The Teacher Emerges: "Ehe" Mitklan Ehekateotl Kuauhtlinxan
The following is excerpted from Darkness: The Power Of Illumination.
There are three simple things that ultimately led me to the most important path of my life: travel, writing, and filmmaking. From these three activities I have found the richest and most fulfilling journey of all.
I traveled and studied with different teachers everywhere I went. Each teacher -- everyone from indigenous healers, shamans, and medicine men and women to writers, mentalists, magicians, and those involved in metaphysical realms and the occult -- has offered me a unique perspective on life.
They say that when a student is ready, the teacher will appear. Each and every time in my life, when I was ready for that next stage, that next lesson, that teacher has always appeared.
My meeting with the great Aztec medicine man, Mitklan Ehekateotl Kuauhtlinxan, was one of those moments. It was during the filming of what was to be, initially, a series of documentaries on the medicine men and women of Mexico that I came across Ehekateotl. I knew from the moment I was introduced to him that he was "the real thing."
This meeting threw the idea of filming ordinary travel documentaries into question. I had a strong feeling that the subject of the real film that I wanted to make was now clearly in sight and substantially different from the standard "made for TV" fare.
His story was extraordinary, and he would be solely responsible for the depth and emotional impact in what was to be the final film, Serpent and the Sun: Tales of an Aztec Apprentice. By the time we reached his home in Mexico, I was exhausted.
For our original documentary concept, we had already been filming for nearly a month. By then I had been operating on only three hours of sleep a night, and I was plagued with a bad stomach infection. When we finished our first interview with Ehekateotl, he suggested that I stay in his home and receive a treatment. I was grateful for the opportunity and was willing to try anything to get better.
My crew had left and I was there in Ehekateotl's treatment room alone. "Before I can attend to you, I have to clean the energy of the room," he whispered. He gave me some simple instructions. He then quietly left the room to prepare.
The room, whitewashed adobe built in the Aztec tradition, was nearly round, and each nook of the room had a sacred item representing one of the four directions. Sage and copal smoke rose from small incense burners carefully placed on the floor. The room was specifically designed to allow no light in. The windows were covered by intricately designed fabrics woven by his apprentices. Small candles flickered and highlighted the shadows of herbs and various medicines that hung from the ceiling to dry. In the exact center of the room was an elevated table blanketed with sheets. He called this his "therapy table." I had been instructed to disrobe and to get under the sheets.
After a few minutes of being in this room, I fell into some sort of a trance. I never heard the door open, but as I felt Ehekateotl's presence in the room, my body broke out in a cold sweat. My palms became clammy and a strange anticipation came over me. Before he even laid a hand on me, my body became frozen and paralyzed. Visions began to parade in my mind. Images played like a manic, rapidly-paced slide show.
It felt like the beginnings of a strange mushroom trip. It was in this moment that I realized I was alone in the ceremonial center of the room with a 240-pound Aztec hovering over me. He began to play a flute over me. I asked him why I was so cold, and he pointed out that the room was above 85 degrees Fahrenheit and that it was just my releasing of energy. "It is beginning. You must close your eyes now."
As I closed my eyes, I felt a rush of feelings come over me. As if it wasn't enough that I had lost control over my body, my emotions and feelings suddenly began to run rampant. I began to laugh, scream, and cry simultaneously as he applied what seemed to be an ancient form of acupressure to my body. He had explained that he sang while doing his therapy in order to harmonize what he called the "tonal" body. Hundreds of years before the term "aura," the Aztecs knew about the "tonal."
I heard ancestral voices layered into his voice as he sang his song. Behind closed eyes, each note represented an image being extracted from my mind. I felt memories from my childhood gently being loosened and lifted away. I felt traumas that were recorded into the fabric of my body liberated. I felt connected to the source.
Then, as if in an instant, I heard him clap his hands. A stream of cold aromatic oil was splashed over my stomach and then my forehead. I began to feel my body again. I felt his hand over my forehead and heard the tone of his ceramic flute over me. I opened my eyes expecting to see him above me but he was gone. The room was empty.
I looked at the clock. It had been over three hours. His work was finished and my pain was gone. I was energized and felt as if someone had given back a part of myself. Then I heard the door open as he returned to the room. "I have to now go and clean the energy of the work we have done here. You must rest now."
He carefully wrapped me up tightly in the cloth sheet. The final product was a mummy-like cocoon that covered my entire body and face. He instructed me to sleep, moving as little as possible until the morning. I can't remember any of the crazy dreams I had that night. But I can remember that they were some of the craziest I had ever had. When I awoke, Ehekateotl was there with something in his hand. It was a traditional hot chocolate and chili Aztec drink. The chocolate and spices, which came from the mountains of Oaxaca, were so unusually aromatic that the smell alone was surely therapeutic. I began to sip the chocolate sitting up while still wrapped in a blanket.
