El Tule and Hierve el Agua, Mexico

Colour: gold  Mnemonic: SHAHSHAHSEE

Original Information and Clues: El Tule, Mexico

I first came across the location of El Tule by accident, when reading a much-photocopied article and then a pamphlet written by Robert Coon (Coon, 1990). It was a very small map showing what he called the two ‘World Dragon Lines’ of energy that first caught my eye. According to this pamphlet, El Tule in Mexico and the ancient Mayan City of Palenque, located further south near the border with Guatemala, were linked energetically and described as ‘the ‘Eighth Gate’ of ‘The Planetary New Jerusalem’; and a ‘Cardinal Orb’ that included all the ancient Mayan, Zapotec, Olmec and Aztec sacred sites’.

A friend later explained that El Tule was in fact a giant ‘tree of life’ located near the city of Oaxaca. According to Robert Coon ‘The second Great Serpent of Ley energy nourishes El Tule, The Tree of Life, which grows in Mexico. This Winged Serpent is known as Quetzalcoatl. At dawn on August 17th each year, at the precise instant when the Pleiades reach the mid-heaven above El Tule, the Earth Spirit of Quetzalcoatl ascends from the roots to the top of the Tree of Life and transforms into the Eagle, or Thunderbird to fly around the world to inspire all Beings to seek the Way of Everlasting Life’. He also adds that ‘At Sunrise on 17th August, 1987, the Living Quetzalcoatl arose from El Tule to activate a new 52-year Heaven cycle on earth.’

Later research and insights:

The area of Central America, between the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean is said to be the birthplace of civilization in the Americas. The history of the area starts around 10,000 years ago, when early nomadic peoples settled on this fertile volcanic plateau (Fisher, Mexico The Rough Guide, 1999). It was an ideal place to live, with its sub-tropical climate, fertile soil, forested mountain cliffs and clear streams, all teeming with wildlife. It is also an earthquake zone, lying as it does on the male dragon line of energy that follows the fault lines and volcanoes, which proliferate along the western side of the American continental coastline (Coon, The Planetary Gates of the New Jerusalem, 1990). The Zapotec culture flourished here between 300BC and 700AD, when the Zapotecs flattened and excavated hilltops to build elevated, giant pyramid structures to worship the Sun. The remains of these pyramid structures can still be seen in many locations including Monte Alban, Mitla (meaning ‘Place of the Dead’) and Yagul. Archaeologists have discovered that around 750AD all the Zapotec sites were suddenly deserted, but no reason has yet been determined. Although earthquakes and lack of water due to successive years of drought, caused by repeated El Nino weather events, are believed to have been the trigger for the failure of several South American cultures, during the 8th century AD, including that of Nazca in Peru. Between 1200-1500AD the Mixtec culture grew in dominance, until they in turn were conquered by the Aztecs during the 15th and 16th centuries. Aztec rule ended with the arrival of Hernando Cortes and the Spanish in 1529. The Spanish of course, ignored the old structures and places of power and built a new colonial city on the plain called Oaxaca.

Following the clues on the ground: October 2000

My base for this autumnal week, was to be the Exconvento De San Pablo; previously a 16th century convent in the centre of Oaxaca that had been converted into a small hotel. With its 250,000 inhabitants, Oaxaca is the capital city of Oaxaca State (population 3M) and lies about 1500m above sea level. The sub-tropical climate provides spring temperatures of 25°C; whilst in summer and autumn it’s around 22°C; and winter, a mild 16°C. Saturday night, as is so often the case in Mexico, was a festival night and visitors were treated to a parade of lorries, all decorated with montages of angels. It was also the weekend of the 4th Annual Harley Davidson Convention, so there was plenty to see and experience.

After spending the weekend walking around the old city and exploring many of its churches and museums, it was time to hire a car and explore the surrounding countryside. It seems that all hire cars in Oaxaca, irrespective of the company they are hired from, are white VW Beetles. The principle being that everyone knows they are hire cars, including the local ‘bandits’/freedom fighters; and so, there is no incentive for them to be stolen. Despite this, driving in the area can still provide some unexpected challenges. It was only after my second, graunching, flying experience that I realised the little sign ‘TOPE’ on the side of the road, meant ‘Sleeping Policeman’, or hump in the road ahead. These humps are meant to reduce traffic speed, but the signs aren’t always present or clearly visible; which may go some towards explaining why the easily repaired VW Beetle is the car of choice for car hire firms. The main roads are tarmacked, but drivers quickly learn to be prepared for unexpected pot-holes. Other roads tend to be narrow and tortuous with part cobbles, part potholes and part gravel and rocks; all with varying heights. Which means one wheel could be a foot off the ground from another. There were often cows and sheep in the road but, with no people around visibly controlling them, it was a case of patiently waiting for the animals to move. On one occasion a rather large bull was clearly antagonised by a man driving a pick-up truck who leant on his horn for several minutes or more, to make him get out of the way. The bull rammed the back of his truck as he drove off, leaving me in its sights as the next possible target. I chose caution and stayed well back until it had calmed down and wandered off, thankfully in the opposite direction from the one I was heading in.

