Belize Here We Come!

Do you feel the need to dip your toes into the spiritual home of the blessed work we do? Fancy reconnecting with, and making new friends in the tropical haven of Belize? Have you been ‘on hold’ and are now rearing to get going with your training? Well, step right on up as ATC launches its Belize classes for 2021. Belize here we come!

By Eva Sengfelder

Belize here we come Rosita Arvigo abdominal therapy collective spiritual healing
Dr. Rosita Arvigo and Eva Sengfelder look forward to welcoming you.

ATC is opening its doors for the first classes of 2021. Dr. Rosita Arvigo and Eva Sengfelder are excited to be able to host ATC’s transformational learning program.

Classes include

Wisdom Keepers Retreat is for all those who’ve experienced previous workshops, based on the spiritual healing teachings of Don Elijio Panti and Dr. Rosita Arvigo. The week allows you to reconnect and deep dive into this work in a supportive and nurturing environment.

Wisdom of Water, Plants and Prayer – Part 1 is a weeklong introduction into spiritual connection to the divine with no specific attachment to any faith. Open to all, you learn the importance of water, plants, incense, and prayer in spiritual baths and in daily life for you and your clients.

For all you anterior abdominal therapy body workers, your wait is over. Dr. Rosita Arvigo will be teaching Abdominal Therapy for Professionals – Part 2. This week teaches you the posterior work, enriching your clients treatments. On completion of this training you’ll have the full knowledge of transformative healing techniques taught by the founder of Abdominal Therapy.

If you’re keen to begin your training in Abdominal Therapy and are already a qualified bodyworker you can join Abdominal Therapy for Professionals – Part 1 in November. Dr. Rosita Arvigo will be teaching this foundation class where you learn Your Abdominal Massage YAM for yourself and your clients, along with other powerful healing tools.

Mi casa es tu casa!

Button abdominal therapy collective
Arco Iris Permaculture Farm, Belmopan, Belize.

Eva and Toby Sengfelder are looking forward to welcoming you to their home Arco Iris Permaculture Farm, the base for all ATC classes. Located in the beautiful rural, tropical location north of Belmopan, the capital of Belize. Arco Iris Permaculture Farm is also the home of Rainforest Remedies, where traditional herbal remedies are grown, harvested and manufactured.

Being mindful of Covid-19 measures, all retreat and class sizes are restricted to 10 which means places are strictly limited and being snapped up quickly! Toby has been busy constructing and enlarging the farms facilities, in order to allow for social distancing.

Your class fees include all your food and airport transfers. However, your flights are not included.

As the snow falls in parts of the Northern Hemisphere, tropical Belize waits with open arms to welcome you to ATC’s classes fostering connection, community and learning. Go on, book your place now.

Belize here we come

Belize Schedual

Wisdom Keepers Retreat – Feb 19-25, 

Wisdom Keepers RetreatMarch 5-11

Wisdom of Water, Prayers and Plants – Part 1, March 28-April 4

Abdominal Therapy for Professionals – Part 2, March 19-25

Abdominal Therapy for Professionals – Part 1, Nov 5-11

Click for more information and to book your place.

Click here for more information about Rainforest Remedies.

Ix Chel, Weaver of the Cosmos

How we can all be a bit more spider!

By Dr. Rosita Arvigo | Louise Crockart | Donna Zubrod

Ix Chel the weaver and the spider
Ix Chel the weaver and the spider

Maya legends recall that Ix Chel, Goddess of weaving, the moon, the earth, and guardian of mothers and midwives, daily weaves the universe anew at her cosmic loom. Maya culture honours the importance of weaving, in both physical and metaphysical terms, connecting the Maya to their sacred cultural universe. It’s said that Ix Chel taught the first woman to weave, and in doing so weaves the past and future together.

Family income was partly dependent on the women’s weaving. This gendered tendency started at birth when pre-conquest midwives brought gifts for newborn children. Infant girls received toy sized looms and spindles; infant boys received a tiny shield, a spear and a loincloth.

Before the Spanish Conquest of Central America, it was customary for Maya people to pay what we think of as taxes to their leaders and trade in the marketplace with a variety of valuable commodities, woven cloth being highly prized, along with feathers, chocolate, spices and precious stones.

