Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Taking The Pilgrims Home, Part 2 .. Establishing Relationships with the Women

"Why would the desert reveal such things to a stranger, when it knows that we have been here for generations?" said another of the cheiftains. "Because my eyes are not yet accustomed to the desert," the boy said, "I can see things that eyes habituated to the desert might not see." "And also, because I know The Soul of the World" he thought to hmself. The Alchemist.

I am falling behind on these entries as so much is happening, but before getting up to date, I want to share some of my experiences with the Wirrarica women during the pilgrimage.

I was sitting in the van in Wadley, waiting for the group of pilgrims who had gone into the local stores to buy tortillas and refrescos, when Maria, the mother of Masauke's goddaughter's future husband, came up to talk to Masauke. I was introduced to her and she was the one who had commented happily that I was wearing one of their outfits. This was my first encounter with the women pilgrims, though I had already met several Wira women in Real and Matehuala, where many indigenous people go to sell their wares. I had supported as many of the women as I could by buying some of their art and beadwork, but had not been able to converse much with them as their lives, their health and their traditional medicines, as these were working women.

The other two pilgrim women were busily organizing things in the back of the pick up truck that they, along with a couple of male pilgrims and many baskets of personal effects, were travelling. Many of the men came over to talk with Masauke and were introduced to me, or vice versa. I had not been fully briefed on the protocal for interacting with the pilgrims, so I did not go up to talk with the other women, but mostly spent the time observing the pilgrims, who at that time were very new to me.

When we had delivered the pilgrims to their campsite near Santa Margaritas, the women and men had been equally involved in the harvesting of wood for the sacred fires, the lighting and greeting and of the fires and in setting up their individual sleeping area. I had observed from outside of the circle of pilgrims so as not to get drawn in to the energies of the fire and other sacred objects they were working with and to become amarrado or tied to the fire, which would require me to complete a 5 year cycle of pilgrimages, something Masauke had recommended I not do for a number of reasons.

The next time I met the pilgrims again was the morning when we went to pick them up to take them back to Mesquetic. Masauke knew that I wanted to interact withteh women so he had invited 2 of the women to travel in the van. The third woman was travelling with her husband. As this was the last, fifth year of the pilgrimage, the family of the pilgrims were able to accompany them on their journey. As well as this woman pilgrim's husband, the accompanying family members included a 5 year old Wira boy, who slept outside in the coooold weather as though it were nothing.

The second pilgrim travelling in our van, whose English name was also Maria, did not acknowledge me when she entered the van. but went to sit in the far corner with her son, who was one of the first time pilgrims. I had been told that she was one of Matsua's wives. Matsua, a very striking man, who appeared to be not much older than me, in his late 40's early 50', was the Captain of the pilgrimage. This was his second five year obligation. I was told that he was the only person who knew all the intricacies of everything that the pilgrims had to do during their journey.

She would later reprimand me in a firm but very gentle way, for not having greeted her and would let me know that with Tewaris, non Wira people, she only greeted those who greeted her. She would also let me know that she was also a student of Matsua and had spent the past 5 years of her 'cargo' or position, learning the traditions from him. At one of the later stops on the trip, the two Maria's were to bless me and present me to the altar where the rain was born, and ask Matsua to bless and present me as well.

From my perspective as an outsider, a Tewari and a westerner, the women seemed quite shy and not as involved but this was my western mind judging something about which I knew nothing. I would find out that in all crucial matters of coming before the Spirit it is the women who come to present the men. I am told that the spirits had mothers and are partial to the women's requests. Grandmothers are used for the delivery of all sacred offerings. Maria, who is the wife that travels with Matsua during any sacred outing, is the only one who blesses Matsua, who is the head shaman, the chief mericami. She is allowed for this purpose to handle and use the sacred mask of the deer, a right reserved only for a shaman. I have been told several times that, at this level there is no gender - a shaman is a shaman, and a pilgrim is a pilgrim.

I spent as much time as I could talking to the women whenever possible. Their quiet, strong, reserved energy reminded me of my mother's energy. Maria,the wife of Matsua, bears a surprizing resemblance to the women of my family, my mother, mu aunt Melli, who have a beautiful mixture of African, Indigenous and Europpean ancestors. Except for my hair, which they call 'muy china', or very curly, my colouring and features is also very similar to theirs. Maybe this was another reason for our connection.