The village of Santa Maria del Tule was very clean and tidy, which is not surprising given it is a major tourist attraction and pilgrimage site. El Tule is a giant tree of the cypress family filled with wildlife. Local information boards proclaimed it to be between 2,000 and 3,000 years old: with a diameter of 14.05m, a circumference of 58m and, at over 42m high, it dominated the adjacent church and nearby village. As I walked towards the entrance gate a very noisy, large, black bird appeared on the footpath beside me; and it wasn’t until it had gone through the surrounding fence that I was ‘allowed’ to walk through the gate and pay my entry fee. In my experience, it’s not uncommon to find birds as guardians of sacred places; and they always make their presence known very volubly, so there’s no mistaking their intentions. Once through to the other side, it was immediately clear I would not get permission to link into the tree and the surrounding area energetically; but I was allowed to be a simple tourist, as long as I had ‘my shutters up’. Once inside, the first bird was joined by a second and the pair started to walk around the huge bole of the tree anticlockwise; stopping every so often as if waiting for me to catch up; and calling as if to say ‘come this way’. As soon as I had reached the far side of the tree they disappeared and so I sat down to contemplate the view and simply enjoy the calming space. There weren’t many other people around so it was a relatively easy thing to do. After a while, I offered to channel in light and colour for this ‘El Tule’. Offer refused.

There was a clear, but much faded white band painted around the base of the trunk. My guidebook (Fisher, Mexico The Rough Guide, 1999) explained this was to deter insects, specifically ants, from climbing up and decimating both the foliage and other insect life living in the leafy microcosm. Observing the base of its huge trunk, I was struck by the shapes that had grown in the bark, creating gnarled and twisted faces, which were clearly tree beings or guardians. Every so often I would catch a glimpse of little, colourful birds flying in and around the branches, exploring the large cracks in its very fibrous bark, so there must have been insects up there for them to eat. At one point I experienced a fleeting flash of beautiful, emerald green light from within the tree and then in the same instant it was gone. There was an overall air of aloofness, but deep down it clearly wasn’t happy. Perhaps this was because of the damage being done to its widespread roots by nearby building works; and the long-term effects of depleting natural water reserves and falling water table levels?

Overall, the area was relatively peaceful, despite a brass band marching up and down the nearby promenade; and firecrackers going off at intermittent intervals. The church next to the tree had clearly been affected by earthquakes; with scaffolded walls and deep, vertical cracks in the façade now being slowly repaired. Off to one side was a second cypress tree, which a nearby sign said was a relatively, much younger, 1000 years old. Whilst not as large as El Tule, and not so well kept, it had a welcoming energy and I offered to channel through some light. The tree asked for a pale green/white translucent colour and I was happy to oblige. At that point though, there was the distinct impression that the older ‘El Tule’ was upset that it hadn’t been offered any healing colours; until I pointed out that I had offered, but been told ‘No’. A distinct impression of huffiness and the words ‘but I’m the most important one’ emanated from its direction. Ignoring this petulant response, I turned back to the second tree. It too was full of wildlife, but there was a more serene and peaceful feel about it. Having said ‘thank you’ I turned and left the area.

Early the next day, in meditation, I was prompted to channel a gold releasing colour to El Tule, which I did. Almost immediately it became clear the ‘I’m the most important’ feel from the previous day had not necessarily come from the tree itself; but was rather an accumulation of all the ‘thought dumping’ of pilgrims over time. The villagers for example, were very proud of ‘their’ tree and the gold colour was releasing all this. Then the colour shifted and the beautiful emerald green I’d seen a flash of the previous day appeared as a healing colour. Having been assured that everything was fine, I left for another day of exploration. Two days later, en-route to Hierve el Agua, I passed through El Tule again. The gold colour was still releasing and the emerald green colour was still healing. Then another image of these colours presented itself, of energy radiating out through the root system across the valley. But it was clear nothing more was needed from me for the time being.

