My Path to Ancestor: Exploring the Motherline with Liz Hummer (Part 1)
We discuss how a return to our origins with the motherline can help us heal and let go of what doesn’t serve us and our families as well as access untapped potential for growth and transformation. This is part one of our discussion. The second part is available here.
Our conversation covers:
- an introduction to her understanding of the motherline
- how the motherline helped her reframe the initial burden of motherhood and shift her personal struggle with anxiety
- the tools she used to explore her motherline
- the familial lore and wisdom she uncovered through her exploration
- how connecting with her pre-Christian roots helped her find a greater sense of belonging
- how her indigenous roots helped connect her with ancestors of the land in a new way
- and how the motherline can help us understand and address personal and collective intergenerational trauma
Liz Hummer is a holistic therapist and intuitive guide for the parenthood journey who weaves the mystical back into mental health. With her therapy practice, Wild Awaken, she grounds inclusive spiritual practices and ancient wisdom in the latest science of neurobiology, epigenetics and inherited trauma to help parents heal generational wounds and claim their unique soul-aligned lives for themselves, their families and our world. As a mama herself to a 3-year-old spirited old soul, Liz believes awakening to what we carry, what we can let go, what we can reclaim, and what we want to pass down can free us to live with intention, expand our souls, and nurture a healthier reality for our next generation. She lives in a small mountain town in the Pacific Northwest, ancestral lands of the Klickitat people, with her partner, son, wise old dog and three wacky alpacas.
Connect with Liz through her psychotherapy and intuitive guidance practice Wild Awaken
Drafted by AI. Please excuse typos.
I’m excited to talk to you today about the motherline. We both, we incorporate that a lot in our work, and there’s a lot of alignment there. Can you share with me your description of this concept? Yeah, well,
from my experience and study, I mean, the mother line is very layered. I think first of all, of course, it’s the fact that we are all born of mothers. And that line, even biologically speaking, is unbroken. It turns out that we receive our mitochondrial DNA, which is literally the energy maker of ourselves, only from our mothers. So that is unblended. And unchanged from mother to child. You know, in that way, of course, mother line is what we carry in our bodies from our mothers, including how our nervous system and our cells are shaped from the womb. But even more deeply as we grow and evolve in life, it’s it’s that knowledge and felt sense of where we’ve come from the family stories, the cultural background, the identities and beliefs that we’ve inherited our origin story. And I think becoming aware of that, on all these many layers in our body, in our energy in our mind, and emotions. In our spirit. It’s really an opportunity to become aware of what there is to heal, what what we can release, it’s limiting us, and what untapped potential there is for our own growth and fuller expression in this life, especially as we become mothers ourselves and consider what we’re handing down to our children.
Yeah, so beautiful. I always think about how mothers are the first environment, and the environment is the third teacher. So that’s a beautiful description of the motherline. Thank you. How did you first come to learn about the mother line and apply this concept to your life and your own journey? Well, it’s
it’s been like, I like the mother line itself a layered, and unlearning I guess sometimes going deeper. I think it was near the end of my pregnancy almost exactly three years ago, that I heard a podcast, I can’t remember what it was that asked a question, what does it mean to you to be a mother? Where do you think that’s come from? And it was a lightbulb moment of, Oh, this is a constructed belief. And I can consider what is shaping my outlook on how I’ll be as a mother and I can make my own choices. I also read a book called mothering from your center by Tammy Lynn Kent, who is a holistic pelvic care therapist and energy healer, who I had the privilege of seeing a few times after a miscarriage before I had my son, and after I had my son. She’s based in Portland, Oregon. And she talks about that maternal lineage. And I think that’s where I first really considered the lineage and how our triggers and our struggles as a mother that we feel can often be rooted in the inherited beliefs of how we watched our mother, mother. And then you think, how, what kind of mothering did she watch from her mother? So that’s where I first really started experiencing and exploring this concept and then I’ve dove in into, you know, the neuroscience and attachment and things like that in my clinical work. But personally, I think the first two places where started to explore this in my own mothering was first, the burden that I felt as a mother, it just felt so hard. And I thought this is supposed to be joyful. And I considered that, you know, my mother and grandmothers and the struggles that they had with many kids. My great grandmother had 10 kids, my grandmother had seven kids. My mother only had a few and only me for a little while, but she was a young mother unexpectedly across the country from her family working, raising a young child, I really came to have compassion for the generations before me, and how they were doing the best they could with the situation’s they were in and how I wanted to feel differently. So becoming aware of that pattern, just even knowing it was a pattern. And seeing it through the generations helped me realize it wasn’t an inherent, unchangeable part of myself, I’m just a person who doesn’t enjoy mothering. It was an outlook, it was something I could reframe. And secondly, a legacy of anxiety that also had felt inevitable to me. There was always this story in our family that we’re just we’re anxious women just runs in the family. And I grew up a very anxious child feeling like that was just the way I am. Looking at it generationally helped me see a bigger perspective than just that there was something wrong with me. It helps me understand that, yes, this is a quality that we have. But I started to see it as a as a sensitivity, that we’re highly sensitive women. And we have been cut off and forgotten how to support that in ourselves. And instead of looking at as looking at it as a strength, viewed it as a problem or a weakness as an anxiety. And that has helped me again, have compassion, and gratitude for the women that have come before me. And look at what my role is in healing the story and reclaiming what I think is a strength instead of a weakness in our mother line.