At one of the stops I bought one of the Maria's a steak dinner, while Masauke paid for the dinner of the other and two of the men. Before we left I gave each of the women 120 pesos and a bracelet as one of them had commented on the bracelet I was wearing. It was a small gesture but it meant a lot to them . The shyest of the three women, whose name I was told, but dont remember, made a point of walking over in my direction to use the facilities, just as I was learving so that we could say goodbye. They all invited me to come to their village and see the final part of the ceremony and to see how theiy live. It is my plan to go.

Lessons learned: 1) Small gestures can have big results, 2) As we give so shall we receive, 3) There is so much that humanity that joins us it is amazing that people concentrate on all the things that separate us.

staywell and Travel with Spirit, Spirit Traveller

Friday, February 23, 2007

Taking The Pilgrims Home, Part 1

"To realize one`s personal destiny is a person`s only obligation" The Alchemist. Paulo Coelho.

I started this entry the night after I returned from a 3 day trip taking the Wira pilgrims from Santa Margarita to Mesquitic a distance of several hundred kilometres, and it has taken me this long to finish it. Last week, I once again put on my traditional Wira dress as I accompanied Masauke to the ceremony to thank the fire and to close down the Wiricuta campsite of the Wira pilgrims.

This campsite had been their home for all the time that the pilgrims had been harvesting the medicine they would need for the next year. While making the two day trek up the Sierra to El Cemado, one of their most sacred sites, where many offerings were left, I am told that they left guardians to take care of their sacred fires. During the closing ceremony, each pilgrim payed their respects to the fires before they were put out. It was a simple but very specific ceremony. I am sure it would take many repititions for me to understand all the intricacies and significance of what they were doing. Once the spirits of the fires had been respectfully addressed and the fire put out each pilgrims was free to gather his/her basket with their belongings, their gourd or bottle of water and put their crate of medicine into one of the awaiting vehicles.

At this stage the pilgrims no longer walk as there is now too much to carry. The caravan included 6 vehicles, one truck was provided by the government`s office for indigenous people and the other 5 vehicles were pick trucks, SUVs or vans. The owners, only one of them Wira, have for years assisted the Wira people in thier pilgrimage by providing transportation on thier journey home.

This year the caravan was transporting 37 pilgrims from their campsite in the Wiricuta desert back to the site near Mesquetic where they had `officially`started the pilgrimage. There they would have a day to prepare for the next phase of the pilgrimage, the sacred hunt. The harvesting of the deer energy is very sacred to Wira people. Deer skins and other aspects of the deer energies are present in many, if not all, of the Wira ceremonies. Following the hunt the pilgrims will spend 3 more days walking over 2 mountain ranges to get back to the ceremonial centre in their main village.

The van that I had travelled in carried between 5 to 7 pilgrims plus Masauke and myself. There was usually at least one of the women pilrgims in the van, though on each leg of the journey, the group of pilgrims in the van had changed. To say that this was an amazing experience for me would be a total understatement. On the morning of the closing ceremony I had not eaten, as we had left early to catch the ceremony. By the time the ceremony, and the packing and loading of belongings, crates, and people, was complete, it was close to 11 am. I had planned to grab an orange but had forgotten to take even a bottle of water. By the time we made our first pit stop, several hours later, I was hungry and extremely thirst. The pilgrims had not eaten or drank in the time we had been travelling and showed no signs of discomfort.

As we were leaving the Wiricuta campsite, one more pilgrim piled in. I gave up my seat, in the back of Masauke`s van, which is arranged more like a talking circle in a psychologists office than the back of a passenger van. I rode the first leg of the journey a floor of the van, squished in between pilgrim`s feet, sleeping mats, the machetes each pilgrim carries to harvest wood and medicine, and pilgrims bundles. Most of the pilgrims had just met me, and as they are a somewhat reserved people, they did not say much to me though they did talk among themselves in Wira.

Maria, the woman who had been happy to see me dressed like them, asked me the occasional question. Maria`s son, a youth, who is engaged to Masauke`s goddaughter, decided to use the opportunity of the trip to practice the English he had learned in school. Thus my relationship with the youth contingent began. It felt good to don my teacher hat, which I had worn very rarely in the past few months, and engage the youth to practice the English they knew. Translating between English, Spanish and Wira, playing a sort of `I spy`game became the order of the day with the youth contingent and I for the rest of the trip.

The women pilgrims and I developed a very special relationship, despite the short time we spent together. I would go and sit with the group of women, who most of the time sat separately from the men, every time we stopped. When Masauke asked the women to present me at one of the altars that we stopped at on the way back, we really developed a closer bond. It totally warmed my heart to see how grateful they were when I gave them the package with the fabric for their outfits. The woman who received it kissed the package and thanked me profusely. The little money they have does not often stretch to new clothes for themselves.