Monte Alban was the next location on my list of places to visit. Perched high up on one of three volcanic ridges and valleys that flow into the Oaxaca plain, it would have provided a prime defensive point for its Zapotec builders. A place from which to dominate and control the surrounding countryside and its inhabitants. Having levelled the original hill to form a vast, flat surface, they constructed colossal pyramids, palaces and an administrative capital that was occupied between 500BC and 700AD. Local archaeologists say it was one of the first and most populated of the Meso-American cities, housing up to 20,000 people at its zenith. Even to this day, it is very well preserved. At the time of my visit many of its tombs were shut and needing urgent repairs, having suffered repeated earthquake damage. One of the earlier buildings, erected between 200BC and 300AD, was in the shape of an arrow-head; and archaeologists believe this was an astronomical observatory that allowed Zapotec priests and scholars to observe the movement of stars, planets and comets across the night sky. The structure was riddled with tunnels and staircases that were all closed off for safety reasons, but still there was a faint energy flow around them. Sadly, my camera ‘died’ at this point and I was unable to take pictures of the tunnel entrances. Strangely though, after a later change of film in my hotel room, the camera suddenly sprang back into life again. Perhaps I just wasn’t meant to take pictures at that time? The Zapotecs called this hilltop city Dauyacach,meaning ‘Hill of the Precious Stones’; but the location has been known as Monte Alban since the 17th century, after the Spanish Lord who owned the land at that time. Whether the ‘precious stones’ referred to the rocks used to build the city, or the occasional standing stone that dotted the otherwise empty, grass platforms is not clear. Neither were the carved images on these stones decipherable, although my guidebook described them as danzante figures and almost certainly depictions of prisoners captured in battle (Fisher, Mexico The Rough Guide, 1999).

‘Energy Pumping Station’ location and description:

Having purchased a detailed map of the local area, there was one location that caught my eye and I decided to explore it the next day. Its name was Hierve el Agua, which literally translates as ‘place where the water boils’. According to local history, it is believed to have been a sacred place for the ancient peoples of the Oaxaca valley. In addition, the later Zapotecs, who also considered the freshwater springs to be sacred, had created bathing pools, canals and an irrigation system, which are believed to be 2,500 years old.

Travelling southeast along highway 190, about 25km beyond Mitla, I took a side road to San Lorenzo Albarrados, a small village of mud houses and wandering animals. The area looked very arid and was dominated by cactus and other semi desert vegetation. An old woman flagged me down and, using sign language, made it clear she wanted a lift to ‘the falls’, which I happily provided. Once in the car she opened the large, black plastic bag she had been carrying, to produce a series of postcards and tiny, brightly coloured turtles with bobbing heads.  We arrived at our destination, but before she got out of the car an almost toothless smile encouraged me to look at them. I succumbed and bought a small turquoise coloured turtle, for luck, for the car.

After paying the 10 pesos entrance fee, my first inclination was to bypass the line of strategically placed vendors and the clutch of wooden changing rooms on the cliff above the site; and head down towards the pools that were clearly visible below. I later discovered that this area was known as ‘cascada chica’, small waterfalls, or the Amphitheatre; because of the concave shape of the cliffs behind; and the stunning views across the infinity pools nature had created and man had enhanced. Near the base of the cliffs and feeding these pools, was a fresh water spring, protected from human interference, by a strong, round metal barrier. The water literally bubbled up out of a hole in the rock and it must have contained many minerals, because there were concretions and deposits around its edges. I later learned that the water is over-saturated with calcium carbonate and other minerals (see geology section).

I then walked over to the nearest of the two blue-green coloured pools; the water was warm to the touch, having been heated by the sun and bathing in its reputed healing waters, would be like taking a warm mineral bath. A small tree had grown between these two pools and appeared to have some sort of guardian energy role, as well as providing some shade from the searing heat of the midday sun. Where the water slopped over the edges of the cliff the colour was more yellow and the water clearly carried a sediment, which was building up new layers all the time. Further out and nearer to the edge, I found another small spring bubbling up out of a simple hole in the rock; no accretions here. The hole was between two and three centimetres in diameter; and the water that bubbled out of it flowed, along a narrow channel that had been naturally eroded in the rock, towards the edge. The water was cold and clear and carried no sediment, but had a very strong, metallic, iron smell to it. The base of the narrow channel was also red and as I followed its path with my eye, I saw a brilliant rusty-red shape on a nearby rock, like a feathered dragon/serpent. I decided to lay down on a dry section and take a close-up picture of it, it was too good an image to ignore. As I did so, I found myself looking directly across the green pools, with their yellow edges, towards the rocks on the other side. It should have been no surprise, but there, looking back at me, was a rock being with almost oblong eyes; and the surge of energy through my body confirmed Hierve el Agua was the energy pumping station I was looking for.

