In December 2014 a group of 8 Canadian women (many of whom are of Six nations and Mohawk lineage) and 2 Scottish women made a spiritual journey to Mexico organised by Gail Whitlow and me, Tiffany Stephens. We were supported and accompanied by our honorary American man. In total we were 13 people a very auspicious number.
I have been travelling extensively in Mexico for a couple of years now and find so many similarities between Mexico and my native Scotland both in the warmth of the people and in the landscape. Both countries have the feel of being timeless, the energy of ancient lands, ancient peoples and ancient cultures. The original indigenous peoples of the Americas also have deep ancestral connections with this land.
There are many different cultures in the many different regions of Mexico. We chose to base ourselves in Mexico City for the spiritual journey as there are many ancient sites to be visited both within and just outside the modern day capital of Mexico. The name ‘Mexico’ comes from three Nahuatl words, Metzli (Moon), Xictli (Naval) and Co (Place) therefore ‘Mexico’ means the ‘place of the Moon’s naval’.
The culture in this region is that of the Mexicas and the native language is Nahuatl. This culture is very much alive today with many Nahuatl speakers as well as Mexica dancers. When the area was seized by the Spanish 500 years ago, the last Mexica leader (tlahtoani), Cuauhtemoc, made a legendary speech on the 12th August 1521 calling for the culture to be kept alive. Below is the full translated speech, if you wish you can skip to the paragraph in bold at the end of the speech as this is the part to which I am referring.
Cuauhtémoc’s Legacy, the Historic Directive of the Young Tlahtoani Cuauhtémoc
“Our Sun has hidden itself behind daggers made of obsidian. Sad evening for Anáhuac, for the Texcoco and for Mexihco-Tenochtitlan .
Tonatiuh [the sun] is painting the sky with blood: silence, oblivion and bitter tears.
Tonalli [the day] follows its path and leaves us in the total darkness of Yohualli [the night].
To die on this earth for the blossomed war. The shadows of the night descend. The moon and the stars are the winners of the cosmic battle, in their fight against the light of the day.
Abysses of destiny, the life of beings in labyrinths of inescapable mystery.
Let us all go and leave the streets deserted, disappearing from the marketplaces and from their paths.
Let us lock ourselves up in our houses, turning our eternal ideals into fortresses, lost in this deep solitude, in a pointless dialogue inside this great void.
Let us preserve in our hearts the wisdom and love contained in the Códices [the scriptures], the teocalli [the temples], the tepochcalli [pelota courts], the cuicacalli [buildings for dancing, singing and the arts], until the Sixth Sun appears again, from the bosom of our future women.
Mother Tonantzin Iztaccíhuatl, asleep today with white mantles and green forests, shall awaken tomorrow between thunderclaps and redeeming lightnings of authentic freedom. She will resurrect amidst whirlwinds, emotional currents and burning flames of light. The mother country that was once burnt shall shine with the new Sun that will save Mexico.
She will be born from the blood spilt across green lands and white cotton fields; the hope in the One Life shall shine, far beyond our temporal death. Once our great history will have been severed, we know that the extension of the centli corn [one corn] shall manifest again to light up our forehead; then Cuauhtémoc, the solar eagle, shall rise up and the spirit of the eagle-warriors 1shall rule again and govern Anáhuac. The will of Huitzilopochtli [the hummingbird] shall be born amongst the warriors of the discipline.
The tlamatinime masters [the wise ones] will have different faces, more truthful and stronger. They will come with the flaming voice of the conch, the spiral of the flowered snake.
Today those chants and dances that hold no hope for triumph are abandoned in exhaustion. The time tolls for the dreadful omen of the supreme secret to occur already and, last messenger of the sacred solar tradition of Tollán the Ancient, the Great Sage Ce Acatl Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl , the visionary, who hurled to the four winds prophetic words containing future images: wild, beast-like barbarians will come, like warmongering demons, to destroy our culture and break the law, killing and betraying their own gods.
