Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Stories of Spontaneous Healing - Part 1

This series is a collection of transcribed notes from my practice. All names have been changed for privacy reasons. I will go back and forth between using the terms ‘client’ and ‘patient’ because in Central America I see patients, while in the US holistic practitioners are not legally allowed to use that word. We also may not say ‘heal’ or ‘cure’, but I’ll be using them here frequently because they are the only words that truly apply to my work.

I tend to see four types of clients. The first is a one-time appointment because spontaneous healing occurred and there was no need for them to return. The second is a person with multiple issues to resolve. This client will come to me between four and six times to make sure we got everything and to talk things out. Not all people are open to energy healing and sometimes being able to articulate your feelings with someone who understands them is a vital part of the healing process. The third is someone who has been healed, has had their energy cleared, and wants me to continue to clear their energy at regular intervals because they may not be sure of their own ability to do it for themselves. The fourth type is children. Children are very special in that they need very little convincing. They already know that they came to see me to heal and they find it ridiculous that I should feel the need to explain that to them. Children have every expectation that they should be healthy when they leave my office, and as such, that is typically what happens.

* * * * *
It is my practice to ask my patients not to share anything with me about the reason for their visit. I explain to them that I will get information about their illness or affliction from the session itself, and we will discuss everything afterwards.

How to read my session notes
1-The regular type, that precedes the hyphen of each line, are my words; the information I read in the aura, energy field and chakras.
2-The words in Italics are from Spirit. Either direct quotes from spirit that I wrote down as I heard them, or information that came to me through my guides, the guides of my patient, or from angels or other ascended masters in the form of clairsentience.
3-The information that follows the hyphen is feedback from the patient in response to the information I received and shared with them at the end of the healing portion of the session.

* * * * *
The following is a story of restored hearing in a young mother.

Session notes ~ Lisa A.
Trouble settling in.
Hearing issue from birth – Hearing issue from an early childhood illness.
Boyfriend hurt her left hand.Don’t take any crap!” - Confirmed
Eats fairly well – True. No packaged or fast food.
Tension in Shoulders. Work related friction with a co-worker. – Yes. Boss
Two children. Girls – Confirmed

When I mentioned the hearing issue and told her that the ‘energy has been cleared’ Lisa immediately broke down in tears. As the mother of two small children, she struggled with her ability to be a good mother when she was unable to hear them from the next room. She always had to rely on her boyfriend to wake in the night to take care of midnight feedings, and during the day, she had to constantly be with them. She also worried about the possibility of completely losing her hearing over time.

I never saw Lisa again, but she has kept in touch through email. She let me know that her hearing is much improved and that her doctor was quite amazed.

* * * * *

Shamanic Healing Energy™ is a complete holistic healing modality

In my sessions I clear anything physical that I find in the energy field then I’ll clear my patient’s chakras. The reason I work in this order is because the information about physical illness is easy to see. It tends to be quite bright and very active since it is likely the reason for the session. When there is pain of any kind, it takes up a great deal of the patient’s conscious body-mind. Once their physical issues have been brought into balance, it is easier to find their roots in the deeper, sub-conscious. We are mind, body and spirit so the holistic approach to healing must address the ‘whole’ person. 

After healing the body and clearing the energy, discussion must follow. That is how we engage the conscious mind to make a contribution to the cure. This three pronged approach assures a lasting result. Because when these energies are not cleared from the conscious as well as the sub-conscious, it is very likely that the disease will return.

The following story shows how the energy of illness lingers long after physical healing takes place.

