Today I’m speaking with Darla Antoine, a spiritual worker, ancestral activist, coach, practitioner of the sacred domestic arts, mother and accidental homesteader in the high mountains of Costa Rica. Darla helps mixed-race and mixed-culture seekers discover the medicine, blessings and power in their ancestral spiritual lineages. She does this by combining her spiritual work with her experience as a mixed-race woman and expat and her master’s degree in Intercultural communication.
Anna: Welcome! Can you tell us more about how to came to do the work you do?
Darla: I grew up in northeastern Washington state, which is also my maternal ancestral homelands. I’m enrolled with the Okanogan Indian band, through my mother’s lineage. My grandmother was of the generation that was taken into the boarding school system that they had for indigenous peoples in North America. She was young when she was taken into that system, with the idea of forcing her to assimilate to the larger North American culture (she was in Canada). It very effectively cut her descendants off from the knowledge that her parents and grandparents had.
Growing up in my ancestral homelands, I’ve always had this deep-rooted sense of place that I didn’t really appreciate until I left home, and didn’t really understand how it made my view of the world different than others who don’t feel so rooted, and who may enjoy feeling more nomadic.
It’s rare, for most of us, to live somewhere where our people have lived for thousands and thousands of years.
Food was always my way into my lineage. Into my ancestors, because that couldn’t very easily be taken away from us. I grew up under the pine trees, with huckleberries and wild strawberries and salmon and trout – which I know my ancestors had access to. So, while some of the knowledge around those foods was missing, there was less of a gap.
I went on to study intercultural communication at the university of New Mexico, where I obtained a master’s degree. I chose food and culture as my thesis subject. I studied how food creates and sustains our identity and our cultural legacy, matrilineally. In hindsight, now that I’ve been called to work with ancestors in a spiritual manner, I realize that all of those fancy academic words mean ancestral work.
For example, I was doing ancestral work in school, I just didn’t call it that or recognize it as such.
Anna: I’m so glad you’re doing this work. In one of the early podcast episodes with Janelle Hardy, she spoke about us being in this period of great forgetting – especially us north American folks. We’re raised unrooted and disconnected from our ancestors. And, we’re taught that this is fine.
We’re taught in this colonized way that our past doesn’t matter. This can create unconscious spiritual bypassing for us north American white people, so I love that you’re doing this work around ancestry and food and how to connect to our roots.
You love working with people who have mixed-race backgrounds, or have various lineages of ancestry. Can you tell us more about that?
Darla: When I talk about mixed-cultural people, really that’s everyone. Framing it that way helps the person reading it understand the way I’m approaching our identity. For example, I’m Okanogan, I had a great grandmother who was Nez Perce, I have Irish and Swedish ancestors, and maybe some other European ancestors as well.
I also identify as American AND I live in Costa Rica, so all of those different cultural things – everything in my blood I have access to. They inform he way I am here, in costa Rica. They inform my presence and what I do.
For most white Americans, this is what I believe has happened: A couple hundred years ago, racism was created to help justify classism. And it behooved the rich upperclassman, who were all white, to get the lower class white people on the upper class white side. That’s when things started becoming divisive by race. Before then, it didn’t matter where you were from, you could have been a slave. You could have been from Ireland, or Scotland, or Germany – it didn’t matter, you could have been a slave.
In order to hold onto their power, the rich white forefathers created racism, which is one reason why white North Americans today understand that they have a rich tapestry of cultural heritage, because it behooved them to drop all of that and blend in with the white upper classmen. For political, social, reasons – it was for survival. It wasn’t right or wrong, it’s just what it was.
We talk about America being a melting pot. I heard a teacher say that we should think of ourselves as less as a melting pot and more of a salad bowl, so that we can retain our individual pieces as we come together as a whole. So, I’m a tomato and you’re a piece of lettuce, rather than all of us being melted down into a mush where there are no boundaries.
Anna: I like that because with the melting pot, it gives rise to more of the forgetting. I’m just part of the soup.
Darla: Exactly, exactly! I think that’s where a lot of spiritual bypassing comes from too, from this forgetting. I forget, too. I tend to favor my mother’s lineage because that’s where I grew up. I’m remembering now, from this ancestral work that I have a really rich Celtic and Nordic heritage that I can draw on. I can get just as much power and strength from those lines as I can my native line, and more out of those lines than something like Hinduism, which I have zero in my blood. It behooves me to work with what I have first, rather than going out of my bloodlines. It gives me spiritual nourishment.