The cross and the rattle of the snake shall mark the date with the sword, the bow and the arrow. The races shall mix like metal melted in clay pots. And so it shall happen. Sign of the people sealed with the chimal [the shield] of the warriors, from Cuauhtémoc’s consciousness the resurgence shall blossom again.
The spirit of the eagle and of the rattlesnake shall carry our movement, both the movement of cosmic space and that between life and death.
Meanwhile we must all unite in tloqueh in nahuaqueh on Tlalticpac [the Earth], transmitting the word of the Mexicas’ origin and essence to our sons and their progeny belonging to this generation and to the ones to come, so that they come to know the beauty and harmony of Tenochtitlan under the protection of our sacred essences, the energy that creates all that is, the result of the education provided in our schools, which our ancestors knew how to instil into our fathers and into our fathers’ fathers, who with great diligence educated the children in the streets and in the schools to respect the mineral, vegetal, animal, human and solar cosmic natures; the commitment, with dignity and respect, to the universal consciousness; love for the family and for the common good: everything that must occur together, according to the law; unity and honourable action on behalf of the nation, and the freedom of the new humankind.
With the advent of the Sixth Sun, Iztactonatiuh , the sun of balance [‘ the white Sun’] shall shine and beget the sons of the Fifth Sun, the sun of Justice. Like a new dawn, [new men] shall come to rescue Anáhuac from the approaching future; [they will do so] for this is the will of destiny, [they will do so] with the dignity of our race and with the great copal .
At least let us leave behind chants, flowers and dances, so that the world of Anáhuac may continue to exist at this time. The fame, glory and greatness of the beautiful Tenochtitlan, the continental capital of Anáhuac, shall not come to an end, in our loved and revered land of Anáhuac, where the winds so strongly blow” 12 August 1521
Extract from the book : 2012-2021: The Dawn of the Sixth Sun The Path of Quetzalcoatl by Sergio Magaña,
Mosaic of what is considered to be Cuauhtemoc’s last address as tlatoani in Nahuatl and Spanish
Our journey began on the evening of 6th December which in the Mayan calendar that I follow is Men/Eagle 4 – representing the energy of Foundation. A perfect basis upon which to start our journey together. Everything needs a strong foundation to build upon.
We commenced on the following morning with an opening pipe ceremony on the roof terrace of our hotel as Gail is a pipe carrier. She also blessed a couple of other guests and a member of staff with the pipe which was lovely to witness.
Our first place to visit was the Foundation Monument/Fundacion Statue which is located in the zocalo (main square) of Mexico City. The statue depicts the Mexica people experiencing the manifestation of a vision they were given by Huitzilopochtli (the hummingbird that flies to the left) in relation to where they should locate their city. The vision is of a cactus (nopal), an eagle and a snake. The eagle is one of the symbols for the sun. The snake is a symbol of the earth. In the pre-hispanic tradition, it is the representation of Quetzalcoatl, and in the mexica tradition it is the representation of Coatlicue, the mother earth. The cactus full of its fruits is called “tenochtli” in Nahuatl. Thus the ancient city of Tenochtitlan was created. At the time the area was a great lake and the city was founded on an island in the lake. They named this land Anahuac which means ‘in between the waters’.
What we learned here from our Nahuatl friend Hector, who kindly came to share his knowledge with us, is that symbolically Huitzipochtli represents the child within or inner warrior. This is not the Warrior in the sense that we are accustomed to. It represents the inner battle, the fight within ourselves, to become the warrior who has both discipline and willpower. Also, within us we all have two energies, Ometeotl, Ome = Two, Teotl = Energy. This represents the male and female energies within.
