Our Favorite 10 Things to Experience in Mexico City!

For travelers from the United States, Mexico City is a fantastic destination. It is within easy distance from anywhere in the United States, boasts world-class ruins and museums, and is a fraction of the cost of Europe. Here are 10 of our favorite things to do in Mexico City:

  1. Teotihuacan: Stand atop the largest pyramid in the world and then submerge yourself in the ancient murals, still brilliant and colorful after two thousand years. Sit in front of the famous Gran Diosa de Teotihuacan mural and be transported back to a society filled with life and beauty.
  2. Museum of Anthropology: Visit a seriously world class museum, the Museum of Anthropology, which houses the finest artifacts from across Mexico, including the colossal and awe-inspiring Coatlicue, Tour the Museum of Anthropology with your expert guides and then sit, relax, and enjoy the astonishing Danza de los Voladores de Papantla.
  3. Basilica de Guadalupe: Experience the most visited religious site in the West, the Basilica de Guadalupe. See the image of La Virgen on Juan Diego’s cloak and take a moment to light a candle for your loved ones. Climb the stairs to the chapel at the top of the Hill of Tepeyac, the original worship site of Tonantzin, and tour the ornate chapel.
  4. Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera: See how two of the most well-known names from Mexico City lived and the indelible mark their art has left on its culture. Wander through Casa Azul, Frida’s house and museum, and see her studio. Visit Anahuacalli, a museum of pre-Columbian art designed and curated by Diego Rivera. Stand in awe of Rivera’s murals in the National Palace building.
  5. Xochimilco: Board a brightly colored boat and join the party, meandering through over 50 miles of canals that make up Xochimilco, a World Heritage Site referred to as the “Venice of Mexico.” Surrounded by flowers and tropical plants, wait a moment for vendors to row by and grab some lunch and beer, and there are always a few boats filled with mariachis!
  6. Mercado Jamaica: Wander through the “Flower Market,” Mercado Jamaica. Teeming with color, sounds, and smells of everything beautiful and delicious in Mexico, this market is a treat for the eyes and palate.
  7. Temazcal: Experience an indigenous “sweat bath” and ceremony, lead by a local curandero/a. Leave the ritual knowing that you have left behind what you do not need.
  8. Museum of the Templo Mayor and the Zocalo: Stand in the center of the heart of Mexico City, the Zocalo, which has been the political and spiritual capital continually from 1325 CE to the modern day. In the museum, stand at the feet of two of the largest deity statues in the region, Tlaltecuhtli and Coyolxauhqui, and feel yourself transported to ancient times.
  9. The Historic District: Wander the network of pedestrian streets in the Historic District, A UNESCO World Heritage site (and location of our hotel!). This area hosts a pageant of architecture from the 16th century to Art Deco to Modern, with boutiques and cafes nestled in every corner.
  10. Tacos, tequila and pulque: We know, these are actually three reasons, but they all seem to go together. Mexico City is in the midst of a culinary renaissance, so get ready to try artesanal tacos using pre-Columbian ingredients, craft pulques (a fermented sacred beverage made from the maguey cactus) and the finest tequilas and mezcales.
Healing What I Did Not Realize Was Wounded: Part I

Healing What I Did Not Realize Was Wounded: Part I

Sometimes I don’t even realize I am wounded. There have been many times in my life that I have known that I was wounded and sought healing from divine beings, and for those healings I am eternally grateful. But there have also been times when I was healed even though I didn’t even realize I was wounded, and the healing from such moments is truly exquisite grace. This happened on my last two visits to Mexico.

In the summer of 2016, Veronica Iglesias and I lead a tour to Mexico City. Part of this tour was visiting the lands and monuments to thirteen Nahua Goddesses. Veronica took us to a site that I had never visited before, Xochitecatl. From about 700 BCE to 900 CE, and even beyond into the Colonial Era (after 1697 CE), this beautiful ceremonial center was dedicated to women’s rituals, and the energy of the Goddesses Xochiquetzal and Chalchiuhtlicue infuses the land with beauty.

