Indigo blues: a case of ancestral grief
"Yet, blue isn’t just a hue…of course, one of America’s signature sounds is blues music, which became the foundation for jazz, rhythm and blues, rock and roll and hip-hop. Many Americans realize that the blues emerged from African-American gospel and work songs, but not many realize that the color blue is also directly linked to the African-American experience and slavery. The link is a deep blue natural dye, indigo." The Devil’s Blue Dye: Indigo and Slavery, Jean M. West, 2012
This is a case of a patient who came to me in April 2012 for unresolved grief over a breakup with a boyfriend. D. is in her late 30’s, born in North America of African-European heritage; she is a massage therapist who has suffered from anxiety and depression, and has a history of digestive system complaints. Once her remedy Indigo was found, a small but very significant physical complaint was seen in the context of her whole story. The symptom was right hip pain. Her remedy proved to be “ancestral” in nature, healing a legacy of oppressive suffering for a people who have a huge history related to it as a substance.
D. spoke of having her trust broken and how “abandonment issues” came up for her when she realized that she was lied to: she thought her boyfriend was going to make an effort to work things out in their relationship. D. talked about how she has blurred boundaries in business and friendship.
She had intense right hip pain that she had not had before, starting 2 months after the breakup, but fading afterwards. She also had this hip pain resurface not long afterwards, when she had a sense of betrayal again with a female friend/business partner.
The man was black and there were oppressive issues in their relationship relating to gender – his liking porn for example. Even with the friend, who was white, D. also had the right hip pain. She spoke about a race-related dynamic that made it a difficult friendship. D. had thought that this friend could be an ally with her and perhaps understand her issues as a coloured woman. They were working on a project with others to start up a healing centre with yoga and other modalities (stage 7 placement of Indigo in the Fabaceae family is reflected here).
Her mother is white, of American Mormon background, while her father is a black man with roots in the United States going back to the Caribbean, and naturally Africa. After taking the remedy, D. reveals that mother was sexually abused by her father for 12 years of her childhood; when her mother’s mother found out, the situation did not change in any way.
D. grew up as the youngest of four
siblings, with two brothers and a sister. The siblings, like herself, were all
very exceptionally athletic – her eldest brother was in several Olympic games
for Track and Field. He was a star, especially in their own small North
American community and, naturally, in the whole country. They were almost the
only black family in their all-white community.
In summary, D.’s siblings all have a variety of issues related to race, gender, etc., with D. having strained relationships with each of them. For example, she always wanted the approval of her eldest brother, and in her relationships with men, she expressed that perhaps not getting her brother’s attention (due to his own “disconnected” feelings/behaviours) she may have lacked the ability to connect and maintain her boundaries in her intimate relationships (on saying this she cries, and wonders aloud if her older brother might have molested her at some point – she seems horrified to vocalize this).
During early adolescence she was sent to spend a summer with family friends, a family in a distant city. The fathers were colleagues in a school where they had taught together. She was sexually assaulted by the father of that family when she was napping one afternoon; she awoke to find him lying next to her and… “he was moving and had an erection.” It made her “… feel dirty and like an object.” To this day, she does not know if this man realises that she knew what was happening. The secret, hidden aspect of this incident adds, naturally, to the shame and so too does the fact that she did not tell her own family upon returning home.
Hence, the incident at that age is symbolic in many ways of the pain and suffering that are hers from her place in her family, of her family’s cultural, political and historical place, and the ancestors who she represents. Being a mixed-race woman of African and European descent is very significant. I feel the legacy of Indigo as a commodity or representative of the impact of slavery in her families’ past is captured by her need for this remedy.
Incidentally, when still wondering on the remedy, I asked some confirmatory questions of the patient and she answered to my inquiry on her favourite colour: Indigo!
Food cravings/aversions: meat, sometimes desires red meat. She mentions spontaneously that she hates gristle (cartilage in meats) and had very small appetite as child. She has always loved to eat fruit. Desires dark chocolate.
Prescription: Indigo 30C, taken June 8th, 2012
She was not told the name of the remedy but I mentioned that I felt it could be deemed “Ancestral in nature”.
June 27th, 2012: strong desire for red meat, which she ate a lot; very unusual for her. Analysis = digestion of protein, issue for Indigo/Plant Family, was immediately addressed and D. makes up for lost time: she feeds her needs! Her usual desire for chocolate subsided.
