Eleusinia is a science based retreat. However, we would not be complete without embracing the traditional culture around mushrooms in Mexico, and completing the balance of the mind, body and soul. Josefina tells her own life story and that of her heritage and her experience as a curandera at a mushroom retreat. Josefina shares how she moved through challenging times after her mother passed away and how her own healing process returned her to her roots of healing with mushrooms. Listen here or on Apple Podcasts.
Thanks everybody for coming to the show, we are live at Eleusinia and we have a very special show for you today. We have Josefina our own curandera, and she’s here to tell us a little bit about who she is. Josefina, can you tell us who you are and what you’re up to now?
Josefina: Hi, well my name is. Josefina Maza and I’m born in Oaxaca .
And I spent a lot of my life in Cozumel, Quintana Roo. That is an island also in Mexico. And I’m coming from this line or family that is sobadores, ladies that help to bring babies. We call them parteras.
Tawnya: How did you find your way to Eleusinia? How did you end up meeting Jessica? And how did Jessica realize how valuable you would be for the retreat?
Josefina: Well, Jessica and I, we worked in a company for a long time. She met my mother. She knows where I come from.
She knows that what were our gift. And when she started this, retreat and these beautiful programs to help people to heal on different levels, she called me and she reached me and she asked me if I can do this with her. And it wasn’t exactly a part of my life that it helped me to go back to my roots with this process. So as the way that we are helping and healing, I’m also on my own journey here.
Tawnya: Oh, it is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing that. Can you tell us what your role is as the curandera here at the retreat? What does that look like? And what do you bring?
Josefina: Well, I’m the spiritual guide.
What I do is to help, you know, to align our energies, our mind, to give, eh, if you are anxious, to keep it calm and help to lose yourself. To keep you calm so you can actually be more free to enjoy this journey.
Tawnya: That’s beautiful. Can you also tell us about what happens when everybody arrives to the retreat, the blessings that you give?
Josefina: Well, we receive them and, what we try to do is are coming from the external world, what is full of the stress, you know, we’re coming to this retreat to heal, right.
But we are bringing with us all those heaviness doubt , scared, nervous and the flights and all that. So what I do is when you come here, I receive you and we try to clean all that away. We are having our energy to clean it. We’ll do it with some copal. That is what we use, you know, like to help through our energy, to be more clear and less heavy in order to be more light for this journey.
Tawnya: And the way that you do this cleansing ceremony, is this also coming from your ancestry? Is this also how your grandmother is?
Josefina: Yes. This all from my roots it’s how we grow. You know, this is something that you, when you grow, you see from your family doing it, we use herbs. We believe in Earth and everything that the Mother Earth can give us.
We use it. We use herbs, we use the copal, we use crystals. Everything that is coming from the earth to help us to do a cleansing, you know, like we do cleansing for our body but sometimes we forget to do the cleansing for our energy in order to clear our mind. So, yes, I grew up with that.
Tawnya: And I’ve seen so many different herbs that you bring. I’ve seen fresh chamomile.
I think I’ve seen basil
Josefina: Yes, basil, romero . I don’t know how to say romero in English, but it’s a herb that is used….
Josefina: And I use it that absorbs. They absorbs and the chamomile will help you to relax. So you don’t feel more like invasive you know, like we are doing something aggressive to you.
The herbs will absorb everything negative that we have in order to be very open.
Tawnya: That is so beautiful. Would you like to go into the mushroom ceremony and how you learn from your heritage and your ancestry, how to bless the mushrooms and maybe, could you tell us about your first experience in witnessing what it was like to watch your ancestors bless mushrooms and how they work with mushrooms with others?
Josefina: The way that they do it is more like, uh, how you say more. Like in the mountains, more like far away. It’s not like in the city.
Tawnya: In the jungle.
Josefina: And it’s more like natural things. It’s like, not that like top secret is like more, a natural way that they go and just take them and just eat them, you know, like chewing them and it’s very natural for us..
And we do it because we believe that we have like three bodies. Our mind, our soul and our physical body, and we call them little niños.
Tawnya: You call the mushrooms the little niños, so “little children”.
Josefina: Children, yes. correct. There are the messengers for the Goddess like that. God of the dead, god of the life, god for Mother Earth.
So they keep us to remind us from where we come from and to be connected to them. Because the life that we are living right now is like, we forget that connection to Mother Earth to life, to death, and they are a reminder and bring us to that connection to the universe. So that’s like very natural for us to do it, to keep us more like mind expanded.
How you say it?
Josefina: Expand the mind.
Tawnya: How old were you when you first had your experience with the little children?
Josefina: When I saw they were doing this since you were like six years old, when they started. You just grow, seeing them, so it’s not like you remember, you know, like something that you grow seeing.