Though I have known of Xochiquetzal for many years, I did not consider myself a devotee. However, when I look over my life as a belly dancer, burlesque performer, priestess, feminist, academic, and general lover of flowers, colorful garments, jewelry, and all that brings beauty to the world, I can see Her touch in my life at every turn. That afternoon at Xochitecatl, She came to me and began a healing of what I had not even realized was wounded.

Lying on the grass in front of the Pyramid of the Flowers, Veronica lead a guided meditation. As often happens, I cannot remember a word of what she said. But I remember the moment I awoke in my mind’s eye, dressed for ceremony and part of a grand procession to the base of the steps of the pyramid. I looked down at my beautifully embroidered quechquemitl, and felt the rustle of feathers in my headdress. Heavy stone jewelry weighed on my neck and wrist. I looked up into the sun, watching it descend over the horizon of the snowcapped volcano, Matlalcueitl (La Malinche), Lady of the Blue Skirt.

As is the way with visions, I have memories of participating in ritual and ceremony, being undressed and washed and purified. But the most vivid moment was when Xochiquetzal appeared to me. I knelt before Her, naked. She very gently sang to me and laid me out on my back, my body held by each leaf of all of the plants underneath me. Then She wrapped me in white fibers, enfolding my entire being in a cocoon. I think I remember Her closing my eyes. What I remember most distinctly is falling into the embrace of deep rest.

When Veronica called us back, I was of course reluctant to return. But, as Michael Harner once told me, our job is to go and come back. So I returned to the present moment, still wrapped. And I stayed in that cocoon until a year later, when Xochiquetzal came to me again.

To visit Xochitecatl in person, join Sacred Tours of Mexico for a Women’s Retreat in the Heart of Mexico, Puebla and Cholula November 2017. For more about the sacred side of Mexico, join our Facebook group and sign up for our newsletter.

Award winning writer Anne Key is the co-founder of Sacred Tours of Mexico. She has been traveling and researching in Mexico since the late 1980’s. With a Ph.D. in Women’s Spirituality, Anne brings both her expertise and love to each tour. Her dissertation and articles on Mesoamerican Goddesses are frequently cited sources for their feminist focus. She is the author of two memoirs (Desert Priestess: a memoir and Burlesque, Yoga, Sex and Love: A Memoir of Life under the Albuquerque Sun), co-editor of Stepping into Ourselves: An Anthology of Writings on Priestesses and The Heart of the Sun: An Anthology in Exaltation of Sekhmet. She is a co-founder of Goddess Ink.

Xochitecatl and the Pyramid of the Flowers: Ceremonial Center for Women’s Mysteries

Xochitecatl and the Pyramid of the Flowers: Ceremonial Center for Women’s Mysteries

The Pyramid of the Flowers at Xochitecatl has a deep resonance with women’s mysteries.  It is believed that this site was used as a ceremonial center.  Perched atop an extinct volcano, the vista from Pyramid of the Flowers offers 360 degree panoramic views of the entire Puebla-Tlaxcala Valley and three volcanoes: Popocatepetl, Iztaccihuatl, and La Malinche.

The Pyramid of the Flowers faces La Malinche; in fact, the pyramid seems to be a mirror image. The platform of the pyramid base is approximately 144

La Malinche

meters east to west and 110 meters north to south, similar to that of Teotihuacan’s Pyramid of the Moon. Because of the large volume of the pyramid, tons of rocks and boulders would have been brought up from the lower slopes. Most of the volume dates to the Formative era (700 BCE), but some of the construction was performed during the Late Classic (650-900 CE), showing the many centuries of use.

On September 29th, from the summit of the Pyramid of the Flowers, the sun rises directly over La Malinche. This date corresponds to the festival celebrating the Archangel Michael in the town of San Miguel del Milagro, just a few miles to the east of Xochitecatl (read about the celebration here.) For those of us looking for the roots of women’s ceremony and mystery, this seems to point to the idea that this date held significance prior to the coming of Catholicism to the region. And, because of its connection to Pyramid of the Flowers and La Malinche, this day may have been significant to the rituals held there which most definitely centered around women’s mysteries.

