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An Unusual Fear: The Boat Phobia

Let me start with a story. Many years ago, during my time as a psychotherapist, I had a client who was adopted. She grappled with various issues related to not knowing her biological parents (at the time, there was no way for her to trace them). Unrelatedly, she harboured an inexplicable fear of boats to the extent that even a photograph of a boat would distress her. Despite exploring her history, we couldn’t identify any specific reason for this fear.

While we were working together, there was a change in the law that allowed adopted children to trace their birth parents. She took advantage of this opportunity and discovered that her grandfather, who had been in the Navy during the war, experienced trauma when his ship was torpedoed. Since that incident, he developed an intense fear of boats and never returned to the sea. 

Remarkably, she had unknowingly carried this trauma within her.

We can find similar examples from all over the world. Research indicates that the descendants of Holocaust survivors exhibit a distinct psychological profile, even if they were adopted and unaware of their parent’s history. Similar patterns emerge in people whose ancestors endured famines, etc.

An ancestral burden refers to the emotional, psychological, or cultural challenges and traumas that are believed to be passed down from one generation to the next within a family or community.

Epigenetics: Decoding Ancestral Burdens

This phenomenon of transmission of trauma is part of a relatively new field of science called epigenetics, which explores how individuals carry trauma from their ancestral lines. In psychotherapy, these inherited burdens are sometimes referred to as ‘ancestral burdens.’ Obviously, the fear of boats is a bit specific, but it could be just various fears, such as fear of betrayal, abandonment, or fear of being hurt. It could also be a sense of injustice, extending beyond personal history to ancestral lines.


Ancestral burdens exist on a spectrum from more personal to more collective burdens. Personal burdens stem from individual histories, whereas collective burdens are shared by larger groups, including entire cultures. 

Example of a personal burden: Fort-holder startegies

When in childhood, we are confronted with recurring challenges, we often adapt by suppressing aspects of ourselves that seem dangerous or unhelpful. In some cases, these suppressed parts are sent away entirely, resulting in what shamanism calls soul loss. Meanwhile, other parts stay and develop strategies to cope—such as keeping quiet, being feisty, playing the joker, etc. These parts that stay and march on are often referred to as ‘fort holders,’ as they were the ones that soldiered on and “manned the fort”.

If these strategies aren’t resolved in our adult lives, there’s a risk of passing them on through generations, creating what we term ancestral burdens. In my personal therapy, it became clear at times that certain issues weren’t solely from my childhood, but were burdens passed down from my parents. Choices they made, influenced by their own unresolved issues, became burdens we, as children, inherited. Examining my family, I can trace patterns shaped by choices reaching back through generations.

Example of a more generational family burden: Border Reavers

For instance, my partner Cat and I both had challenging childhoods, but we also shouldered burdens from our families’ ancestral history in the English-Scottish border region, an area marked by centuries of instability known as the Border Reavers. The English and the Scots used to enlist mercenaries, thieves, robbers, and brigands to deliberately maintain regional instability. This resulted in constant raiding across the borders, and the individuals responsible for these activities became known as the ‘Reavers’ or the ‘Border Reavers.’ The word ‘bereaved (to “be reaved”),’ associated with loss and grief, actually originates from the experiences of these reavers. The whole area was steeped in a terrible ancestral history for hundreds of years. For my partner and I, even though the last Border Reaves occurred about 300 years ago, this historical burden was something that our families were still carrying.

Example of a more cultural collective burden: Taker culture

In some ways, our entire modern-day culture, spanning the last 6,000 years of what has been a traumatic period in human history (compared to the times before it), is collectively experiencing post-traumatic stress. We are all carrying ancestral burdens that extend back hundreds and even thousands of years.


Indigenous cultures used to consider the impact of the seven generations that came before them and acknowledged their influence on the seven generations that would follow.

Indigenous cultures understood the importance of addressing and resolving their own trauma, viewing it as a personal responsibility to prevent passing it down through the generations. This awareness is a stark contrast to our current approach to how we treat the environment, completely neglecting the impact on future generations. By losing shamanism, we largely lost knowledge about how to heal ancestral burdens.

