While I’ve arrived back home safe and sound, I am still spiritually landing from one of the most awe inspiring trips of my lifetime. I felt drawn to visit the province of Oaxaca, Mexico, which has done the best job of preserving the Veladas: the sacred mushroom ceremony. This trip enabled me to connect deeply with a Mazatec family who lives there as well as allowed me to connect deeply within myself.
I was so honored to be invited into this family’s home and was immediately humbled by how welcoming they were to me. Their warmth and culture was like nothing I’d ever witnessed before. They made me feel so included and invited me to try all of the regional delicacies such as ants and chipolinas (grasshoppers!). This vegetarian definitely was outside of his comfort zone, but I still partook in all of the culinary delights! The food in the province of Oaxaca is world famous and for good reason. Everything was so incredibly fresh as all the produce came straight from the mountain and onto our dinner plates.
What really struck me was what a different world they lived in than us Westerners. There was no TV after dinner and no cell phones distracting them. They were present with their family and community, the mountains, the food they are growing, and their relationship with the divine. Everything was alive around them, therefore they could never feel lonely. There was a pulsing energy that ran in the undercurrent of everything they did…one might call it magic.
It was fascinating to witness the influences of ancient Mazatec and more recent in history, Catholicism woven together into one beautiful tapestry. As we readied ourselves for the ceremony, all the lights were turned out and we sat in small room in pitch black darkness. I could smell the scent of copal in the air as the shaman and his son recited Mazatec chants and prayers to Jesus. Music weaved between traditional indigenous hymns and songs about Christ and Mary. One thing was for certain, I could feel the energy of the mountain holding me throughout the ceremony.
There were three ceremonies in all, one held every other day. I had some challenging experiences but overall it was a powerful and soulful journey that I will hold in the highest regard and great reverence. As this work is proliferating our western culture, I hold even more clarity and certainty that we have to incorporate indigenous wisdom, mother nature, traditional healing work and reverence for the sacred los ninos santos. It has certainly made me double down on holding this sacred work in a spiritual container, rather than as part of western psychotherapy! It helped me build a deeper layer of trust in the divine and the belief in our own internal healer that we all have .I very much look forward to returning to this family some day soon to continue to deepen my work with them, but in the meantime, I have much integration to do on how I will bring this new found wisdom back into my every day life.