Anna: Something that has been difficult for me is feeling like a spiritual orphan. Not knowing where I came from, not resonating with the conservative religion around me growing up, and feeling like it was my job to try things on feel what resonate with me, rather than remembering the lineages I have and the power with my blood.
Can you talk about the ancestral work that you do, as well as your recent ancestral healing vows?
Darla: I want to talk to taste-testing different spiritual things. I think this is important when we’re young or when we’re newly spiritual awoken. But it’s important to be aware of the thing that is drawing you and see if you can’t find that in your own lineages first. You will get more out of it that way. It could be more difficult to figure out, but it will be more worth it. Then, if you still feel drawn to another culture’s spiritual path, you can get more out of that by being really well with your ancestors and having your ancestors introduce you to that line. It becomes more of a formal adoption process rather than taking what you want.
Not to say that you can’t get things out of other cultures, you can, but there is a more appropriate way to go about it.
I work with a man named Daniel Foor. His website is ancestralmedicine.org. He has a book and he has an online course that anyone can take to learn to do this for himself. Once a year he offers a six-month practitioner training. That’s what I just finished, so now you can work with me. I can hold the space to help you work with your ancestral lines.
You can also find other practitioners on that website if you don’t want to work with Daniel or I – I think it’s important to find the right flavor for you.
I don’t know if it’s like when you buy a red car and you see red cars everywhere, but I keep hearing ancestral this and that all over the place, which is really exciting. It’s becoming more and more of a thing to wanting to connect with your ancestors.
We need to remember that our ancestors probably had pretty shitty lives – at least some of them did. When they died, that didn’t automatically go away – their trauma, pain, guilt or shame. Especially in this more modern era, where we’re more afraid of death and keep it at arm’s length, and die afraid to die or of really long and drawn out deaths from medical intervention – people aren’t dying well. Just because you’re dead doesn’t mean you’re completely healed.
There are layers to our souls – one layer, maybe our higher self, is just fine and pristine and ready to incarnate again. Another layer immediately returns to the earth and is composed and given back. But then there’s this third layer that can hang onto pain and trauma, and this is where we get ghosts.
In the old ways, for all of our cultures, there would have been specific rites at death that would help with transition, to let go of the stories, to heal, to prevent the ghosts and the hauntings. But that hasn’t happened for a long time in our lineages, including my own indigenous lineages.
When I checked out my own in journey space, it had been a thousand years since they had been properly taken care of in that manner.
You don’t just want to invoke your ancestors willy-nilly – there’s a big difference between your well ancestors and your ancestors that aren’t so well. There’s a chance that if you engage with your ancestors who aren’t so well, they may put their addictions, traumas, fears, pain on you because you have a physical vessel in which those needs can be met or expressed through.
It can be dangerous to just call on your ancestors without making the clarification of calling on your well ancestors. That said, this ancestral healing practice that I just became a practitioner of – we heal all of the ancestors.
In the first session, I lead you through a light trance state (deep meditation), and we’d set up precautions and barriers and call in spiritual allies, and then set it up for you to check in on the four lines of your ancestry. You don’t need to know these grandparents – you can even be adopted and not know who they are – we can check them out and get a sense of how healthy they are. We would then begin to work with the healthiest line – we journey to meet a guide to help us with that line, then start the process of healing that line.
The idea is that we heal he most healthy line first, because it’s easier, and then we have the support of that line as you start approaching the next least healthy line. Then we heal the sickest line last, because then we have the support of three really well healed lines in place.
This process can take anywhere from four or five sessions, or years if there is lots of pain and trauma.
Anna: In my work as a clairvoyant, I see a lot of this pain and trauma being passed on. One of the things I look at in people’s energy spaces is when they’re carrying something that isn’t theirs, but at some point got passed onto them. I love that you explain the spiritual mechanics of this work. I hadn’t ever heard about how this works, but can validate that I see what you’re explaining in people’s energy bodies.
Hasn’t there been some epigenetic science about us carrying the trauma of our ancestors in our blood and cells.