The image of Ix Chel in her Maidenhood manifestation, depicts a young woman sitting with her backstrap loom fixed to the Ceiba tree, weaving the cosmos. The image conjures ideas of knowledge and skills from past and present being woven into one piece of cloth. The loom tangibly connects to the past via the sacred Ceiba tree, signifier of the Maya universe; its roots in the ancient ancestors and traditions, while the branches and leaves reach to the heavens, the universe, and all that is potential.

Ix Chel has many supporting totems depicting the varied aspects of Mother Gaia, and so spiders and their webs are associated with this weaving of self into one’s own reality and potential supported by all that has gone before.

Totems of Ix Chel and Spiders

Ix Chel weaving the universe with her back strap loom attached to a Ceiba tree.
Ix Chel weaving from Maya Traditions Foundation.

Spiders are weavers, their silk is strong, flexible and luminous. The spider is a symbol of creativity, showing its power in the way it spins its web, never giving up when the web is broken or disturbed.

When encountering a spider or its web, what thoughts come up for you?

Spider webs can bring focus to our life choices. Just as the spider weaves a web, we to weave our own lives. No two spider webs are the same, and the intricacy of this creation has always fascinated humans. The web reminds us that our choices construct our lives. When a spider’s web gets broken, it is remade. Maybe that is a sign to rebuild our lives when things don’t go quite as planned.

We can look to Ix Chel and the spider as a symbol to try again and never give up; to cast our web far and wide and see what it brings.

In gratitude to Maya Traditions Foundation for permission to use their logo of Ix Chel weaving. To read more about the role of weaving in the Maya culture:


Ix Chel and the Dragonflies

Why is the Dragonfly so important to the Abdominal Therapy Collective?

By Dr. Rosita Arvigo | Louise Crockart | Donna Zubrod


Dragonfly wall hanging by Azul Thomé

You may have noticed that the dragonfly has appeared prominently in the online newsletters from the Abdominal Therapy Collective. Why is this?

Dragonflies are born in the water and begin to grow there, but then they move into the air and learn to fly. Once they have become airborne, they exhibit amazing flight patterns and appear to be able to change direction swiftly, gliding through the air with no apparent effort. They are powerful yet graceful  – even in high winds. The colors of the dragonfly also change as it matures. The dragonfly is considered a symbol of transformation because of the way that it evolves during its life and its graceful flying symbolizes flexibility and adaptability in any situation. That is why in almost every culture and civilization throughout human history, the dragonfly has come to be associated with change, transformation, and the wisdom of adaptability.

The dragonfly is the spirit guide that has stood by us as we birthed this new organization and community, the Abdominal Therapy Collective. It inspired and motivated us as we transformed into an organization that was rooted in flexibility and adaptability.

Ix Chel’s Myth

There once was a beautiful, clever, intelligent and willful young goddess called Ix Chel the moon Goddess, who was a magnificent weaver and lived with her grandfather, Hunabku, creator of the universe and God of all Gods. Ix Chels silvery brilliance and beautiful weaving dazzled the Sun God, Kinich Ahau, who fell deeply in love with her. He came daily with gifts to court her and soon they began making plans to elope. On the night they planned to leave together, he came to her Grandfather’s lodge in the guise of a hummingbird and together Ix Chel and Kinich Ahau paddled away in their canoe on the great river of the sky known as the Milky Way.

The next morning, Hunabku woke to find Ix Chel gone. He shouted out, “The Sun and Moon cannot marry! There will be eclipses and darkness will cover the face of the Earth. This cannot be!” Enraged, he enlisted the help of Chac, the rain God, to help him search for the young lovers, grabbing his blowgun, they set off in pursuit. Now Chac, had been keeping a great secret, for he had been in love with Ix Chel for some time and felt great resentment towards Kinich Ahau, so he saw this as an opportunity to capture his beloved and claim her for his own.

After many hours of tracking them through the dense rainforest they spotted and confronted the young lovers. In the ensuing argument Hunabku grew enraged, and pulled out his blowgun, shooting and wounding Kinich Ahau, while Chac threw a bolt of lightning accidentally killing Ix Chel. Barely alive, Kinich Ahau limped away to his lodge alone and the day was filled with dark skies and clouds. There was no moon at night and a dull, weak sun during the day.

The whole universe grieved the loss of such brilliance and nurturing that Ix Chel gave unconditionally. All the creatures of the forest surrounded her, news spread far and wide, and soon four hundred dragonflies learned of this tragedy. They knew what they had to do. For thirteen days and thirteen nights dragonflies from near and far brought the universal energy with them. With their lightness of touch and sparkling wings, they hovered over Ix Chel showering her with healing light. Hunabku returned to where Ix Chel lay to claim her body for burial in a cenote when, to his surprise, revived by the dragonfly’s dedication, she rose up alive transforming darkness into light.