Tawnya: And did you also get an opportunity to witness a lot of personal growth and healing and others that would come.
Josefina: From the people that go to visit my grandparents? Yes. Yes. And it’s something that you watch. And when you are a little you don’t understand what is going on as when you grow up.
And then you’ll understand why they are coming when they have pain and we believe that when your soul is not, healthy, your mind is not healthy. Your body started to resent all those, pains and just start the pain, the arm in my head pain, my knees pain, my stomach, because your soul, your heart, your mind is not helping.
So that’s why we call it the ancestor medicine.
Tawnya: The ancestor medicine. Yes. And then are your grandparents still living?
Josefina: No, they pass away a long time ago, but my mother, she is the one that actually teach me. You know, when you have this situation, we use this, we need this. And it’s something that you, that knowledge that you already carried.
Tawnya: So you really stepped into the calling of your ancestors. And do you feel close to your grandparents and your heritage every time you come and get to partake in this process?
Josefina: Yes, I do. I, uh, I can feel them when, how they guide me too. Yes.
Tawnya: That’s so beautiful.
Can you tell us a little bit for clarity because I’m not sure if the audience knows, of what the definition of a curandera is and the difference between the curandera and a shaman.
Curandera is, curandera/curandero, is a healer.
Josefina: You know, she will use the Earth’s energy, in order to heal your body, but also working with your energy. The shamans, it has more, we call it gift of power, you know, like to transform the, their own energy to another level. They can send their soul out of their body.
Tawnya: Like dimension shifts?
Josefina: Not changing dimensions they keep in this dimension but you know, like they can work out of their body.
Tawnya: It’s so fascinating because we can’t even imagine what that must’ve been. Like. I know that you were a child and you said you didn’t realize what was going on.
What did it feel like in, at what time did you realize what was going on and what type of meaning did that have for you?
Josefina: When I realized what was going on, my grandfather told me that I have the gift.
Tawnya: How old were you then?
Josefina: I was like 11 years old. Eh, he told me I have a big gift on my hands, because I know how to do is like the traditional massage
It is sobar, we call them sobar, which is kind of on the side, but healing, you know. So he told me that I have the gift of my hands of healing and I didn’t kind of understand what he was saying because it was natural for me that this is what my family does. So I realized that exactly, when I was in my twenties. My grandparents, they were not not with us here anymore.
So as when I realized it clicked to me what he was actually saying, even that I knew, I didn’t do it or didn’t work with my hands at the level that he was doing. But it was when I was 20, when I actually really like what he was, what he meant that day.
Tawnya: If I remember correctly, I think you told me that you had like a, a life reorganizing event where you’re almost spiritual awakening and landing in that healer energy coincided with you needing to like rearrange your life. Is that true?
Josefina: Yes. For 18 years, my mother got cancer and that’s when the belief from all my ancestors and everything that started a conflict within myself.
We have the notice, that my mother got cancer and she started the treatment, even that we also in our own traditional way we did as much as we could. You know, everything in our power. She got free of cancer for 18 years.
Tawnya: So she was free of cancer.
Tawnya: What type of cancer was it?
Josefina: In her uterine? Ovaries?
It was like eight years ago that she passed away and I stopped believing.
For 18 years, I was still able, you know, my mother and I, we didn’t thought that it was the chemo that helped. We did everything you cannot imagine. You know, like we believe that this leaf would do a tea and we use everything, everything. And for 18 years, everything was working fine. She passed away, and then I stopped believing. And I get angry. And then I was for seven years, I was in pain. At the same way I can give light, I also can go in darkness, you know, when you have to gift, you know, how to, manage it, but when you are not in control of your feelings, I go darkness and I, punish myself because I wouldn’t be able to help her.
As a human. We get stuck and we want everything to last forever. And we know that nothing is forever. You know, we need to be grateful that she was with me the time she needed to be with me. We complete her journey and she was ready to go to another level, right? So for seven years, I was living in pain and felt soulless living in the dark incapable of breathing. I was not even able to breathe. So, after seven years. I was at a point that I couldn’t handle it anymore.
Even though I have all this knowledge and I have a gift, I was not able to help myself. So I asked the universe to help me and they send me angels and they tell me to go back to bring my soul to my body, and into my heart.
To get out of darkness. And that was for the last year that I was working on myself and slowly, slowly I start breathing again. I became happy again, and one day, Jessica called me. That’s why I told her that she didn’t knew at that time what she was doing and told me about these retreats. Actually she bring mushrooms with her and I did mushrooms with her and I told her that the way that she does it is a beautiful way, it’s very care.
