The Orders of Love describe a natural hierarchy that has been observed through the practice of Family Constellations. What we have observed, is that there is a distinct order that states who belongs, and who doesn’t belong not only to a family system, but also to groups and nations. On working with individuals, we observe that each of us has three levels of conscience: the conscience we have as individuals which dictates to us what is right and wrong, our responsibilities, and our reactions to certain conditions; additionally, we belong to the collective conscience of our biological family, the connections and influence of which can span many generations; and
lastly, we participate in the conscience of our ethnic and national groups—be that Jewish, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Zulu, White, Black, Coloured, Muslim, Hindu, Catholic, Protestant, English, German or Scottish, etc.

In observing work with clients during the process of Family Constellations, we see an undeniable and almost measurable effect when the Orders of Love have been disrupted in some families. The Orders of Love prescribe who comes first, who belongs after that, and describes a natural flow of love from grandparents, to parents and to children. These orders span countless generations but tend to be experienced as having the greatest influence within three to seven generations. So how do the Orders of Love become disrupted? As these ancient orders dictate who belongs and how, disruptions take place when individuals or groups have been excluded, either deliberately, or as a result of family members not being able to embrace the difficult fate of another family member. The overriding principle of the Orders of Love is that parents give life, and that children receive life. Therefore, when a child—no matter the age—is motivated to place himself above a parent, or equal to a parent, there are consequences in terms of the natural flow of the Orders of Love towards him. The cost to the child with such posturing is usually evident in disruptive life patterns.

For example, the most common disruptions are caused by the early death of a parent or grandparent, the death of a child, miscarriages, abortions, an individual being ousted from a family in the role of ‘black sheep’ or if a murder or other injustice has taken place. All of these events can be felt and observed to have a deep residual impact on our lives today, even when they have taken place three, four or five generations back. On encountering these ancient Orders of Love, seasoned therapists are not only amazed by the efficiency of working within this new concept, but are also humbled by the power of working in this innovative and fresh way, inspiring them to find new solutions for clients that have hitherto eluded them. When we look closer at the Orders of Love, we enter a realm that is beyond traditional psychotherapy, and initiates a movement to cross the threshold into the dominion of the Soul. The Soul, by its very nature is equal to, and inclusive of, all things. At the heart of the Soul is the acknowledgement and acceptance of what is. This is the basis and power of love. Through this nature of love, we become liberated to belong without entanglement in the fate of others, as well as from a collective conscience that may be detrimental to us in terms of creating disruptive life patterns. Resolutions for interruptions in the natural Orders of Love lie in seeing each member of our family (or nation) as belonging equally, irrespective of personality traits: whether they are strong or
weak, amicable or argumentative, mentally or physically handicapped, committed suicide or died at a very young age. In restoring the Orders of Love, we need to allow and respect the fate of each member of our family (or nation), no matter how burdensome that fate may be, for each individual must be able to be strengthened not only by their fate, but also by any responsibility that they may have for it. What has been observed time and time again, is that disruptive life patterns—be they manifest as physical illness or difficulties in relationships—can be attributed to an interruption in the Orders of Love, as well as the difficulty that some individuals have in allowing the fate of another to remain where it is, instead of taking it on as their own.
Often, in working to restore the Orders of Love through Family Constellations, the client has little or no conscious awareness of his entanglements with the fate of others, but when revealed through a constellation, he becomes acutely aware of his hidden loyalties and begins to consciously defend them.

The Orders of Love rarely exist intact within the average family. When members of a family cause a disruption to the Orders of Love—albeit this is more often than not realised or responded to in an unconscious way and not acknowledged—the awareness does not simply fade away from the family conscience or Soul; it remains intact. If an individual has been ousted unfairly from a family, another family member—even several generations later—will be compelled to restore balance and order by suffering a similar fate out of unspoken loyalty. It is in the same way, that nations or national and ethnic groups that have been victims of other groups, go on to imitate the original perpetrators. Victims and perpetrators share a fate with one another and when the victim is denied or excluded in some way, the perpetrator is also excluded—given a status that is less than human—compelling future generations to either take on the fate of the perpetrator or the victim as their own. When we look at perpetrators, it must be remembered that there is much more to the individual than that moment in time when he becomes the murderer or persecutor. His being is much larger than a single event, and rather than a single event defining who he is, it is the totality of his being. Let
me share some examples:

Although raised in a Christian household, a client was compelled to convert to Judaism. On exploring family history, we see that his great-grandfather left his
wife for a Jewish woman and had a child with her. This child, Jewish owing to its mother, was excluded, not acknowledged as a brother to the client’s grandfather,
not acknowledged as an uncle or great-uncle, by the client or his family. This constitutes an exclusion which creates disruption in the Orders of Love; therefore, as the nature of the Soul is inclusion and to be equal to all things, the client feels compelled to share in the fate of his great-uncle and live with the consequences of conversion to Judaism within the context of belonging to a Christian family.

In this way, we as children, and our own children, take on the energies and feelings of ancestors, living life as if they themselves were a particular ancestor who had been forgotten or ousted in some way. By far the most common entanglement and disruption to the Orders of Love are observed when there has been the early death of an individual within a family, be it a parent or a child. When an individual dies early, it is very difficult for surviving family members to accept the fate of that person; this is particularly so for parents who lose an infant, or for a young child when a parent dies. When we are unable to look at and fully acknowledge the dead, they, too, become excluded, for their fate has been rejected. Fate is a matter for the Soul.

A client reports that she has often struggled with suicidal feelings and has been on a life-long quest to search for spiritual truth. On working with her family, we learned that her mother’s sister died just a few hours after birth. The child was neither named nor given a funeral and was never spoken of, a clearly taboo subject within the family. On setting up her constellation, the client immediately wept when looking at the representative for the dead child and reported, “It feels as if I’ve been looking for her all of my life.” The client also reported feeling guilty simply for being alive, and now had a clear understanding why.

My client was compelled to represent the dead child in some way, and to share in its fate through not being fully present in life, with one foot in the grave so to speak. When a child dies, the parents often cannot look at the child, and are unable to take the child as their own, thus the child becomes ousted from the family. In such cases, even four or five generations later, its effect can be felt and the children and grandchildren of later generations can feel compelled to share the fate of such a child in some way, either through action, or by carrying the feelings. More often than not, clients who report being on a life-long quest for spiritual truth or ‘something’, are usually looking for someone who has died and been forgotten.

So how do we work with the Orders of Love and access the information that is revealed? We do so by employing what is described as the Knowing Field.

The Knowing Field
In Family Constellation work we use representatives to stand in for members of our family and ancestors; this is when we engage the unseen presence that we have come to know as the Knowing Field. It is then that we meet the phenomenon that representatives have access to information and feelings of the individuals they are representing. This, for the representatives, can be a powerful and life-changing experience in its own right as they step into another’s shoes and ‘become’ someone else, with little to no knowledge of the personality and circumstances of the individual they are representing.

During a constellation process, a representative is asked to stand in for the client’s grandfather. On being placed in position, the representative lifts up one foot and rests it behind the knee of his other leg, therefore standing on one leg. The client gasps and utters, “My grandfather lost his leg in WWI!”

Everyone taking part in Family Constellations for the first time is amazed, deeply touched and altered in some way by means of their exposure to what they see unfolding before them, as well as by their own often intense experiences when asked to represent a complete stranger. On hearing about this work, the reactions are often sceptical, even incredulous, wondering if it could possibly be true, some adding conjecture that representatives are merely acting out of a need to create healing or resolution for a client. However, sometimes what a representative feels and expresses is far from loving and none of the feelings of any of the representatives can be predicted in advance. What we do hear frequently are statements from clients like, “That’s just like my brother—that is what he would say.” There is a certain sense of mystery as to how this happens, for the representatives are not required to be psychically gifted, but are ordinary people attending a workshop. We hear time and again from participants verifying the truth of the feelings, attitudes and events that are being represented. In some way, the representatives are either absorbing the energy of the family soul, or simply becoming part of it—which is astounding in its own right—but the true power of the work comes from releasing the mystery of it, accepting what is, and simply using the Knowing Field as expressed through the representatives in order to bring order to chaos and resolution to disharmony.

Author's Bio: 

Excerpt from 'The Healing of Individuals, Families and Nations' by John L. Payne.
Author, Family Constellations Practitioner and Trainer, Healer.