This is a full-day workshop for groups up to 20 interested in learning about the physical and spiritual aspects of Maya medicine as Dr. Arvigo learned it from Don Elijio.
What are the primary ailments of Belize that Don Elijio treated? Which plants were his favorite for diabetes, high blood pressure, and more? Who was his teacher? What is Maya Spiritual Healing?
A combination water, plants and prayers spoken with love and faith excites molecular particles in the cells of the body to vibrate at an oscillation in tune with the harmonies of heaven.
Like other indigenous cultures from Alaska to Brazil, the Maya recognize and honor the sacred within all forms of life. Plants, trees, stones, animals, and humans are all sacred conveyors of chu’lel. Chu’lel is the Maya word that best translates as life force.
Everything in creation is permeated with this chu’lel — a vibrant energy force that the Maya believe emanates from a divine spiritual source. The Maya see the entire cosmos as imbued with chu’lel — houses, mountains, springs, sacred places, the sky, the earth.”
The ancient Maya kings were called ch’ul ahaw, lords of the life force. Ch’ul is also the word for soul. Chu’lel is akin to Qi or chi in Chinese medicine, the Indians’ prana, the Huna’s mana, and the Voodoo mojo and in Star Wars, the force. If all of nature is imbued with “life force energy”, it makes sense that Maya healers can use plants, stones, animals, minerals, water, and especially prayers as they all stem from the Earth Mother, a great wellspring of medicinal power.
To the Maya the spiritual and physical realms are a continuum separated only by what I imagine as a translucent gossamer veil through which the h’men has the power to penetrate. Woven throughout the veil are human emotions, which are expressed in both physical and spiritual ways.
The veil is translucent because the two realms need to be visible to each other. They need regular contact to stay in balance. There are a number of ways in which humans can peek through the veil and communicate with the spiritual realm. Among the most important are prayer, dream visions, ritual, and ceremony – all require faith.
What is on the other side of the veil? The Maya cosmology is complex and based on confusing sources, so I am going to explain it as Don Elijio explained it to me. He said the other side of the veil is where the Maya spirits live. He loved to talk about Maya spirits, which he called his muy buenos amigos, or very good friends. He believed they would be lonely if they were not actively involved in human affairs, and that they especially loved healing , plants, prayers and healers.
All the Maya healers I have known have a reverence for plants and natural cycles. Every plant is a sacred part of a living tapestry. That which springs from the earth has soul.
Maya healers believe that plants have duenos — akin to East Indian devas and Celtic elves and fairies. The Spanish word duenos means overseers or lords, and now means owner. The Mopan Maya word used by Don Elijio is canan. A canan is a guardian.
Healing with plants has been an integral, revered part of life on earth since the earliest times, and like other cultures, the Maya have their own vast body of plant knowledge for both physical and spiritual healing.
In the old Maya traditions, training as a healer begins at home with the wise grandmother or mother who has knowledge and experience with home remedies passed down generation to generation. If a home remedy suggested by the granny healer does not work, they seek out the more experienced village healer. If the village healer does not know the solution, then someone like Don Elijio, the h’men‘ will ask the blood’ by taking a pulse which reveals if it is a physical illness or a spiritual ailment. To confirm they ask probing questions about the symptoms and situations surrounding the illness. This often reveals a spiritual or emotional upset that has affected the patient.
Perhaps the ailment is “pesar” a spiritual condition caused by death or loss of anything that was dear to one. Pesar is grief that eventually effects the body and leads to a host of physical ailments not readily understood by modern medicine. The Maya healer knows that medicinal plants alone will not be enough to heal this deep-seeded grief , thus he or she begins with the ritual of saying nine prayers and giving nine herbal baths. Burning ceremonial incense, especially copal and rosemary, is important to help the patient move past the emotions that are causing the ‘dis- ease’. Maya Healers know that ritual and ceremonies are as vital to the patient as the herbs, teas, and tinctures or other recommendations.