However, shamanism still offers tools and practices for healing, and this is what we will explore in the upcoming course ‘Healing the Past, Choosing the Future’.


In shamanic terms, we live in a multiverse - at any moment, there are several possible futures. 

While not all physicists agree on the multiverse theory, it has gained significant acceptance in recent times. It’s intriguing to see how it resonates with ideas that shamans have known and experienced throughout history.

why we end up in a particular reality?

If the future is a multiverse, that raises the question of why we end up in a particular reality. The answer lies in unconscious decision-making, often influenced by unconscious patterns from past hurts and traumas, including the ancestral burdens that we (often unconsciously) carry.


Many different shamanic traditions see the past as a tendril or a tentacle, moving in a spiral motion, entering our lower back from behind, just opposite our belly button. And it just extends slightly out of our belly button, and what it’s doing is it tastes all future possibilities. Because it is a creature of habit, it does that until it finds one it’s familiar with based on its past experience, and then it and then it kind of hooks onto it and drags us forward into that. Until you get to grips with this tentacle, that is why we keep recreating the past.   

Throughout the world, there are a lot of different shamanic practices for removing that tentacle, so we become freer to choose the future we move into. Otherwise, it’s a bit like trying to kill Japanese knotweed. We cut it down, but it keeps coming back, resilient and determined. It’s the reason people repeat the same patterns over and over again, even “against their will” – choosing the same kind of partners or keeping drinking alcohol, or whatever it is. 

But the more you do the practices to get rid of the tentacle of the past, the weaker it gets, and the more you can step into being free to choose your future.

These practices are a part of what are called the recapitulation techniques, which are many and varied. They help us resolve the past, gather ourselves back from the past so we can then choose the future more consciously. The more we resolve the past stuff, the less likely it’s going to be propelling us unconsciously into the future. So the idea is to free ourselves from that tendril so you can more consciously step into the future we want.

Some recapitulation practices:

  • soul retrieval
  • fort-holder care
  • transformation practices
  • going to conversion points
  • shapeshifting
  • disentanglements
  • extraction/de-possession
  • hollowing out practices
  • cultivating the aware self, who can step back and make more conscious decisions
  • certain breathing techniques – breathing the past away and using particular eye movements
  • severing the spiral tendril
  • singing our parts back home.
We cannot change the past, but we can change the stories around it

The past cannot be changed. People sometimes fall into the trap of new-age magical wishful thinking, attempting to rewrite their entire childhood stories. The truth is, you can’t change the past. It’s what happened to you, and trying to reshape it is, in essence, a fantasy. Moreover, trying to rewrite our past can backfire because our bodies and souls can sense the lie. Our bodies crave the truth, and living a lie brings about tensions, messes with our psyche, and fuels anxieties. It’s not a healthy process.

Instead, the focus needs to be on reshaping the stories and messages we took from past events, so we resolve past trauma and free ourselves for more conscious decision-making in the future.

However, shamanically, we can do even more.


So, we live in a multiverse, where there are several potential futures, different timeliness we can enter.  At first, physicists thought these multiple timelines existed in complete separation from each other. Modern physics, however, is catching up with what shamans always knew – timelines that are closest to each other overlap to a degree and can influence one another.

This practice isn’t about altering the past but creating different timelines where healthier versions of yourself exist. 

As you engage in this process, we become more aware that there isn’t just one “I”; there are numerous versions in slightly different universes. Creating healthier versions of ourselves helps steer us towards choosing future timelines where we can live a more authentic, soulful and happy life.

By doing a shamanic journey to the past and supporting our younger selves, we create alternative, healthier timelines where we experienced a different childhood or responded in healthier ways. This, in turn, lightens the burden of the past and allows us to make more conscious choices in the present and so, increase the likelihood of us ending up in healthier futures.



