EPISODE #10 – HOW TO WORK THROUGH FAMILY TRAUMA (with horses) – unmasking generational shame
- Published on: 06 April, 2020
- Last update: 31 March, 2021
I was introduced to Matisse via Erin Claire Jones (listen to our episode on Human Design HERE). If you’re not a self-identifying horse girl, don’t worry, you will still get so much out of this episode, I promise! We talk about trauma, healing with other people, social dynamics, and mother wound.
Let’s get into the episode!
Matisse Williams, M.A is such an incredible woman, I’m over-the-moon that the universe brought us together and I just know we’re going to work together in the future. I wish you all could have been in her living room when we recorded this so you could feel the connection we Nick, Jess, and I formed with Matisse. I’m telling you — this inspiring woman speaks with so much generational INTELLIGENCE. She is boundlessly kind and you can feel the connection she has with nature when she speaks. Her IG bio states, “Transpersonal psych scientist/mystic exploring the connection between human nature & mother nature. Field notes on methodology. medicine. magic.” and damn… I really can’t say it any better than that.
The Juiciness of Horse Constellation Therapy
Let me backup and give you context on where this incredible interview took place. We were in Garrison, NY (a.k.a horse country) and surrounded by animals. Before we sat down and got all esoteric, we met sheep, the horses, and some adorable pups. Needless to say, we were in a sacred space completely immersed in nature. And what better place to have a conversation about healing?
I already know you guys are going to love Matisse as much as I do. She’s an Aries Sun, Cap Rising, and Libra Moon so was literally born to do this work. When I asked her what she would title this chapter in her life she responded, “The Winged Woman”. How amazing is THAT? She is such a warrioress and I’m here for it. (And apparently so is Nick. You’ll appreciate his perfectly-timed whistle in this part of the episode.)
Matisse is cooking up some serious magic over at Two Moons Ranch. She uses this soulful space as a family homestead and horse barn… but it’s not definitely not your average horse barn. This is where she offers equine-assisted facilitation work for leadership development, creativity, and healing, and one of the most ground-breaking treatments she uses is Horse Constellation Therapy.
In this episode, we take a deep dive into the roots of this treatment modality that is the perfect blend of ancestral therapy, ceremony, and western psychotherapy.
Roll up your sleeves because you’re about to dive into these juicy topics:
- Intergenerational trauma
- How your family lineage can directly impact your life
- Ways we can resolve personal issues by allowing the love of our family lineage flow through us
- And MORE.
Okay — But what IS Constellation Therapy?
I just KNOW that you’ll find some real truths in this episode because my conversation with Matisse really hit home for me, Jess, and Nick. We laughed, we cried, we connected, and we saw pieces of ourselves in the stories Matisse shared about her experience leading so many colorful sessions. And that is part of what makes this form of therapy so crazy impactful!
There are three basic principles in Constellation Therapy:
- Everything in a system needs to belong and feel included.
- Everything in a system is seeking balance.
- Everything within a system (business, family, work) has a clear social order.
Here’s what this means: When we feel lonely, out of place, or imbalanced, we’re in need of inner healing so love can flow again. Constellation Therapy reveals these blockages and builds the bridges that lead to resolution! Pretty simple, right? When you break it down, this is actually super foundational stuff… but it’s the way that the sessions are done that feels totally revolutionary. Constellation Therapy is so much more involved than just an hour-long one-on-one therapy session. It’s an entire day immersed in nature with five or six other people you’ve never even met. It requires complete honesty and authenticity. No boundaries — no hiding.
“When everything has its place and knows where it belongs, then healing can flow and love can flow freely.”
Here’s how Constellation Therapy works:
Constellation Therapy leans into the reality that we are all one. In each session, participants present a personal issue that they want to address and then choose other people to represent parts of their story. This could be a person, experience, or even the blockage itself. Then, these people are invited to act out whatever is happening in their body. This isn’t role-playing or channeling… It’s just acting on intuition.
You guys, this part of our conversation was so out-of-this-world I had full body chills! Matisse shared stories of past sessions where people who never knew each other physically acted out impactful experiences from each other’s lives. Some were memories from the past, others were truths that needed to be revealed. I’m telling you — Some of what has happened in these sessions is completely miraculous and nothing short of magical AND this therapy is rooted in psychology!
By creating a space where people are invited to talk about their pain and see their experience reflected back, they can resolve trauma from their own life… but not only that, they can resolve trauma from the lives of their family members, both living and dead. Yes, dead. This is SO IMPORTANT because the majority of our issues have deeeep roots that go all the way back to our childhood or even further back into our family history.
“We almost live in a culture now where some would say that we overshare, in a sense… but I think we’re so tired of repressing things that we’re ready to let things go. We’re ready to talk about them. And this gives us a really wonderful, structured way to do that and a safe place.”
I don’t know about you, but this truth majorly hit home for me. If you’ve listened to the pod before, read my blog, or follow me on IG, you probably already know about my difficult relationship with my mother. But the issues in our relationship are so embedded — It actually goes back generations. For reasons I get into in the episode, my grandmother passed down a sense of self-hatred to my mother and my mother passed it down to me. This issue goes waaay back in my family history but because no one ever wanted to talk about it, it was repressed and has stuck. Constellation Therapy is all about healing relationships, both within ourselves and with others.
So where do the horses come in?
