While the healing arts of a shaman may feel mysterious at times, it wasn’t until I received healing from a Mayan woman at Cobá that I really understood how to receive pure energy without the need for explanation. This, I realized, is the true art of healing!
As a shaman in the West, I spend quite a bit of time talking with clients, consulting, narrating, and soothing. This can seem unnecessary, but it quiets the mind so healing can be easily received.
But…what if I stopped talking? Just zipped it up and let the healing, the Spirits, and the session speak for itself?
During a recent journey through Mexico, I stayed in the village of Cobá, at the base of the ancient sacred city. We booked an Airbnb and were met by two Maya women healers. They greeted us with kisses and spoke not a word of English—and not a word of Spanish. Mayan was their native tongue (and I speak no Mayan). Immediately, we were embraced with familiar warmth even though no shared words were ever spoken.
The healing session they offered was ancient: a Maya spiritual bath, traditional Maya massage, and a light meal after. Prayers were offered up as we were smudged with copal and bathed in spiritual waters. In the Maya culture, plants are masticated while prayers are breathed into them. These plants carry the intentions to the gods and help release the energies stuck within the recipient. I’d learned this technique in the States through the teachings of Rosita Arvigo, but to experience it firsthand from a wise healer mama, the meaning became infinitely more relevant and transcendent.
We were washed and blessed in an outdoor bath with chanted prayers and flowing water— a rebirth in every sense. I was no longer Andye, a traveling gringa; I was raw, sweet, and whole. Lovingly, the plant-filled waters poured over my body for nearly an hour with no words spoken. The flowers, honey, and soothing waters washed away every concept, judgment, and limitation I had about myself.
We were led from this bath to a massage table in the middle of a Maya garden. This land also served as an apiary for Melipona bees: the only bees absent stingers, with a honey so exquisite, it’s prized throughout the world. The humming of their delicate work around us acted as a boon, their primal presence offering gentle and soothing compassion while our soul’s wounds to fell to the earth.
A Maya abdominal massage followed, our bellies rubbed with honey by these two women healers whose energy was both doting and powerful. Midwives no doubt, you could sense all they’d seen and witnessed, but only grasp little of what their real lives must be. I have no capacity to understand all they’ve seen, but I’m in deep reverence for their willingness to share themselves with us that day.
In our own passive ways, we tried to communicate—but with no shared language, it was only in hugs and laughter. Their power was resolute, their love genuine, and their presence held no space for judgment. It was unconditional and pure in intent.
Beyond the immediate effects of the healing ceremony, the lasting effects have shifted how I show up for my own clients. I want my presence to act as a healing balm, more so than what’s said. I disengage from the mind chatter, leading people into a genuine space of serenity and silence, invitation and healing. In stillness, we’re able to find everything we need—if only we know how to be with it peacefully.
Image by: Christina Cerda