Lessons learned: 1) Our needs are really very simple, eg none of the pilgrims changed their clothes in the time I was with them and neither did I .. a free afternoon is provided for at each river or watersource where one outfit is washed and hung on the bushes to dry and an alternate outift put on. The women I saw wore the same outer outfit the entire time ; 2) In the West, when we go camping we think we are living with nature. These are people who are still ONE with nature; 3) The practicality of their clothing, especially the long full cotton shirt, was greatly appreciated when the caravan stopped and everyone scattered in different directions to use the outdoor facilities!!

StayTuned. Staywell and Travel with Spirit, Spirit Traveller.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Do The Right Thing!

"As long as you seek "something" you will get the shadow of reality, not reality itself" Shunryu Suzuki

"Do The Right Thing" was one of my favourite Spike Lee movies. In my life I always try to do the right thing, but doing the right thing is not always as easy as it seems.

Yesterday morning I went with Masauke, the healer I am studying with, to visit the camp of the Wirrarica pilgrims, who had camped for 2 days in a conservation area about 40 minutes from the healing centre. I had met the pilgrims the afternoon they set up camp. They had spent the next day doing ceremonies to ask permision of the spirits of the land, the fire and of the medicine to permit them to harvest their sacred hicuri medicine. I was told that the energies of this medicine, known to the Western world as peyote, was very strong. Also that, because of the quantity of medicine harvested, and because I have not been a part of the purification ceremonies at the various altars that the pilrgims had visited on their journey from their home in the Sierras to the desert, where the medicine is plentiful, I needed to take the pecaution of staying in the van, so as not to be affected by the energy of the ceremony and the medicine.

I am particularly sensitive to spiritual energy, having meditated for about 15 years, trained in tai chi, chi gung and other martial arts, studied energy medicine and been inititated in a couple of spiritual disciplines. I have a group of specific chi gung exercises that I do daily to keep myself centered and balanced as I am what is known as an empathetic healer, someone who easily absorbs other peoples energies. Prior to my martial arts training I was always being affected by the energies of others. Even now, in my healing work, I am sometimes afffected by the energies of particularly difficult clients.

Although I was not getting out of the van, I had arrived dressed in the traditional outfit of the Wirriraca women, which I had been sent one by the wives of the captain of the pilgrimage, when she had heard from Masauke that I was going to be interacting with the pilgrims prior to the end of their journey. I had felt good about wearing the outfit when one of three women pilgrims had commented approvingly on the fact that I was dressed like them when I had first met them. I was also well aware of their traditions and the seriousness of this pilgrimage, and especially this particular aspect of the pilgrimage where they harvest their sacred medicine.

The pilgrimage is such an important aspect of their culture that traditionally, the wives of the pilgrims, who until recent times were all male, wore special dress so that their thoughts of their husbands would not be carried by the winds and make it difficult for the pilgrim to complete the arduous journey. Having also been a suppporter at a Navajo Sundance I understand that importance of modest dress during sacred ceremonies where prayers are being sent to the Creator.

When we arrived at their ceremonial camp site, I was surprised by the number of "visitors", who were at the site, from the local goat herder, who came to get a blessing from these powerful indigenous people, to groups of supporters whose families had long been assisting the pilgrimage by bringing food and supplies for the pilgrims. Among this group there were two women. Neither were dressed in the traditional Wirririca outfits, though one was very modestly dressed in a long skirt similar to the Wirriraca tradition. The one who was dressed in tight jeans was accompanying her husband, a long time suporter, within the ceremonial circle.

I watched from the van, where I could see all the activities of the group, some of whom were having a traditional breakfast of tortillas and a hot beverage, while others were busily sorting and packing the hicuri medicine they had gathered in wooden crates for the long journey back.
At first I was fine to be in the van, but as time passed, I began to resent the fact that the other women were out and about one mingling withthe pilgrims and not even dressed in traditional outfits.

As I became frustrated with the situation, or as my teacher later pointed out, as the energy of the hicuri medicine jumped on me and brought up all those old unresolved emotions, I started to think back to the teachings of my Sensei. In Toronto I train in a very traditional dojo. I have often gone to seminars and tournaments where there are senior Senseis from Japan and where students from other dojos, some junior but sometimes some senior to me, have behaved in ways that, from what I have learned from my Sensei, are not at all appropriate.

I remember the first few times this happened that I too wanted to take a picture with the senior Sensei, or to give a personal gift to my favourite visiting Sensei. My Sensei quite firmly made me, and all the other members of our dojo know that the behavour of the other students was not appropriate. Slowly, I learned to do the right thing, even when I really was tempted to do what my ego was telling me to do and not what my training has prepared me to do.