Darla: Absolutely. When we heal these lines, we take several moments to sit and feel every cell of our bodies updating at the cellular level. You can feel it. Not only are we healing pain and trauma, but now we’re getting blessings and superpowers that are part of each of your lineages. When your lines are healed, these superpowers can come right down the line to you.
Once you take in all of that healing and blessings, you then turn back and give it back to all your living family members, all your future decedents, and even back to the ancestors. It radiates out form you and benefits anyone who is related to you by blood, which can quickly become a lot of people.
Anna: On the Medicine Stories podcast, they were talking about ancestors and how we’ve learned to see time linearly. They talked about a circular idea of time, or the idea that everything is happening at once, and so when we do healings of this nature, it perpetuates through all of time and space.
Let’s talk more about these superpowers and blessings, and what it does for us to connect to our ancestors and our roots both spiritually, personally and culturally.
Darla: I’ve received so many blessings since doing this work for myself. Things have begun to make sense about why I am the way I am, and that’s another great thing about this process. I bet most of your podcast listeners probably feel different than their families, or like they’ve always felt like the odd one in groups and situations – which has been my experience. When you tart tapping into your well ancestors, you start seeing how this “thing” that makes you feel different is actually a superpower, and you can see it lighting up down the line (or however it comes to you using your senses). For me, I see a long string, like a bracelet, of my ancestors and I can see little things lighting up down the line.
For example, one of the cohorts of the practitioner training, who identifies as a queer, cis-gendered woman, realized through one of her male lineages that they are queer, and there is lots of queer ancestors. For many of them, there’s been a lot of pain and shame for the times they lived in and not being accepted. Part of her blessing is that she can be out and proud, and knowing she can do that as the face of her well ancestors is super empowering. It makes me tear up just thinking about it!
Wonderful serendipities start happening when you’ve got all of these clear connections going on behind the veil. things come to you faster. Solutions come to you faster. Help comes faster. Ideas come faster. It’s really awesome – which is the proper use of the word awesome.
Anna: Absolutely! Something that has been a big theme in my work for a long time, but particularly recently – we’re in this big, wave change, I think, spiritually and culturally – even in my really well-connected clients and students, there’s this feeling of being alone. Still. Part of what I’m starting to notice is that we feel alone because we’re not connected to the past. We might be calling on spiritual resources, but they’re still somehow unrooted because we’re calling on them without the bloodline. I think this work is one of these missing pieces within spiritual communities – actually getting rooted.
Darla: It’s really easy to want to go back and then project things onto whatever it is you’re going back to because you’d don’t know. Knowing how to connect to your well ancestors in a really deep way – there’s no need to project. They’ll tell you exactly what it was like then and what it’s like now and how it applies to your life. There’s no need to project or guess.
Anna: That makes me think about something I’ve heard lately, which is a fear around remembering. Having a fear – knowing that many of my ancestors did really shitty things – can make me afraid to remember and own up to that. Can you speak to that?
Darla: It’s normal to be afraid to remember those things. Or even just to experience the second-take on what an ancestor did. However, there’s a greater release when that thing is healed and forgiven, and when your ancestors can ask you to do something for them to help counter-balance the poor decisions they made. Reparations can happen, which can be really powerful.
On the second tier of this healing, once you’ve healed all of your lines, we can get into doing the deeper cultural work. Healing racism, bigotry, sexual violence. We can heal those things in the lines once everyone is well. Then it lifts up the collective.
One of the reasons the US is having trouble with gun laws and police brutality against non-white people is because that stuff is still in the collective consciousness. That was okay to do when the US was formed as a country. A white man could “correct” a black man, unto death if that’s what it took, and it would be the black man’s fault for needing correcting, not a white mans.
So yeah – you get white police men killing black men, it’s in the collective unconsciousness! What this work can do is getting that crap out of the collective consciousness so that we can approach problems in a new way.
Anna: So, we can actually look at the structure that was created for our country under these influences of trauma and collective unconsciousness, and change that structure. Something that is often said is that, “the system is falling apart.” But no, the system is operating exactly the way it was intended and created. Part of how I see this work influencing this – is wow, wait, we just might want to create a new system.