We then visited the site of the Templo Mayor (or Grand Temple) which would have been a central point of this ancient city and is located on the opposite side of the zocalo. The ruins of the Temple miraculously survived despite being buried underground for centuries. It was excavated between 1978 -1982 after workers from the electric company discovered a pre-Hispanic monolith. The area that is covers is vast. To excavate, thirteen buildings in this area had to be demolished. Nine of these were built in the 1930s and four dated from the 19th century. The pre-hispanic monolith that the electricity workers discovered was a stone disc depicting Coyolxauhqui, the moon goddess.
Coyolxauhqui represents the moon. The stone disc shows her with severed limbs, the four limbs represents the 4 different phases of the moon. The ‘official’ story talks about sacrifice but in the Mexica tradition this is symbolic sacrifice. Sacrifice is about being of service.
The Sun also represents different phases. The eagle going down represents the sun setting in the West and the eagle ascending represents the Sun rising in the East. If we think back to Ometeotl, two energies, the Sun represents the masculine and the Moon represents the Feminine.
Following this theme, Tenochtitlan represented the masculine energy and the neighbouring city of Tlatelolco, also on the lake, represented the feminine energy. This was our next site to visit.
The city of Tlateloco was founded on the island of Xaltelolco. Over time it became know at Tlatelolco. It is believed that this comes from the word tlatelli meaning mound of earth or round mound. At Tlatelolco, for me the energy feels much calmer and somehow serene.
As you enter the site there is a Pyramid dedicated to Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl, the wind God. The main feature however is the Temple of the Calendar which depicts the 20 day signs of the Aztec/Nahuatl calendar which is known as the Tonalpohualli. This is similar to the Mayan calendars but with some variation. The calendar, depicted on the giant stone now housed in the Anthropological museum is very complex.
Another feature is that of a grave of a man and woman thought to have been a couple as the skeletons are in an embrace. They are known as the Lovers of Tlatelolco.
The modern day site is known as the Plaza of Three Cultures, the ancient site, the Spanish Temple of Santiago (built on top of the original Temple of the Sun) and modern day architecture.
Throughout our sacred journey the representation of the Sun and Moon, the masculine and the feminine were wherever we went, as was reference and representation of the inner work that we must do in this human journey that we call life in the spiritual quest to enlightenment.
Another connection from the morning is the connection with the Eagle. At the Templo Mayor is the House of the Eagles or Aguilas in Spanish. While we were meditating at the site I saw an eagle warrior complete with his eagle headdress. Eagle warriors developed the powers of the tonal (waking state) and of the physical body, being able to perform impressive acts such as flying by entering into altered states of consciousness. This theme of raising consciousness also became a thread throughout our journey represented by Quetzalcoatl.
The energy of this day, Cib/Vulture 5 brought the energy of empowerment and led us perfectly into the next stage of our journey.
Teotihuacan is perhaps the most well known and visited sites within the area. The name means the ‘Place where Men become Gods’ or ‘The place where humans become divine’. The reason for the name is that the energies and purposes of the temples are there to assist man in attaining spiritual enlightenment and thus becoming like God.
The complex is made up of three main temples, The Temple of the Sun, The Temple of the Moon and The Temple of Quetzalcoatl/the Feathered Serpent. Each has a different ceremonial purpose. The pyramid complex was designed as a physical reflection of the inner journey to connect with divinity and authenticity. It is said that the pyramids are in alignment with the constellations of Orion’s belt.
There was a path of initiation from the plaza of the earth (where symbolically physical bodies were buried), plaza of water to release the emotional body, plaza of air to free the mental body and plaza of fire to ignite the spiritual body.
We started our experience of Teotihuacan at the Temple of Quetzalcoatl. Which for me is a very special place both energetically and the most beautiful for all of its symbolic carvings of serpents, jaguars and corn (the earth).