For a long while after, all was calm again in the realm of the Gods. The sun was in his place to warm the earth, light the day, and to watch over all crops and plants. The Moon was in her place to light the night sky, bring the ocean tides, the rain, and to watch over midwives, healers, children and weavers.

The two young lovers forever roam the skies in search of each other and sometimes they do meet, when such a wonderous occasion occurs, there is an eclipse.

Be mindful when the dragonfly shows up in your life. It can symbolize that you may be ready for a change – to transform and evolve. Dragonflies show us how to navigate life’s storms with confidence and ease; they motivate us to let go of whatever holds us down or holds us back. Just like the dragonfly changes colors as it matures, you may be being called to experience yourself and life differently.

My Maya Healing Garden

How I found my plant allies

By Donna Zubrod

Images are all my own work!

Gardening has never been my thing. My relationship with plants over the years has been a rough one. It seems I am lacking a green thumb and everything I ever planted, both inside and outside my home, never flourished. All I’d ever have to do was simply glance at a plant and it would die.

While studying at university, I tried decorating my dormitory room with some plants and within a short time they were all gone. My dorm mates mentioned that people were supposed to speak to their plants if they wanted them to thrive. That idea was surely the silliest thing I had ever heard.

Fast forward to 10 years ago, where I found myself immersed in the beautiful and lush gardens surrounding ‘Villa Rosa’, the Belizean home of Dr. Rosita Arvigo. I was there because I was taking a course about the Maya tradition of healing with water, prayer, copal incense, and plants. How did I get here you ask? This class was a pre-requisite for my training to become a teacher of the Abdominal Therapy bodywork that Dr Arvigo was teaching.

As we were exploring the garden, I was encouraged to find ‘my plant ally’. Dr. Rosita Arvigo asked us “Any particular plant catch your eye? Do you feel drawn towards a specific plant?” All I could think at the time was, yeah, your kidding, right? It felt more like I was staring at all my plant enemies, certainly not allies. I’m not sure if I imagining it, but I think I sensed that the plant’s leaves actually moved away from me as I approached them?

My eyes were opened during that class in Belize, I learned that if you want to build a relationship it’s important that you spend time with the thing you want to have a relationship with. That week at Villa Rosa, I spent a lot of time with a lot of plants. I got to know their names, how they felt, how they smelled, how they are used in traditional healing to help with different types of illnesses. I also learned to express my gratitude to the plants if I was choosing them to help me with healing. Saying thanks to something when it’s helping you, is another good relationship building thing to do. I left Dr. Arvigo and her lush rainforest garden transformed, no longer feeling that plants were my enemies, but I still hadn’t found my plant ally.

Maya healing garden in North Carolina
My Maya medicinal garden thriving in North Carolina.

While at Villa Rosa, I purchased one of Dr. Arvigo books “Rainforest Home Remedies” (Arvigo, R. and Epstein, N. Harper San Francisco 2001). In that book I found a section named ‘The Maya Healing Garden’ that intrigued me. I discovered that with a small amount of garden space I could create my own Maya healing garden, my personal medicinal plant reserve. All I had to do was choose a location that received a minimum of 8 hours of daily sunlight. Most of my yard was in the shade, but I did have a sunny backyard deck, so I set about creating my healing garden using containers. I started in the Spring and purchased starter plants from a nearby nursery and also online. The plants I chose for my healing garden were recommended in ‘Rainforest Home Remedies’ as being easy-to-grow; Rue, Basil, Marigold, Rosemary, Red Hibiscus, Thyme, Oregano, Amaranth and Red Roses.

Once the plants were thriving, I began to pinch off leaves and flower heads (of course, I said thank you to the plants first) and each day I began to create my own lustral bowl, a “bowl of light”, comprised of water and plants collected with prayer, to support me in my Abdominal Therapy work. When the Fall came, I cut and dried the leaves and flowers for use in my daily lustral bowl during the Winter months.

It takes time for a relationship to grow, and so too my relationship with plants did grow. Now, ten years after I planted my first healing garden, I can proudly say that I have my plant allies and that I do indeed talk to them.

As with every relationship, it’s important to embrace it and nurture it.

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