“Wowww she’s so beautiful!”
I look to my right and smile. The full moon can be seen just above the thick of mangroves where scores of elegant, white egrets are perched.
I bring my attention back to the boat where a young woman sits with her legs folded on the bow, her head thrown up to the night sky with her long, black hair billowing in the sea breeze. She is a young healer named Fatima who spends her time among different agricultural communities in the Caribbean learning plant medicine. She is currently based in a community on nearby Water Island, where we just sailed to pick her up. She’ll be leading us in a small ceremony to honor the second night of the full moon.
We return to the retreat center where we have had our Tai Chi instruction, Spirit on the Water, and share a delicious vegan dinner before Fatima begins her preparations. Before long she finds us to bring us down to the main deck which is illuminated by the bright light of the moon and surrounded on all sides by the sea. She walks down the steps draped in a long, flowing dress.
There are two white mattresses and a handful of pillows set out. We seat ourselves on the pillows in a semicircle around her. She has laid out a series of small objects on a richly colored textile before her including a crystal, wooden pipe and a few glass vials of various herbs.
“Tonight I would like you to refer to me by my spirit name which means essence of the moon,” she begins. “And while we are here to honor the fullness of the moon, we are also here to honor the sun as without it the moon could not shine.”
I close my eyes and listen to the waves crashing below. With each crash against the cliff a little more of myself is washed away, until, little by little, wave by wave, a I have melted away entirely. Stillness.
A strong breeze blows past my body and with my mind’s eye I see my roots. Closest to me are the faces of my tía and my abuela, who look at me with kindness filling their smiles. I have missed both of them dearly yet in this moment I feel as though they have never left. Perhaps it is because they haven’t. However they are not alone. Similar to a small stick that creates a v-shaped ripple when held in a flowing stream, the wind blows behind me and my ancestors appear in a v-shaped pattern before me. I see my father’s parents, his sister and all of other the ancestors before me back to the Spanish conquerors and Mayan warriors.
I am simply the current manifestation in a flow of life that has existed long before me and will continue in perpetuity after it passes through me, the single wave that crests for only a moment before falling back into the vastness of the sea.
Fatima then opens the space for us to share song. As I begin to sing, my sister stretched out on the mattress beside me joins her voice to mine.
As we lay in the sand and we stare at the sky
As the moon passes by and the stars catch our eye
there’s no place on earth
I’d rather be
BY: Tomás Quiñonez-Riegos
Note: The following day, Gabriela and I meet a woman who teaches us about the spirit of water. “Water holds memory.” Our interview with her will be uploaded soon so keep checking in!