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My Art...of Gratitude

Since I have told you a little bit about my healing experiences in Guatemala working with my friend Carlos Barrios, an Ajq'ij, orMayan spiritual guide, I wanted to share with you a little bit of how this looks for me today, living here in McCall, Idaho, and why I have become so fond of the Mayan spiritual tradition.

Today begins a new thirteen-day period that is under the reign of Toj, the very spirit of gratitude and the energy of payment for our blessings in life. To the ancient Maya, and to many of their descendants of today, a ceremonial offering is created and burned to give thanks. Even when a petition is made, thanks and acknowledgements of gratitude are given to each of the 20 Chumil, or sacred energies/ day-signs in the Cholq’ij, or sacred calendar.

Toj (pronounced Tōh with a hard 'h') means payment or offering, and it is also the sacred fire which consumes the offering, and if we are trained to listen, which gives of messages. Toj is that energy which transforms our gift into insight, healing, abundance and more. When we acknowledge the power of Toj in our lives we are acknowledging the power of gratitude and the ability to say thank you. Have you ever stopped to give thanks...for being able to give thanks? It's quite a power after all. After giving our gratitude to Toj, we give thanks to remaining 19 Chumil which make up the sacred round, acknowledging each special energy with a small offering.

It has been 13 days since I last did a fire ceremony here, and today my body and mind conspired to make an important point about making the practice a regular one. Because today, I woke up feeling lousy; an upset stomach, a sudden pain between my shoulders and a rather grumpy outlook. I felt like the Grinch.

I met these challenges by doing what I have done for the last several months. But after doing my breathing exercises, meditating, yoga, feeding myself, hydrating, and cleaning up, well, I still felt edgy, almost angry. "What is going on?" I asked myself.

Knowing that today is the beginning of the trecena dominated by Toj, I felt compelled to do a ceremony, and I have never been more glad that I did. After giving thanks to Toj and the other sacred energies, I felt my self so much lighter and much more connected to the unseen forces in our lives that we mostly take for granted. The pain in my neck diminished, and the upset I felt in my stomach earlier disappeared. Most of all, my attitude and perspective toward life improved dramatically. I felt healed, whole, my self once again. Traditional wisdom and anecdotes from various Ajq'ijab maintain that ceremony must be practiced at least once every 20 days if not more often. Otherwise, sickness or other misfortune can attack us. Today made me a bit more of a believer in this premise. Obviously, fire ceremony is not the only means of expressing gratitude, but for me, its a most compelling and enjoyable method. It just feels good, and its an important part of my "kit" of wellness tools.

The basic ritual of the Mayan fire ceremony is a most excellent exercise for practicing gratitude. And I have come to understand that for me, gratitude is my religion. It is the magic key to activating our access to higher consciousness, prosperity, and healing of all kinds. It’s the gasoline that fuels our intentions, dreams and desires.

To create my offering, I do what I have seen all Ajq’ij do: First, I draw a circle in sugar and inside of it drew the glyph representing the Chumil of the day, in this case, Toj. Then I filled that in with Rosemary. I had a nice "chunk" in my bag of sugar that felt like a nice addition for the dot on the lower left of the glyph.

Next I added pieces of pine fatwood, called ocote in Guatemala, bundles of sage gathered here in Idaho, and Myrrh.

Then, I placed candles in four colors to honor the four directions, the four elements, the four races, the four colors of corn, and the four Balameb, Mayan avatars who gave us the fire ceremony thousands of years ago. White copal incense, honey, and fresh flowers completed this arrangement which I then ignited as my offering.

I'm so grateful to have learned this ancient ritual, and for the opportunity to share a little bit of the ancestral wisdom of the Maya with you. The longevity of the Mayan people, culture and spiritual tradition is due, in part, to this very rite.

Please look for new posts on Instagram and Facebook explaining further the 20 days in the Mayan sacred calendar. If you are interested in learning more, I encourage you to read Carlos' book, The Book of Destiny, and to follow his Facebook/Instagram page: Carlos Barrios Ajq'ij Maya.


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