Tepoztlán, Mexico and Carrollton, Georgia
I relocated to Mexico in 1994, taking a huge leap of faith to pursue economic prosperity and begin a new relationship without knowing one of Mexico's worst financial crises was about to explode.
For the first time in my life, I found myself without financial resources, unable to pay child support, and facing legal issues if I returned to the States. I felt stuck, lost, and heartbroken, unable to hug my kids or make ends meet.
I did everything I could to find contracts for a small trade consulting company, part of my professional background as a consultant; nonetheless, between a depressed economy and the advantages of big business, I was effectively marooned in a foreign country, living off the support of my then Mexican partner.
After struggling for over two years to keep my hopes up, I agreed to attend a meditation retreat in the Buddhist tradition after previously rejecting all things spiritual and not being interested in contradicting my scientific beliefs.
That event changed my life as I mysteriously encountered the materialization of a very old, wrinkled, indigenous-looking man dressed in what looked like rustic Mexican peasant clothing with a red headband.
While I felt a mixture of fear, disbelief, and wonderment, the specter told me cryptically and playfully, "I could use someone like you." If I agreed to become a shaman, he would “fix this thing with your kids."
Even though I didn't know what a shaman was, I took the chance. My gut told me that whatever this wise but unexplainable expression said would happen no matter what.
Looking back, I can honestly say I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but it was worth it. The financial contract doors opened, my situation was resolved, and my life adventure began.
Soon he sent me to mara'akame (shaman) Don Guadalupe González Ríos of the Wixárika tradition and a temachtian (shaman) Don Lucio Campos Elizalde of the Nahua, two well-respected elder teachers who quickly and independently confirmed the apparition was the God of Fire, known as Tatewarí, or Grandfather Fire, to the Wixárika and Xiuhtecuhtli to the Nahua. I began years of intense apprentice training and initiations.
From the Wixárika path, I would become a mara’akame, with elder Tsaurixika Don José Sandoval de la Cruz presiding over my initiation after Don Lupe passed in 2003; and from the Nahua path, I would become a quiapaquiz, or caller of the rain, ceremonial leader, and a healer (tepahtiani).
During this time, Grandfather Fire would also choose to speak through my body to gatherings; therefore, in this way, I became an axihuatakame or a traditional fire medium.
Later, I would receive elder and ancestral permission to teach these two traditions to those divined as having a calling in this shamanic work.
Shortly before his death, Don Lucio would ask me to receive his altar upon his passing and continue his work as a tradition-holder, leading others and therefore becoming a temachtian or Caporal Mayor, as he had been.
Grandfather Fire would also ask me to support a fellow elder, Eliot Cowan, in the founding of a teaching and healing retreat venue, the Blue Deer Center in the Catskills of New York, along with the Sacred Fire Foundation, dedicated to preserving timeless indigenous wisdom from around the world, and Sacred Fire, a non-profit committed to bringing back the ancient facilitation process of Firekeeping to communities throughout the world.
Today, I live in the village of Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico, with my American wife, Sherry. Besides leading ceremonies that connect us to the sacred forces in our lives along with traditional healing work, I help our people experience the blessings of a living, spiritual reality so that they can once again feel part of this divine world. I am thankful for this journey, which has changed my life and allowed me to help others.