Sacred Grove Gatherings: 3 Traditional Mexican Healing Workshops

Helping you to become who you are truly meant to be through experiencing the teachings of the Ancient Wisdom of Mexico for emotional and spiritual healing taught by four amazing and talented teachers.\

  • August 17-20 These two 2-day workshops:  ‘Enriching Yourself – Creating Inner Harmony and Wellness’ will provide you with new mind-body techniques using traditional Mexican healing practices.  You will learn ancient healing practices from Mexico to help you meet your goals of being your best. The workshop leaders,  Rita Navarrete and Margarita Camerena, are coming to Canada to share their traditional Mexican healing knowledge for the first time.  Find out more
  • November 912 Renewing and Recreating with the 4 Sacred Elements. Two 2-Day Workshops. This year, Alma will be giving two 2-day workshops that will provide wonderful opportunities to help us with our own healing through renewal and re-creating ourselves.  Alma will help us to learn unique, enriching teachings about healing tools and techniques.  As a special addition to this year’s workshop Alma will be joined by her husband Xolotl (Jose Luis Chavez Martinez) who will be bringing the profound added feature of traditional Aztec Dance.  Find out more
  • November 15-17 Aztec Calendar: Connecting with the Cosmos and Understanding Your Birth-chart: Using the Cosmic Mexican (Aztec) Calendar in Your Life. For the first time in Canada Xolotl and Alma will explore the Ancient Mexican Calendar (often called the Aztec Calendar) sharing this ancient system of understanding the energies of each year, month, solar week, day and hour. These teachings will help you maximize the potential of your life. Find out more

Attending these workshops is a present of self-love, emotional resilience,  and of becoming your own healer.



Learning about folk healing – curanderismo

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This July I had the rich and profoundly healing opportunity to attend a two week course called Traditional Healing without Borders:  Curanderismo in the Southwest and Mexico.  The course provided beautiful opportunities to learn techniques, engage with the land based culture and the lineage of teachers.
In case you want to know more:
What is curanderismo you might be asking? The term has been translated as “folk healing”.  It is what people used and use to do their own healing over the centuries.  It can involve using herbs and other medicinal plants, feathers, candles oils, eggs, and blessings. The people who practice curanderismo are referred to as traditional healers (curandera or curandero). Some traditional healers also use massage techniques and sweat lodges or temezcals as there are called in Mexico.

Curanderismo stresses healing approaches that you can use for yourself and for others.  “I am my own healer” is a core understanding of this tradition.  Through achieving your own healing  you can also contribute to helping to heal people around you, in your communities.  This can be as passive as a gentle unfolding or as active are you would like to make it.

One of the key strengths of Curanderismo is that many different cultures and healing  traditions have contributed to its evolution and what is included.  This folk healing arena begins with traditional indigenous healing practices and knowledge from Mexico (centuries of indigenous knowledge) and has been added to through Spanish healings, influenced by the North African Moor/Arabic and other African approaches,and Jewish ones too. One example is the widespread use of rosemary and basil in healing sessions and teas in Mexico.  These plants came from  Spain and were added to the library of over 2000 plants the Aztecs where already using.

Plants and gardens are one of the key aspects of curanderismo: through their use in teas, creams, in cleansing healing sessions, their scents, their use in sweatlodge healing,  their colours.

Here is a link to the course in case you would like to learn more:

Summer Solstice

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On June 21, at 11:54 am (in Toronto in the Northern Hemisphere) we will welcome in summer. The moment of the summer solstice is a time when we can absorb the all the goodness of the sun’s energy.  It is important and sustaining to take a moment to feel this energy and imagine this beautiful healing energy coming into the top of your heat and flowing through your body and out your feet.  You may want to even imagine it as if it were steps of beautiful sunlight energy flowing into and around your body. If you have any specific injury in your body invite the solstice sun fire healing energy into that specific place for healing.
Before you begin this practice you may want to take a moment to get grounded connecting your feet to the earth and take a few cleansing breathes ( or do what works best for you… i.e., if you smudge this could be a good time to do it).
When you have completed this practice. Remember to thank the sun for these gifts and all the gifts from Mother Earth that we receive.
At the time of the summer solstice you may want to also take a few moments to reflect about what do you want to have more of in your life (security? love? kindness? health?  abundance? love? money? gratitude? generosity? confidence? etc. ) and invite what you wish for into your life.
And as a final step for embracing this summer energy and  if it feels right to you consider making some offering to a body of water. The offering could be words, prayers, a song a flower, a pebble, anything that is safe to go into the water and that you have put your intention of what you would like to have more of in your life for the next year.
Take moment to note if your receive any “gifts”  in return for this practice.
I am so grateful for these practices that have been shared with me my teachers: Mariabruna, Alma, Alison and Xolotl.

