Maya Author to Speak at Chaa Creek

The Lodge at Chaa Creek is hosting Tales of a Maya Shaman, a presentation by Dr Rosita Arvigo DN on 20 February 2012 as part of the Chaa Creek 2012 Maya lecture series.

Dr Arvigo, the author of four books on Maya medical plantsand hearing practices, will share stories and anecdotes about her thirteen year apprenticeship with Belize’s most famous Maya healer, Don Elijio Panti and be on hand to answer questions about this fascinating area of ancient Maya culture still practiced today in Maya communities throughout Belize, Guatemala, Mexico and Honduras.

Don Elijio Panti (1893 – 1996) gained international recognition as one of the last living links of an ancient Maya system of healing that employs medicinal plants, massage, acupuncture, herbal and sweat baths and prayers to effect cures on a wide range of maladies. Beginning as a chiclero collecting sapodilla tree resin (the base for chewing gum) for companies such as Wrigley’s, Don Elijio studied under Maya curers in the jungles of Guatemala and Belize. Although he never learned to read or write, he became recognised for his vast body of knowledge and service to humanity with awards such as “Distinguished Contribution to Science” (The New York Botanical Gardens), and was made a Member of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II.

His work continues to be studied by cancer researchers in the United States.

After moving to Belize in 1977, Dr Arvigo began her apprenticeship with Don Elijio and established the 35 acre Ix Chel Farm, and the Panti Medicinal Plant Trail, which, now as part of Chaa Creek, still provides raw material for traditional Maya remedies used in Belize.

In 1987, Dr Arvigo worked with the New York Botanical Gardens to establish the Belize Ethnobotany Project, which has sent over 2,000 plants to the National Cancer Institute. She also founded the Ix Chel Tropical Research Foundation, Rainforest Remedies, and has been associated with the Belize Association of Traditional Healers and the 6,000 acre Terra Nova Medicinal Plant Reserve.

Chaa Creek owner and GM Lucy Fleming said she is excited to have Dr Arvigo join the list of Mayanists who will be conducting seminars, workshops and lectures at Chaa Creek throughout 2012.

“Dr Arvigo has accumulated a wealth of information about Maya medicinal plants and healing practices over the years, and we are very fortunate to have her on hand to share some of this precious knowledge with our guests and conference attendees.

“Rosita was very close to Don Elijio in his final years, and in addition to this knowledge, she will impart some of her experiences and anecdotes about this fascinating man who was one of Belize’s last living links to thousands of years of Maya knowledge.

“We are all looking forward to a lively presentation that promises to be as engaging and entertaining as it is informative,” Ms Fleming said, adding that transcripts of Dr Arvigo’s talk will be made available by Chaa Creek.

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