My name is Thelma Gutierrez. I was raised in the small rural Village of Santa Familia in the Cayo District. On February 23, 1974, I was born into a loving family, led by our matriarch, Mrs Beatrice Waight, a well-known herbalist and Maya Spiritual leader in the village. I am the second eldest of 9 children. We grew up in the traditional way of life of the Yucatec Maya. We learned how to grow our own food, how to use natural resources to be self-sustainable and most of all to give back and appreciate mother Earth for all its generosity.
My life story contains a rich history deriving from my generations past, as far back as I remember, my great grandmother Delfina Tun, the village midwife taught me about humility, kindness and about using my gifts to help others. My grandfather Alejandro Torres, a respected musician, Spiritual Maya Healer and bone setter taught me about the importance of seeking happiness in the little things in life.
My mother, Beatrice Torres, was my closest guide, teaching me not through books and sessions but through real life experience of the importance of family, integrity, hard work and most of all serving others with love. I spent my childhood years, helping my mother to collect herbs to treat spiritual ailments, to make oils out of cohune, to attend to the regular patients in the village who sought her as a spiritual guide, as a women’s wellness support and as a masseuse in her own right, taught by my great grandmother Delfina, how to do Mayan Uterine massage to help many women with fertility and infertility issues. There were so many things that were part of my daily life, that I did not see as teachings, but as a way of life, which now I reflect on and understand that my mother, my greatest role model, was helping to guide me to use my gifts to help others.
With blood, sweat and sacrifice, she sent me to high school, where in June of 1994, I successfully completed my high school education. Financial resources were low, so, soon thereafter I started to work as a waitress at San Ignacio Hotel to help at home to provide for my other seven younger siblings and for them to have a good education. In 1996, I gave birth to my first child. My pregnancy and the birth of my son, strengthened my relationship with my mother as I learned more about women’s wellness, during pregnancy and post-partum care. She taught me more about women’s wellness, uterine massage to help position the foetus and how to prevent breech babies. She showed me traditional healing methods taught to her by her ancestors such as herbal baths, steam baths, prayers and medicinal herbs used to treat women before and after childbirth. At and or around this time, she began attending seminars and leading workshops based on Traditional Maya Healing Practices in Belize and abroad. One such place she worked at, sharing her knowledge of medicinal herbs, was as the Ix Chel Tropical Research Centre in the Cayo District. She introduced me to Dr. Rosita Arvigo, Director of the Ix Chel Tropical Research Centre. I was then hired by Dr. Arvigo to work at Ix Chel Tropical Research Foundation. For two consecutive years, I worked there, in charge of the factory output, where I increased my knowledge of medicinal plants used in tinctures, baths and tonics. I was in charge of managing the factory with
Herbal remedies: mixing: preparing the tinctures, filling bottles with herbal medicine, labelling, sealing the herbal products, filing orders and shipping orders abroad and to the local gift shop, doing inventory of products etc.
After my second child was born, I stopped working at Ix Chel, and stayed at home to take care of my two young boys. Whilst my two first born went to school, I was actively involved in the school’s PTA, I joined my kids’ scout group as Assistant Scout Leader and was always their most ardent cheerleader. A few years later, I had three more children, in all five boys, who are my life’s most wonderful gifts and blessings. My home was my sanctuary, but I soon started to feel I was not doing enough for my community. I have always been a people’s person, so others who knew me, invited me to seminars based on community services which helped me to use my innate gift to serve others. Being a stay at home mom did not stop me from continuing to learn and to be a productive member of society. I was actively involved in youth development where I attended seminars and was recognized with accolades from the Youth Department-Youth Empowerment Project and Ministry of Social Services and most recently as a part of the board of Mary Open Doors Shelter for battered women in San Ignacio. This year, I have worked in collecting data through house to house interviews for the 2022-2023 Census. These opportunities have opened so many doors for me and have led me to meet so many wonderful people in my community and some from abroad who live in our beautiful town. However, my calling to provide help and assistance to people of my community continues to rise.
Above: Ixchel (pronounced Ishchel) was the Maya goddess of the moon, love, gestation, medicine, and the textile arts
Above: Beatrice Waight circa 1985
Above The Book about Beatrice Waight her stories life and teachings available in the Balance Point Wellness Office
Today, my dream of caring for and helping people, slowly becomes a reality thanks to Ms Katherine Devine from the Balance Point and Wellness Company in Belize. Through this opportunity, I will be able to use my spiritual gift: my sweet and humble character to help others. I have had the pleasure to work with and learn from people such as Anne Drucker from Colorado, Keath Silva from Oregon and my uncle Narcisso Torres who are knowledgeable about medicinal plants, Mayan traditional healing and women’s/men’s wellness. Through our practices, I have felt my passion to be a masseuse and incorporate some of these traditional methods, incepted from my childhood days growing up in a Yucatec Mestizo Maya household with many siblings to care for and with a mother whose love for her kids, for plants and for humanity as a whole made her life’s purpose in serving others. All this love and guidance has also led me to being a compassionate positive person with love and respect for nature: plants animals and people. I continue to uplift myself to be better prepared to help others in the line of work of massage and wellness. I am currently enrolled in a course at the Holistic school of massage.
I hope to become a professional massage Therapist and under the guidance of Ms Katherine Devine and other very instrumental people in my life, I aim to do my best to serve the people in my community.