It’s very different from the traditional way you know that we do. I get the message and I could go to past, present the future. It was a reminder of my ancestors and I was, and at some point I was like, yes, you know, like she bring me back and here we are,, me helping to healing finding my way, you know, the journey I lost for seven years
And I’m helping you know, something that I really like, I love to see when the people is arriving. I can see the pain that they’re going through emotionally, physically, mentally. I know. I see them. And when they go back home, see their eyes, you know, free of that pain. It’s the reward that my soul, you know, it’s the gratefulness of being here, oh, all this journey, I want to show that is helping me to help. And at the same time is healing me too.
Tawnya: Do you feel like you have a message or a truth that you want to live in as we go forward as what you give and what you mean and what you stand for for all the guests that come to you and come to us.
Josefina: It’s like, we are not alone, whatever, pain that we are going through it’s okay to ask help. It’s okay to be, to be in that journey for a period of time, but also, you need to know that you can go through that and not feel pain anymore, and you can be free of pain and go back to joy to love.
To see the world, enjoy the sunlight to hear the birds and have a life. You know, like you’re breathing, you feel your soul, your are connected you deserve that we deserve that we’re born to be happy. It could be abundance and the joy in life.
Tawnya: Thank you so much for sharing your story.
That’s so beautiful that you said that part about, you know, that Jessica called you right at this time. And you had asked the universe for help. And you had said that the universe brought you angels and it feels like there was, you know, metaphorical spirit beings that you felt support you.
Josefina: It was a different, you know, like, uh, part of my life and they bring me another curandera. And she’s, you know, what’s guided me of my own healing
Tawnya: So this was a real, real human…
Josefina: That I call my angel she guided me to heal myself. We say, because we all have the power of healing.
Our best healer is ourselves. That’s our best healer. So she guide me again, like we need to be grateful. We need you to change your state of mind. You said my, you need to open your heart. You know, she guide me for my rituals in the morning, my rituals in the afternoon to grow in my own food, growing my flowers, my plants they bring me back.
I know how to do this, you know, like. But then I was, I surrounded myself and it’s when everything has started to open, and everything started to be better in all my life areas. When you surrender,
Josefina: Yes, and open your heart and say, well, here I am you know, here I am.
Tawnya: And then Jessica called you right at that time
Josefina: Yes. Jessica called me, said I have this idea what do you think, I told her that day, you don’t know what you did. And that’s why, even when she doesn’t believe it, I told her the healer here, she is the healer.
Tawnya: Aww…Jessica is the healer. Did everybody hear that?
Yeah, that was such a beautiful story. Do you have some amazing memories of your grandparents now looking back?
Josefina: Oh yes, my grandpa. It was a very skinny man, very quiet. He never talked. But when he does, it was to tell us about stories about our ancestors. I didn’t know, I thought it was just, you know, like, how do you say “cuentos”.
easy, you know, well seen from the culture. So they have to run away.
Tawnya: They fell in love and they ran away?
Josefina: But the oldest story that he told me is actually stories, you know, like real stories. It’s not just fairy tales. And that’s the way he teaches who we are, where it went from, where we come from.
Yes. But he always was quiet. Always. And he also was in day before dinner. He always sit on his couch and take all, you know, the Stories, you know, that he made up, but now I would find out later that it was real stories of our ancestors. My grandmother, in Oaxaca, we have too many cultures, Zapotecos and Mixtecos and my mother, my grandfather was Mixteco and my grandmother was Zapoteca. Those two cultures, they fight to each other.
So to get married was not grandchildren’s and tell the stories.
Tawnya: Do you have many brothers and sisters?
Josefina: I’m the only child.
Tawnya: Ah, and when is your birthday?
Josefina: July twenty ninth.
Tawnya: Oh, it’s coming up.
Tawnya: So your dad is still living? Yes. And does he know what work you’re doing and is he supportive?
Josefina: He actually went somehow to the wrong way. Well, we call it, you know, he went to darkness and he has his own journey too.
Now he’s better. He is doing well, he has another family right now. He is doing better, he find his religion. Yeah, he knows what I’m doing he also teach me some.
Tawnya: So when we’re about to have all the guests arrive, and we’re just so happy, this is just so beautiful to hear your story.
And then you’re going to do the cleansing ceremony, which is just so settling for everyone. And tomorrow, when we have the mushroom ceremony and you bless the mushrooms, do you send well wishes? Or what are the intentions and spiritual wishes that you put in for that process?
Josefina: What I do first is ask permission to Mother Earth, what we are going to do. Ask them to guide us in the best direction of what we need to heal into the mushrooms that I asked them to bring the message that we need to get.
Not, sometimes the one that we want to hear. Sometimes we are coming with the intention. But the message is another one that is the one that we need. The one we need to hear in order to heal that part of our life. And what I do is ask the permission in our state to be grateful.
You know, that we are all here.