Today marks the 25th Anniversary of the passing into spirit of Don Elijio Panti, herbalist, healer, shaman and Maya priest of Belize, Central America.
Don Elijio was famous for his cures, his herbs and massages but was also remembered for his jokes and ability to make people laugh which he said was the best medicine.
"They call me Doctor Don Elijio. But I would rather be a clown. Most people think too much, but get them to laugh and half their trouble and sickness will go away, then the blessed herbs will do the rest. I could make the dead laugh."
Don Elijio was born in Peten, Guatemala in 1893. He was carried in his mother's reboso shawl to what was then British Honduras, now Belize in 1895. He lived the rest of his long life in Cayo District, Belize. He married Gertrudes Co'oh of San Antonio, Cayo in 1910 and spent the rest of his life in that village.
Don Elijio met his teacher, Don Jeronimo Requena, in the jungles of Guatemala during the Chicle Camps of the early 1930's. Don Jeronimo was a mysterious dark Carib who had the power to turn himself into a jaguar. After only one month of training, Don Elijio began to treat his family members, then his neighbors and sick people from surrounding villages until his fame spread across the nation and into all of Central America.
In his humble thatch huts, until the age of 98, he treated up to one hundred patients a week who came to him for physical and spiritual healing. As the doctor-priest, Don Elijio's link to the realm of the Maya Spirits was his Sastun, an ancient Maya instrument of divination and enchantment.
"It is good to love God's medicines because sometimes herbs and prayer cure what the doctors cannot."
The story of his life, his healing and his relationship to the Maya Spirits is told in the book, Sastun: My Apprenticeship with a Maya Healer by Rosita Arvigo, 1994, Harper Collins.
By Rosita Arvigo