Our Underworlds and Mexico

Mexico, what do you think of when you hear this word?

Perhaps it is tacos and tequila that comes to your mind, or maybe an enjoyable vacation you took there by the beach. Or it could be that you think of drugs and danger, poverty and violence. Maybe images of some Hollywood movie comes to your mind of tumbleweed and bleak deserts and dark-haired men wearing sombreros.

For me, it is amazing healing knowledge and powerful spiritual wisdom. Mexico has forever drawn me like a magnet, and I have danced on sacred pyramids, bathed in cenotes and carried out amazing ceremonies there led by my friends Oxhin and Ketia. In Mexican sweat lodges, called cenotes, I have sung and cried with thirteen other ladies (and one man) at the edge of Lake Chapala. But this article is not intended to be about my Mexican journeys. What it is about is Mexican healing practices.

For nine months I have been carrying out a type of psychic surgery using obsidian, based upon ancient Toltec/Mexican techniques. In some cases, the results have been remarkable – surprising both me and the client. A key part of this psychic surgery involves journeying into your underworlds, or cave, where it is said that all of our issues and problems ultimately reside, energetically speaking.

In the indigenous Mexican belief system, there are nine underworlds. Now these underworlds are not at all like hell in the Biblical context. What they are, energetically speaking, are realms in our unconscious that keep us trapped in repetitive, unproductive patterns in our life. Often despite our best intentions to change.

By journeying in an altered state of consciousness (arrived at through breath work) to our underworlds, we can literally find and ultimately erase these unproductive behaviors and/or patterns so we can create something new and more beautiful for the remainder of our lives.

What are some of these underworlds? They include qualities such as addiction to our own suffering, lack of discipline, family patterns, the energies of where we live and work, and others. With the help of an obsidian knife, these can be cut out of us permanently.

I sometimes wish we could do something similar at a national level regarding our attitudes and understanding of Mexicans (and all Latin Americans for that matter). We also have our underworlds in our relationship with our neighbor to the south with whom we share a long border, a complex history, and many commonalities (as well as differences).

Mexico has the most Spanish-speakers of any nation in the world; the United States has the second greatest number of Spanish-speakers. There are more people who speak Spanish in the US than in Spain. This is due, in part, to immigration patterns but more to the fact that a significant part of what is now the United States once belonged to Mexico, including the entire states of California, Arizona and New Mexico and a good portion of Colorado, Utah and Nevada. In the Mexican American War (1846), Mexico lost about half of its territory. Many people in the United States at the time, especially in the Northeast, opposed this overtly expansionist war vehemently – but to no avail.

When I was a young graduate student, I attended my first ever academic conference in New Orleans where I met a kind and gracious young professor from New Mexico with a decidedly Spanish surname. I asked him how long his family had been in New Mexico and if they had come up from Mexico. With a patient smile, he replied, “My ancestors came from Spain in the 1500s, before the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth. And we have been there ever since.”

On my dressing table is a smallish antique silver dish I inherited from my grandmother. It was given to her step-father, William Morris Stewart, by the Cortes family of Mexico in thanks for his help when he was US Senator from Nevada in getting the US government to send troops across the border to pursue “Indians”.

Yes, that pesky border that goes on for almost 2,000 miles. The longest border in the world between a so-called developed and developing country. That border that my own son, Nick, used to be told by some kids at Keene High School is where all Latin Americans should go back to. These kids didn’t know that my son is actually Hispanic, carries a Chilean passport and spoke Spanish more than English until he turned ten and we returned to the USA. You see, he just didn’t fit the stereotypical (and often inaccurate) perception of what a Mexican (and Latin American) looks like.

This year I enjoyed teaching a course on Latin American culture and spirituality as part of the CALL program at Keene State College. It was a great group of people. One day I brought in a meditation tape of my Toltec teacher Sergio Magana that uses Toltec spiritual practices to journey to the upper realm (of 13 levels) for regeneration and healing. Some people in the class were surprised to learn that the Mexican/Toltec spiritual tradition included meditation. They were also surprised when I told them that the Mexicans have a type of traditional acupuncture that uses maguey thorns instead of needles.

Armando C. is a coach and trainer who runs his own business in Manhattan. He has arranged for Sergio Magana to come to teach (in Spanish) about the sacred uses of the obsidian mirror in his office next month. He is letting me attend, once I explained that I know Spanish pretty well and have already taken courses with Sergio.

Armando’s passion for healing and Mexican wisdom is infectious. He explained to me, “I’m bringing Sergio from Mexico to NYC because now more than ever it is important for those of us who are Mexican to feel pride in our heritage. Some of the people who will be attending are Mexican but due to their immigration status they can’t go to Mexico to learn. Some of them are feeling really low now, this should help give them strength in these challenging times.”

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