Now, here I was again, in a similar situation and I wanted to get out of the van and go over to talk to the pilgrims that I had met the other day. To hell with what my teacher had told me. I had to meditate deeply and take myself back to my martial arts training in order to remian in the van and not get really pulled in by my own desires, which I was later told, that the hicuri medicine was bringing to the surface.

Well, lesson learned. I did stay in the van, though I was more snarky than I would have liked to have been with my teacher when he came back. I cross questioned him on the other women present and their lack of traditional dress and ability to mingle freely with the pilgrims, only to be told that they were not healers and were not students of any medicine tradition. They were not on the Spirit path and as such not as open to the energies of the medicine and as well, they had known the group for many many years. Thanks goodness for my Sensei and the year that he beat those lessons into my head. I had done the right thing, contrary to what I, my ego self, had wanted me to do!! Somedays doing the right thing takes a lot of work!!!

Lessons Learned: 1) Do the Right Thing! Even when it is very hard to do. 2) Do not second guess those who have gone before about what the right thing might be... they have been done the path before and that is why we chose them as our guides or teachers, 3) Keep Doing the Right Thing!!

Stay tuned. StayWell and Travel with Spirit, Spirit Traveller.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Helping the Spirit to Support Indigenous People

"Lo Que Deseas Para Mi, Te Recebriras dos veces mas " ... Written on a wall in Real de Catorce, SLP, Mexico 2007.

Yesterday, I had the wonderful opportunity to spend the afternoon as an observer of a portion of the last leg of the spiritual pilgrimage of the Wirriraca people, known to the world by the name the Spanish called them, the Huicholes, the local indigenous people from the Sierras. The pilgrimage arrived near San Rafael to rest and to purchase some final supplies, tortillas, frijoles, water, before heading back into the desert for the final 5 days of the pilgrimage.

From each of the Wirriraca villages high in the Sierras, where they are still observing the thousands of years old traditions, a group of pilgrims travel, for over 700 kilometres, mostly on foot, over a 2-3 week period, eating mostly tortillas and frijoles and experiencing the weather first hand. They travel to the desert to visit all the sites that are sacred to their people, to bathe and purify themselves in the sacred springs and to collect their most sacred medicine, the hicuri medicine, which they take back to their villages to be used throughout the year.

This is a spiritual pilgrimage which has been part of the culture of these indigenous peoples from a time, lost in history when a blue deer was seen coming out of the ocean. The deer was chased by the local hunters across many miles and over many terrains until the deer was finally felled by the hunters arrows in this area, in Wiricuta, the desert. The drops of blood from the deer became the sacred medicine of the people, which they continue to collect to this day, though in many comunities the ancient traditions are dying out.

This is truly a pilgrimage of the Spirit. As this group of pilgrims travels with Spirit, they reshape their world and their journey ensures the success of the harvest, the survival of the corn, which is life for the Wirrarica people. As their culture has been influenced by colonizing forces, only a few valient communities and fearless people continue to make the challenging commitment to continue the pilgrimage. Their indigenous knowledge tell them that once the pilgrimage is not more the way of life of their people will be lost forever.

I have supported the pilgrimage through my donation to their First Singer, one of their chief healers-medicine men or meracames, whose songs open the pilgrimage and ask the Spirits for the safe return of the pilgrims, and on behalf of Indigenous women from the Caribbean and Canada have made a donation of the fabric needed to make the traditional dressed for the women pilgrims. I would like to thank Dr Caliz-Monterro from Spain for her generous donation of $50, which was distributed among the only 3 women pilgrims of the group. They were travelling without money or food and this money arrived at a much needed moment and was truly a gift from the Spirit. They used the money to buy the food and supplies needed for their journey.

I will be privileged to return to thier community a the end of their final ceremony at El Cemado, the altar of the deer, at which all their offerings are left. I will be travelling back with them to their community and will keep you post. Any financial assistance that you can provide to these fearless pilgrims will help to ensure their safe return to their villages, the last stronghold to the ancient way of the Deer, and will be greatly appreciated by the Spirit. As the opening line states -- "What you wish for me, you will receive twofold". If you are able to make a donation, please email me at and I will provide you with instructions.

Lessons Learned: 1) Our true needs are very simple; 2) Women are being prepared throughout the world to walk the path of Spirit and to take leadership roles; 3) The ancient traditions of indigenous peoples throughout the world maintains the integrity not only of their own lives and their communities but of the life of our mother the Earth and of all her peoples. Ache ...