Session notes ~ Paul F.       first visit
Congestion in left knee  - soreness from golf
Congestion in right ankle - yes, had issues (non-specific)
Sinus issues -yes
Heart energy disturbance. No illness energy present - yes, heart transplant
Saw scar on arm, but felt nothing wrong - yes, arteries used for open heart procedure
Fantastic, bright aura. Minor disturbances          - yes, good general health
Visit from entity named Beverly - Speculated about previous heart owner or spirit guide
Saw the number 54  - He’s 55

Paul was the first man I had cry on me. He had been so worried about his new heart, that the relief he felt after I told him everything looked good, came rushing forward in a very emotional burst. It was very healing for us both! If he had not balanced the old energies from the surgery and had the emotional release that he had bottled up, he would not have been able to heal completely.

Another example of a patient who experienced healing is Carol. Here is her session:

Session Notes ~ Carol F.       first visit
Intestines look good. - unexplained bouts of indigestion.
She doesn’t believe this will work. Unhooked old belief system. - has had issues with spirit in the past
Ran through entire nervous system; cleared blocks in spine. - she smiled broadly at this information
Congestion in shoulders, hips and knees. Cleared. - yes, these had been points of pain; inflammation
Zero chakra: Old beliefs drained through the feet. – Felt it leave the body
First chakra; I prayed for ego-less healing to come through me.
Second chakra; Found and removed ‘nodules’. Major trust issues. - unresolved issues with mother
I was led to look at her liver, and while it was pink and clean, I cleared and directed energy there for a few minutes. - she's taking a lot of medication that makes liver function sluggish
Third chakra; yellow and clear!
Fourth chakra; green and full of fear!
Star Mother came through and helped me balance the third and fourth chakras and release fears.

I saw Carol in her home because she was bed ridden from Multiple Sclerosis, a degenerative disease that affects the nerve endings throughout the Central Nervous System. I was with her for a good two hours and she was very receptive to the whole process as I explained things to her.

She explained that her husband does all the cooking and cleaning because she has lost most of her mobility, however when it was time for me to go, she got up and walked to the next room and called for her husband, smiling as she returned, she told me that she felt terrific! 
                                                                            * * * * *

That's all for now. Look for part 2 in the near future.

Come for Healing Meditation with Rev. Dr. Bonnie M. Russell at the Full Lotus Yoga Holistic Wellness Center, San Ignacio, Belize, on Friday mornings at 9am.

Monday, August 8, 2016

The Importance of Meditation for Children
Meditation is one of those things we all know we should be doing every day (like flossing!) but if the habit isn’t started when we’re young, it becomes really hard to begin as an adult.
Anyone who has a regular meditation habit can tell you that it is the single most important thing they do for themselves to handle the daily stress that comes with living. In a world full of childhood depression, anxiety, cutting, drug abuse and suicide, it is vital for children to have the ability to self soothe, unwind and recharge their batteries.
I read this story once, and I share it with my meditation students regularly:
“A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the “half empty or half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: “How heavy is this glass of water?” Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz. She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn't change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” She continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like this glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything.”
When we meditate, we are putting the glass down.”

There are several methods of meditation, but the easiest one for children, and really for all beginners, is guided meditation.
Guided meditation is used to consciously align with peaceful energies. To do this, we focus our meditation on the specific things in our lives that are robbing us of peace, with the purpose of bringing ourselves into harmony with them.
Meditate for Mental Health
For example, if you need to have a serious conversation, and it’s making you nervous, meditate on the situation by imagining the person sitting across from you. When you feel their presence, have the stressful conversation with them here, in the ethers. Stay with it until you feel a resolution and can shake hands with them or even hug. Doing this takes a heavy layer of stress off your shoulders and makes the actual conversation a breeze. Children are geniuses at pretending and they are great at this kind of meditation. They also have a very real need for exercises like this, as they must deal with bullies and overbearing teachers.
Meditation may not completely eliminate the causes of stress or discomfort, but it will change the way we think about stressful and uncomfortable things. We meditate to transcend suffering by shifting our perspective from being a victim, to being a person of power. This shifts the importance we place on discomfort by enabling us to create a healthy relationship with everyday things. It allows us to disengage from the cognitive & emotional stressors and activates our higher, peaceful mind.
Meditate for Physical Health
Thoughts have energy, and that energy affects the physical body. When we have appreciative thoughts about ourselves, we create health, and conversely, when we focus on the things we dislike about ourselves, we are essentially inviting those things to continue to decline.
Meditation consciously bridges the gap between the physical particles of the body; the cells that can be seen under a microscope, and the spiritual, energetic body, which is the intelligence that binds those particles together. It creates the connection between the mind and the body. It is in this space that we actually, literally, create the physical body that we inhabit.
When dealing with a specific illness, meditate on the condition by sending your awareness into the body. Look at the organs or tissues that are affected by the malady, and send them love and light. If you perceive any disharmony in the cells, or see any darkness to indicate illness, visualize your white blood cells multiplying and going to work on removing the darkness. See them simply coming through the area and taking the darkness with them to be excreted as waste. When everything seems clean and healthy again, surround the area with protective White Light to ‘seal’ the work you’ve just done. Then smile broadly, with your whole face, signaling to your body that all is well.

