ITZ Copal

Photo: Milk&Peonies

The sun, the moon, and the stars arrived on Earth bringing copal with them, such is the importance of this sacred sap, says the Popul Vuh, the Mayan creation book, a document that has been preserved since the Spanish conquest. 

The neighboring ‘cousin’ tribe of the Maya were the Aztec and they had a different creation mythology that claimed the primordial gods Tezcatlipoca and Quetzalcoatl made the Earth from the bloodthirsty goddess Tlaltecutli, and then they transformed themselves into four cosmic trees, representing the four quarters of the universe. Emanating divine energies & forces, these sentient trees uphold the heavens, stabilize the Earth and create a passageway into the underworld with their roots, all the while, we humans must feed Tlaltecutli her much craved blood.   

In the Mayan mythologies, Xibalba, God of the Underworld is about to order the death of Xquic, one of his overlord’s daughters, but Xquic convinces the henchman who would carry out the sacrifice, rather to use copal as a substitute for her blood. Copal and blood become interchangeable substances. 

Copal resin sweats and bubbles, like blood, prior to transforming itself to a heavy sweet smoke and can be offered to the Gods (in the place of human blood).  Indigenous people are intrigued with blood and copal is considered the blood of trees. To maintain a balanced, harmonious cosmos, free of chaos, the Gods demand offerings. In this way we are able to appease the God/dess and communicate with the Otherworld.

Copaleros, those who extract copal, continue to harvest this sacred resin in a manner similar to their ancestors.  Choosing designated areas in the forest landscapes of their home, and cautious to rotate their chosen trees every few years, copaleros use a wooden mallet and large metal knife, with prayers and respect, they place a small cut into the tree. Below these abrasions, which appear to ‘bleed’, the resin is caught, as it oozes from the tree trunks, by large maguey spikes held in place with rope. 

For the ancient indigenous people of Central America, trees are sentient & Holy and there is an ongoing relationship of reciprocity between them with humans.  These sacred trees offer their sap as sacrificial blood.  The Bursera Bipinnata tree, which grows throughout Central America, continues to be the most desired source of the much coveted white copal.  In Nahuatl, this tree is called copalquahiitl.  Another favored type of copal, more yellowish in color and resembling frankincense in scent, is harvested from the Protium Copal tree. 

Photo: Unknown

Copaltemaliztl, “the act of burning of copal,” is a ritual grounded in Central American religious practices.  Revered throughout that geographic region, copal is used in a ritualistic way to cure ailments of the body, mind and spirit.  

Imagine then you have lit your charcoal, having placed it in a heat proof container called a popoxcomitl, as you prepare to burn and offer copal.  As this hallowed sap burns, you take in the sweet resinous scent of this magnificent being. With white smoke billowing out and swirling around, you feel uplifted.  Known as the ‘white lady’, you can sense she is dialoguing with the Gods, heartily petitioning the heavens on your behalf.

According to visionary and healer,  Maestro Pablo Amaringo Shuna, copal or what he lovingly called an ‘empire of spirits’ deeply cleanses the aura.  Akin to an opaque metal that needs to be polished, it helps us to shine again. It is the incense of the rainforest, used since ancient times, used since before the world became disharmonious. Copal takes away negative and dense stains on a person’s aura, pulling away all the discord, sending it up into the atmosphere, where the trees will receive our ‘sickness’ and transmute this heaviness, allowing for our renewal.

The truly magical scent of copal brings about relaxation, balancing the body. This can reduce blood pressure as well as increase concentration. The scent has also been used as a treatment for insomnia and headaches. It can also expand the mind and increase a person’s creativity. 

Juan Manuel, a Mexican medicine man who’s is called ‘El Indio’ says, this copal medicine has the power to evoke other worlds through its fragrance.   “The sense of smell is the sense that never sleeps.  Hence the aromas evoke memories – perhaps reminiscences- or function as direct thresholds to the depths of consciousness.” –Ancestral Mexico 

El Indio, with a group of healers known as Ancestral Mexico, offer copal ceremonies in the Yucatan where you will experience smudging of the heavenly copal medicine around your body, as well, orally ingest this sacred sap in the form of copal tea.  According to their ancient teachings, this form of medicine can awaken memories of who you are, where you come from, your true relationship with creation, with everything in the cosmos and galaxy, with Earth and all living beings that inhabit this place.  The tea awakens one’s DNA, heals ancestral issues that reside deep in the bones, aids the stomach & intestinal tract and helps with respiratory ailments.  

Itz is a Mayan word for all Holy liquids such as dew, blood, semen, holy water, resins, sweat, tears, candle pitch and tree sap- such as copal.  Itz is a vital force, what is commonly known as chi energy, but what the Mayan call ch’ul.   Cosmic sap flows from the World Tree and is offered to us as sacramental medicine to fortify our ch’ul.

Itz is also a word that can translate to magic. Itzamna, a Mayan God, was the first sorcerer of creation.   A Mayan medicine person is called an Itzam or one who makes Itz, the holy substance that can be used to contact other worlds. 

