Editor’s note: This transcript has been edited for length and clarity.
“The Medicine is Deep”
Gris Muñoz: What I have found is that when I step away from my medicina, or the fire, that’s when I start to feel unwell. I really feel that the fire is what in so many ways has kept me going. [...]
Cuauhtli Cihuatl: Yeah. The medicine is deep. The medicine runs through all of us. And, you know, I’m on my third bout of walking with the big C. At the time of my first one, I was a young mom with breast cancer and ovarian cancer at the same time. But they caught it really early. The treatment was just a lumpectomy, and I had one of my ovaries removed. I was able to have another child after that, but during my second bout, I didn’t think I was going to make it because it was pancreatic cancer.
You know, my youngest son—I call him CJ because his name is Christian James—he has the medicine. He’s like six foot four, and he looks so Irish because his father’s Irish and has red hair and freckles. But when he was chiquito—and he was like maybe six or seven—he would tell me, “Mommy, I’m going to make you better.” And he would put his hands on me. And so that’s energy, right? We all carry that energy.
Now, with this third cancer, I’ve always believed that our diseases—our Western-named diseases and illnesses—that there’s a connection to a spiritual imbalance. So I believe my first bout of cancer had a lot to do with abandonment issues from my biological mom. I always felt that. I felt those abandonment issues, and I healed them, and my biological mom and I are great. And then the pancreatic cancer, to me, was that I was always giving the sweetness and amor and cariño to others—but I wouldn’t give it to me, right? I had to learn how to give that to myself. That’s when CC was born. My given name is Laura, and I stopped using that name. I became Cuauhtli Cihuatl (Eagle Woman), CC. I really felt that taking that name was being authentic to myself, nourishing myself, and loving myself, you know? That’s where CC came from.
So I got better from those cancers. I am free from that. Then came 2018, which, for me, was the best year of my life. My partner and I were traveling; we drove all the way to Canada and back. I went to Oaxaca for Day of the Dead, and I was doing some incredible work. And then bang, I got hit with this, but I thought it was a hernia.
When I went in to get it fixed, they found that it was a ten-inch mass behind my stomach, and it was this cancer that I’ve never heard of. I’m still trying to figure out: What is the spiritual connection to it? And I can’t figure it out. It’s retroperitoneal leiomyosarcoma, a very rare cancer. There’s no cure for it. My oncologist says I’m in the terminal stages of it, but no me doy por vencido (I don’t give up). Right?
Going Back to the Basics
Cuauhtli Cihuatl: I think the gift that has come from this time was that the pandemic came. I was able to go inward a lot. I was able to go outside and start from the beginning, where I started learning the medicine. Digging in the dirt, being in the garden, being in the roots of the plantas. Watering, weeding, all that. Last year, and this year, I felt really strong being around that, walking barefoot. And I would be out there temprano, from las seis de la mañana until one p.m. (early, from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m.).
So I go to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center every two months. The oncologist looks at me, she goes, “If I didn’t know any better, I wouldn’t think that you have cancer.” She goes, “You look great, but your labs say something else.”
Look great. Right? I’m still processing all that, you know?
So I feel like somewhere, the medicina in me is telling me that I need to go all the way back to the basics of curanderismo.
I feel like somewhere, the medicina in me is telling me that I need to go all the way back to the basics of curanderismo. The basics of planting plants and watching them bloom. The basics of doing the limpia and really considering why are we going in a certain circular motion? What is the whole thing of doing the fire and the copal and all that?
And so what I’ve been doing this last year is going through the basics: deconstructing all of that, and breaking it down. That’s the whole point of this account that I ended up creating on Instagram (@nmcurandera). I used to have a Facebook account. I had almost 70,000 followers at one point, and it became too much. I think I became egotistical around it and said, “oh, I have 70,000 followers.” Right? And so I closed it down.
But then, when I was going through this process of breaking the medicina down, I thought, I need to share it now, because this is so simple. Why do we make it complicated? It’s our hands for energy. It’s the elements. We don’t need all those kumbaya feathers and whistles and bells. The medicine is earth, you know. It’s fire, it’s your breath, it’s the water—even just washing your hands.
So that’s where that Instagram account came from. And I felt like I have built a little community with it.
I’ve had a little backlash from people saying, “You’re sharing too much.” And “this stuff is secret.” And I say, well, no, it’s not secret. It’s our lineage. You know, it’s in our blood, and we all have it, but we forget.
I think that my path through all these years, from birth to sixty, has been to guide people to re-remember that we are the medicine. That we are the earth, that we are the fire. We are the wind, we are the water, and together, all that, we can help others, and we can help ourselves. We don’t need all the other stuff. People tell me they don’t have [certain tools]. And I say, “You know what? You have your hands!” [...]
I don’t want people to feel like they have to go to Maestra CC to get healed. You need to learn the tools so you can learn how to heal yourself, and heal your community, and heal your family, and your amigas, and all that. And imagine that domino effect, if we all take it back to our own communities! Oh my gosh! A whole chain of people learning the medicina. So that’s my purpose: to help people re-remember it in themselves. I’m not healing anyone. I’m just guiding them to what they already know.