Calm Scene Meditation
Choose a time and place when you are not likely to be disturbed. Turn off your phone. If you like, you can put on a selection of meditation music and light some incense. These things will become triggers, or helpful tools that set the tone for easy meditation sessions in the future.
Have your child get comfortable in a favorite chair, legs uncrossed, feet flat on the floor, hands in their lap, with their eyes closed.
Read this to your child, slowly, and in a calm, soothing voice:
“Take a nice, deep breath. Let it out.
Another nice, big inhale… and blow it out.
One more nice, big cleansing breath… and as you release it, feel the weight of your body sink into the chair.
Imagine a door in front of you.  
Open the door and you walk outside into a lovely green pasture. There is a shimmering lake in the distance with a big, full, mature weeping willow tree on the shore.
To your left is a grove of trees that extends back and around the back of the lake. Slowly make your way to the weeping willow tree. Feel the soft grass on your feet,… smell the fresh spring air,… the blossoms in the pasture. See the swans glide across the glassy surface of the lake.
You’re in paradise,… your own personal Calm Scene. Your loose, comfortable clothing swirls lightly around your ankles in the gentle warm breeze, while the sun kisses your upturned face.
When you reach the majestic willow tree, make your way around to the far side of it so you are between the tree and the lake. Find a comfortable place to sit among the roots,… maybe you can lean back against the tree. Take in the sights and sounds of the lake and the trees,… the birds… the butterflies.
In this beautiful, peaceful place, you can find the answers to all of your questions. You’re completely safe and relaxed.
Focus now on a question that you need to have answered, or you may simply allow your mind to be open to any messages from your sub-conscious.
When you feel complete, it is time to return to waking consciousness, so begin to slowly make your way back to the door. Stand up… feel the warmth of the sun on your skin,… smile,… and breathe in the fresh, spring air. Come back inside.
Breathe deeply and begin to stretch a little… wiggle your fingers and toes… take another breath and slowly bring yourself back,… One more deep inhale, gently blink your eyes open and stretch as if you just woke up.”
Discuss and write down the details of the session.
It is a widely held belief that if the children of the world were all taught to meditate regularly, we would achieve world peace in just one generation.
About the Author
Bonnie is a Holistic Health Practitioner, nationally board certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners, a Doctor of Shamanistic Theology and a Master Herbalist. These degrees fully encompass the fields of herbs, vitamins, and nutrition, as well as spiritual and emotional health. Additionally, she is an ACE certified Personal Trainer and a SCW certified Yoga Instructor.
It is her goal to bridge the gap between physical health and spiritual connection for her clients. As a speaker and teacher and in private practice since 1998, she explains the link between these subjects in her book, “Spirit Flight, Claim Your Joy and Your Health Will Follow” and in her course, “Medical Intuition, Becoming your own Shaman”.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Being a Village Healer

August 4, 2016 Belize was hit by Hurricane Earl in the wee hours of the morning. We all awoke to devastating wind and water damage.