As I sat there, simply enjoying the stark beauty of this wonderful place, it became clear that these springs and the waters that flowed from them were an important source of ground water for the surrounding countryside, including El Tule, the tree of life where I’d started this particular search.

It later became clear that Hierve el Agua is famous for two waterfall-like rock formations, which have formed over cliffs that rise more than fifty metres above the valley floor. The first rock formation, the one I explored, is called ‘cascada chica’ or small waterfall, and it reaches down twelve metres from a base which is about sixty metres wide. The other, ‘cascada grande’, or large waterfall is accessible from a footpath that descends down the side of cascada chica. It extends down thirty metres, from a base which is about ninety metres wide and eighty metres above the valley floor. There was no urge to explore this second rock formation, but its staggering structure is visible from miles around. Note: since my visit in 2000, the pool next to the edge of the cliff at Cascada Chica has been ‘improved’; there have been skirmishes between nearby villagers and, road access to the area is sometimes closed. This suggests that the energy of this beautiful place may have changed.

Local Geology:

The rock formations at Hierve el Agua are in fact stalactites, but are often described as “cascadas de sal” (salt waterfalls), “cascadas petrificadas” (petrified waterfalls) or “cascadas pétreas” (rock waterfalls). They are formed by the constant overflow, over many thousands of millennia, of relatively small amounts of water, oversaturated with calcium carbonate. As I discovered, the water comes to the surface through holes, cracks and fissures in the limestone mountainside and has a temperature of 22 to 27 °C (72 to 81 °F). As the saturated mineral water runs down the rock face, it forms large stalactites similar to those found in caves. As happens with water flowing in many limestone landscapes, the flow from the underground springs that feed the growth of these stalactites, varies significantly between the dry and rainy seasons. Whilst 95% of the surface rock formations are of calcium carbonate; the contents of previous lower layers and the mineral waters that created them, are not known, as they are covered by later layers. The calcium carbonate gives the formations a white or near white appearance, but other minerals can be present in the water, such as silver, barium and iron, which in term determine the colour of a particular stalactite. The calcium carbonate in the water comes from rainwater which passes underground. First it absorbs carbon dioxide, to form molecules of carbonic acid. When this acid comes into contact with underground limestone sediments and/or marble it partially dissolves the rocks, creating calcium bicarbonate. When the water finally flows out above ground, the excess minerals fall out onto the surface of the rocks producing new layers; and the process is ongoing.

Local legends: none found

Conclusions:

In the Robert Coon material (Coon, 1990) he links El Tule with the ancient Mayan city of Palenque; and states that the energy flows from each location will overlap in 2015. At the Spring Equinox of 2010, I joined a group of like-minded souls on a trip to Palenque that also incorporated visits to several other ancient Mayan sites including Yaxchilán and Bonampak. Palenque itself is a stunning site and our archaeologist guide was keen to point out the buildings were all laid out using the ‘golden mean’, which was simply done using a measured rope. The Temple of Inscriptions, where Pakal was buried, is the most imposing and grandest of buildings at the site. His jewel-bedecked skeleton and jade mosaic death mask were taken to Mexico City, but the carved, stone sarcophagus lid remains; with an image of Pakal encircled by serpents, mythical monsters, the sun god and glyphs recounting his reign. For the archaeologist though, it was the Temple of the Sun, which is the key place at the site; both because of the techniques used to build it, as well as its solar alignments. The location clearly had a strong male energy, lying as it does on the World Male Dragon line, and many of those in the group had a very strong affinity with it. For me though, the highlight of the trip was a visit to Yaxchilán, another ancient Mayan site. This site lies next to the Rio Usumacinta and the border with Guatemala. This beautiful place has a very strong, welcoming feminine energy and is filled with tall, ancient trees that lend a quiet gracefulness to the place.

Works Cited:

(2021, January 23). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hierve_el_Agua

Coon, R. (1990). The Planetary Gates of the New Jerusalem.

Fisher, J. (1999). Mexico The Rough Guide. London: Rough Guides Ltd.

Garcia, A. L. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://commons.wikimedia.org/1/index.php?curid+9935761

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