I’m a self-proclaimed horse girl. I grew up going to the horse track with my dad and the smell of fresh cut hay INSTANTLY brings back memories…. So needless to say, this part of our convo totally made me emotional. If you’ve ever wondered why being around these amazing animals makes you feel at peace, here’s your answer: Did you know that horses’ hearts are five times the size of human hearts? As a result, their biofield (a.k.a. their aura) is also five times larger. When you’re around horses, their electromagnetic field actually affects ours by making our heart rates and brain waves slow down! How insane is that??
Being around animals LITERALLY disarms us. They see us for who we are. We can’t pretend or hide and we have to be honest, so when horses are introduced into Constellation Therapy, they reveal deeper truths. When they pick up on inauthenticity, they move away from people, but when the truth comes out or a breakthrough is made, they move closer. The horses physically bring people together or stand between them to create separation. Not only that, they may even choose a role and represent an element in the narrative. (One horse at Two Moons Ranch named Nugget is known for always being the first to volunteer to play a role. I love that. so. much.)
The juicy connection between nature, music, and the divine feminine.
You know that feeling you get when you get outside and everything is suddenly right in the world? People always say it’s the fresh air, but it turns out it’s much more than that! Cities are full of straight lines and harsh angles, but the natural world is much more fluid. It’s soft and beautiful and gives our eyes a chance to chill. out. Being in nature helps us enter a parasympathetic state so we can get out of fight or flight mode and truly be in our bodies. To encourage this even further, Matisse begins each session with a meditation and sound healing.
This part of the conversation took me back to when I was younger and music was a place of solace for me. It was almost as if my family dynamic was like those harsh lines of the city, and music is where I would go to reconnect with myself and be reminded of my own voice. It was like the sound of music represented something natural and authentic to me, and I always say it’s part of the reason I survived childhood.
This connection between music and my own voice took our convo down a path that totally filled me with life. Everyone’s voice is a gift, and so many women are suffering and holding back, which negatively affects their mental and physical health. But through treatments like Horse Constellation Therapy, the feminine voice is being nurtured and emboldened and unearthed and shared.
“… Women, the herbalists of the world, the grandmas of the world, how it always was — women healing families, women healing themselves. That’s coming back to the forefront and it’s being accepted in a way that just feels so natural.”
Matisse’s #1 take-home tip when it comes to accessing your own divine feminine strength is to love yourself and remember that your life is a gift that was passed down through generations. A lot of this ultimately comes down to inner child work and unifying the masculine and feminine. We have to really get into our juiciness, be who we are, and then bring this into our relationships.
(P.S. Even our feminine cycles are inviting us to turn inward, shed, and then extend outward again. This is why I believe it’s SO important for women to track their cycles!)
Ugggh — All of what Matisse shared was just SO GOOD. You have to listen for yourselves.
Before we wrapped, I asked her some ways that we could find this sense of inclusion and unity, even if Constellation Therapy isn’t available to us at the moment. Here’s what she said…
How to integrate the principles of Constellation Therapy into our daily lives:
- Express gratitude in our relationships by telling people we love and appreciate them.
- Acknowledge when we are rejecting someone and get real about why.
- Notice where we might be rejecting ourselves and claim responsibility.
- Create a personal constellation by building an altar to your ancestors and establish a ritual of healing and inclusion.
At the heart of it, Horse Constellation Therapy is all about relationships and unearthing an inner love that flows out of you! We have to heal from the inside (oftentimes generations back) to find self-acceptance so expansive that you can’t help but share. We become healers to others by first healing ourselves.
So, What’s the Juice?
- Horse Constellation Therapy takes place in a group setting. One person states an issue, a question, or an area they feel stuck to the rest of the group. Then, that person selects other people from within the group to represent elements of their healing narrative. It’s very experimental and it needs to be felt in the body. Remember, Matisse is guiding and facilitating this entire process.
- This type of healing works off the morphogenetic field or the unified field. This is the invisible field of energy that expresses the truth that we are all one.
- Constellation Therapy is goal oriented / requires clear intentions.
- As we step into this portal together, the morphogenetic field starts giving the participants clues and information.
- No one has ever not been able to do it, the only thing it requires is for you to drop into your body.
- The horses will show us when the constellation has come to a place of resolution because they want to be around the energy of love, leadership, and truth.
- This is a really effective way to clear anything that we’re carrying on behalf of our ancestors so that we can be more free to step into our expression more powerfully.
- Often times things come up that don’t come up normally. Matisse has noticed that horses have a way of disarming the part of us that wants to hide from our truth, because horses don’t hide. She’s also noticed that horses don’t like inauthenticity.
- We carry so much heaviness when we don’t forgive ourselves or our family members.
- Horses are wonderful teachers/facilitators because they are so present, and their presence allows us to trust our feelings and to feel our feelings.
- The main focus is for everyone involved to give themselves and their energy to others. Everyone involved gets to be witnessed, participate, be vulnerable and heard by a human herd.
- The fact that this work takes place in remote environments surrounded by nature is so key because the fresh air, gentle sounds, and natural visuals help us sink deeper into our bodies and thus the healing is more profound than sitting in a therapist’s office.
Matisse Online: matissewilliams.com
Silver Horse Retreat w/ Sarah Fancy: https://www.silverhorse.org/
More on Carl Jung: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Jung
Carlotta Mastrojanni Womb Healings: https://www.whatsyourmedicine.com/