously involved the coming generations, but I do hold them very dear.

Otto: Yes. When you look onto this situation through the eyes of future children, it is a different feeling. Your perception begins to operate from a quite different place.

Susan: It is a tremendous move into the multigenerational perspective, especially for Westerners because we’re the “me” generation. The native tradition holds that you don’t do anything without thinking of seven future generations. But to actually stand in the place of that seventh-generation child is different from intellectualizing, “Oh, well, we have to take care of the trees because we want oxygen for future generations.” To me, that’s the beauty of being a representative. It’s a gift. We do blind constellations in which the person with the issue presents it privately with the facilitator. No one else in the group is aware of the issue, so when they step in to be a representative, they have no idea who they’re representing. It still comes through.

Otto: Really?

Susan: It still comes through. You don’t hear the story. You just stand where the client places you and you feel what you feel.

Otto: And you articulate that to . . . ?

Susan: . . . to the facilitator. It’s uncanny.

Otto: Uncanny?

Susan: I mean it blows people away. First, that they have so many sensations, and second, that in the end, when we talk about it, it’s revealed who they were standing in for and what happened. And they know it’s right. They can identify who they were.


Otto: So, in terms of sustainability, you have experiences at workshops that worked and you participated in some kind of shift. In most cases, do you just do that once in a workshop and then a healing process or new development takes its course? Or is there something else you need to do in order to sustain that shift?

Susan: It varies with each person. I think it depends first on what you bring to the workshop: your own self-knowledge and your support system. Some people have to go into therapy after. You get a lot of information very quickly. Sometimes they can’t believe it and resist it. It takes years for it to truly settle into the system. But a family member in another state or country who is being represented may be affected by the constellation even though they haven’t witnessed it and know nothing about it.

Otto: The more we put these things into the open, the more consciousness is required. In the past, these practices went on, but they weren’t openly accessible, were they? There was a shielding mechanism, which no longer exists.

Susan: Do you think that’s true?

Otto: Well, I think spiritual practices are much more accessible today than earlier when there was a cocoon to protect them. This may no longer be appropriate in our age, but there are also new demands on ethical integrity, right?

Susan: Yes, I think that’s true. My feeling is that what we’re moving toward now—the year 2012—is a thinning of the veil to the point where consciousness is perceiving and conversing both ways across dimensions all the time. What’s happening is preparatory and would happen no matter what. There’s no stopping it. So I’m very appreciative of Hellinger’s integrity and The Way he teaches, and the Indigenous Medicine People and Spiritual Elders and The Way they teach.

Otto: What is the threshold that you’ve connected with the 2012 development? Is it a collective threshold?

Susan: Oh, yes. It’s planetary. Any work that we can do to bring family systems into harmony, coming into this, is important.

Otto: Coming into?

Susan: Coming into this meeting of the worlds...

Otto: ... and fully coming into this world. Susan, thank you for this conversation.

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