The morning of August 5, 2016, the day after Hurricane Earl

In the midst of all the chaos and clean-up, Mary, a local resort owner, called to tell me that an elderly woman in the village, Miss Sally has been doing poorly for about 5 days. She’s not eating or drinking anything and she has diarrhea and is vomiting as well.

I tell her, "Let me eat my breakfast and I'll head right over to see her."

To which she replies, "Good, because this is your role in our village. You have to come when we need you."

"Don't I always?" I don't know whether to be flattered or insulted.

"Ok. I'll tell her you're coming." 

When I arrive, Mary and a neighbor of the sick woman, Irene, tell me that she has been to hospital and that she is making them crazy with her refusal to cooperate with them; she won’t take her meds or drink her electrolytes. They tell me she looks like a corpse and they are concerned about having to handle burial expenses if things keep on this way. The two of them are talking over each other excitedly, and their exasperation is palpable. 

Mary says, "She's being such a stubborn old woman!"

I tell them both, "On one hand, yes all of your concerns are well founded, and I understand that you’re doing the best you can … BUT on the other hand you are dealing with a strong-willed woman and you have to let her decide what she wants."

I go across the street, prepared to sit with a dying woman. I imagine holding her hand and reminiscing about good times until she passes. I prepare to spend the morning with her, helping her cross over.

I announce my arrival from the front yard of the little, one room, stick and thatch house as I make my way around to the river side, where her door is. Her weak voice tells me, “Ok. Come in”.

I shoo her dogs outside, put down my bag and make my way around the curtain into her bed-space. Yes, she’s lying in bed, but her eyes are bright, though not as bright as her raspberry Kool Aid hair. 

She grins. What a character! 

I tell her that she’s making the ladies across the road crazy. She smirks in response. I sit on the edge of her bed and she tells me, almost apologetically, that this is her bed and her couch.

I say, “Your living space.”

She nods her head, “Uh huh.”

I ask her how she feels and what she’s eaten today. She says she hasn't eaten. The diarrhea is almost gone, but she still feels nauseous. I ask her what she typically does for herself in the past when she feels poorly. “Do you eat toast? Fruit? What is your go-to belly food?” She pauses and looks thoughtful, but she can’t think of a thing. 

I ask what she’s craving. What does she want? 

Again, a thoughtful stare then she says, “Nobody has asked me what I want.” Finally, I suggest ginger-moringa tea, and she thinks that’s a good idea.

“OK,” I say, then I feel a nudge from Spirit. “How about a little energy therapy?”

“Mmm. Mm hmm.” She hums.

“Make yourself comfy and I’ll start”

She does and I do, in silence. I had no intention of doing a session with her, so I didn’t have my music prepared, but when Spirit speaks, I listen.

I can see through the sticks into the yard and I hear a neighbor’s baby cry. I hear the chickens squawk out in the yard, and the ladies are gabbing across the street. I ground Miss Sally’s energy and I begin to look at her; really look. I see that she has some intestinal distress and I clear it. I feel the openness in her heart and I revel in it. Then I look up to, and above, her crown. 

Hmm I think. She’s ‘in there’ Immediately, I go to her root chakra and see that her life line is brilliant. She’s not going anywhere. I seal her and surround her with white light, then I touch her shoulder. 

I sit on the edge of her bed, hold her hands and my first words to her are, “You’re not going anywhere, honey. Regardless of what you may think, this is just a glitch. A hiccup. You’re going to be fine.”

Clearly she doesn’t believe me.

I tell her, “Look. I have given last rites, and the spirit of someone who is leaving will be halfway up and out of the body through the crown. That, and they never have a trace of a life line left. Your one is strong as iron, man. You’re ‘in there’.”

As tears begin to come to her eyes, she asks, “But what if I’ve had enough?”