The site itself has only one small structure (Pyramid of the Serpent) that might have served as a residence, leading us to believe that the complex was

Step to the pyramid, made of a metate.

mostly used for ceremonial reasons, unlike most other sites (Serra Puche 2012:42-46).

In the Mesoamerican Cosmovision, Cihuatlampa, (cihua = women; lamp= place) was the designation for west, one of the four cardinal directions. Cihuatlampa was also the celestial home of the Cihuateteo, women who died in childbirth. The Pyramid of the Flowers faces Cihuatlampa, further showing its connection to women’s ritual.

The stairway of the pyramid is literally built of women’s tools. There are a number of metate’s, stones for grinding corn, used as stairs. There were offerings of female figurines found embedded in the staircases. Nearly 500 spindle whorls were found, further linking this place to women’s culture (Puche 268).

Sunken ritual basin at foot of the stairs of the Pyramid of the Flowers.

In front of the stairway are two ritual basins, one above ground and one sunk into the ground. Four sculptures were found in the sunken basin: a toad, a mythological serpent with a human face in its open jaws, and two human faces. Toads are a religious symbol for Mesoamericans, possibly relating to the hallucinogenic properties of their secretions. The serpent with the human face could be a reference to Cihuacoatl, the snake-woman. It has been theorized that the two basins were part of child birthing rituals. The image of La Malinche is reflected in the sunken ritual basin.

La Malinche is locally called Matlalceitl, Lady of the Blue Skirt. This name may be connected with Chalchiuhtlicue, the Goddess rivers, closely associated with childbirth and purification (the name “La Malinche” was not given to the volcano until the 1600’s CE). Streams flow from the volcano, and springs with drinkable water surround the base, adding to the idea that the volcano is closely associated with Chalchiuhtlicue.

There were thirty-two burials found near the bottom of the staircase of the Pyramid of the Flowers, mostly females and infants The burials span the entire use of the ceremonial complex, from Formative Era (pre-800 BCE) to the Late Classic (900 CE). Burials were individual and collective, primary and secondary (Puche 269). These burials show the connection of this sacred place to the mysteries of life and death.

Although Xochitecatl’s dedication to a specific deity is still the subject of debate, its geographic location shows that it was a cosmic center of primary importance. This is evidenced by the orientation of the site toward dawn on a particular date, its special relation to La Malinche, and the fact that Pyramid of Flowers is a copy of that mountain itself. Together, these observations reveal a site where ceremonies were performed in which women played the main roles…where other ritual activities, such as baths and offerings, took place. All of these factors point to ceremonies dedicated to the Earth Mother, as personified by the female volcano. (Puche 279)

Xochitecatl holds the sacred energy of thousands of years of ritual dedicated to women’s mysteries. Visit and experience it for yourself!

References:

Mari Carmen Serra Puche, “The Concept of Feminine Places in Mesoamerica: The Case of Xochitécatl, Tlaxcala, Mexico.” In Gender in Pre-Hispanic America, Cecilia F. Klein, editor. Washington DC: Dumbarton Oaks, 2001.

To visit Xochitecatl in person, join Sacred Tours of Mexico for a Women’s Retreat in the Heart of Mexico, Puebla and Cholula November 2017. For more about the sacred side of Mexico, join our Facebook group and sign up for our newsletter.

Anne in front of the Pyramid of the Flowers

Award winning writer Anne Key is the co-founder of Sacred Tours of Mexico. She has been traveling and researching in Mexico since the late 1980’s. With a Ph.D. in Women’s Spirituality, Anne brings both her expertise and love to each tour. Her dissertation and articles on Mesoamerican Goddesses are often cited. She is the author of two memoirs (Desert Priestess: a memoir and Burlesque, Yoga, Sex and Love: A Memoir of Life under the Albuquerque Sun) and is a co-founder of Goddess Ink.