Reality is a multiverse, so journeying to “the” future is impossible because there are an infinite number possible futures. What is possible and beneficial is connecting with future versions of yourself for guidance.

Choices, Responsibility, and the Unpredictable

Thinking that everything is under your control is a form of magical thinking characteristic of a child. It’s not an adult position at all. 

As Abraham Maslow noted, true adulthood involves recognising what is within your control and what isn’t. You’re not a god, the universe doesn’t revolve around you, and you don’t singularly shape your reality. Reality is a combination of our choices and external factors beyond our control. Unforeseen events can disrupt our plans – circumstances change, lucky consequences bring new possibilities. None of us truly knows what will happen.

External factors aside, when it comes to making choices about our future, if we are to receive help with this from our shamanic Guides certain caveats apply:  

Our choice need to be ethical and realistic.
No true Lower-World or true Upper-World Guides will assist if our future plans involve unethical pursuits, such as amassing excessive wealth at the expense of others. Whether it’s aspiring to be a billionaire or owning a battery chicken farm, ethical considerations matter. Moreover, our choices must be realistic too, otherwise it’s again, magical thinking and no true Guides will help. 

Which part of us is making these choices?
Is it our middle-world self, your ego, or are we drawing from your Soul and Spirit? When on our deathbed and r
eflecting on our life, will we be able to say we have lived a Soulful life, and one that has been in accordance with Spirit and ethics? Our Guides will be much more disposed to help us with our plans if they are based on our Soul and Spirit, than plans driven by the desires (and ancestral burdenns) of our middle-world ego.

So, it's about understanding what we can control, stepping into that awareness, embracing our power, and taking responsibility for the choices and decisions we make. Simultaneously, it's crucial to acknowledge the aspects beyond our control and resist the urge to try and manipulate them. Instead, we have response-ability — we can choose how to respond to the things we can't control.


Discover tools to heal the past and make better choices for the future – learn to connect with your younger selves, seek guidance from your future selves, heal ancestral burdens and more!

Join our upcoming course, ‘Healing the Past, Choosing the Future,’ starting in January.



Healing ancestral and family burdens, the future and the multiverse

The ‘Healing the past, choosing the future’ course consists of 6 pre-recorded theory sessions and 4 two-hour long live sessions.

Theory pre-recorded sessions will be released on or before:
January 6, 13, 20, 27, February 3, and 10, 2024.

The live (experiential/community) sessions:
January 13, 20, February 3, and 10, 2024.
They will be 2 hours long, and start at 2pm (UK time).

We will explore:

  • Healing Family and Ancestral Burdens: Understand what ancestral burdens are and learn techniques to uncover and heal them.
  • Personal Unburdening: Explore fort-holder strategies and experience a special family constellation approach for personal unburdening.
  • Understanding the Multiverse: Explore the concept of the multiverse and understand how we navigate and end up in a particular reality.
  • Recapitulation Practices: Discover methods to break free from past conditioning, enabling more conscious choices in the present.
  • Journeying to the Past: Journey back in time to provide support and healing to your younger selves.
  • Choosing the Future: Understand the elements within your control and those requiring an adult response, a response-ability
  • Learn to work with your future selves for support and guidance
  • … and much more

Reading time: 10 mins

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Upcoming courses:


The essential, low-cost introductory course for anyone wishing to explore this approach. 

Dates: January 7th to February 11th, 2024.

Course Structure
The course is delivered via: 

  • Three live sessions on January 7th, January 31st, and February 4th 2024. The live sessions start at 2pm (UK time). The first is 3.5 to 4 hours long, and covers the first two modules (described below). The second and third live sessions are 2 hours long. All are recorded, for anyone who is not able to attend them live.
  • An additional five pre-recorded modules, delivered by video and accompanying learning materials. These are released at weekly intervals as the course progresses. 
  • A website discussion forum and (an optional) Signal group, where students can ask questions, discuss topics, share experiences and additional resources, and get support, encouragement, and a sense of community.
  • A bonus video, answering students’ questions and offering additional teaching.