The Orders of Love: the Hidden Principles Behind Family Constellations

For our first blog post, we thought we would review the basic tenets of family constellations. Some of you are very familiar with ‘the orders of love’; for some these are new ideas. For all of the issues we work with in family constellations (as opposed to organizational or collective constellations, which have their own orders), these three principles stand behind the entanglements we see; behind relationship problems, additions, suicide, health issues, mental health issues, and many more. I have learned these principles in many contexts. However, recently I read one of Bert Hellinger’s (constellations’ founder) books, No Waves without the Ocean, and I loved the way he phrased them. Below I reprint what he said; feel along as you read them - where do they resonate? Where are you perplexed? Anywhere in disagreement? Where do you need more information? And then comment below - let us and each other know what you are thinking . . .

“Every family has a common soul and a common conscience.  This soul and this conscience are guided by three unwritten laws.

“Firstly, everyone in a system has an equal right to belong.  This applies both to the living and the dead.  When someone’s right to belong is denied, for example, because of a moral judgment such as: “He is a scoundrel”, or “He is an alcoholic”, or “She had a child out of wedlock”, of whatever else one may say about another person, it always has the same effect. Certain members in a family or clan feel superior and claim that they have a greater right to belong because they are better people.  But the family soul does not distinguish between good and bad in that sense.  Because the so-called bad is only another side of that multiplicity from which the good also draws its strength. Without bad there is no good.  A person who is terribly good is, in reality, terrible.  Or someone who considers himself as perfect is actually pretty terrible.  He is also dangerous.  Those who consider themselves as better people are dangerous.  In the company of people who see themselves as ordinary, you can feel peaceful and have a sense of belonging.

“When someone is denied an equal right to belong in a family or clan, the family soul or family conscience will try to balance this out in some way to re-establish the order.  This is the second order, with which the family soul and the family conscience are both concerned.  It usually follows on from the first order in this way:  a person born later feels identified with an earlier member who has been excluded, but is not aware of it consciously.  She represents her in order to balance out the injustice in terms of the family conscience.  The person later born then suffers in the same way, has the same feelings and becomes like her. She is identified with her.  Because of this identification, the system has yet again to realign itself in terms of good and bad.

“The solution for the person who is identified would be to honor the excluded family member, that is, to grant that family member a place in her heart.

“It also happens that sometimes a member is excluded or forgotten because their fate is too frightening to face, for example, if a woman dies in childbirth.  She needs to be counted in or included in the system so that no descendant has to represent her.  Then everyone has a chance to feel peaceful again.

“So, to reiterate, the first two orders of love are: everyone has an equal right to belong, and: the system will balance out aright of belonging that has been denied.

“The third order demands that those who come earlier in the system have precedence over those who come later.  The family soul and the family conscience protect the right of those who come first and sacrifice those who come later in order to establish balance.  When the status of those who come earlier is acknowledged, those who come later are free. “

Bert Hellinger, No Waves without an Ocean, p. 40-41

What? Those who come later are sacrificed? A family soul? I don’t believe in souls . . . This applies to the living and the dead? If any of these thoughts, or others, are going through your head, comment below and let’s dialog. KC