I said, “That would be fine, but that’s not what I see today. It’s just not that time.”

I help to prop up her pillows and we talk more about what she would like to eat. I tell her I baked the cinnamon-raisin swirl bread that she loves, and when I bring her the ginger tea, I’ll bring the bread with me.

I tell the ladies that Miss Sally isn't going anywhere just yet, and they are relieved to hear it. "I’ll be right back with the tea and bread." 

Mary asks what I have for her dog, who is bleeding from the chest from a puncture wound that she got from a fight with a local dog. The hurricane has displaced Mary and her dogs, and territorial issues were bound to happen.

“Oh, and since you’re going to get the medicine, do you have anything for the baby? She grabbed the hot iron and burned her hand pretty good.” A very pretty little girl, of around 18 months old, is sitting on her mothers lap. I tell the woman, "My own sons first word was 'hot' because he did the same thing when he was around the same age."

The little one holds out her hand and I hover my hand over hers and say, "Hot" in a sing-song voice, as if it's a two syllable word. 

She smiles and says, "Hot" back to me. What a dolly!

“I’ll be right back”

I go back to the trusty old SUV, fondly referred to as the ‘Super Trooper’, shoo the ducks from the puddle underneath the vehicle, and slowly, but loudly, motor away toward town. I pass several friends on the way out to the main road and we exchange pleasantries and ‘how did you weather the hurricane?’ factoids, and I make my way to the Chiney for the tea. 

Tea in possession, I go to my house for the herbs, salves and tinctures that I promised everyone.
As I gather my supplies, friends show up with beer and rum and they’re ready to commence part three of the hurricane Earl party. “Gotta go, kids. I’ll be back”.

I arrive back at Irene’s house, go inside and hand the tea off for the ladies to prepare. I dole out the Blossom Salve for the dog, and the Burn Rx for the baby, the Belly Balance diarrhea tincture for Miss Sally (just in case) and explain how to administer all of it.

Tea prepared, I pick up my things and I tell Mary to imagine what it will be like when she’s old and someone tries to tell her how to do things. “You’re still gonna want things to be done your way, right? Well so does Sally. Ask her what she needs and she’ll tell you, but don’t smother her. She’ll be fine.”

I cross the road with a cup of tea and the cinnamon-raisin bread. “Miss Sally! I’m back!” I call from the yard.


The dogs great me warmly, and it occurs to me that in all the many times I've been here, they have never been so friendly before. They usually guard her fiercely. I’m sure they know what’s going on and they know that I’m a good guy.

I remove my muddy shoes as I enter and put my things down, then I walk around the room divider and step right into a puddle on the wooden floor. She has missed the 5 gallon bucket and tinkled on the floor. 

“Do you need me to clean this up for you?” She nods. 

I find a handy-wipe and clean up the mess, then ask if she has water. Of course she doesn’t. I hang the rag on the edge of the trash can, wipe my hand on my jean shorts, and return to her bedside, where she is sitting up on the edge with her feet on the floor. Very promising!

“Want to try some of the ginger tea?” I hand it to her. She sips at it slowly and smiles. She hands it back and I place it on her dresser. She turns away from me to rearrange her pillows. There must be 6 of them! And when she turns back, she’s surprised to see that I’m still there.

“Yes, I’m still here. I’ll go but, Miss Sally, the ladies are making soup for you”

She makes a face.

“What kind?”

“Chicken” I say, “Look, they’re going to keep trying to feed you and care for you. You have to be nice to them, but… you tell me when I should have them bring it to you. Do you want it now? Or would you like it in a few hours?” wink-wink.

Her eyes sparkle. She gets it. “In a few hours,” she says.

I help her fluff the pillows and get her back in the bed. She’s tired and will sleep now.

As I get back in the Super Trooper, Mary calls a 'thank you' to me. "I don't know what our village would do without you, Miss Shaman Lady."

I snort-giggle and wave to her as I go.

