Altar Work: The Moon and the Jaguar

Earth Medicine

Over the years the altar has gone from bare essentials to overstocking, everything from statues and crosses to feathers and stones. The altar goes through cycles and seasons, the “magic” of the week, three or four similar cases, and of course a current, supporting, philosophy.  

It’s an altar because we needed a spiritual location for the needs of our family. We don’t have an altar because someone proclaimed us Holy, or much less because we proclaimed it. We have an altar because we need that special “sacred” place and we, like all humans, have the right to seek spiritual assistance.

It’s sort of like voting, a major right, paid for in blood, but yet so few of us exercise.

Naturally an altar will go through evolutions, permutations and combinations over 35 years. We came to see that the power of the altar did not depend on the items placed there. The items capture attention and help in powerful ways the overall mission of healing and evolving. But the foundations of the altar, the principles that move the healing go way beyond 3D. These foundations stretch.

At first the Moon and the Jaguar, and everything they represent, were on our list of things we should know, things to learn more of. With time, it was these two, Metzli and Ocelotl, that showed us we even had foundations.

I can’t count the number of ways Moon and Jaguar show up on and off our altar. Things we lose, give away, break: no matter what item is gone or what idea comes and goes, the power of the foundation lies in the utter and significant reality of Moon and Jaguar. We can look around and wonder what’s real. These two, we have no doubts.

We were told to sketch the shape of the Moon each night for six months or so. We had a Moon book and we drew however we saw the Grandmother Moon that evening. We were told we needed to do this because we’ve been too screwed up by “civilization” and we needed to experience Her Cycles, feel them, bring them to active memory.

Further exploration with Moon Medicine led us to working with Her waxing and waning, Her risings and Her settings. We discovered some of Her symbolism in the Tarot, a Blessing card and a Dark Passage card, for instance.

There is so much Moon Medicine out there, it would be impossible to cover much of it, but we’ll share two accounts of what makes Our Grandmother Moon a deep part of our foundation.

Early in Moon school I learned the bones of our ancestors can be found on the Moon and consequently, we’ve done a lot of work with those bones.

But let me back up a bit. Over the years, legends from our traditions and astronomical discoveries around the world support that something hit Earth a long time ago and this chipped a big piece of Earth which became our Moon.

Astronomical fact: Earth’s Moon is closer to us than any Moon is to its home planet anywhere in this universe. That stands out a little bit, huh?  

When facts and legend came together this way, it had quite an impact on our work. At that point we understood why we have bones on the Moon and why working with those bones helps people on Earth today. Before this it was just science we didn’t understand. The “moon bones ritual” helps, is all we knew. The Moon, as you may imagine, plays a large role in what folks are calling ancestral healing these days.

One day a Mayan Medicine Man came from his village in Yucatan, Mexico, to share the wisdom of their traditional shamans, the Mayan Day-keeper, with us hungry to hear. It was around 2012 so having an elder around to affirm indigenous understanding of this date was helpful.

As our Mayan brother prepared an astrology for my son and I he told us about Día Tijax – one of the 20 days of a month in the 260 day calendar built in to the Mayan/Aztec Calendar. On this day in his village all the healers report early and receive patients all day long. With his blessing we took on this practice for a while, and bring it back from time to time.

Then the healer gave me a hint about a type of patient we both attended: other healers, teachers, light-bringers, generally speaking. He said the key to working with them was Ek Balam, Black Jaguar in Mayan, Ocelot in Nahuatl.

I had to stand up to hear the rest of that. I couldn’t sit still. Like all good indigenous elders he made me wait for the answer. I walked around the room until he took pity on me.

He explained that everybody in the healing industry, the midwife in a back alley and the surgeon at MD Anderson alike, had to pass through the Jaguar.

In our culture the Jaguar is ancient and powerful. Before this Fifth Sun that we are ending, Jaguars ruled on one of Earth’s five Suns, the Sun of the Jaguars. They are associated with fire, the night, predatory instincts. In this Sun they help with war, like the Jaguar warriors all over the world, and with seeing in the dark things we can’t normally perceive. Jaguars certainly have a presence on all our ancient sites, temples, pyramids and the like.  

Our best interpretation of “pass through the Jaguar” goes something like paralleling the fear one would feel if one heard a Jaguar growl a foot from our ears. Do healers need to experience the fear and the power in that parallel before earning their title?

We then consulted the Jaguar every time we had a healer, titled or in development. In other words, no matter what the patient was feeling, no matter how different the patient and we, we had something in common. We know the Jaguar on some level, and that is our entry to where we have to go to do the healing.

So we sing of Moon and Jaguar, “I have Medicine, Medicine I have.”  

All of our conversation can fit under “Access to Unknown and maybe unknowable science.” Another name for this “access to Unknown science” is magic.

Everything we know about Moon and Jaguar is medicine, not necessarily from the medical profession. We apply that medicine to heal, to have, to access. The tides and the breath of a big cat, all the way to their myths and legends, are certainly big Earth Medicine, wouldn’t you say?  

We think the Moon is an eternal power and the Jaguar helps us make it happen, manifest is the popular term.

Our Altar Work, by the way, began with Limpias. Along withthe Moon and Jaguar, it tells a bit of our story.


Published by Mike Callas

Michael Parra Callas authors and presents both non-fiction, aimed at better living in hard times, and fantasy, focused on magic and the imagination. El autor escribe y presenta ambos, no-ficción, para vivir mejor en tiempos difíciles, y fantasía para inspirar la imaginación.

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