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SINCHI WARMI | Strong Womben, Stronger Together

You know that phrase,

"it takes a village to raise a child"

Well, it's an old African proverb that's said to have come from a Yoruba tribe long long ago and the phrase itself was something more along the lines of "no child has just one mother." So over the years the message has been diluted right?! Especially in western culture where we've interpreted it to be a child-centred endearment, when really in tribal, Indigenous cultures this phrase is centred around the mother and the community of women who surround and uplift her.

In embracing my Meso-Indígena roots; living, studying and practicing under the guidance of both Mayeb + Kichwa Elders, we learn that many Indigenous peoples share common principles and practices. The Mayeb strongly believe that the teachings of the abuelos is not theirs to keep but is meant for them to share so that all may live in place of proper balance within themselves and society. We also learn that children become part of the community. On that side of the equator, in Ecuador, society is not child-centred, it’s woman-centred. Rather, children are integrated into everyday activities. This picture above shows me, a sister Afro-Indigena birthworker and a little boy named Jempuay whose mother is like my hermana and one of the main traditional midwives in Cotacachi, serving womben and their overall womb wellness, she is my teacher, so is he! Jempuay has duties within the community, he has a vital role to learn and lean into his role as a divine masculine, supporting his mother and grandmother in their work as curanderas and parteras. He accompanies them on home visits, he helps in laying hands on pregnant bellies, talking to babies in the matriz, helping to prepare them to come earthside. It's a beautiful and powerful relationship among members of the community, regardless of age.

I’ve had the honour of participating in temezcal (sweat lodge) and dining with the artist of this profound mural entitled “Sinchi Warmi.” Sinchi Warmi; Strong Woman, a term bestowed upon women of the Andes who hold a strong connection to traditional and ancestral practices of the Kichwa people in plant medicines, reverence of Mother Earth and traditional midwifery. These women usually don traditional clothing and are highly connected to the strength of their womanhood, their divine feminine. Their partners fall in line with their divine masculine and do the work that supports the sinchi warmi. In practices of traditional cacao for example, the man plants the seeds, the two tend to the crop, the woman harvests it, the two process the fruit into cocoa pucks for healing medicine. There’s harmony, there’s balance.

The woman in the image is the embodiment of Ix’chel the Mayeb and Mesoamerican Indigenous Triple Goddess. The mother of Jaguar Medicine, the goddess of women, fertility and moon cycles, protector of children and childbirth, bearer of water on the earth, the tides ebbing and flowing, the OG sinchi warmi. The story goes that when Ix’chel grew past her formative years into her Full Moon, becoming a mother herself, she experienced imbalances in her relationship with her partner, he was not good to her and their children, so she transformed into the balam, the jaguar…and well…took care of business. Thus the beginning of jaguar medicine, preying and devouring sickness of the mind, body, soul and heart leaving behind a holistically whole being.

To stand in front of her mural, my Indígena namesake Ixchel Balam, with little Jempuay, such an insightful and love-filled little hummingbird and a woman I consider my soul-sister is an honour I’ll cherish until all that’s left of me is my energy. And that feeling of holistic empowerment, the embodiment of the sinchi warmi is what I hope to inspire within my community of women, right here at home.

It takes a village to heal and uplift a mother, it takes a village, her village, to help her feel whole again.

So how 'bout it, let's be sinchi warmi's together! I've got your back mamí, if you've got mine 🫶🏾

Mas vida, abab (abrazos y besos)


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