Monthly Archive: March 2013

Honouring the Ancients


For those that are just joining my journey now, the last couple of posts have been taking my readers with me through my medicine journey in Mexico.  It was an incredible journey that I am still benefitting from. And I feel it is important to share those benefits with anyone who wants them. To catch up to this post you can read “Digging for Sacredness” and “Powerful Influence”.

 I’m still in New Mexico, reveling in my life-changing medicine journey. I have been trekking through the ruins of Teotihuacan in Mexico for the past 6 days and each day I feel more connected than the day before.

Those who built Teotihuacan honored the Olmecs.  The Mayans honoured those who went before them; and the Aztecs, in turn, honoured the Mayans in their own way. Each emerging civilization was honouring the ancients that came before them.

The ancient city of Teotihuacan represents a place of emergence into the world as we know it.  It is a place of light.  Each temple here reflects light in it’s own way, different from the way every other temple here reflects light.  I imagine what it must have looked like in its prime:  temples covered in mica, reflecting the sun, fire, light of all kinds; water ways and fountains, serving as reflection mirrors; avenues filled with plants, flowers, fruits, birds and butterflies; buildings painted in the deep rich colours of red, navy, gold, reflecting patterns and deities.

As I walk through each temple and building, I take the time to feel that difference in light, the qualities that this difference brings.  At the Temple of the Sun, the feeling is one of intensity and clarity; at the site of the Earth Goddess (in front of the temple of the Moon) the light is diffused and refracted in every direction, absorbing back into the earth.  At Tetitla, a small

Jaguar Mural - Teotihuacan

Jaguar Mural – Teotihuacan

temple outside of the main complex, that some say honours Spider Woman, I feel a softness and warmth that makes me want to stay a while. Each temple is honouring the ancients by setting up an experience of reflection and connection.

How are you honouring the ancients? How are you connecting to what has come before you? Developing connections to things that are larger than yourself can bring a sense of peace to your life – try it.

Maryanne Nicholls is a Toronto based, certified Psychotherapist offering a balanced approach to mental health. Please visit for information on her services, or contact her directly to find out how she can help you reclaim the joy of living.

Powerful Influence

On our way, on a bus heading north out of Mexico City.  I know in my mind that I will be surrounded by people living and working – we aren’t that far from Mexico City.  But I can’t shake the feeling that I’m stepping into the past.  The air is light – we’re 7,000 feet above sea level – it’s dry.  Everything seems to be coloured in different hues of beige and pink and grey-green.

Power of Influence

Temple of the Moon – Teotihuacan

In no time we are here.  It is indeed in the middle of civilization, and the biggest ancient city I’ve seen.  I get out of the bus, and step into the ancient past.

Teotihuacan is believed by some to have been influenced by the culture and teachings of the Olmec people, who predate this site. They were a powerful influence in so many ways:  in the beauty of their creation myth, the grandeur of their cities, in their close connection to the life surrounding them, and in their reverence for that life.  They thrived up to about 3000 BC.

The Olmecs didn’t leave much behind – giant heads in basalt that have magnetic ore at their third eye – a spot on the forehead between the eyes believed to be sacred.  They also left carvings depicting dolphins teaching humans.

In a similar way, I see stone carvings and mural paintings of seashells and fish on and in the temples.  I feel a connection in our mutual myths of how life began and evolved.  I love how they honour their beginnings in their building and in their art, and want

Powerful Influence

Seashels and Feathered Serpents – Temple of QuetzelCoatl – Teotihuacan

to take that away with me… place this inside me to ground with in times of worry or upset.  To gain perspective and know I am part of something much bigger.

Teotihuacan is special. There is a story that Teotihuacan had been a very sacred place for 10,000 years – the place of emergence. The legend is that it was originally a place of reeds, and that the fish people emerged onto the land and came into this world by way of a cave, the sipapu.  There is a cave at the base of the Temple of the Sun at Teotihuacan that represents this place of emergence.

I spend my first day walking from one end to the other of the exposed area, visiting every temple, from QuetzelCoatl in the south to The Temple of the Moon in the north.  It’s hot, very sunny.  I pass many vendors selling trinkets, obsidian, beautifully painted pottery, and silver of all kinds.  It takes me the better part of the day to make my way to the Sun Temple and then the Moon Temple.  The Sun Temple is a giant and dwarfs

Powerful Influence

Temple of the Sun – Teotihuacan

everything in the site.  As I gaze up to its summit, I feel its power, the power of the priests who spoke from its heights and performed their rituals and sacrifices to the sun.  I can imagine it covered in mica – blinding and brilliant , humbling and powerful, filled with the intense masculine energy of our solar engine.