What a crazy, wonderful life!


The names have all been changed for privacy reasons.

Bonnie's book, SPIRIT FLIGHT, Claim Your Joy and Your Health Will Follow is available on amazon.com

Visit www.blossomspring.com to learn more about Bonnie's practice and the products mentioned in this post.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Polo & Me - My adventures with a Bush Doctor

A Stranger at the Gate
On a bright, sunny, Sunday morning in April of 2014, my life took an amazing turn for the better.
I was alone in the house we had just moved into a month ago, so I was puttering around, doing little things, and feeling generally happy. I had just finished brewing a pot of iced tea, and as I was pouring myself the first glass, I heard a familiar call from the road of “Good morning!” I sighed loudly and wished my husband were home to shoo the peddler away for me, but he wasn’t, so I had to handle it myself.

When I got to the door, I saw a little Maya man in a ball cap and big rubber boots on the other side of our gate. He wasn’t holding anything, so I figured he couldn’t be selling anything, right? So I went outside and said a ‘good morning’ back to him.

He said, “Are you the shaman healer lady?”

I had never been called that before so I had to pause for an inward giggle before replying, “That’s me. How can I help you?”

As I approached the gate, he told me his name was Polo, and then he said, “I had a dream that I had to find the shaman healer lady who lived in Bullet Tree”, and someone had told him where he could find me.

Stunned, I asked him, “How did you get here? I don’t see a car.” To which he replied that he walked to my house from the bus stop, which was only about a half mile away, but the whole route was in the direct sunlight.

I invited him inside because, at 10am, it was already close to the 100 degrees that the weather station had predicted for today, and I was afraid he might pass out.

As we came into the living room, I asked him if he would like a glass of iced tea and I started pouring before he got the “Yes, please” out of his mouth.

As I returned to the living room with the tea, awareness dawned on me; ‘I know who this is! He’s the man who sells contribo vines at the market!’ I thought to myself. I felt a little better now that he wasn’t a complete stranger.

I sat down with him and asked, “What can I do for you, sir?”

To this he said, “I was looking for you, not because I am sick, but because I want to talk with you for a while. Is that OK?”

Amused, I said, “Sure. What should we talk about?”

“First,” Polo asked, “What kind of medicine do you make? Because I am a bush man and I make plant medicine”

I said, “I am also an herbalist. I’m a Master Herbalist and Board Certified Holistic Health Practitioner, so I deal in nutrition, vitamins and herbal medicine. I’ve been doing this for most of my life, as my mother and grandmother taught me.”

He clapped his hands and stomped his feet, rocking his body back into the chair and forward again, the excitement growing in his eyes when he said, “I would like to teach you about the Belizean herbs. Do you want to learn this?” I guessed he had an idea that I would say ‘yes’ because I had a copy of  Rainforest Remedies, by Rosita Arvigo and Michael Balick sitting on my coffee table.

Skeptical about this little old man’s qualifications, and just his whole story up to this point, I said, “I would love to learn all about the medicinal plants that grow here,” Then my ‘Jersey’ came out and I said, “but I don’t know anything about you. Who are you?”

With that, he reached out and picked up Rainforest Remedies from the table, then he thumbed through the first few pages to the acknowledgements, and he pointed to his name.

I read, “Mr. Polo Romero, an accomplished snake doctor and bushmaster, who learned his craft while working in rubber, mahogany, and chicle camps.”

Wow! I had been studying this book for a year, trying to learn as much as I can about native plant medicine, and now I can’t believe this guy is sitting here, in my living room, drinking tea with me!

“Ok,” I said, “Yes, I would love to be your student. I feel like a kindergartener in Belize; up north I could identify every weed growing out of the sidewalk. Here? I have to start all over again, but I love it!”

