Merida, Mexico

Visiting a Shaman in Merida, Mexico

From Guadalajara to Merida, it was like arriving in a different country.   Merida itself had a laid back feel to it, and I loved it instantly.  It was easy to meander around the city centre, admire the beautiful architecture and soak up the balmy heat.

After lunch at the excellent Chaya Maya restaurant we were walking down the street towards the main square, when we struck up conversation with a very friendly man who we later discovered happened to work in the tourist centre. One of his recommendations was that we go to Maya Mundo, where we could see a Shaman and get a traditional treatment. Most sensible people would have realised quite quickly that this sounded like a scam, but we though it sounded interesting, so ventured in.

Merida, Mexico

Merida, Mexico

It was an interesting place. Essentially a large two storey building of upmarket Mexican goods, the Shamans aren’t advertised anywhere, but thanks to the random man in the street we knew to head upstairs, and we were soon pointed in the right direction. Right up front they told us that we didn’t need to pay the Shaman, and the purification ritual, which does have a fee, was entirely voluntary. Nobody could tell us what that might cost, because it would depend on what the Shaman diagnosed us with. Of course it was a scam but we were curious!

Merida, Mexico

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First of all we met Harold, who worked in the shop selling Mayan things. When we expressed interest in meeting the Shaman he took us upstairs and introduced us to his cousin, who is the Shaman. Harold told us that he is training to be a Shaman – yes, even with the very un-Mayan like name of Harold (he told us his father had been drinking Tequila) – however exactly when he will become a fully fledged Shaman is hard to say. I asked about training timeframes and he said, “sometimes it can be one year, sometimes it can be thirty years, it depends on the energy”.

Merida, Mexico

Merida, Mexico

Harold, our trainee, and the “real” Shaman, Manuel, explained the process to me. The Mayans believe that there is the Mind (pointing to the forehead), the Spirit (pointing to the heart) and the Body (pointing to the navel), and these three things need to be in balance. First of all Manuel needed to examine these three areas and determine if they were in balance.

The ….examination? diagnosis? review? inspection?…….I don’t know what to call it, is free. Shamans don’t charge for their services at all. However sometimes the purification rituals require special things that we would need to pay for. He would then advise a suitable purification, and this would be entirely optional for me to take part in.

Merida, Mexico

Merida, Mexico

I was “inspected” for my balance, which was a fascinating process. I was told to relax, breathe in through my nose, out through my mouth, and try to empty the mind. I closed my eyes while Manuel did his thing, which included making lots of weird bird-like noises, lots of puffing on me, laying of hands and stones (obsidian, red amber mainly) on the “mind”, “spirit” and “body” parts of my body. Then he asked me to lie down while the stones were laid on my body and I was told to remain like this for 10 minutes or so. Other people came in to the shop and were shown various items, politely stepping around me.

Merida, Mexico

Merida, Mexico

It was at this point that a fit of laughter nearly overcome me as I realised how ridiculous I must have looked. I stared fixedly up at the ceiling, breathing, emptying my mind, and trying to concentrate on the Mayan paintings. Unfortunately this wasn’t helpful either, as I swear that one of the symbols looked exactly like Mr Burns from The Simpsons. After several minutes Manuel returned and started prodding around my stomach and my belly button. “Do you feel that?” he asked excitedly? “Um, yes?” I answered somewhat dubiously, and clenching my jaw as I fought off more inappropriate laughter.  “You have to BELIEVE,”scolded Manuel.

Merida, Mexico

Merida, Mexico

Manuel stood me up and completed the examination. Then he gave me my prognosis. There was too much energy in my mind and a blockage between my mind and my spirit. My spirit / heart was not recovered from previous disappointments and I was keeping it all in my subconscious, and overworking my mind.  In order to fix my mulititude of problems he performed a number of chiropracter-like bone crunching twists on my body, after which I felt remarkably good. This addressed the stresses in my neck and my back. For “purification” and re-balancing the mind/ spirit / body he also recommended that I wear a red amber necklace close to my spirit, or heart, for 13 days, then after 13 days to remove it and at the next full moon to wash it in salted water overnight. Then all will be right with me. I will be unblocked! My energy will be in alignment! I will be balanced!

Merida, Mexico

Merida, Mexico

By this stage I had invested too much and it was too risky to leave to chance that I will unblock naturally, so I started inspecting the red amber. “This is the most expensive and most rare of all amber, but it is very powerful,” Harold told me in a reverent voice. Of course it would be. He showed me a beautiful red-amber bead necklace, which I liked a lot, and could imagine wearing for 13 days on end. How much? It was $9500 pesos. That is about $USD600.  Wow, so this is how Shamans and their trainees make their money!

Rest assured, I was not going to part with anything near that kind of money.  I found a very cheap and simple red amber bead.  After all I had been through I was too superstitious not to to through with the whole thing.  So there you have it – my visit with the Shaman, who has hopefully cured me!

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