Mama Carmen carries in a circular tray and sets it carefully on the table. She wears a long black skirt; a black shawl closed with silver pins; a multicolored bead necklace, a Capricorn birth sign bracelet, and a felt hat whose brim has dots that represent North, South, East and West. Her tray has a small bowl of water and a mount of earth encircled by flowers interspersed with sprigs of fragrant mountain herbs.
Quietly, she begins building a fire at the top of the little hill in front of her. She rubs two holy sticks together, cups her hands around them, and blows the sparks into life.
Incense smoke blooms into the room. She blows. For fifteen minutes she continues to blow in silence until suddenly a pure flame ignites. She smiles. “Fires that take time to start are destroying bad energy.”
Now, all four elements, fire, water, air and earth, are present. The tray represents the cycle of life. Mama Carmen, who works with FEDEAPS, will conduct this ritual to welcome her own daughter’s baby in a few weeks. She has already begun to collect herbs that grow in the holy mountains by the sacred waterfalls.