Preparing For the Winter Solstice (for the Festive Season)

In Mexico City, each December hundreds of thousands (millions?) of people preform a pilgrimage to the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a sacred location. They  do this for many different reasons but often it is to show their love and devotion the Lady of Guadalupe. I have been taught that this is an ancient custom that has happened for many centuries even before the Spanish arrived in Mexico bringing Christianity with them and that the original pilgrimage was to ask for abundance from Mother Earth. This custom of preforming a pilgrimage for Mother Earth has now been integrated into the devotion to The Lady of Guadalupe.

It is also, my understanding that in ancient times, as people walked along the route, at specific locations they would discard a series of 13 stones – 6 white and 7 black- one by one.  This process was to do a series of letting go of what is not needed for the next year as a part of the preparation for the December Solstice.  I have been taught that the letting go is often about the releasing our fear of death and of change.

The hummingbird is an important symbol that according to the Mexihca  people of Mexico emerges at the moment of the Winter Solstice. In 2015, I was able  to participate in walking the last two kilometers of the pilgrimage. Due to the size of the crowd this took hours. It was not like anything I had experienced before. We were walking very slowly, side by side ,with thousands of people of all ages who were signing and being joyful. No babies were crying or dogs barking. Everyone was calm: 10s of 100s of thousands of people all calmly walking towards the sacred site in the middle of Mexico City, calmly.

Connecting with that transformative experience and as a part of preparing for the Winter Solstice I will be preforming a version of this in my home town as a part of my preparations for the Solstice.   We will be able to connect with the healing energy of this experience.


Learning from Traditional Women Healers of Oaxaca

IMG_5333 (1)When you emerge from a Temazcal (a meso-american-type sweat lodge) after the intensive heat and healing often the first thing you receive is a cup of wonderful refreshing tea, full of restorative herbs, in a pottery cup such as the one in the photo. When I was in Oaxaca, Mexico earlier this month I  bought this cup to remind me of the wonderful learning and  healing experiences that I enjoyed there.

During the first week of April I was lucky to participate in the very special “Discover Traditional Cultures and Healing Arts of Oaxaca” educational tour led by Robert Vetter (NYC)  in partnership with Laurencio Lopez Nunoz (a biologist and a healer aka a curandero from Oaxaca). During the nine day trip we were gifted to be able to learn about traditional healing practices (or curanderismo) from several indigenous women healers.

These women were, in one word,: AMAZING.  They were matter-of-fact women, doing amazing healing works with their knowledge and the plants they had around their villages, supporting their communities as midwifes and leaders of health promotion, and in so many other ways.  These were strong, strong women who learn from Mother Earth and their “grandmothers” and are supported by Mother Earth in their work. Through sharing many aspects of their life stories during our time together it was clear that they had overcome many obstacles to do the work they were doing and that they trusted in their roles, their knowledge and their gifts for their families and communities.

It was a privilege to be able to immerse myself in the insights and knowledge shared by these woman and to learn about:

  • Spiritual healing cleanses of “limpias” from Catlina Jimenez Ramos, a Mixe traditional healer (or curandera). She is also a midwife and leader of temazcals.
  • Many aspects of healing and life wisdom from Queta (Enriqueta Contreras Contreras), a Zapteca healer and midwife. If you want to know more about her there is a book that you can read: The Life of the Midwife-Healer Enriqueta Contreras Contreras by Maria Margarita Navar
  • The politics and environmental enhancements in her village and healing plants from an Afro-Mexican healer and municipal leader, Lucia Mariche Magadano,
  • Insights from healer Teresa Contreras (from Cuernavaca) who led the temezcal from the feminine perspectives.