She describes her attempt to learn about her family history in the past, stating that her inability to get the information was “… a lynching of sorts”. The comment was out of context as an expression, but perhaps relevant to her grandfather, who died of throat cancer. “He did not have a voice for his suffering… pain.” She shared her own past inability, despite voice and singing lessons, to “speak my truth that resonates with me ancestrally.”
D. gets into the body memory of her assault, relating to her right hip pain. “On Monday June 18th, I thought the remedy kicked in… it was a sort of ‘all of a sudden’ kind of thing. I was sun bathing and was relaxing… then, something hit me. The quality of the sun, the sensation of the heat… literally out of the blue [, I got a memory of being 10 and turning 11 when molested… I remembered the father’s erection was pressed on my right hip[.”
D. speaks of her father’s suppressed
pain/suffering (“grin and bear it”) relating to his own suffering as black man
in a racist society. She recognises the relevance of her mother having had a replacement
of her right hip: “… for my entire life she had right hip stuff, arthritis…” Also, she mentions “… with yoga for the first
time, I have a shift with my hips, wow.”
PLAN: re-dose when necessary. Remedy taken
August 14th (6 weeks after 2nd dose, 9 weeks after initial dose, just over 2 months since first dose)
D. had an “accident”: a tendon on the joint of her hand was cut. She slows down and re-acquaints with a past mentor and physiotherapist (also her athletic brother’s) and he enables her to re-unite with her brother. Together, they watched the London Summer Olympic Games from North America – usually all Olympics are very difficult for her. She ends up texting jokes/conversing with her brother, while he is a commentator for Track and Field media coverage.
A recent development was the opportunity to facilitate Ancestral Memory Work workshops, allowing her to teach others in a paid capacity. This would be based on what she would learn from African drummers and dancers in next few months. Stage 7 is about teaching and this was manifesting for D; others could now recognize her talents.
It is during this follow-up that I tell the patient her remedy.
She has meanwhile related a “coincidental thing”: her ex-boyfriend had given her a bangle to wear while he was away. It left “a weird tension on her arm.” She felt it had to do “with slavery and shackles and actually even pre-slavery, with initiation bands”. I tell her the name of the remedy and she replies: “I think of myself as an Indigo Child. I think Indigo Plantations are linked to Barbados, and this is where I think the black side of my family stems from. A colleague of mine sent to me these computer links to interviews of slaves in the United States in the 1800’s… with their voices… there was also one recording with someone from the Carolinas, where some family members come from (and where Indigo was grown/manufactured in the United States!).”
PLAN: re-dose 30C when necessary. Remedy taken August 15th.
Email Correspondence September 25th (Just over 1 month after dosing, or about 4 months after initial dose): D. reports on learning information that matches her participation in Drumming Ancestral Remembrance Work: “Images of savannahs... learned that Indigo was planted in “savannahs” or plains [in Africa]. In the ‘New World’ a crop was established in Jamaica, her grandfather’s true birth place and likely the birthplace and home to earlier ancestors.
December 3rd, email correspondence: D. reports that during the autumn she had been revisiting old relationships and family (including her eldest brother). She had one “gut flare-up” afterwards, the only one since the start of treatment. It was short-lived and not medically treated.
March 2013, phone chat (almost 1 year since the initial dose): D. has come full circle in her “Ancestral” work; during the month, she successfully hosted a Drumming Ancestral Work Conference. This was quickly conveyed in a lively chat on the phone.
The journey for D., I believe, is more about just living, learning and being fully herself without having to be dependent on the Ancestral work. She is now engaged with the work, her story and her people, helping others to move forward and embrace their own freedom. It was a privilege to journey with this wonderful, vibrant woman, finally seeing her freeing herself from a grief that was not only hers, but also from a past legacy fraught with pain and suffering. Indigo has a place in the African Diaspora and can be embraced as a substance with a proud heritage for the peoples of many cultures all over the world who use it in all its beautiful, blue glory.
Photos: Wikimedia commons
Plantation slave houses; source Yale university manuscripts
 see http://www.interhomeopathy.org/introduction-to-the-fabaceae-family
Keywords: hip pain, digestive complaints, grief, anxiety, betrayal, depression, sexual abuse, ancestral, slavery