The Shaman ritual I experienced at Iximché (pronounced, EEE shim ché) was one of the most moving experiences of my life! When I arrived at this famed archaeological site, I didn’t quite know what to expect. I was anxious because I had never been to a Shaman before, but I was also excited! The parking lot was almost empty so I knew I had the place nearly to myself – I could enjoy this experience my way.

The sky was the bluest I had seen in Guatemala this trip – hardly a cloud in sight. There was a slight breeze and the air was crisp and clean on this beautiful fall day in the western highlands. I could smell the rain from the night before but today was pure magic – the kind of day that makes me want to take off my shoes, sit in the grass and read for hours! The ruins were not particularly grand (like Tikal) but they were considered extremely important. I found out while we were touring the complex, that the city had been the last capital of the Maya – consequently, the first Spanish colonial city, founded in July 1524. That year is often recognized as the end of Maya history.

While my guide and I were exploring the ruins I could feel the energy of the complex – it was palpable. I had to touch the huge carved rocks that had once been walls. I touched the sacrificial altars and could sense the significance of the stones. While walking through the ball courts I tried to imagine the faces of the people in the crowds and the sounds of them cheering their team to victory. As I strode up the tall narrow stairs sideways I learned that their construction was a way to keep all that ascended from turning their back to the sun. I could feel my son’s ancestor’s presence.

Slowly, we made our way back to the area where the Shaman holds his ceremony. Amongst the trees, were four altars, all of which are still used today by the locals in this area and others, like me, that are seeking answers, healing or just to experience something so profound. After brief introductions, the Shaman began telling us what he would be doing step by step and giving us some historical information about the area. He also explained what the different items on the altar represented….

Reliving the experience in light of the conversations I’ve been having with Jac these past few weeks, reminds me how intense the experience with the Shaman was.

I’ll pause here and begin again with the story next week.

Until then,


Bambi Wineland is the mother of two internationally adopted children, a traveler, the Founder and CEO of Motherland Travel. Motherland Travel designs Heritage Journeys for families with internationally adopted children. The emphasis of these Heritage Journeys is on family bonding, building self-esteem and cultivating pride in a family’s multi-cultural heritage. Read more about her here >>

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