Temple of Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent
Quetzalcoatl is a level of knowledge or consciousness that can be reached by an individual following a personal training process
At this temple one must focus on the process of dismemberment. That is the process of letting go of that which no longer serves them and being re-membered/reconstructed into someone new. Becoming who you want to be without that which weighs you down. Quetza – to raise, coatl – serpent energy, the one who raises their energy (coatzin – the venerable serpent) so much that they are transformed into an eagle or quetzal. Above all, Quetzalcoatl is ‘he who has blossomed’. One could think in terms of kundalini here as when one moves their energy and focus of life from the lower chakras to the higher chakras they attain a higher frequency and level of consciousness. This is also reflected in the Andean shamanic tradition of Munay Ki where the energy of Quetzalcoatl is transmitted into your third eye chakra.
We did a meditation at the temple with the focus of dismembering, letting go that which does not serve us. As we sat there the wind blow through the temple. Quetzalcoatl is associated with the gods of wind and this felt to me to be a very auspicious sign.
The Avenue of the Dead
The Avenue of the Dead must be traversed in order to reach the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the Moon which are situated at the other end of the temple complex. It is said that the Avenue of the Dead points to the star cluster of Pleaides which is aligned with the Temple of the Sun. As we walked along I had a vision of ancient times and initiates wearing ceremonial garments in procession along the avenue.
Temple of the Sun
The only temple within the complex where you can climb to the summit. Energetically this Temple helps us to access the voice of our double (our higher self/inner knowing). It is said that the Pleiades-sun alignment may have a direct connection with Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent that came to bring a greater wisdom to the planet. Which to me makes sense as the temples are in alignment with each other. Inner knowing is also accessed once we reach that heightened place within our consciousness. It is also known in the Toltec tradition as Silent Knowing. When we were at the temple Hector had said “ When you are silent the universe speaks”. This is silent knowing, our connection with our inner selves and our connection with the universe.
We meditated at the top of the temple bringing our focus to our vision for the next 7 generations, laying the path for them to have a much better world with fresh water, fresh air and fresh food.
We each offered prayers into tobacco and passed it to Hector and asked him to make a prayer out loud, sharing from the heart.
Temple of the Moon
It is only possible to go to the first level or plaza of this temple which is wide and broad. At this Temple we are to give sacrifice to the earth in return for happiness. As we climbed the steps I could again imagine the initiates in excited anticipation. This was not human sacrifice in the terms we hear about in the ‘official’ story, but the sacrifice of service that brings rewards in the pleasure of the doing and in the pleasure of gratitude.
We made a circle and sang and danced in celebration for our day. Many other people joined in with us and I felt the pleasure of sharing this joy with others and the significance of us touching other people’s lives with our actions.
As we returned back to Mexico City, I reflected upon the concept of spiritual experiences. I believe that we are spiritual beings having a human experience. If this is true then should our focus be placed on the human experiences and not the spiritual ones? Bringing our awareness to human experiences,we are choosing which to have and which we choose to release. In this way we become more aligned with our spiritual and authentic self.
The calendar energy of this day was Caban/Earth 6 – Flow – the energy of earth rhythms and synchronised hearts.
The next day we travelled to the ancient Toltec capital of Tula which is almost two hours outside of Mexico City. Having spent a year training in and experiencing the Toltec teachings aas well as having made the Toltec teachings a way of life for some 5 years, this is a very special site for me. I always feel like I have come home when I go there.
We found a quiet corner in the ball court. It felt very important to use this space as the ‘official’ story of the ball court tells of the sacrifice or decapitation of the players of the game. I have never believed this story. What I believe is that the decapitation is symbolic of the losing of the ego. The winning team lose the game. In order to do so you would need to lose your ego. There is a frieze at the Mayan site of Mayapan which depicts a headless man and the headlessness is symbolic of losing the ego. In terms of reaching the level of Quetzalcoatl one also needs to lose the ego, lose the story by which we have come to know and identify ourselves.
We gathered in a circle and smudged ourselves. Then while I drummed we undertook a shamanic journey to the Ancient City of Tula to explore it. I and several others were aware of the sound of the conch shell being blown and the sounds of a fiesta around us. The spirits/people of the place were happy that we had come.