Next to it, almost as its consort, is the Temple of the Moon – the second-biggest temple on the site, reflecting the natural mountain behind it.  13 human people are buried in its depths, some bound and at least one free. I sit down, take a breather, and gaze at her.  She reminds me of a giant turtle, rounded, lower to the ground than her mate.  13 is the symbol for life, death and rebirth.

Being here, whatever was worrying me way back there, at home, fades.  I take in the grandeur and integrity of Teotihuacan, and wonder at my sense of being and purpose mirrored here, among these monuments, among the people who live here now, and  how it’s changed me.

What is a powerful influence in your life? Do you tap into something deeper and stronger than yourself that moves you and changes you?

Maryanne Nicholls is a Toronto based, certified Psychotherapist offering a balanced approach to mental health. Please visit for information on her services, or contact her directly to find out how she can help you reclaim the joy of living.

Live a Meaningful Life: Digging for Sacredness

Standing in the centre of Mexico City, surrounded by noise and the biggest flea market in the world (it really seems that way).  On all sides there are tall old buildings, including the main cathedral.  I walk along this impressive monolith, past the vendors selling trinkets, sandals, jewelry,

Live a Meaningful Life

Flower Mirror – Tenochtitlan – Mexico City

beaded wrist bands and purses, hats, fruit laced with chili powder, peanuts, crispy morsels of

grasshopper.  I pass a group of dancers dressed as Aztecs about to beat their drums and perform.  As I pass them, in front of me the world changes and I am face to face with an ancient city – Tenochtitlan.  I see snakes and snakeheads jutting from a wall, stick figures and eagle heads and frogs.  I forget the noise and business around me and enter into what Mexico City was a long time ago.

I’m here on a medicine journey.  According to ICSS (Institute of Contemporary Shamanic Studies), who sponsored the journey, a medicine journey is a sort of pilgrimage: we travel to sacred places in order to regain a piece of that sacredness for ourselves.  As we walk through these sites we are literally digging for sacredness.  Regaining sacredness in my life brings me peace and groundedness; it helps me more clearly see the path I am on and the changes I need to make to live a meaningful life.  It connects me to my world.  I don’t know of anything else that does this as quickly or as well.

This trip was primarily to a place called Teotihuacan.  It’s an ancient site in Mexico, predating the Mayan era, which has been the

Digging for Sacredness

Serpent – Tenochtitlan – Mexico City

inspiration for many, if not most, of the subsequent sites in this geographic area.  Teotihuacan has inspired many cultures, ancient and modern, and in a sense, each culture so touched was digging for sacredness within its ruins.  It is huge, the uncovered portion spanning over half a marathon; and it is estimated that only a third of it has been uncovered.

Tenochtitlan is an Aztec city located in the heart of Mexico City.  Much of this ancient city is hidden under the surrounding blocks of buildings, and most especially hidden under the huge main cathedral of The Assumption of Mary.

I have conflicting feelings about this:  the Aztecs were violent and aggressive, and so were the conquistadores, and for that matter, the church.  To me, it represents one aggressive conqueror laying down their ways deliberately on top of another’s.  Even so, the church did this no matter what; throughout the Americas, I have seen churches raised on top of sacred sites, often using the building stones of these sacred sites.

Digging for Sacredness

Eagle Guardians – Tenochtitlan – Mexico City

I also feel anger at the conquistadores and the church of the day who brought their ways (and diseases) into this “new world”, wiping out as much as they could the cultures and ways that were established on this part of the Earth.

However, I also feel hope with each honouring of the ancients as we learn to explore what they have been teaching us through the ages, including religious leaders of, in this case, the catholic faith.

Digging for Sacredness

Human Skulls – Tenochtitlan – Mexico City

As I wander through the site, I see both beauty and ugliness. I see flowers and snakes; eagles and frogs; I see rooms of worship

and a wall of human skulls.  I am reminded that we – all of us – take what is there and rework it in our own image so that we feel we live a meaningful life.  The Aztecs did this with the cities and peoples they conquered, reworking the legends, the philosophies, and the beauty into their way of seeing the world.  And they were able to do so because the Olmecs, the Mayans, and the peoples preceding them built Teotihuacan and honoured life and life’s meaning through celebration, beauty, and ceremony.

Where are you digging for sacredness? How do you feel about what you unearth?

Maryanne Nicholls is a Toronto based, certified Psychotherapist offering a balanced approach to mental health. Please visit for information on her services, or contact her directly to find out how she can help you reclaim the joy of living.