A scholarly and practical guide to the myths and rituals following the ancient traditions of the Maya, Mexica and Aztec. Erika Buenaflor is one of a number of writers to emerge who take both an academic research based approach along with hands on experience in curanderismo to write some of the most in depth books one can find on the topic. This book is laser focused on rites that are performed using the energies of the sun and moon. As such, it is a more advanced curanderismo book. Readers who have some prior knowledge of the ancient southern Mexican myths and shamanic practices will be rewarded but the inexperienced will find this book to be out of their depth.

The book is arranged by the cycle of day and night starting with the sunrise and ending with lunar phases. The myths from the three best known southern Mexican cultures, the Aztec, Maya and Mexica, are related as they correspond to this day-night, solar-lunar cycle. The cultures of this region had a complex series of rituals following astronomical events. These were temple cultures with professional priests. The highly structured societies had the high ritual of the temple, the healing rituals of shamans and then the more everyday rituals of the people. What we know today as curanderismo is the descendant of these practices. The high court practices of the ruling class fell away but rituals for the everyday needs of the people carried on. Buenaflor gives us a glimpse into the pre-Hispanic world where the time was kept by horns blowing in the city and people collectively practiced city-wide traditions in tandem. The inclusion of various plates from the Codexes from which much of our knowledge of the ancients come show us the rich visual, symbolic language. Ultimately the study of the ancients is intended to ground the modern day curandero/a. Practically speaking, Sacred Energies of the Sun & Moon offers an abundance of rituals for cleansing, dream work, shamanic breathwork, releasing, manifesting and mantras for self awareness.

It's hard to find a more detailed account of the beliefs that underpin Mexican shamanic practices. For those who are serious about learning these traditions, this is an excellent resource. It's serious reading and should be done with time and attention.

~review by Larissa Carlson Viana

Author: Erika Buenaflor
Bear & Company
184 pages, $18.00