En route to the Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl we passed along the corridor of serpents. This depicts a series of carvings of a skull coming out of a serpent’s mouth. For me this represents transformation, we must pass through the serpent and symbolically shed our skin. The skull being flesh this would effectively depict this and can also be seen as a sign of dismemberment or death and renewal.
We visited the Atlantae Warriors on top of the Temple of Quetzalcoatl and then came to the base to do a Pipe Ceremony. This was a very powerful and emotional ceremony. Three men from the site joined us, one a Nahuatl speaker who introduced himself in Nahuatl and seemed versed in ceremonial etiquette, another man who was selling tourist artifacts and the third came wearing an official UNAH shirt. (UNAH are the official organisation who look after the sites and do not usually permit ceremonies at the sites). This felt particularly important and we most definitely had the blessings of the guardians of the site (in spirit and human form). After the ceremony the Nahuatl man shared some teachings with us and did some blessings/healings on a few people in the group. He said he was told that we were coming and that he had to be there that day.
The calendar energy of that day was Etnab/Flint – 7 –Reflection – reflecting upon the choices that we make.
The next day we were guided by the group and circumstance. One member of the group was feeling unwell. I practice Human Design and within that system there are 5 energy or aura types. This person was the only Reflector in the group. Reflectors have a completely open aura which takes in the energy of those around them, amplifies it and reflects it back out. In terms of Human design she was reflecting the group to us and we decided that we would make this a free day to give people time to integrate all the work we had done and all the experiences of the preceding days. It also enabled our Reflector to spend time alone and reset herself energetically.
In terms of the calendar the energy of the day was Cauac/Storm – 8 –Justice – a day for purification and gathering energies within.
Interestingly, this day had originally been scheduled as the free day but we had changed the schedule. It felt that the original plan was correct and in alignment with the energy of the day and the group.
That evening we went to the home of a lovely friend called Martha who hosted us for a Pipe ceremony. She is also a Pipe carrier. In the gathering were our group of 13 plus Martha, Hector and two other Nahuatl friends in total 3 men and 14 women. Martha had a Moon pipe(feminine) and Gail had a Sun pipe (masculine). We made a ceremony with the Sun pipe first and then the Moon pipe, both supported by beautiful songs and drumming. Gail blessed us all with her pipe.
This gathering and ceremony for me was one of the most powerful things that we did during our journey together. There was a mix of cultures, the indigenous cultures of the Americas, Canada and Mexico as well as our indigenous Scottish representatives. There was a feeling of healing for the land of Mexico but also for the peoples present. We the people gathered and the lands into which we were born have all been conquered at some time in history. Ancestrally we all carry the wounds as does the land. For me it is time to leave those wounds behind, and to use our energy and wisdom to heal the Earth and all the beings that live upon her. Gail said that her pipe is a group healing pipe or a pipe for healing the people.
I could see a sacred triangle being formed between the lands:
Canada_ _ _ _ _ _Scotland
The following day we made a visit of the Bosque (forest) of Chapultepec in the west of the city. Capultepec means Hill of the Grasshopper. We made a visit to the sacred Ayehuehuete tree. This is a place where people come to ask permission of the spirits/guardians of the city. I had come here the week before the journey began to do a ceremony and offering and to ask permission for the group to come. This day, Hector opened the 7 directions for us in Nahuatl and we all made our offerings to the tree and the guardians of the city. Then we went to an area of the prk/forest called Montezumas Banos which was originally a pool for cleansing. The water is no longer there so we did a cleansing and purfiying meditation there. In my meditation I saw Cipactli, the crocodile, who in the world of dreams is considered the main archetype for creating abundance. When we first entered the park we had seen a rat which also represents the creation of abundance.