Stay Tuned. StayWell and Travel with Spirit in Beauty and Truth, Spirit Traveller

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Women, Life and Work in the Desert

Over the past two weeks I have been alone at the healing centre while the healer that I came to aprentice with was off on a spritual pilgrimage. I have been interiewing the women of the nearby town about their lives, their health and their knowledge and relationship to traditional medicines.

I have spent many hours talking with several wonderful women about the tranquil but challenging life in the desert. Most of the women feel that they are very healthy because life is very relaxed and peaceful but say that is is very hard to make ends meet, even for those who have a small piece of landwhere they can plant some corn or have some goats or chickens. The lack of rain makes it a challenge to grow anything at times.

The lack of jobs and any type of employment means that those who do not have a little piece of land with an animal or two, often fed with what we in Canada would put in the compost bin, are truly living by the Spirit, as one resident told me. Living by the grace nd the works of the Holy Spirit. Doing casual labour when it is available, working in the maquiladoras when they are open, living from the money they make from the tourists who visit the area, many coming as apiritual tourists, as I will discuss in a later entry.

It is a precarious life for many. Those who are married and have grown or growing children can count on several sources of income as little as each person may bring in. The single women with children are the ones who really live by the Spirit. One women I talked with had three daughters with three different fathers, none of whom had ever acknowledged or supported their offspring. The mother is in her late forties and when she was pregnant with the first child was told by her mother that she had to fend for herself and take responsibility for what she had done. That was some 28 years ago, and now 3 daughters and 3 grandchildren later, she is still living by the spirit.. doing whatever it takes to support her children and the one grandson who lives with her.

Employment is what this town needs most several women have told me. It is important for the men, but many men go to other towns or `go to the other side`, ie to the United States, to look for a better life, but many of the young single women who do nt have relatives to stay with in other towns or cities are afraid to venture off to the big cities by themselves, to pay rent and be vulnerable to assault and loneliness. It is difficult at times to rely on the Spirit.

Lessons Learned: 1) In some places a decent job is a luxury, 2) living by the spirit should be a choice not a necessity, 3) Some things chang but in some places many things remain the same. The lives of women in the desert fo rmany remain as they have been for many years...

Stay Tuned. Staywell and walk with Spirit, in Beauty and Truth, Spirit Traveller

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Staying Well in San Rafael

"Be grateful for whoever comes, for each has been sent as a guide from beyond" Rumi

Here I am actively trying to staywell in the desert and to trust that I am being taken care of by the Divine spirit. Some days it is harder than others.

This morning I started an Exercise Club for the women from the nearby town. We started with two women only - a mother and daughter, who had previously both asked me if I could suggest something they could do to lose weight. I had given them a number of suggestions including soem dietary changes, a liver flush and some simple exercises. I am not sure that they followed any of my suggestions for ore than a few days.

I decided to take the bull by the horns and have been have been sharing my dinners with a family of women, mother and 2 daughters, who all want to lose weight. I have been showing them how to cook nutritious low fat vegetarian meals that they can intersperse with their regular fare which is much higher in salt, fried foods and sugar. I am operating on the principle of "each one, teach one" and suggesting that they share what they are learning with their friends. I was pleasantly surprized when I went to eat at their house that they served me food that was very much along the lines of what I had been serving them. Now, if only I can convince them to stop snacking on the chips and cookies and to cut down on the fried foods!!

Anyway, today I started the Exercise Club because despite the fact that I had suggested that they do some simple exercises every day or go for a walk every morning or evening, they had not changed their daily routine to include more activity. So, I suggested that they accompany me when I went for my morning walk. They met me at the healing centre and we walked from there to the Panteon, the local graveyard, which is about a 15 minute walk. There we did a few chi gung exercises and then continued our walk back towards the town -- about a half an hour of extra activity added to their day, and I had company during my daily routine!

They agreed to make this a regular event - twice a week. Let`s see how well this works. I have also suggested that each one invite one more person. So far I have taught several karate classes and a few tai chi classes in the past 5 weeeks, but not to any groups that are here on a regular basis, so this may be my first regular `teaching` gig. It will keep the wheels of my body and mind oiled and help the local women to keep fit. StayingWell for all!!

Lessons learned: 1) If you can`t help everyone, then help one person or one family; 2) Tell me and I may remember, but involve me and I will never forget; 3) It`s more fun sharing our knowledge than keeping it to ourselves.

Stay tuned! Staywell and travel with Spirit in Beauty and Truth, Spirit Traveller

Monday, February 12, 2007

How Did I Get Here From There?