You gave us a bit of an example of what this process looks like – it seems a lot of it is through journeying work? I’m curious – I’ve been digging through Ancestry.com and trying to understand where I come from. Is that piece important, or in addition to this healing?
Darla: It can be both. I want to clarify that when I say “journeying,” it’s not a typical spiritual journey in that you’re not leaving your body. You stay in your body, and all of this happens in your body because your ancestors are all in your body. You’re just going into a deep meditative space and reaching deeper with your mind.
Ancestry.com information isn’t important. You don’t need to know anything about it, however, you might find yourself interested as you go about healing your lines. I wanted to get to know them better.
I just got back yesterday from finishing my training. One of the first things on my agenda is to start digging into ancestry.com. I realized I don’t know my mother’s father’s line at all, which is probably another reason I’m so tied to my mother’s mother’s line. Because of racism – my grandfather was white, my grandmother was brown – they weren’t allowed to get married, because it was illegal. He also had a white wife that he was estranged from, but wasn’t allowed to get a divorce. When he died, my mom and her siblings were kind of the black mark on that family. They were probably in the closet as the skeletons back then in the early 1960’s. I don’t know anything about that line, and it was the last line I healed because of my own fear around it.
Turns out, that’s the line that spiritually, on a soul level, that I’m most affiliated with. I might be my grandfather reincarnated, I get that sense but couldn’t get a clear answer. The guide on that line told me that I’d been part of that line for a long time, and reincarnated along that line many times. That just blew my mind. I know nothing about this line. However, now that that line is well and healed, I feel interested to learn more about them.
Anna: One of the spiritual questions I’m interested in – this is just me picking your brain. As a clairvoyant, I see reincarnation all the time, but something that’s often not clear to me (when I get past-life information, it usually comes in because it’s relevant to the current situation, so I don’t necessarily always tell if we’re reincarnating within the same ancestry line, or if the soul-incarnate lines are different). What’s your opinion about it?
Darla: I don’t know definitively, of course, we probably have more freedom in our incarnation choices than just one line, however, I can see how on a soul level it makes sense that you might be attached to a couple of specific lineages because you’ve just been so invested in them. You might want to reincarnate on those lines and keep working within the family – advance the family cause, bring the family’s blessings into the world. I could see how you could get attached to that.
Anna: That’s my suspicion as well. Of course, I don’t know that any of us know definitely. That’s what I tend to see when I see that – it’s clear that we’re talking about blood ancestors, but sometimes I’m talking about their soul’s lineage, if that makes sense. I just love talking about that.
On your website, you talk about how this ancestral connection can help us gain spiritual resources but also spiritual responsibilities. I would love to talk about spiritual responsibility – can you dive into that?
Darla: It’s very true that the more resources you have, the more responsibilities you have. The more power you have, the more responsibilities you have. While being well with your ancestors, making sure there’s no more ghosts in your family, is very powerful, it’s very freeing in a sense, in this inner-peaceful sense, and exhilarating and humbling, and brings out blessings and superpowers, so to speak. But you can’t just keep them for yourself, you have to share the love!
That goes back to the reparations we mentioned – making reparations for the things your ancestors have done. For example, one person from my cohort – her family behaved horribly toward indigenous families, so her ancestors really want her to make donations to specific tribes that they wronged. Make financial donations to tribes in the names of her ancestors in a way to begin to make amends.
That’s just one example of responsibility.
There’s a lot of earth justice and social justice tied into ancestry work. That’s a good place to begin when it comes to turning spiritual blessings into responsibilities – treating the earth properly, making reparations for the way our ancestors took without thanks. All those things. It won’t even be you thinking, “what should I do?” There will be no question – your ancestors will let you know what to do, and you’ll know exactly what kind of responsibilities you should take on.
I want to point out that there’s room to negotiate. Just because your ancestors are all healed and well, because you’ve healed them, doesn’t mean you have to listen to everything they have to say. You can negotiate. Don’t forget that you have sovereignty over your own life.
Taking some sort of action or reparation will do a lot for you, your ancestors and the world. Do what you can, and that might not be what your ancestors think you can do.
Anna: How has your life shifted since you’ve been doing this work? What are the spiritual responsibilities you’re taking on, what rituals are now in your life, what has connecting with your ancestors done for you?