I am planning on using some of the techniques I learned in my healing sessions. But also I have a sense of optimism from being with these traditional healers.  Knowing that amazing women, such as the ones I met in Oaxaca, exist in the world and that they are using and sharing their knowledge, gives me such hope that this world will find answers to address the key issues that we need to deal with.

And so, when I hold my new pottery cup with the healing purple flower painted on it and drink the fragrant tea from it I will remember all the gifts that the cup represents: the dedicated indigenous, healing teachers and practitioners, their knowledge gained from life, from their grandmothers and from the land, and their healing plants and the profound hope that they each bring into the world by being enriching examples of how to live in deep connection with Mother Earth.

Happy Spring – Healing and Connections with the Elements

Working with a holistic energy healer during healing sessions is one approach to helping you heal yourself to be the best you can be. There are many techniques you can do on your own (including these key things: sleeping enough, eating well, exercising, reducing stimulants, etc.) to support that healing path.

Another tool that you can include in your self-healing tool box is connecting with the four elements:  water, wind, fire and earth. This has long been a key part of indigenous healing approaches and rituals.  Working with the elements are also important steps that can be undertaken easily every day. For example, be intentional when you drink a glass of water. Or go for a walk near a river or lake to connect with the water that refreshes us and helps grow our food (March 22 is World Water Day

Enjoying a warm and inviting campfire is a common link for all of us.  Since we can’t do that every day consider lighting a candle in a reflective way with a positive thought for the day.  This will help you to connect with the fire element. Deep slow breaths can help to calm you while linking you to the wind element especially when you find yourself getting tense. Even a short walk outside is a good thing to do for a break, walking and breathing in slowly as Zen master Thick Nhat Hanh reminds us in his book Peace in Every Step.,

Noticing your connections with the earth is another key healing step.  Here is one way to connect with the earth element. Take a moment to consciously connect your feet to the ground and take a deep breath. If you know mountain pose from yoga this would be a good time to do it.  While taking that deep breath in remind yourself that you are connected to the earth and feel that connection through your feet to the ground. One of my Ancient Mexican Healing technique teachers, Hugo Nahui, recently taught us to connect to Mother Earth and to the cosmos by simply standing still, feeling the ground through our feet, and looking up at the sky saying our birth name, and place and date of birth.  This small practice seems very basic but I have used this a number of times with clients and groups and all have found it calming and restorative.  Give it a try and let me know what you find.

Spring time in Ontario is around the corner (despite the snow that is falling as I write this).  It is an important time to remember the four elements and connect with awareness to them all. Especially with earth as the ground starts to unfreeze and you can feel the soil again. If you don’t have access to a garden buy a few flowers to brighten up your space or some potted fragrant herbs to cook with.  If you do have access to a garden it is time to start planting seeds indoors and planning your garden. Even this process of connecting your hands with soil has a calming and healing effect.

Spring equinox will be on March 20th around 6:30 am.  It is a time to welcome in spring, longer days with sunlight and warmer weather (hopefully). Remember to enjoy all the elements as a part of your everyday activities.  Happy Spring!

Let me know if you would like to know more about any of the above: 🙂

The Four Agreements and Insights from the Time Super Moon

Last November 14 was the super full moon that was 14% larger than normal and the closest it has been to Earth since 1948.  Do you remember this moon?  Do you pay attention to the moon and her cycle?  Every full and new moons can be special. Last November’s moon was one full of lots of opportunities to be seized.

Three important things in my personal journey happened during last November’s full moon that helped weave many threads together: 1) talking to my friend J, about energy healing  techniques and the opportunities held within them for healing;  2) reading The Four Agreements (A Toltec Wisdom Book) that my friend P. gave me; and  3) remembering how my  friend R,  almost four years ago, introduced me to the amazing ancient healing wisdom of the Toltecs and the Aztecs through the teachings of Sergio Magana.

Lucid dreaming can be a tool for transformation in your life.  And since we sleep for one-third of our lives, why not use this time to create a happier, healthier and more abundant life.