"To study the way, is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be awakened to all things." Dogen

How did I get to be travelling with Spirit, or by the Spirit, in Mexico? I have asked myself this question several times. The seed for this journey was planted 7 years ago, though really it was planted a long long time ago. The final impetus that led me to where I am now came 6 months ago. So as not to be exceedingly ordinary, let`s start from the end and head towards the beginning of this story.

If you have never tuned into Rob Breszney`s Astrology, then I would highly recommend that you do -- google him to find out more! In his newsletter of Jan 31st, his prediction for my sign describes precisely the final impetus for deciding to leave my regular job and `normal` life, some 6 months earlier. He said "It is a scary responsibility to give people astrological advice. What if I suggested that you call in sick (even though you`re not sick) so you could wander off into the Great Unknown in quest of close encounters with mind blowing teachings? And what if in the course of following my suggestions you learned so many lessons about how to permanently expand your frontiers that you then decided to burn down a bridge to nowhere and give away your emotional baggage and live in greater devotion to your soul`s radically simple needs? Could I then get sued by someone in your life who really doesn`t want you to escape your traps?"

Well, 2 and a half years ago, when I when for the first time to the Little big Medicine Sundance, to volunteer as a healer for the sundancers and local indigenous community, I was introduced to a Mexican American medicine man who had spent years studying the traditions of the Huicholes or the Wirriraca people. After I attended a ceremony that Masauke conducted at his altar, I was invited to come to the healing centre he was building in the desert to receive a blessing. Well, needless to say I was not mentally, emotionaly, or spiritually ready to go at that time. I told myself I couldn`t go bacause I was preparing for a karate black belt grading but the truth is, this medicine man and his path scared me. BUT, he had opened up a door in my consciousness or my awareness, that try as I might, I could not close again.

I continued with my regular life and the next year when I went back to do my volunteer healing work at the Sundance, as I expected, he was there. During the ceremony I went to pay my respects to him and his altar. On the final day of the sundance I was invited to spend a few days in the healing centre that he is affiliated with in Arizona. I decided to go and ended up staying there for 4 days, instead of the 1 day I had planned. For those of you who have read Carlos Casteneda, my visit there was like something out of Carlos`books... Every time I was ready to leave something would happen so that I could not go. The Spirit was showing me a new path that I was not aware of. My adventures at the Healing Centre in Arizona are the topic for another entry but my stay there convinced me that I shuld accept the invitation to the healing centre in the Mexican desert.

In September I was off to the desert. Arriving in San Antonio Texas, i was met by one of his associates/apprentices that I knew from the sundance. After a wonderful Mexican dinner the healer`s partner put me on the overnight bus to the desert. I was met at the bus station and thus began what Rob Breszny describes as mind-blowing teachings.

This was not my first introduction to the medicine world. I had been on this path for many many years, but this was the first ime that I truly experiences what many spiritual paths describe as the direct connection withthe divine. I have been meditating for almost two decades, practicing many different forms of martial arts and using a variety of healing techniques to raise my energetic vibration and it was as though all the paths I had been following had finally come together and provided me with a direct connnection to the knowledge of the divine .. the spirit, the Creator.

I did as Rob B suggested and call my boss to borrow on my future holidays so that I could stay and extra week to go to visit one of the local sacred sites. I returned a person transformed. I knew that I was being called to follow a different path, though I was not sure what that path was or how I would financially be able to embark down yet another new road. I handed in my resignation for teh end of the year, decided to accept the invitation to come and learn more about this healing path and to find my personal path, and here I am!

Well, that`s enough of that story for now. There will be more to follow ...

Lessons learned: 1) Always listen to teh whisperings of your heart. It will never lead you astray, 2) Cultivate a good relationship with your inner self so that you are open to the whisperings of your heart. Do not ignore or deny them, or you will lead a life that was not meant for you. 3) Seven years ago I ws told by an Anishnawbe medicine man that "The longest road is from the mind to the heart". I am just beginning to understand this lesson.. having spent many years cultivating my mind it has been a real challange to learn to listen to my heart, bu the heart is where many traditional cultures believe our real knowledge and true wisdon lies. Do not deny or ignore the teachings of the heart!

Stay tuned! StayWell and travel with Spirit in Beuaty and Truth, Spirit Traveller.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Saudades on Sunday in Wadley

"If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where do you expect to find it?" - Dogen

This morning I woke up with what can only be described well with the Portuguese word -- Saudades. It is a term that means a cross between home sickness and longing or a familiar place or people.