 

 

 

Five Favorite Candies from Puebla

Five Favorite Candies from Puebla

The beautiful city of Puebla is known for many things: colonial architecture, museums, defeating the French on Cinco de Mayo — but my favorite is the food. Last year when I was in Puebla, we went to the cluster of stores on Avenida Seis Oriente, which I have nicknamed “The Street of Sweets.” Both sides of the block are lined with stores selling candies made in Puebla. I indulged, as usual! Here are five of my favorites:

Camotes1. Camotes!! These sweets are made from sweet potatoes (so maybe they are even good for me?) and flavored with pineapple, strawberry, lime, orange, and many more.  The candies are rolled into tubes and wrapped in wax paper. The origin of these soft and scrumptious candies stems from the Santa Clara convent, and they are a sweet blend of Indigenous (sweet potato) and European influences.

Puebla

2. Tortitas de Santa Clara!! These cookies are solely from Puebla, again created by the crafty nuns of Santa Clara. The story goes that a nun was looking for new combinations to create a dessert from pepita, or pumpkin seeds. The cookie base is made of flour, but the frosting is a  mix of pumpkin seeds and milk. Here we see the tortitas arranged on a beautiful Talavera plate — fitting for these delicious cookies.

3. Mostachones!! These famous candies are made from dulce de leche (slowly cooked and sweetened milk), flavored with cinnamon and vanilla, and topped with a pecan. These fudge-like confections have a number of  origin stories — one is again the Nuns of Santa Clara, but another is a love story. Legend has it that a wealthy cattleman nicknamed “Mostachon” was enamored with a woman, but she did not return his affection. He decided to create a candy for her from the milk of his own cows. After trying the candy, of course she fell madly in love! And after you try them, you will too! 

4.  Los Borrachitos!!  These unique candies also originated from the nuns at Santa Clara as well as Santa Rosa, and they represent a blending of indigenous and colonial traditions. These milk-based candies are covered with powdered sugar and infused with flavors such as lime, pineapple, strawberry and liquors like champagne and rompope. Rompope is an eggnog style liqueur originally from the convents of Puebla, with rum as its main ingredient. Hence, the borrachitos (little drunk candies!) get their name.

Sacred Tours of Mexico

5. Los Cocos!! Absolutely my favorites, these fabulous confections are made from candied lime peels and stuffed full of sweetened coconut. These are delicious and refreshing. I usually inhale half a dozen on-site at the store!

 

To eat these candies in person, join Sacred Tours of Mexico in Puebla November 2017. For more about the sacred side of Mexico, join our Facebook group and sign up for our newsletter

Award winning writer Anne Key is the co-founder of Sacred Tours of Mexico. She has been traveling and researching in Mexico since the late 1980’s. She is the author of two memoirs (Desert Priestess: a memoir and Burlesque, Yoga, Sex and Love: A Memoir of Life under the Albuquerque Sun) and is a co-founder of Goddess Ink.

The Goddess Ixchel and Cozumel, Mexico by Veronica Iglesias

The Goddess Ixchel and Cozumel, Mexico by Veronica Iglesias

Ix´Cheel or Ixcheel, the feminine energy in the Mayan Cosmos.

Cozumel was a place of worship for the Divinity Ix’Cheel or Ixchel.  She is related to the moon, fertility, rains, medicine, divination and childbirth.  Grand Mother Ix’Chel is a beautiful goddess who can teach us to honor our cycles, our darkness, our shadow and our great light!

Ix’Cheel represents the feminine principle of the cosmos and together with her partner Itzamna, are the creative energy of life on Earth. She is the guide of the wise women, of those who heal, of those who read the destiny of the newborns; Of those who weave and narrate cosmic stories in their fabrics.  Ix’Cheel is the Mayan grandmother, guardian of the female mysteries, guardian of the pregnant women, the newborn children, the moon, the medicine, the medicinal plants, the water that cleans and purifies. Ix’Cheel is the feminine divine energy that creates life and also destroys it, specially when she represents the energy of the water. She was asked for rainwater in times of drought and she was also asked to stop the force of water that destroyed houses and crops.

She is the guardian of sacred jade, of life, of the heart of her priestesses who honored her in her two sanctuaries, in Isla Mujeres and Cozumel. There is no doubt that Ixchel and Cozumel have many secrets to unveil.  Recently women from various parts of the world have restarted the pilgrimages to consult the energy of the oracle related to health, fertility, initiation into the medicine, pregnancy and finally, with the weaving of life.