He began telling me about his time spent in the chicle camps. Sometimes they would be out in the bush for six or nine months at a time, with nothing but their wits and their machetes. He told me he was 13 years old when he started learning from the camp shaman, and watching him work on everything from the most common infections, to snake bites, to serious wounds and broken bones. They would have to treat everything that came up with only the plants they had access to.

I was rapt for about an hour as he told me these tales. Then I asked him to tell me more about the spiritual aspect of the Belizean healing methods, because a great portion of my practice involves spiritual healing energies. He said that he knew an old Maya Shaman who could teach me all about that, but he only speaks Mayan, and I would have to use Polo as an interpreter.

“Tell me about your spirit medicine.” Polo said, and as I explained about the oneness of all things, and the energy that connects everything on the planet, he would nod his head and tell me how the Maya believe the same things.

Then, to my complete and utter surprise, he began to ask my thoughts on sin. “Can a man ever be forgiven for his sins?” and tears began to fill his eyes. In that one moment, he shifted the energy in the room from that of teacher-student, to patient-doctor.

I caught his eyes and held them with mine as I explained, “We are all here to learn about relationships. Our sole purpose on this planet is to have experiences, make mistakes, and learn lessons from them. What do we learn when we never mess up? Nothing! It’s our job to get in trouble, so we can get ourselves out of trouble again. So sin? I don’t believe in that. I think that is a man-made concept that was invented to control the masses. So I guess what I’m trying to say is this: our relationships with others, our integrity, our reputation, are all that matters. Mistakes? We all make them, but our task is to learn to seek forgiveness, not from God, but from those we hurt, and that’s much easier to do.”

With that, he unburdened his soul to me and we talked for another hour about human nature and all the dumb things we all get ourselves into, and we healed each other.

We finished the entire pitcher of iced tea as we talked, and we had a wonderful morning. As he left, he promised to come see me at the market and we would make plans to go into the bush for medicine.

My head was spinning as I watched him walk away. “Did that really just happen?” I asked myself, and before I could process the answer to that question, my husband returned home and I told him all about my amazing morning.

Our First Jungle Trip

Not long after that, Polo took me, and two others, on a medicine gathering trek through the jungle. We drove up along the Macal River until we were deep in the bush when Polo told us we had arrived at the spot he had in mind. It didn’t look any different from any other spot along the road. Not to me, anyway, but he knew exactly where he was and what we were going to find.

Now, all of us had brought specimen bags and our machetes, and of course we were all wearing the big rubber boots, but there was no shovel.

“Polo,” I said, “Nobody brought a shovel. How are we going to collect plants without a shovel?”
To that he started walking away, and I thought, Great. I get this incredible opportunity to collect medicine with this man and what do I do? I piss him off.

He walked about ten paces and started looking around at the trees. Nobody spoke. This could go really bad, really fast, and I think we were all holding our breath.

Suddenly, Polo dropped all of his things, grabbed his machete, and began chopping away at a tree! Once it fell, he walked about eight feet up its length and chopped the top off. He then returned to the lower end and chopped it into a sharp chisel shape. Satisfied with his work, he picked it up and said, “Shovel.”

The collective sigh was audible. What a relief!

Then, because sometimes I have more balls than brains, I said, “Now you have to plant the top part so it will grow a new tree.” And without hesitation, he did.

Polo carried this heavy pole around all day long, using it with amazing precision to spear the ground around our specimens and then lift them from the earth. I had never seen anything like it. And every time he cut a tree or plant, he would take a piece and plant it back into the ground.

We collected vervain, cows foot, and several other plants, and Polo found what he called a ‘water vine’, and chopped it so we could have a drink. That was the topper on the day’s adventure, for me. I just thought that was the coolest thing!