Saudades... what is it about Sundays, that no matter where I travel, it is only when I am alone on Sundays, that I feel the old familiar longing to be sitting down to a meal with my parents and my brothers, eating a big plate of rice and peas with fried plantain and drinking a glass of one of my mothers wonderful juices.

This is the first time in the 5 weeks of my journey that I have felt saudades. Last Sunday morning I had finished washing my clothes, by hand in a series of buckets, as the healing centre has no electricity, much less a washing machine, and hanging my clothes on the barbed wire fence at the side, again for lack of a clothes line, when Dona Cele, the caretaker, came walking fromtown with a couple of friends of hers. She was bringing them to introduce them to me and to check on how I was doing.

One of the friends, seeing the clothes on the line told me " We never work on Sundays"she siad, "and we eat whatever we have in the house. Sundays are days for visiting friends and family and for socializing." I had not thought about this before but in my family when I was very young Sundays were the day when my grandparents came to visit and later when my brothers and I would visit my parents for Sunday Dinner. When I was married and living in Brazil it was also the day we went to visit my ex-husband`s families. Ahhh, now I understand those saudades... This tradition of visiting family and friends in this small town in Mexico was very similar to the tradition in my families across three countries -- Jamaica, Brazil and Canada.

Well this morning as I was "indulging" in saudades,to use a Carlos casteneda term, dona Cele stopped by because she said she thought there was some reason that she needed to visit me. She stayed for tea and a visit and then invited me to her house in Wadley to cenar .. for sunday dinner! Her oldest daughter and her two children were visiting from a nearby town for the weekend, so together with Dona Cele`s two daughters and one grandson who live with her we had a lively mid afternoon meal.

There were no rice and peas, but i was happy to chow down on sopa de arroz, or rice cooked with tomato sauce, tortas de papa con queso -- potato cakes with cheese, aguacate or avacado, tomates or tomatoes, some cuerdo, or pork for those who eat meat, and of course, the ever present totrillas! All cooked with love in dona Cele`s tiny one room house and served on a folding table in the still under construction outdoor kitchen to be. I provided the yogurt postre-desert, which was a hit with the kids and adults alike.

It was a wonderful Sunday dinner and though I couldn`t spend Sunday with my family or visit my friends. I am very happy to know that wherever I go there seem to be friends to share wonderful meals and laughs with ... After all, isn`t that what life`s about -- friends, laughter, love and great food!

Lessons learned: 1) Wherever you go there you are ... This is the title of a book by Jon Cabat Zinn, that I would highly recommend. It is also a great lesson ... Wherever you go enjoy being where you are and disfriutar, or enjoy the people and the customs. 2) Traditions in many parts of the world are often more similar than they are different. 3) Wherever you go, one of the key ingredients to staying well is good food and good friends. They are the basis of a good life!

staywell and walk with Spirit n Beauty and Truth, Spirit Traveller.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Travelling with Spirit in Mexico!

Greetings from a very old computer in a very small town in the desert in San Louis Potosi, Mexico!!

In another entry I will recount the adventures I had on my way here from Toronto and during the past month of my visit, but for now let me tell you of my trip from Estacion de Catorce to Real de Catorce today. What an adventure for me traveling up the side of the Sierra in a 30 year old Jeep, but for the people who live here this is their every day way of life and in fact for many, their only means of transportation.

I grew up in Jamaica and i have seen and travelled on very narrow, bumpy curvy mountain roads and recall being only felt mildly afraid as the drivers went careening around the windy corners at high speeds.

Well today I can say I was travelling with Spirit especially on the way down the mountain. I was reciting all the protection mantras I knew and repeating psalm 23 at the steepest spots, even though the Jeep could not have been going more than 10 kn per hour!

I went to Real de Catorce. I needed to get to a bank machine and the two closest towns do not have the luxury of having either banks or bank machines, something that I take for granted in Canada.

Real de Catorce is a touristy town, high in the Sierras, where the film The Mexican, with that hunky Brad Pitt, was filmed. The town has two entrances, one requires driving through the mountain for over a kilometer through an old mine shaft, Which is the way I have usually gone to Real . The other is via a very narrow road up the side of the mountain. I invited Cessi, the daughter of the caretaker of the healing centre where the Spirit has led me, to accompany me to go up the mountain road to Real. The outing cost 60 pesos per person, about $6 Cdn, for Cessi it was a rare treat that her family could not often afford.

