While researching forgotten practices, I came across vaginal steaming and Maya medicine. There was this fascinating interview with Rosita Arvigo, a traditional healer and doctor of naprapthy. Some of you may know her through Arvigo Abdominal Massage. She’s written many books, one of which I ordered was Rainforest Home Remedies: The Maya Way to Heal Your Body & Replenish Your Soul.
For 10 years, Rosita Arvigo apprenticed with Don Elijio Panti who passed away in 1996. He was 103 and was one of the last Maya h’mens or “one who knows”. In his early 30s, he received his sastun, a marble-sized greenish stone, used to communicate with the spirit world. Not all healers use a sastun.
We now have access to some of this Maya medicine through Rosita and her work, including her books and teaching.
Rosita calls her book Rainforest Home Remedies a “self-help book” that will “assist your body’s natural capacity to be self-regulating, self-healing, and self-regenerating”. It also provides “time-honoured instructions for a healthy soul and spirit.” This book, however, is not for self-diagnosis nor is it a manual for emergency situations.
While the Maya’s knowledge of medicinal plants is indispensable, it is the spiritual aspect of healing that has impressed Rosita. For example, she learned to “understand why some people get well and some don’t, even when their illnesses and treatments are the same.”
The basic principles of Maya Medicine
- Ch’ulel or Life energy permeates the entire cosmos and all forms of life, from plants to stones and all are sacred. Part of healing is balancing the flow of this life energy.
- Spiritual and Physical Realms are not separate; they are part of a continuum.
- Plants and natural cycles are respected. Corn/maize is most sacred, seen as the giver of life and the food of the gods.
- True healing is possible only when plants and spirits are included and used with prayer. Prayer, chants repeated nine times, is central.
- “Asking the Blood” through listening to/feeling the pulse gives incredible information. They recognize 18 pulses.
Rainforest Remedies is a detailed book about different aspects of Maya healing. Its sections are – Physical Ailments, Maya Bodywork and Massage, Maya Spiritual Illness and Healing, and Maya Daily Wisdom: Nine Pointers for Healthy Living.
There are recipes for tonics, foods, and teas and a wealth of information about detox herbs and baths. They are simple and easy to make like the onion milk for bladder infections. The ingredients are items you can find in your own kitchen or garden, or easily at a farmer’s market.
And yes, this book talks about the vaginal steam bath, which is a traditional treatment and preventative care.
Bodywork is also used for many female ailments, including endometriosis. The uterus’ placement is key to a woman’s health. A prolapsed uterus, for example, is the cause of endometriosis. This can occur as a result of a fall that impacted the lower back, carrying heavy loads during menstruation or pregnancy, and chronic constipation. Some signs include painful/irregular periods, blood clots, painful intercourse, and hormonal imbalances. The book includes instructions for the self-care uterine massage that can help maintain a woman’s health.
The Resources section at the back of the book gives references as to where to order tinctures, dried herbs, psoriasis and eczema cream, unusual seeds, and herbal products, as well as websites for information about seminars and massage workshops.