As shared beautifully in the book Sastun, Dr. Rosita’s apprenticeship journey alongside Don Elijio Panti in his final years is a mythic love story of the soul. Rosita and her family moved to Belize in the early 1980s to live a life closer to the land. There she set up her herbal clinic, dispensing beloved North American remedies that she knew so well. She longed to become acquainted with the powerful medicinal plant beings of the jungle around her. One day, an elderly man found his way into her clinic, and as they traded stories about linden leaves he introduced himself. In Rosita’s own words, she “nearly dropped her glass jar”. Before her stood the most esteemed medicine man of the region, carrying exactly the knowledge she was seeking.
After many tears and failed attempts at convincing Don Elijio to take her on as a student, Spirit intervened in the form of a dream vision. In a field of corn planted by Don Elijio’s own hands, he shared that he had received a clear directive to teach Rosita, and the condition he placed upon this was she would need to promise to look after his people after his death.
Rosita, now in her eighties, resides in Belize to this day. In the years between then and now, her efforts and those of many others have gone towards supporting traditional healers and their families in Belize, teaching sacred plant knowledge to Maya children in schools and camps, protecting the jungle, preserving medicinal wisdom and keeping this sacred work alive and in the hands of hundreds around the world. For the great offering that is her rich and courageous life, the eternal gratitude of countless people surrounds Rosita.
Gratitude is also extended to the late Ms. Hortense Robinson. Seemingly destined to her path, Hortense descended from midwives on both sides and took her first breath on the island of Cozumel, which houses the ruins of Ix Chel’s sacred temple. She took up the same profession accidentally while alone in a hospital hallway at age thirteen. Known is Mil Secretos (keeper of a thousand secrets), her extensive knowledge of medicinal plants was pivotal to the Belize Ethnobotany Project, a profound labor of love co-created by Rosita and Michael Balick of the New York Botanical Gardens. Hortense’s expertise in tending the womb and supporting birth, and her deep love for children, plants and animals, live on as forces that inform and illumine the Arvigo Techniques® as we know them today.
Taking our gratitude back further, we honor Don Jeronimo Requina, Don Elijio's mysterious teacher who held in his body the secrets of plant medicine and shapeshifting. His soul passed from this world in Don Elijio's arms under a coconut tree and in that moment the responsibility to keep this sacred knowledge alive was handed to all those who came after - to tend, to teach, to heal. Thank you to all of you, those who stood and stand in this illumination and those yet to come.
Forever gratitude is also extended to Diane and Steve MacDonald, and Melinda Adams, for the valiant love and soul dedication that poured from them endlessly in the tending of the Institute. Thank you for clearing the path and planting the seeds.
May the pure love, respect and trust that was placed in Rosita's hands by Don Elijio Panti be the shining thread from which the ancient may weave a tapestry of new forms.