By Alison Wearing
In the foothills of Meztitla, beneath the sacred cliffs of Tepoztlán, the 2018 Voices of Wisdom event, Voces de la Sabiduría, lit its flame.  Jacaranda blossoms shimmered in the bone-dry air and dust rose from the roads and footpaths. It was a scorching day. The heat of spring had come early to this part of Mexico—a reminder of ever-changing and harshening weather patterns—so the importance of this gathering was palpable even before it began.

So it was especially fitting that it was Don Aurelio Ramirez, a Nahua weather worker from the nearby village of Amatlán, who opened the event with a ceremony of consecration. Together we honored the seven directions, the sacred dance of the cosmos and Mother Earth, while smoke from the fire and the song of the conch shell spiralled into the mountains behind us.

Sofía Arroyo, Executive Director of Sacred Fire Foundation, began by thanking Tepoztlán’s Sacred Fire Community for co-hosting the event, and then introduced the day’s honored guests: Mindahi Bastida, one of the principal guardians of the Ñahñú or Otomí-Toltec wisdom, Thaay Ranchero, considered one of the guardians of the sacred volcano La Malinche, and Don Aurelio Ramirez.

A generous and engaging speaker, Mindahi began the morning by sharing his knowledge of the sacred numerology of his people, the Otomí (Ñähñú), and the teachings held within these numbers and symbols. After that, Thaay, whose name means Radiance in Otomí/Ñähñú, spoke about the ways in which we may all connect to the natural world on a personal, intimate level. Among other things, he reminded us that ceremony such as the one that began this event is something we can all do to create a sacred, personal connection to Nature.

After lunch, Don Aurelio Ramirez shared the story of his call to become a weather worker. At the age of twelve, he was struck by lightning while riding a donkey. He woke up having been blinded by the light and unable to remember what had happened, but soon he began to notice that he knew things: when it would next rain or where the cattle had gone. His mother realized that Aurelio had acquired the gift of healing, and he continues to be a respected traditional healer today.

By the end of the afternoon, a thick cover of cloud had settled over the valley of Tepoztlán. The temperatures has eased, the air had cooled, softened. A final ceremony closed the 2018 Voices of Wisdom/Voces de la Sabiduría event, and the sun set quietly behind the mountains.

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