The Potent Rituals of San Juan Chamula, Mexico

Gasping for air as I enter the sacred church of San Juan Chamula whose intense energy takes my breath away.
Chills run down my spine as goosebumps cover my skin and tears fill my ducts.
The word I fel and hear within myself is "POTENT."
Pine needles cover the ground, signifying the eternity of evergreens and softening the kneeling knees of those around me.
The aroma of burning incense intertwine with the pine as I grasp onto this reality.
My perception is fogged through the smoke and through my cultual differences.
Smells of burning wax drip onto thechurch floor, occasionally passing through the slight breeze of fresh air sneaking through the cracked windows.
My olfactory glands are full of pine, copal, and burning wax.
Glowing candles light the path...path of life.
Religious hymns play softly in the background of the songs of indigenous dialects.
Dim lighting, strong odors, and indescribable power fill my soul.
Conscious rituals cleanse individuals from illness and sin, intensifying positive intentions that will guide them through life.
I sit for what seems invisibly and the medicine woman and patient both bow in front of rows of candles.
Mumbling chants are muffled while the medicine woman lights one row of flames after the next.
The patient's pulse is taken while the medicine woman has one hand on the heart, and one hand on the wrist.
She burns a single pine needle followed by a delicate bow...forehead to flame.
Holy wateris blessed by the flame and then sequentially is poured onto the rows of candles.
As this ritual is being done, a chicken sits close by in a plastic bag, cluelessly taking its last breaths.
The chicken is first blessed by the flame and then rubbed over the individuals body, absorbing all negativity from the past and potential negativity of the future.
The feet of the chicken are tied together as it hopelessly hangs upside down.
Feathers bunched together, restricting all movement.
The shaman then uses her strength to prevent the chicken from moving, eventually squeezing its neck to a peaceful death.
A minimal fight towards the afterlife.
Body, mind, and spirit are cleansed from negativity and refilled with positive intentions through the sacrifice of other living beings.
J Marcus

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