Both the Maya and Aztec cultures consider a person’s 52nd birthday to be an auspicious day, it is known as the new fire.   On my new fire, I traveled to the Yucatan to have a copal ceremony with El Indio & the Ancestral Mexico family.  At a sacred cenote, they built me an elaborate altar, dedicated to the four directions as they called on all the forces of the cosmos to come and bless me.  They surrounded me with the white lady as they sang & danced and they sent all our collective prayers to the heavens.  We drank copalli.  In the end, they gifted me a small bit of fresh copallli blanco; a treasure.  

Photo: Milk&Peonies

In due time, the copal spoke to me.  With my own store pile of copal resin from my beloved homeland of Belize, I was moved to create copal tincture for tea-making, a product which I’ve called ITZ Copal, so that I can continue to drink copal tea and offer it to my clients.  May we ALL awaken to the true memory of WHO we are and WHY we are here.  

This sacrificial blood of the trees has been with us since the dawn of time and it is here now to assist us with the personal challenges we all face in remembering our interconnectedness.

Tlazocamati Copalli

If you would like to work with a bottle of ITZ Copal, goto

Denai Grace Seacombe-Fuller, Cihuatochtli, is a Mama of five, Tarot Guide, Acolyte of IxChel, spiritual healer, flower essence practitioner, flower alchemist and student of Nahualism. 

Consecrating the Womb Altar

Wonder begins in a womb of a woman.” 
― Lailah Gifty Akita

The Moondance is a traditional Aztec ceremony for women that was banned by the Spanish conquistadores as they colonized the region of Mexico over 500 years ago. Like all sacred teachings in this tradition, the dance had to be hidden. In the early 1990’s, a group of Mexican Grandmothers decoded an old Mexica codex that spoke of the women dancing under the moon and praying with the tobacco. Utilizing the structure of the Lakota Sundance to recreate their own ceremony, the Abuela’s planted the dream of their first dance. They decided a participant must dance for nine consecutive years, initiating at different levels along the way, before being gifted the dance to take into their respective communities. The Moondance’s are growing and are being held annually now in Central, South, North America and Austria.

I had the privilege to partake in such an experience most recently as a first year dancer with the Chicuauhtlimetzli California Moondance at Mt. Shasta. As it was truly a sacred ceremony, I will leave the intricacies of the dance to the Great Mystery, but I would like to share one Medicine Talk from the Moondance as I have encountered these teachings in a few different lineages.

As Moondancers, we spiral, in a circular formation known as a Medicine Wheel, to the four directions. Within this circle is another sacred symbol, it is that of a woman’s womb. We dance in geometric formations that at times take us into the designated womb space where the singers & drummers are hard at work keeping the sacred rhythms, songs and chants for the Moondance. It is well known amongst Meso-American healers that the womb is the center of the entire female body, it is the sacred portal from which all life is created and from which all our power flows.

In studying with Dr. Rosita Arvigo, I have heard her repeat what her own teacher, Mayan Elder/H’men Don Elijio Panti was fond of saying, “The uterus is the core, if it is out of balance, a woman’s whole life is out of balance- physically, mentally, & spiritually.

And so we dance, sing and pray under the Full Moon light of Nana Metztli, to the four directions, but also to the absolute sanctity of the womb. During the day, we sleep a bit prior to attending an afternoon Medicine Talk where the entire group of women will learn more about topics relevant to women. At one specific presentation, we created a living Womb Altar. We were encouraged from our Moondance Abuela, Susana, upon retuning home, to set up our own Womb Altars. I was so moved by the power of the ritual that I have made it my first priority to create an altar and share this much needed Earth ritual.

Allow me to clarify, although the Mexica tradition has restored this ancient dance, the Elders have been clear; Moondance is for All Women, All Relations. These teachings are female teachings for, and on behalf of, all women, for our greatest awakening.

These altars are simple enactments of love that we can do for our family, homes and communities. Begin by choosing a prominent tree if your are so blessed to have a garden or yard. Beneath the tree, dig a hole that will lovingly be designed into the shape of a yoni by your own hands. In my garden, I have a magnificent, fruitless, mulberry tree that offers much shade, refuge and gentle presence. She is the Queen tree of my backyard, so it was easy to find a place to dig my ‘yoni’ hole. Lovingly decorate your yoni with flowers, herbs, crystals and/or goddess statues. (If you are in an apartment, get a large house plant).

Sheela Na-Gig

I chose to bring a carved Sheela Na-Gig to my yoni altar, she is the Irish/British/French Patroness of this sacred portal. A wise crone peeling back her vulva, inviting you into her mysterious depths. No matter how the Catholic Church tried, they could not rid the ‘peasants’ of their need to come and rub the vulva of Sheela Na-Gig, for the ‘peasants’ (the people of the land) believed she offered them blessings, protection and good luck. The Church in all their trickery, and in a concerted effort to convert the peasants, placed the formidable Sheela Na-Gig over their church doors, where you can still find them to this day in the land of Ireland (and rub the vulva). People worshipping yoni’s is as old as the day is long.