Aguacate Lagoon
 On another trip into the bush, my husband, Damon, and I took Polo up into an area that he used to spend a lot of time in the chicle camps; Aguacate Lagoon.
The Chicleros, or collectors of chicle, would spend months at a time, chopping trees for their sap, which would be exported and turned into chewing gum.
The area is steep and it was muddy that day, but he walked the trails like a young man and never lost his breath. He was in his home away from home, and he was excited to show us everything he loved.
At one point I mentioned to Damon that I wished I had a walking stick to help me navigate all these hilly trails. With that, Polo stopped, walked a few paces off the trail into the bush, selected a sapling, and chopped it down for me. 

    Copal Sapling turned Walking Stick    

He chose a length of the tree with a branch coming out of it, and chopped it so that the branch would form a handle.
Then he planted the cut off top in the earth, and we resumed our climb.
Chicle Sap

Cohune palm sling
As we were walking, Polo asked us, “What would you do if somebody broke their arm?”
By now, I knew him well enough to know that he didn’t want me to answer. He wanted to tell me his answer, so I just said, “I don’t know? What would you do?”

Again, without a word, he just walked off down the trail until he came to a cohune palm tree. He studied it for a bit, then he selected the perfect palm and chopped it down. He then selected the portion of the palm that would suit his purposes, and chopped away the rest. “Can I have a volunteer?” he asked, and I rose to the challenge.

He placed the palm frond against my torso and had me place my arm along the length of its spine; my elbow to the center, and my hand at the end. He then tied the fronds around my neck in such a way that my arm was, indeed, immobilized.


One Saturday morning, he stole me away from the Cayo Healthy Living booth at the San Ignacio market that I share with several other practitioners in the area. He asked, “Do you have your camera?” To which I told him I had my phone, and that has a camera, so yes. 

He said, “I have to show you a tree. It’s in the middle of town and you have to come with me now.”

“Ok, girls,” I said, “watch my stuff. I’ll be right back.”

We walked the long way through the center of the busy market, Polo stopping to greet his friends the whole time. When we emerged from the entrance out onto the road, he asked me if I minded being seen with an old man like him.

“Absolutely not,” I said. “You are my teacher and I am proud to be your student.”

On this short walk through town, he pointed out several plants that were growing through fences and behind sheds. He knew every property as if it were his own. He told me about the plants that used to grow in ‘this yard’, and the plants that used to grow in ‘that yard’ like he was recalling past lovers.

Finally we made it to the property with the tree he wanted to show me; the Bay Cedar. It was a huge, beautiful tree ripe with berries and it made him very happy. He pulled off some leaves and berries for me as he explained that they were good for diarrhea, and then he chopped into the bark and gave me a piece of that and explained that a tea made from the bark is good for use on cuts and scrapes to keep them from becoming infected.


He never did get to introduce me to the Maya shaman to talk about spirit medicine, as he died shorty after Polo and I spoke that first day.

Polo came to see me almost every Saturday morning at the San Ignacio market until he died in February of 2016, and always he would hold me close and kiss me on the mouth and ask me if my husband was jealous of us. What a character.

Silly Saturday Morning Selfie
(I don’t know why he put up with me)

I will always treasure these memories, but still I tell the Universe that I wasn’t ready to let him go.

I have more questions.


Polo, a traditional Maya Shaman, worked in cooperation with the NYC Botanical Gardens taking samples of, and identifying, the medicinal properties of hundreds of rain forest plants. He taught us about his green, leafy friends and he charmed his way into our hearts.
We promise to pass down this valuable information to future generations.

Leopoldo ‘Polo’ Romero
1943 - 2016
Healer, teacher, mentor, friend.


On the very first day of our meeting, during the two hour conversation in my living room, Polo told me that for all of his knowledge, he held no degrees. He always wished for a piece of paper so that he could show people his expert qualifications. On that morning he dictated to me his resume, and I wrote a letter to my alma mater to see if they could present him with an honorary degree. It was a beautifully composed letter, full of information about my teacher. I got a short email response that said simply: 

"Dear Bonnie, I am very sorry that we cannot be of assistance"

I wrote this blog post in the hope that he will finally get the recognition he deserves from the world, for his expertise.