Darla: It’s helped me feel a lot more rooted here in Costa Rica. For a while, I felt a lot of grief. I was very clearly and plainly called to Costa Rica. I fell in love with a Costa Rican, we’re raising our kids down here. I may still be called back home, and I trust that I will be. However, there was this unexpected detour that felt just as important and right (which I felt grief around), and I feel so far away from home. For the first time, I’m feeling what the rest of my non-indigenous ancestors have probably felt for several hundred years when they left Europe to come here.
I got more sympathy about that. even though I came by choice, there’s grief and pain in leaving. even though I can just hop on a plane and go home, it’s not a three-month boat ride – I still feel grief.
Working with my ancestors has brought me more of a sense of place. The work I’m supposed to do here in Costa Rica is picking up faster. It’s become very clear to me my next step in my spiritual evolution. The next mentor. The next skills. Which means working with the earth, and working with the land.
For whatever reason, I am charged with learning to work with the land spirits here in Costa Rica, and then, I’m hoping I can take this knowledge back home to my indigenous people, but I don’t know. I can’t hinge that desire on doing that knowledge. I’m just following the next step, which is very clear.
For fun story gossip – working with my ancestors, of place and of land, I’ve started getting visited by fairies!
Anna: Yay! I love fairies! I’m a big fairy person!
Darla: Wow! I’m not. At some point fairies were real to me, and then just like Santa Claus and the Easter bunny they weren’t real to me anymore. At another point, I felt like sure, fairies could exist, but we couldn’t interact with them. They’re just this thing that I’ll never have contact with.
But oh my gosh, NO! I live in the forest, and they’re coming to me! And I can see them with my eyes, and not just my mind’s eye, but my physical eyes! It’s amazing!
Since I started working with my ancestors, it’s happened more and more. I’ll share a fun story:
A year and half ago, I was downstairs here in my office. My husband was away, my kids were upstairs sleeping. I heard my then three-year-old laughing and laughing in his sleep, hysterically. Thought, that’s cute. Then I heard his bedroom door open, and I heard little footsteps over the landing upstairs. I got up to see what he needed so he wouldn’t start crying for me and wake up his one-and-a-half-year-old brother.
I went up to see what he needed and there was nobody there. I went to his room, and he was sound asleep in his room. It was obvious that he hadn’t just gotten out and back into bed, plus I didn’t hear footsteps going back to his bed. the landing has a sliding glass door that leads out to a balcony that leads out to the forest.
I didn’t feel scared or like a strange supernatural experience had happened. I just knew it was a fairy. I just knew.
So, then I set boundaries. I said, “Listen, my kids are off limits. It’s my job to protect them from being afraid of the dark. I now have a three-year-old and five-year-old and neither are afraid of the dark. “My house is off limits, I don’t want to have supernatural things coming in.”
I’ve heard horror stories – like stealing babies – and I’m not going to take that lightly. I set boundaries. I’ve had ac couple of other experiences where I woke up in the middle of the night because I felt someone watching me, and I’ve woken up and looked out the window and seen a strange, un-earrthly glow of a being watching me. It’s not scary. I just thank it for respecting my boundaries, then go back to sleep.
Anna; I have a lot of fairy stories we could geek out about! They’ve talked to me for a very long time. In the last podcast, I talked about going out to the garden when I was really little, to sit with them, until I learned it was weird to do that. they didn’t come to me again until probably when I was in college, and then they got really loud, and we started having conversations, and eventually I submitted some of my fairy stories to Doreen Virtue when she wrote her second book on fairies. I said, “Here you go! I’ve got all the stories.” I love those little nature spirits.
You have some awesome offerings on your website. A program about using dreams to connect to your ancestors, an e-book called The Blueprint Cycles – as an Ayurvedic practitioner, this really spoke to me. Can you tell us more about that and then anything else you’d like to share?
Darla: The Blueprint Cycles is one of my most popular courses, too. It’s everything I’ve learned in this decade plus of walking this spiritual journey, and also trying to understand my body as a woman, and how everything g overlaps. A lot of that also comes from learning to try and trust your body and your intuition. when you trust your body, your body will trust you.
this gives you the ground work so you can see how you can trust your body, which opens doors other doors for experiencing yourself, receiving divine information – I’m really big on receiving divine guidance through intuition and serendipities and such. That, and the dream course, are all about opening yourselves up to these different ways of experiencing the divine in your body and trusting it.
