Systemic Constellations: Creating our ‘knowing fields’ by Ornette D Clennon
The most important thing that I took away from my Systemic Constellations time in Athens with Ubele and Fractality, was the power of building a ‘knowing field’. In systemic constellations, the creation of a ‘knowing field’ enables all the participants in the space to (somehow) get on to the same (psychic) page and share a deep understanding and connection with each other by examining and ‘feeling’ latent family/ancestral dynamics. This idea of examining family (and ancestral) dynamics rather reminded me of a variety of Continental African ancestral worship. But what was interesting to me, was how this spiritual element of the ‘knowing field’ resonated very strongly with Robbie Shilliam’s book, Black Pacific: Anti-Colonial Struggles and Oceanic Connections, where he identifies the cosmologies of Europe, Africa and Oceania, as represented by their spirit totems, Hermes, Legba and Tāne/Māui (respectively), who come together in a spiritual ‘hinterland’ away from the “fixing gaze of Britannica” (p. 23). In this hinterland, which is in essence a ‘knowing field’ these totems or ancestors walk in unity of purpose (where there is no hierarchical dominance), giving their children direction and guidance (if we choose to listen!).
It was the creation of these hinterlands or ‘knowing fields’ that enabled us to powerfully embody the representations of people and their issues in the safe space of the workshop. For me, this process was so strong that these hinterlands or ‘knowing fields’ over-spilled into our non-workshop interactions, where I found that I was able to connect to other individuals who became my friends, in ways that I had not anticipated. I felt that representing an individual or their issues in a ‘knowing field’ was a kind of emotional and intellectual gift of sacrifice, that we momentarily gave to one another, as we bore each other’s psychic burdens in that space. This special form of sharing created a strong bond between us that I believe, enabled me to bring my whole-self (or as near enough as I could) to the group.
I also observed that this process worked on a group level, where through the ‘knowing field’ a strong sense of its inner whole-self emerged in and outside of the workshop space. This, for me was very significant because for many people from the African diaspora working in majority-white environments, there are very few opportunities to bring one’s whole-self to bear in building relationships with colleagues. I felt that systemic constellations enabled us to walk in our ancestral hinterlands, via our ‘knowing fields’ that deeply connected us, re-awakened our inner (ancestral) sensibilities and rejuvenated us in the power of who we gloriously are.
Then…we were ready to co-envision and co-plan Ubele’s exciting future!