It was at this point that I became convinced that this man was destined to be the next great teacher for me personally and the main focus of our film. I had to convince him to join our journey. As he poured another cup of the hot chocolate concoction in his outdoor kitchen, I nervously began to ask him if he would come with us. Since I hadn't rehearsed, I had no idea of how to ask him or what to say. I began to stumble upon my words. I didn't say much that was coherent.
"What I wanted to ask you, I mean, what I wanted to say is..."
"My bag was packed for me last night. I am ready to join you." Once again, I was shocked. He already knew my intention and had already agreed to join us before I had even asked.
As for synchronicity, he noted that there was to be a gathering of traditional healers in Oaxaca at the exact time we planned to be there. He suggested that he may be able to introduce us to some of these healers.
With that out of the way, we discussed our journey together and the engaging potential of his upcoming journey with Tachi, his aspiring young apprentice during the period of our filming. Both would walk southward to Chiapas in the furthest southern province of Mexico while our camera chronicled the event.
"Before we leave, you must join me in a small ceremony. "
He then invited me to come inside and view his altar. It was impeccably organized and contained several "objects of power," including: ancient Aztec artifacts and herbs, black obsidian objects, ritual articles from his tradition, gifts from his family, gifts from students and friends, prayers from children for peace written on leaves, various sacred healing plants, herbs and healing formulas, dried eagle claws, skulls, jaguar teeth, gifts from others, gold, chocolate, tobacco, and other "offerings," as Ehekateotl described.
The items were painstakingly organized and purposefully placed on a beautifully sewn and hand painted fabric covering the altar top. For the Aztec people, the location of the altar is always at the most powerful point in the building.
When he travels, several of the most sacred of the objects are placed in a small medicine pouch along with a piece of cloth from his tradition. When he arrives at a new place in which he will be staying, the "portable" altar is first established at a power point at the home, and then he goes about the day's business. If he is performing a healing, the altar is set up in the healing room.
Ehekateotl wears two necklaces. One necklace has a total of eight carved skulls. These represent the nine levels on his personal Path of Power that he calls "The Path of the Dead." Ehekateotl's own skull is the missing ninth skull, representing the ninth level. The second necklace is ancient; it is made of blue stones and has been passed down from generation to generation. Both carry the mark of his tradition, so when he removes them with any other piece of his jewelry or his Aztec belt, he first performs a short ritual, and then says a brief prayer and places them carefully on his altar.
The items on his altar represent all things sacred, his various disciplines as well as his respect for nature and the teachers he's had. They reaffirm his path. When he looks at the altar, he sees a material representation of another world, a reminder of his path. It is a symbol of his gratitude and, hence, an offering to the Great Spirit.
"If you feel, after your attunement, that I have in any way let you down or that I have been dishonorable, you may take anything or all things on my altar."
I immediately jumped up and blurted out "No!" I then gave the big Aztec man a huge hug and thanked him for the service he provided. Out of curiosity, however, I did ask him a question: "What would happen if I were to take something?"
"For over 480 years, my people have made this offering to the people we serve. If anyone were to take even one object from the altar, I would immediately have to quit this line of work and go do something else. My life as a healer would be over," he said.
It was a seemingly serious, tense, and uncomfortable moment, and before I could open my mouth, he gave out one of the largest Aztec belly laughs I have ever heard. The Aztecs always have a great way to dispel stressful situations. They do it with humor. As for Ehekateotl, his gregarious and sincere demeanor always shines through, and, thankfully, it came across powerfully in the footage we shot.
At the end of the day, Ehekateotl's healing gesture personally, however symbolic, reestablished for me his selfless commitment to the Path of Power and the Path of Healing. As Bob once said, "Heaven always makes the first move!" Ehekateotl's gesture revealed that when your intention is true and unbending, you can let "Heaven" have the first move and always come out ahead in life.
At this point, I knew I was about to embark on a very important time in my life. The significance of this film effort, eventually named Serpent and the Sun, not only coalesced miraculously on its own, but also, somehow, the final cut exceeded even my own expectations, coming together almost mystically on its own, unfolding and progressing as it was destined to.
What began as a series of documentaries now became one film that exemplified these lessons learned and the foundation of the Path of Power. It was as if during the filming, everything I had learned from all the teachers in my past was coalescing and coming to fruition in one film project that exemplified these lessons learned - they are the foundation of my Path to Power.
I am grateful to have learned these lessons throughout my lifetime from people who are truly genuine and giving. The best way for me to express my gratitude is to share these lessons with you, the reader. It is my hope that you not only grasp the meaning of each lesson, but also incorporate these lessons into your life on an everyday basis. And having done so, it is my hope that you will then immediately share these lessons with others.
Shaahin Cheyene is a writer, filmmaker, lecturer, herbalist, and a student of the mystical traditions of the Medicine Men and Women of the world. He lives in Los Angeles, California.Tweet