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Visit to a Mayan Healer

What was a white woman traveler doing before a religious altar in a little Mayan hut in a small Yucatecan village in Mexico with a strange man?

While staying at a nearby pueblo, I heard about a special Maya holy man who was a healer and source for Juan de la Cruz Pech outside his homespiritual purification.  I needed his services, so I set out to have a session with him.  A taxi driver took me to his small, unpretentious Maya home because finding his place on my own in a maze of winding roads would have been difficult, if not impossible. 

When I first met Juan de la Cruz Pech of Temozón, I was struck by his gentleness, calmness and the sparkling friendliness in his brown eyes.  They seemed wise and able to take me in all at once, looking into and through me.  An elderly Maya woman wearing a blue embroidered huipile (traditional dress) was his first patient.  She was suffering from arthritis and I watched as he treated her with his hands, herbs and melodic chanting.

Then it was my turn.  He asked my name, writing it down.  Gently, he took my hands, turning them palm side up, studying them and asked in Spanish: “Dolor”?  (Pain?)  I shook my head and explained in rudimentary Spanish I was seeking contentment, inner peace, a release from stress.  He nodded.  Then he carefully lifted my hands again and felt my pulse, not in the manner of a western medic. Instead, he was holding his fingers firmly on the veins of my wrist, listening intently to my inner workings.  With a captivating, reassuring smile, he nodded again.

Collecting a sprig of herbs (I detected the fragrance of basil), he began his ritual.  Lightly, he tapped my forehead, the top of my head, back of my neck and shoulders, down my arms to my hands, down my legs to my feet waving away disharmony with the bouquet.  At the same time he was chanting in Maya in a soothing, sweet tone.  Incense drifted in all directions.  I stared at his altar of fresh flowers that held images of Jesus, the Virgin Mary and Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico, along with unlikely items like a watch and a clock; I felt a rush of blood flush my face. 

Juan inside his homeFor fifteen to twenty minutes, the gentle elder touched, tapped, patted, and laid his hands upon me, especially around my head and neck.  At times he deftly, delicately applied herbal salves and indistinguishable potions, one from a small seashell.  This time I could smell pine.  Finally, he led me to a hammock in which to lie down and relax while he dabbed a herbal solution in my eyes.

I’m still not sure whether it was all in my mind, but at the end of my session, I was grateful to the soothing Mayan healer for his gift of inner peace and relaxation that lasted at least three days ….until it was time to re-enter the rat race again. Despite the onset of modern life, I still can recall the sense of oneness with nature and an acceptance that all was well and there was no reason for stress.

My husband, Norm, was also repurified. A skeptic at heart—he has a technical background—he was completely taken by Juan. His repurification differed from mine and he says that although he was trying to analyze the intonations and offerings Juan administered (he was made to drink an unknown liquid), he fell completely under the healer’s spell and says he’s never felt more relaxed, and yet at the same time, alert. This feeling lasted about three days as well. During the session, Norm says he felt blood coming to his head and his heartbeat quickened, which surprised him but didn’t last long.

We both left Juan de la Cruz Pech very respectful of his gentleness, his humility, and his gift.


Editor’s Note: Heather Rath writes occasionally while she is wintering in Progreso, Yucatan. She can be reached at heatherintransit [at] hotmail [dot] com.

 


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12 Responses to “Visit to a Mayan Healer”

  1. This was great! I appreciate the maya healer and all that it entails. I know very little but the history is ancient and shamans are simply a part of the culture…nothing new there. I’ve run into many healers across the years in different countries. I’m always grateful to experience their work and appreciate it as much as you do!! Thanks for writing. Can you share where Senor Cruz Pech is holding his healings?? I mean, what village..Thank you!!

  2. It’s interesting that he used your pulse as part of his diagnosis since it is also the underlying diagnostic tool from Chinese acupuncture

  3. Karen…they mentioned that he works out of Temozon.

    My brother-in-law moved out of his house because the mother of his child died there due to what the family thinks was brujeria (witchcraft). He had a healer living there on and off for years, and would come from his village (I think Izamal) to cleanse it. I guess he did such a good job that my BIL took him to the bar for a lap dance for his 72nd birthday. He LOVED it! :) And now the child whose mother died in that house is fifteen and just added me as a friend on Facebook. Gotta love the mix of ancient and modern!

  4. Where can I visit this wonderful man?

  5. From Heather:
    Hello Sacbe:

    Juan de la Cruz lives in Temozon, a town between Ek Balam and Vallodolid. The problem is I can’t tell you how to get to his house because we were taken by a taxi driver and there were many twists and turns. My best advice is to go to Temozon and ask a taxi driver where he lives as I’m sure he is well known in his community. He has no phone and so we took our chances on going and luckily, he was there.

    I really hope you get to meet this wonderful, gentle healer. I’m sure you will.

    Best,
    Heather

  6. Excellent article!

  7. I’ve spent many years reading and study on this topic of spiritual healing, mental healing, mind-body issues, etc, including a stint at Harvard Divinity School in the early 80′s. There’s an episode on public radio which I will link, below, about placebo’s and shamans, which readers might find highly entertaining. When you get to the page, go to the sidebar at right (Episodes) and pull down the slider until you see an episode entitled “Placebo.” I promise you will be utterly captivated.

    http://www.wnyc.org/shows/radiolab/

  8. That was a very interesting article. The way you wrote about your experience felt like I could almost feel what you described. You have a way of taking your reader along on the trip. Please take us along on more of your journeys.
    Thank you!

  9. Mil gracias por su informacion! I have traveled to the Yucatan for many years and am looking for such a healer.
    Sara

  10. I have an older Yucatecan friend who wants to take me to a healer for back pain. Says he is the best there is and this friend of mine can afford any doctor in Houston.

    We enjoyed reading this story, but were also a little worried that inconsiderate people may become pesky to mild-mannered and gentle Mayan healers. When we saw he was located in a small village a good distance away from the tourist bustle, we were relieved.

    This is truly a beautiful and your photos are wonderful. Thank you for sharing!

  11. Hola Heather:
    Felicidades por tu artículo, es realmente interesante y estoy encantada de que cada día disfruten Norm y tu de nuevas experiencias en Yucatán.
    Un abrazo
    Sonia

  12. I really want to visit this man! Can you give more details about where his village is? I’m going to be living in Merida this coming September and would love to try some of his therapies. Thanks in advance, and many thanks for posting this article!

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