Alive and Well
We initiated our altar over thirty years ago, and we work it, still. It moves. Nobody told us to do it, and for certain no one authorized it. In this movement, the Moon and the Jaguar play major roles.
Every new family needs a spiritual center, don’t they? Within indigenous cultures, elders and leaders maintain altars and fireplaces – settings where the People seek Spirit, at times willingly, at times forced by older family and peers.
Either way, eventually, we wake up to the fact that altars and fireplaces are a human right with a long-proven history in every religion and spiritual belief system!
Around the time of our first baby, we cleared half a shelf-top to store our medicine: at that timea Medicine Bag, two Eagle Feathers, a statue of San Ramon, and a silver coin with a Toltec symbol on both sides. After we burned Cedar and lit prayer candles on that shelf-top, we realized we had a “little altar.”
On the wall behind our little holy shelf was a painting of a Jaguar, somewhat amateur, but its fierceness came through its eyes, eyes that followed wherever you were in the room. Also, next to Jaguar, hanging off a thumbtack, was a small notebook where we drew the shape of the Moon. We did that every day for a year or so – observing Her two-three times a day/night.
Statues, crosses, feathers, stones, herbs and rituals – cycles and seasons, the healing of the week, the magic of the week, medicine comes, medicine goes – philosophy, action, reaction: so goes the movement of an altar.
Metzli, the Moon and Ocelotl, the Jaguar, both tolerated and cradled our inexperienced use of all the medicine at our disposal, then bequeathed the impetus for the holy movement we sought.
Exploration into Moon Medicine led us to working with Her waxing and waning, Her risings and Her settings. We discovered Her symbolism everywhere, in all the traditions, from the shamanic to the modern New Age.
Moon school, for instance, taught us that the bones of human ancestors are buried on the Moon, and for people raised on ancestor awareness, bones on the Moon hold major potential for the living and the dead.
On a third dimensional level the Moon and Water also share an important relationship. “Water ‘r us,” basically. We’re made of it, it’s all around us; we can live without food for a time, but we can’t live long without water. Add the fact that the Moon controls the tides, and of course, She affects us water-made beings!
Ponder for a moment the astronomical and archeological evidence that a large astral body hit Earth eons ago, chipping the chunk of Earth which would became our Moon. Is it a coincidence that our Moon flies closer to us than any other moon to its home planet?
One day a Mayan Medicine Man came from his village in Yucatan, Mexico, to share the wisdom of their traditional shamans, the Mayan Day-keeper. And we Indios americanos were hungry to hear it. It was around 2012 so having an elder around to affirm indigenous understanding of this important date was quite helpful.
In a specialty reading that only a true Mayan Day-keeper could deliver, the Moon plays a role in every aspect of the reading, right along with the Sun, naturally.
After the reading, in a side conversation, our Mayan brother explained to us that everybody in the healing industry, the midwife in a back alley and the surgeon at MD Anderson alike, had to pass through the Jaguar, in some form or fashion.
As an Elder healer mentoring a younger prospect, the Day-keeper added that the key to working with any kind of healer was Ek Balam, the Black Jaguar in Mayan, Ocelotl in Nahuatl, the Aztec language.
The Ek Balam certainly have a presence in myth and legend, such as our ancient sites, ancient and modern dances, certain ceremonies and among other things, a very special kind of warrior tradition. Ocelotl is even said to have been the ruler of Earth in a time ancient, known in Mesoamerica as the Third Sun. In other words, like humans now dominate the planet, Jaguars did in that time and place.
The Ocelotl ties to fire, the night and predatory instincts, among its other traits. Hearing the growl of a Jaguar up close sparks a good fear, a survival fear, alert – horrified, but alert.
Could that be what our Mayan friend meant by “pass through the Jaguar?” Is there a message in that growl? In that specific fear? Must every healer, teacher, actually hear, feel, see or smell something from this powerful being?
Since then, every time we receive a healer or teacher or just another world server, we invoke the Jaguar to stand by. Of the many experiences Ocelotl has delivered at our little altar, one advantage became obvious immediately. No matter how different the patient and I are on the outside, or how worlds apart our vocabularies, we yet have something in common, something of substance, something that we can build on. The Jaguar Effect, as it were.
“I have Medicine, Medicine I have,” says a local altar song, singing, precisely of the Moon and Jaguar.
The universality of these two Earth beings, by the way, have a very positive effect on taming one’s ego; the fact that their history and truth are so large in human existence makes them available to everyone. I don’t know about you, but that humbles me somewhat. Big stuff.