We spent the afternoon at the museum where artefacts from every era and region of Mexico are housed. It is a vast and impressive collection. Hector gave us a brief explanation of the circles/cycles of the Aztec Calendar where the huge stone is now housed. The stone is also known as the Sun stone or the Stone of 5 eras representing the eras of the first, second, third, fourth and fifth Sun. It is said in many cultures that we are now entering the age/era of the Sixth Sun which will be an era of enlightenment.
Aztec Calendar/ Sun Stone Fundacion Stone Coatlicue
The calendar energy of this day was Ahau/Sun -9 – Patience.
The Basilica/Virgin de Guadelupe
The final day of our journey together, 12th December, the day upon which thousands of people make a pilgrimage to the Basilica de Guadelupe or Tepeyac Hill in honour of Our Lady of Guadelupe, considered to be the most important symbol of Mexico. It is said that the virgin appeared to the Juan Diego an indigenous peasant (but also known as the eagle warrior Cipactli)on the hill of Tepeyac. It is on this site that the ancient Mexica temple of Tonantzin Coatlicue (Mother Earth or Divine Mother) was said to have stood. Tonantzin Coatlicue is the earth goddess said to have given birth to the moon, the stars and Huitlipochtli. Tonantzin means ‘our Mother’ and Coatlicue means ‘skirt of snakes’ and this is how she is depicted. The pilgrimage is made to visit the ancient temple/ goddess as well as the Virgin of Guadelupe.
On the day that we went we walked part of the pilgrimage route with the pilgrims. There were people of all ages. Some carrying effagies of the Virgin, some people crawling on their hands and knees. It is said that people come to ask for healing or a miracle.
When we reached the square in front of the Basilica it was filled with Mexica dance groups. Many adorned with feather head-dresses and dancing the warrior dances to the beat of the drums. Each step has a symbolic meaning. The Mexica dancers keeping alive the tradition of the Mexicas and the legacy of Cuautemoc. Thousands of people swarmed around them and all the way up the hill behind the square. Within the Basilica the cultures merged as the dancers made a procession down to the altar with their copal burners wafting the delicious smell of the copal resin. The Basilica is so subsided that you can visually see that the building is out of alignment and in places actually makes you feel sea sick.
To complete the symbolism of the Sun and the Moon and the raising of consciousness that is represented by Quetzalcoatl, we must look at the symbolism in the famous picture of Our Lady de Guadelupe. The drawing was made by Juan Diego/Cipactli and according to Sergio Magana (cited above) “The Virgin was standing over the moon, vanquishing it, while rising towards the sun, that is, tearing down the moon’s invisible prison in order to reach the full potential represented by the sun.” The moon’s invisible prison is the place that we trap ourselves in with our beliefs, duality and anything else that prevents us from seeing our own Quetzalcoatl.
The calendar energy of the day was Imix/Crocodile – 10 – Manifestation. Let us remember that Cipactli in the Aztec calendar is the crocodile also.
On 13th December most of the group departed to fly back to their home lands. They were carried by the energy of the day – Ik/Wind -11 – Understanding, and may that be so.
Our journey brought us full circle from the legend of Tenochtitlan founded on the vision given by Huitlipochtli to the temple of Tonantzin Coatlicue said to be his Mother.
From the eagle warrior of Templo Mayor and Cipactli at Montezuma’s Banos to the eagle warrior Cipactli who first saw the vision of the Virgin of Guadelupe.
Quetzalcoatl was present throughout our journey to the ancient sites Tlatelolco, Teotihuacan, Tula reminding us to shed our skin (transformation) so we can fly like the eagle or Quetzal. Enabling us to break out of the invisible prison that we trap ourselves in.
Spiritual journeys are paths of transformation, they can be easy if the opportunities and lessons are embraced or they can be challenging if seem that way. It is all a matter of perspective.
This is account is of course written from my perspective of the journey and my understanding of the teachings and events. I am sure that all of the people who took part will have their own version of events, experiences and perspectives.
Tiffany Stephens – January 2015