So shifting that perspective, and becoming conscious, so you can really heal what you needed to do to with compassion, understanding, and then choose your own truth, your, your sovereign guidance. That’s really, really beautiful. Absolutely,
I think that learning about our mother line is, is key to conscious parenting. At that, and so many of us are coming into parenting at this point in time in our world. Because we’re being called to heal and transform something and and move the generations forward into a healthier way of life.
So what tools or paths have you gone down to explore the mother line on this, on this mothering journey of yours?
Well, you know, what has probably been the most pivotal and helpful to me, has been researching my family tree and my my ancestry, my genealogy using, you know, some of the tools that are out there now, there’s so many one I, you know, I did my DNA test. And I think because of that unchanged mitochondrial DNA, the part that was the most specific was my maternal line, my Irish roots, which they were able to narrow to a very specific part of Northern Ireland. So that was really neat. That was like, oh, there’s a, there’s an actual place on this planet that’s like a home. And so I, you know, I have an idea that I’d love to go there and explore that. Also, within there, I, you know, I trace back, finding just the names of children and the stories and things like that, or as much as you can decipher from names and dates and records. But you can actually find out a surprising amount, or at least piece the story together. And so for me, one thing that I discovered that helped me again, increase my understanding and my compassion of where this lineage of anxiety and hardship kind of comes from was, I discovered that my great grandmother was born. Less than a year after her baby sister passed away. So if you can go back my great grandmother, great, great grandmother was a young mother who lost her first baby at four months. According to the date, she was pregnant with my great grandmother A month later. So I look at that with my understanding of epigenetics and how trauma lives in ourselves and literally gets passed down. And I think about the grief that my great grandmother great grandmother was holding, while my great grandmother was growing in her womb, and then my great great grandmother proceeded to have 10 more children. There’s wasn’t a lot of time and space for grieving and processing that kind of trauma at that time. And that really shed a lot of light for me on where anxiety patterns can come from, you know, here’s a woman who lost her first baby. And I can imagine being in that position and feeling very precarious and worried about my children, to a hyper vigilant level, which of course, are symptoms of PTSD. All the rest of my years, if there’s no support for healing that, and then we have no awareness of that, in fact, I told my mom and my aunt about it, and no one actually knew that story. So that was really interesting how we can get disconnected from those stories and origins.
last in, in finding that my Irish roots, was also coming back into connection and following an interest in my farther back ancient heritage of like pre Christian, Celtic beliefs and ways of life, you know, we grew up Catholic in my family, Irish Catholic, and that has its own culture, that actually never felt all that supportive and true for me. So I kind of pushed aside my Irish heritage, and roots thinking, I don’t identify with that it isn’t helpful for me. And it was only in becoming aware of how we all have pre Christian ancient origins. And in a way, at a time, where likely the feminine energies and sensitivities and wisdom were more honored, that I started to feel a coming home, and a sense that maybe my role both in my mother line as a mother and in the world as a therapist, is as a healer and reconnecting my lineage back to those forgotten strengths.
And the wisdom. Yeah, it seems like this is a time for that to come back online. You know, we’ve buried so much of the wild, wild, feminine and it’s desperately needed. Oh,
absolutely. It’s, it’s a huge moment, I think of rebalancing and remembering. And so much of that lies in our mother line, but often so far back, that we need to do a little digging.
I’m curious if you’re reconnecting with your ancestry in a specific place, shifted your relationship with the land that you’re on now?
Hmm, absolutely. I think we have started to I feel a grief, I think, in in never having been to or known that place of my roots, feeling a bit of displacement, and, of course, grief over what has happened to the original inhabitants of the land where I now live, who are the clack, the Klickitat people here in the Northwest. And I’ve realized, you know, part of the reconciliation is, is honoring that and understanding the story of where we now live and the land that we’re on. So, you know, we found some origin stories from the indigenous people here, and we read those to our son. And we, we think, and show gratitude for the ancestors of this land, for tending it. And we honor them in the way that we tend it. And so, yeah, I think there’s a way in which, understanding that you yourself also have indigenous roots. Even though many times here in America, we have been long cut off from them. You realize that it’s a universal experience. And so you want to, to honor that, where you now reside as well.
Yeah. So much of the mother line is about kind of excavating and processing that grief and loss of, of this, these cultural Ways of Knowing but um, I truly believe we can reach through that wound to understand our time and place on a deeper level and also as a white woman deal with settler colonialism.
Yeah, absolutely. There’s a great book that I’m in the process of reading, called My Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menakem. And it’s, he discusses how we are all holding the trauma of, of that settler colonialism and racism in different ways. But that, that the the healing and the and the reconciliation we want now comes with healing that in our bodies, and so as white people, also understanding that our ancient ancestors experienced trauma from the Crusades and inquisitions and displacement and violence, and that that unprocessed trauma is what the settlers brought to this country and then perpetrated on people here and then the chain continues because of the lack of healing and awareness.