by Weam Namou
The Path of Consciousness spiritual and writing retreat is an idea born from a little hideaway in the Riviera Maya during a family trip to Cancun, Mexico. It was January of 2016 with a full moon in the sky, a Wolf Moon. One of our excursions was to Xel-Ha, located in the Riviera Maya. In the Mayan language, Xel-Ha means “where the water is born” and, according to legend, Mayan gods joined forces to create this place to bring together the best of nature. They were so delighted with their beautiful creation that they decided to allow mortals to also inhabit the place and appointed three guardians to protect it. The guardians are said to still care for the Park and everyone who comes to visit.
During pre-Hispanic times, Xel-Ha served as an inner port, trading center, a pilgrimage and shelter for sailors and a food reserve during bad weather. Since 1995, it has provided unique family attractions such as swimming and snorkeling among tropical fish, exploring a natural cave, and experiencing a Mayan ceremony that includes a Temazcal steam bath.
Before 3:00 pm, I left my husband with my two children as they zip-lined into a dip of water and I slowly headed to my destination, reaching a wooden archway with the words “Path of Consciousness” printed in Spanish and English. The trail led to the Mayan ceremony I’d signed up for. There was a bowl of incense beside a large shell and over it, a sign read:
“Enjoy a relaxing experience and feel yourself being reborn with this mystical old-age rite. The Temazcal steam bath is good for the soul. It mixes a spiritual journey with a truly delightful encounter with the basic elements of our planet: water, fire, earth, and wind.”
I went into the narrow road hidden within trees and arrived to an area where three men dressed in white trousers prepared the burning of large black stones. They greeted me and asked that I take a seat on the bench, beside an Indian couple who, like me, happened to live in Michigan. I then watched as the men continued to make the black stones hotter and redder.
During the ceremony, we had the opportunity to reflect on our negativities and then to throw them away, using maple syrup chips, into the incense bowl that the shaman carried to us. We drank a bowl of tree sap, were asked to close our eyes and dream in our new vision, were blessed by the shaman in the Mayan language, then led into a sweat lodge.
The sweat lodge was dark, with only four lit candles. Soon the hot stones were brought in by a wagon and piled in the middle of the room. The room became warm, and when the men poured aromatic water over the stones, producing steam, it became hotter and hotter.
“I will eventually blow out the candles and the room will be completely dark,” he said, both in English and Spanish so all seven people would understand him. “If you feel you want to leave, that’s okay, just clap your hands and we will help you out. But I ask that you stay and take advantage of this opportunity. Allow the prayers to transport you to another place in time. Allow the steam created by the herbs and hot stones to envelope your body as it purifies your spirit, then experience a rebirth as you abandon to the warm shelter of mother earth’s womb.”
He talked about the feminine power, the importance of women in this world, how they are the backbone of society and therefore, need to be treated well by men. He then talked about the four elements of our planet. Not long after he blew out the candles, with the steam rising higher and the room getting hotter, I did have this urge to escape, to clap my hands. I tried to stay still, but I felt very uncomfortable, and then I asked myself, “What am I afraid of?”
Suddenly, I relaxed. I relaxed enough to listen to the answer which I was afraid to look at. I received much wisdom in this submission and remembered what my shamanic teachers had taught me – to face my dark side, because in doing so, I find the light.
We walked out of the sweat lodge into a waterfall of pure water and returned to the circle for another drink, and to give gratitude. The shaman thanked us for keeping this thousands-year-old Mayan tradition alive by our participation. We thanked him for this amazing opportunity.
The last time I had gone to Mexico was twenty years prior, to chaperone my niece and her friends during their Spring Break. Back then, shamans were not a part of any excursion. Back then, few people had ever heard the word shaman. Luckily, today is a different story. Today that tradition is not only alive and well, but it’s available to everyone who understands and appreciates the healing and rejuvenation it provides for us and our Earth.
I returned home with several souvenirs and the trail to The Path of Consciousness tucked in my heart and memory. Knowing I can’t easily go to Mexico for spiritual ceremonies, I decided to fashion a similar community in my neighborhood, to pass on what I learned from my extensive shamanic training and my ancient Mesopotamian heritage. The place whereon we stand is holy ground, we need only recognize that by connecting the heartbeat of Mother Earth, to release to the universe what no longer serves us, to heal and transform ourselves by creating a new story for the world. To dream a new dream.
The spiritual and writing conference and retreat is October 5-7, 2018 at Colombiere Retreat and Conference Center in Clarkston, Michigan. For more information, visit https://thepathofconsciousness.com/
About the author:
Weam Namou is an Eric Hoffer award-winning author of 12 books, filmmaker, vice president of Detroit Working Writers (DWW), a 118-year-old professional writing association, and serves as an Ambassador for the Authors Guild of America. Weam hosts a weekly half-hour local TV show on Community Media Network and is the founder of The Path of Consciousness, a spiritual and writing conference and retreat. She is a certified Reiki Master, Health Facilitator, a Sikkim Guardian, an ordained minister, and a graduate of best-selling author Lynn Andrews’ 4-year course of study and training in the sacred healing art.