The blueprint cycles talks about how it’s this blueprint for life to understand yourself in mind, body, emotion, and oil all at once, but we tend to experience ourselves just in the mind, or maybe the bodies a little, but it’s all disconnected. We’re never in our mind and body at the same time. Well, not never, but rarely.
When you see how this all works and how it overlaps with the four phases of the menstrual cycle, and moon, and seasons, and the circadian rhythm and the wheel of the zodiac – there’s all these patterns that overlap. Then you can go as deep as you want in it. In the course, I just go as deep as your menstrual cycle, the lunar cycle (this is also for women who don’t menstruate, or anyone who identifies as a woman). It just helps you key into the patterns and learn how to work with them and express yourself in a satisfying way within them.
For example, the premenstrual cycle of my cycle is now my favorite cycle. I used to have terrible, painful cramps. I don’t have those anymore because I learned what they were trying to tell me, and then I learned that phase is your most intuitively powerful phase. Whatever you experience during that premenstrual phase (or the waning moon) – see, I get cranky. That’s my pms symptom, irritability. Whatever it is I’m irritable about – that’s the universe telling me that’s what’s not working for me and that’s what needs to change.
That’s the pms phase. My menstrual phase is the time when you go inside, when your inner reflection is turned on. So, you have four of five days to get really deep and rest and sit and reflect on that thing that was brought to your attention.
Then, your follicular phase, related to spring and new beginnings, is then is the phase where you can start taking action.
What I also really like about this model is that it’s not just – Instant take action! There’s time to sit and reflect and think about it before taking action, which is something we don’t do a lot of in modern world because we’re all about instant gratification.
Anna: It’s something I’m telling my hsp folks all the time – we need more time to process things. It’s just the way our system works, it’s the way our memory works, physiologically, we need more time.
I love the idea of this course because I see hsps feeling like they’re swept up in chaos, and particularly for hsp women, being able to put a rhythm to this can be so empowering.
Darla: Yes. It is! We’re told by the outside world that we need to be the same day after day. And when we experience peaks in our emotions, we’re emotional bitches or lunatics – lunatics come from the same Latin word as luna, or moon. So, a lunatic is something overcome by the moon, and we all know that women are ruled by the moon and our menstrual cycle, so it’s an insult in that way.
Men are steady and they follow the circadian rhythm more, and they are the same day after day. and they have their own peaks and rhythms within that day. The 40 hours work week is designed around the circadian rhythm. I talk about this in the course – the normal work day is the season of a year all in one day. Spring, summer, fall, winter.
That’s how men work, and they can be pretty steady in general.
We women, on the other hand, instead of being the same for a few hours and then changing for a few hours, we’re in a cycle for seven to ten or twelve days at a time.
Anna: That is so validating. That’s the most validating thing I’ve heard all week. I so resonate with that. I’ll get in a creative phase, and then I get into a do-nothing phase, and have to allow that. I have no energy.
Darla: And then instead of beating yourself up, this knowledge allows you to know that this is just the rhythm in the cycle and if I just attend to my immediate needs, I know that the motivation and inspiration will come back in a few days. Probably better!!
Anna: And if we have the flexibility in our work, we can plan around this. Especially if we are sensitive creatives and our creating our own work in the world, this could help us plan a little better.
Darla: Exactly. Especially for those of us who can. I know there are also some resources or a movement in corporate America by women to get more flexibility in the regular work week for women. This could be how we do corporate America in a couple years – these female rhythms.
Anna: Yeah! Absolutely.
I have just so thoroughly enjoyed our conversation today, and feel like we could talk for hours and hours. What is the one thing you would like listeners to know?
Darla: I would like you to know that you are not alone. Whatever it is you are struggling with, trying to heal from, trying to learn, however you’re trying to express yourself, you’re not alone. You’re not alone in the sense that there are people like you out there, but that your ancestors are with you – they are – and those same things you struggle with are probably things they struggled with. There is wisdom and healing and resources to be found in your ancestors.
Anna: I resonate so much with that. I feel it in every cell. Thank you so much for being here with us today.
Darla: Thank you, I enjoyed it so much.
Learn more about Darla on her website.
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