So we create these living Womb Altars in our homes & gardens as a reminder and as a reflection of our own wombs. Once decorated, it is time to ritually feed the altar. The most potent ‘food’ you can offer is your own menstrual blood. If you are woman still cycling with the moon, collecting & offering this most vital substance, your sacred ITZ, is of utmost importance.

“Itz is the Maya word for all holy liquids & essences such as dew, semen, blood, holy water, nectar, candle-wax, pitch, sap, resin, sweat and tears. It is the vital life force or lightening in the blood. It is the cosmic sap of the World Tree. A Mayan shaman is an Itzam or ‘one who makes itz’ and these fluids were used by shamans to contact otherworlds.” –The Mayan Book of Life, by Michael Owen

In the Lakota Sundance, any menstruating woman must go to the Moon Lodge, far away from the male dancers as the indigenous tribes know full well that a menstruating woman is a force to be reckoned and their power can overtake the men, bringing failure to their dance. In the Moondance, menstruating women contribute their energy by dancing and collecting their blood, for ritual offering. It is a sacrilege to throw away one’s Itz.

It is important, prior to ritually feeding your womb altar, to begin with prayers through an offering from what my Native Elder calls the Ancient One: tobacco. Tobacco is the highest gift we can bring to a sacred space that we are attempting to consecrate. As previously mentioned, tobacco is sacred to the Moondance, which is directly related to the Womb Altar. All prayers, at a womb altar, begin with tobacco. The Ancient One is smoked in a Chanunpa to carry our prayers to the Great Creator, while reminding us to speak with truth on our lips.

Sacred Song of Moondance

Our lips, our mouths, our throats, our larynx and our necks are deeply connected to our vagina, our vulva, our cervix, and our uterus/our wombs. It is very intentional that the drummers & singers remain inside the womb of the Moondance arbor calling forth, through song, the ultimate healing of humanity.

For a moment, go back in time to ponder what messages you received as a girl child. Close your thighs, sit with crossed legs, be quiet, be a lady. Sanitize your vagina. Douche. Dispose properly of your menstural blood. When I got my period, my mother told me to bathe twice a day so I didn’t give off strong odors. No where in modern Western society was I celebrated or taught about the vital life force of my menstrual blood and the power of my womb. No one marveled at that the fact that my body was now able to be a carrier of life.

Moondance and other mystery schools deliver very different messages for women; dance, sing, pray, chant, open your mouth and use your voice so that you can open your legs and bring your yoni immense joy. Connect with your menstrual blood and your own womb to shake the shame of thousands of years of oppression. Take back your innate power. Remember! Your womb is your hallowed temple. Be in awe of who you are as a woman.

One Columbian woman at Moondance shared that in her country, the women healers gather together with their blood at locations were brutal crimes of rape or murder have been committed. They join as a collective to offer their blood back to Mother Earth to heal such atrocities. Our blood, when intentionally used, has the power to wash clean the nefarious sins of our fellow men.

WOMB ALTARS are needed on the Earth, beneath our feet, to keep us in alignment and in constant relationship with our own bodies. “That which is above is like to that which is below, and that which is below is like to that which is above” (Hermetic Text).

There was a time long ago when every young girl was trained in such matters.

As I ritually carry my menstrual blood to my womb altar, it means I have come into good relationship with collecting this powerful Itz. As I gather other types of Itz, such as holy spring waters, honey, beeswax, and/or copal, I acknowledge the yoni deserves to be fed sacred foods that revitalize her being. It reminds me that, I too deserve to be deeply fed in the center of my being: my womb. Just as I remain in blessed union with my womb altar, she teaches me that sacred union & pleasure is my divine birthright.

Continuing this ritual as a living practice, my womb altar provides me with protection, guidance, connection, strength, empowerment, intuitive knowing, and life force. She enables me to take back any feminine power lost throughout the ages. My blood feeds the Earth and the Earth feeds me.

At this time of deep uncertainty & transition on the Planet, I encourage ALL women to create a womb altar in whatever form you can and offer your blood (or other forms of Itz).

Now, more than ever, our vital life force, our precious energy, from the origin, the source, and the abode is needed!

“Blood mysteries reveal that menstrual (moontime) blood and birth blood are so holy, so full of potential, so full of the void, that they are to be used only to heal, to heal by nourishing. Holy woman-blood is nourishing blood, blood of love, blood of abundance, blood that heals the earth.” -Susan Weed, Herbalist

Under the Mulberry Tree

Wado. Aho. Omeoteotl.


Denai Grace Seacombe-Fuller, Cihuatochtli, is a Mama of five, Tarot Guide, Acolyte of IxChel, spiritual healer, flower essence practitioner, flower alchemist and student of Nahualism. She can be found at