I had seen The Four Agreements Book (by Don Miguel Ruiz) on friends’ book shelves, in bookstores and I knew it was about the Toltec wisdom but until my friend P handed it to me last November I had not read it.  It was the book that I needed to read.  Amazing how that often happens: what you need arrives when you need it.  The book provides suggestions (The Agreements), based on the understanding of ancient Toltec spiritual wisdom, on how to live your life in a better way by following these simple but powerful statements:

  • be impeccable with your words [and thoughts] (note: I add thoughts because sometimes I don’t say things but I sure do think them),
  • don’t take anything personally
  • don’t make assumptions, and
  • be the best that you can be.

I must admit that I did not read every word or every page since I’ve been studying Toltec spirituality since 2013.   I focused on the chapters about the Agreements and found them very appealing and what I need now to focus on in my day-to-day.

Just looking at these on this page, can you tell which of the Agreements are the difficult ones for you?  I already indicated how the first one is difficult for me. But now I have started noticing which situations am I in that I start down the “less than impeccable-thought” path and try to stop myself. I have recently learned that the more anger and frustration I am feeling the harder it is for me to keep the goal of being impeccable in my thoughts and my words.   The Ancient Toltec understanding is that it is your liver that holds all the anger and frustration that you have felt in your life. (Yikes… let’s let all that go and not put anymore into the liver).  Letting go of the anger and frustration will help me meet this Agreement and be healthier for me.

However, some bad habits take longer to break. The hardest one for me is a lifetime one:  don’t take anything personally.   I  have taken  a lot of what others say to me very personally and I have cared deeply about how others see me, what they think of me, and what they think of what I am doing in my life.  I have given away a lot of myself and wasted a lot of energy “taking things personally”.  I have limited my expression of myself because of what others may think, because I wanted to fit in or for other reasons, and wondering how they might criticize me. One of the most wonderful gifts you can give yourself is the freedom not to take other people’s comments or opinions personally and realizing what they say is about them and how they choose to be in the world. I am learning this.

About the time I started reading the Four Agreements book I realized that my work in healing myself and others has brought this issue to the top of the pile to be dealt with, to be healed.

Last November 14th  the day of the biggest full moon since 1948 was the day I received in the mail Sergio Magana’s new book, the Caves of Power, Ancient Energy Techniques for Healing, Rejuvenation and Manifestation.   That day was the test day for me of how be comfortable with not taking things personally, not caring what others think about things I do, say, practice, believe, experience in regards to  the holistic energy healing practices.

What has a new book by an important teacher have to do with not taking things personally you may ask?  Well, when Sergio was writing his new book he asked some people for testimonials. I gave him one. A big step for me.  I submitted my testimonial to be included in Sergio’s book because it truly happened the way it is described and I want others to know about the opportunities, the power for transformation through using the Ancient Mexican healing traditions. My testimonial is based on the incredible impact of using a particular technique that I had practiced has had on my life.  But now with the book published and being circulated, it was no longer possible for me to stay hidden in my energy healer shell. It was time to come fully out from under my shell.  My name is printed, in full, in the book with my personal testimonial.

For me with the arrival of the book meant: “oh gosh, my name is in print in a spiritual healing book so I guess that means I am fully out of the “energy healer” closet now.  What will people think?  What will people say?   I have a Master’s of Science and I work in a research area. Oh no.  What will people think? What will they say? Will they say there is no scientific evidence for this?”

But then I remembered the Agreement – Don’t take anything personally.  What they say is about them and not about me. Simple but true. People can think what they think and say what criticisms they say and if they say them to me then I have empowered myself to not take what they say personally.

And I remind myself that these techniques are so full of possibilities for greater healing, happiness and abundance.  My friend J reminds me I have knowledge and skills to share with others who are interested in learning these techniques. And I know these techniques are so full of possibilities for greater healing, happiness and abundance.

I hope my scientific, medical and research friends and colleagues follow their natural curious and questioning approaches to consider the possibilities of these ancient wisdoms. We need to consider all ways of thinking and problem solving as we move forward on this beautiful planet.

So consider the Four Agreements and how they could bring positive change to your life. And recognize that the moon may be having a greater influence in your life than you might have thought.

(I am writing this blog influenced by the inspiration of three friends, R, J and P. Thank you for your teachings and all that I learn together).

Images:  The Moon Temple in Teotihuacan and November 2016’s super moon.