MAZATEC DAYS OF THE DEAD TESTIMONIALS

Earl Harris

Harlem, N.Y. USA

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Enamored with the Dia de los Muertos celebration here in the

U. S., appreciating its veneration and remembrance of Ancestors, I was very pleasantly surprised to learn via Con Ciencia Indigena’s mailing list, an opportunity to witness the Days of the Dead ritual ceremony in the Mazatec Sierra, Oaxaca, Mexico was made available and I jumped on it.


I traveled to Mexico City to meet my guides Mario and Rocio, two very beautiful people I would come to know and appreciate, with a very heavy heart.
Tragically, and very suddenly, my brother Brian (11 months younger than I), had just died three days earlier. I arrived in Mexico both distraught and conflicted for I had left my family, fortunately with their graces and agreeance to delay Brian’s services until I return, to be with a family in the Mazatec that didn’t know me.


Not only is “The Mazatec Days of the Dead” an experiential retreat, it is very much a workshop. Prior to meeting our hosts in the Mazatec, Senora Julia and her very beautiful family, I was privileged to meet Katie and Carlos, my companions and fellow work-shoppers who assisted me in my healing and learning process. Very early into my stay, I knew I was in great care.


Who knew so much beauty and merriment and fun could be had in a cemetery; I didn’t until I experienced it. It was an honor and a privilege to assist in restoring two burial plots to their former beauty. We removed years of candle wax from the plots, cleaned them, and repainted them. When the marigolds were added as copal waft in the air and as finger foods were hawked and consumed and neighboring music swaying us all, the love in this space was tangible and heartfelt and indeed a celebration of life and festivity. And all before the three-day celebration.


So I came to Mexico with a heavy heart; my brother was dead. What I learned in the Mazatec Sierra through their customs and beliefs that the Fiesta de Muertos is a time, a portal, that allows the souls of their deceased loved ones to be inhabited by “Huehuentones,” to be among the living again, to enjoy their families, favorite foods, and fun (merriment). I talked quite a bit to my brother during this time. I was in a space to believe he sat with me. That he wasn’t dead; that we just were. Illusory or not, I welcomed it!


The opportunity to imbibe plant medicines definitely added to my heighten sense of awareness. As many of you who would read this are aware, the Mazatec Sierra is the home of Maria Sabina, and our hostess Senora Julia is no less the “Curandera” than she. Both beautiful and telling, Senora Julia has but one rule in her home and that is, “there will be laughter!” Beyond the laughter and graciousness and hospitality, what I experienced most in her home was love. It just so happened that I had my 58th birthday while in the Mazatec Sierra and I was celebrated with cake and revelry.

 

On my actual birthday we hiked to an underground cave system and navigated our way to an extraordinary find; a huge opening extending out of the cave as if a portal. Oh, I would be remiss if I didn’t add upon our arrival in the Mazatec Sierra we went to a sacred mountain range, a portal to “Chicon Nindo” to ask for permission to travel throughout these lands, for safe passage, and for whatever blessings that might be bestowed

(I received mines)!


My time in the Mazatec Sierra was very personal, enlightening, and familial; you may find your time there to be as well!


- R. Earl Harris
    Harlem, New York. USA

 
 

Carlos Kugler,

Venezuela

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