We left this morning at 7:30am. Standing by the side of the recently paved though still very narrow highway near the healing centre, we caught an old bus to the nearest town, Catorce. It is a 9 km ride and costs 5 pesos -- about $0.50Cdn. As we got off in the plaza in Catorce Cessi pointed to the open back of an old Jeep and indicated that we were to jump in. I followed her lead. There were 2 passengers on board already. These old Jeeps are used to go in to the desert and up the mountains. The drivers usually wait until they are full or almost full before they leave.

A woman with a young child, then later a man climbed on board. The driver, an older man with the typical Mexican hat and sporting lots of warm clothes -- it is very very cold in the desert in the mornings-- climbed aboard. I asked Cessi if they were going to close the hatch at the back, she said `no`. i would find out why later!

We picked up 2 other passengers before leaving town and headed off on a relatively well paved road, for about 10 km then the fun began. The last passenger we picked up did not climb inside, but rode standing on the open hatch holding on to the ladder at the back of the Jeep!

I was told that this road was first made many many years ago by the Spanish to access the mines near Real. It is narrow and more windy than the old roads in Jamaica. In many places the road is cobblestone and in others it is just rock and dirt. Half way up the mountain, in an area where I could see nothing but cactuses, rocks, and a few large trees, there was an old woman waiting by the side of the road with her shopping bag. The Jeep stopped. She also jumped on to the hatch and held on! The women here are nothing if not strong!

We bumped and jarred our way to Real with the side of the cliff often no more than 1 foot from the path of the Jeep. Part way the 2 outside passengers jumped off and paid the driver for their ride. The driver charged them`lo que puede`` ie whatever you can afford. We arrived in Real, thè adventures there I will also recount another time. On the way back I wanted to be able to take some photos which was difficult from inside the Jeep so Cessi suggested we ride back on the roof of the Jeep. She assured me that the Jeep did not go any faster than it did when it was coming up. It sounded like a great idea not only because of the photos, but to avoid the horrible smell of diesel, which I know to be a known carcinogen, which was so strogn on the way up that at times we rode with our shirts covering our noses. I had opened the window beside me despite the strong breeze.

Well, so much for good ideas! I had my heart in my mouth almost all of the way down and have not said as many prayers since the first time I decided to go parachuting and jumped out of a plane! The Jeep was twice as full going down as going up. Before we left Real there were 4 men hanging off the back and one riding on the roof with us. I had to keep reminding myeself that these drivers make this trip every day and do it safely but when we were going down the steep inclines bumping along with the side of the cliff beside me, all I could do was pray!

Half way down, a pregnant women, and the 6 children who were travelling with her, joined us on the roof of the Jeep and another woman climbed on the back, hanging on with the 4 men. The maximum load for this Jeeps was 11 people and counting the kids there were at least twice as many! But as you can tell, since I am alive and well and recounting this story we made it back down the mountain. I have some wonderful photos to show for my adventure and a pain in the side from hanging on so tightly as we bumped around the curves and frim squishing myself in between kids, spare tires and bags of cargo!

Well, that`s my adventure for today.

Lessons learned: 1) Be thankful for everything and never take anything for granted -- especially not well paved roads, environmental controls on well maintained vehicles and nearby bank machines! 2) What to one may be an adventure travelling in the hand of the Spirit is for others an every day means of transportation; 3) Never slack off on those sit ups even though I am not training as regularly as before otherwise my muscles will not be in shape for the bumpy rides on steep mountain roads!

Stay tuned for more travels with Spirit... Staywell and travel with Spirit in Beauty and Truth, Spirit Traveler.

Monday, February 5, 2007

2007,A Year to Travel with Spirit

Happy Solar New Year, Imbolic and Candlemas! Lunar New Year is only a few weeks away.

"All monks were great travellers. They walked for miles and miles through fields, and over mountains, going from temple to temple looking for the who would get their spark to flash... to cause them reach Wu or satoryi" Alan Watts

Our mother the Earth is beginning to awaken from her long winter sleep -- the first signs of the apraoch of spring can be seen as the days begin to lengthen transforming darkness into light.

This year, 2007, I have been called to leave behind me that which no longer serves me, that which no longer belongs to me and that which I no longer really want to be a part of my life. I invite you to join me on this journey of transformation.

Transform yourself ... listen to the whisperings of the Divine and define your soul`s purpose... step boldly into the abyss,,

If you are not ready to take giant steps in your personal life then follow along with my journeyas I walk the tight rope from a safe, secure and comfortable life across the abyss into the realm of my soul`s purpose.

If the idea of leaving your comfortable life and following Spirit makes you shiver in your boots, start by reading the book "Feel the Fear, but Do it Anyway!".

stay tuned. Staywell and Travel with Spirit