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The Gates of Tepozteco

Oh Green Tepozteco! This can easily describe our experience since, at that time, the whole mountain was covered in green. Impressive and full of life, that is how we perceived it from the car park. Before starting off, we did our last minute shopping and ate delicious quesadillas for breakfast in the market. With everything well packed either in our backpacks or our bellies, we were ready to climb.

We found a path that very few people take and where we could climb with our backpacks without having to answer questions or deal with unnecessary formalities. Over the years, we have developed our own relationship with this mountain and have learnt to respect and care for it. We have also learnt to recognize that such places have energetic gates. When approached with sensitivity, we can cross these gates asking for permission to continue and are then able to use its energy to gain awareness.

The path we had chosen was not the best and from time to time we considered going back to take another route but we had already climbed some way so decided to go on. After making a big detour, we arrived at the first gate. What we saw there filled us with sadness. People had been painting the stone walls of this beautiful overhang to such an extent that we could no longer see the rock beneath the paint. It had become a rubbish dump! There is no doubt that ignorance is a place's worst enemy and, in consequence, of Nature. In the short time we were there, we tried to enjoy the beautiful view of the valley on one side and the rocky outcrops on the other. Some young people arrived and immediately started to drink beer! Without any comments, we quickly gathered our things and with little ceremony asked Tepoz permission to continue. We then left the place.

The path was somewhat overgrown with vegetation and the rocks slippery, which required additional efforts on our part. We continued to advance slowly on this meandering path until we arrived at a ravine. Despite the difficult march, we were delighted to see the numerous shades of green that covered almost everything from the rocks to the trunks of the trees. This was the second gate. Unfortunately, here too ignorance was stamped on the rocks. We tried not to let it affect us too much. We climbed on the side of the cliff nearest the valley and there, in silence, we contemplated the view.

We asked permission to continue and went on. At this point we started to leave the ravine. The sun shone on us. Although at that time of year, it was not very strong, we nevertheless enjoyed it. Once we were completely above the ravine, we encountered the third gate - a small plateau surrounded by ravines. This is a beautiful and powerful place. A few years ago a participant I know well deeply moved by the impact of the workshop 'Jump to the Other Self' and the beauty of the place exclaimed what a marvellous, incredible and fantastic it had been. He wished that a great many people could have such experiences. Little did he know that years later he would dedicate his life to this end.

After a long time of contemplation and reflection, we continued climbing another ravine more damp and slippery than the previous one. We therefore advanced slowly and attentively until we arrived at what we can call a lateral gate of 'The Way of the Ally', which is the real gate of this place. On this occasion, we decided to avoid it because the dampness made it too risky. From this point, there was little high grass growing and the dampness was much less.

From the plateau, we could hear and contemplate a waterfall that appears only at that time of year. Its song accompanied us to the fourth gate, which is like a little mountain ridge. We arrived on one side of the mountain but hoped to see another magnificent view on the other side, a reward for our efforts so far. We made the most of this place to rest and do a special exercise to generate the necessary awareness to pass the gate. A little later we arrived at the famous 'Passage of the Cat', so named because the majority of people have to crawl to gain sufficient equilibrium not to fall in the ravine at the narrowest part of the path.

Paying attention to every movement we made, we crossed slowly the Passage of the Cat. More relaxed, we continued to climb until we arrived at a place above a cliff. Once we had descended, we had arrived in the middle of the fifth gate. Here we did an exercise to change our perception, which consisted of bending our bodies backwards and looking at the world up side down. To move our assemblage point, we did the exercise at the edge of the precipice!

When we returned to our normal state, our bodies needed immediate energetic resources. So we had a delicious but frugal lunch. Without giving too much attention to our bodies that wanted more food, we resumed our climb to the sixth gate.

Here the vegetation changed into a forest and we enjoyed the company of trees. Somewhat before the gate, we climbed a cliff using muscles that had not been used much before. Our physical work now felt balanced. Happy with the effort we had made, we reached the sixth gate - another mountain ridge where there are deep ravines on either side. This was not an ideal place to rest but adequate for a 'working rest'.

Without wasting any time we put up the tents. After a brief rest, we did exercises of physical perception, finishing with special exercises to learn to walk with awareness. Night was falling when we went out to collect enough wood for a good fire. Everything was ready in time to pay our respect to the Sun and express our gratitude for all that we had received that day.

Starting the fire and maintaining it was easy this time as the wood was nearly dry. After giving Neneviery to Tatewari, we shared the gifts of awareness we had received during the day from Tepozteco. For example, someone said: "I know that to obtain what I desire, I must give my best effort and that I am the one who must take the necessary steps. I realize that I cannot wait for others to make a step or do it for me …"
These words and others that were spoken came from real awareness, lived experience and deep feelings. There are gifts of consciousness, the kind we look for when walking in the mountains.

Content with life, we enjoyed a wonderful and abundant dinner. We then went to bed in good time as we had to get up early the next day. No sooner had we entered our tents that a strong wind picked up and did not let up for hours. We woke up at about five in the morning. The wind did as well and increased in strength. Given that it was still dark and that our sleeping bags were warm, we decided to wait another hour in the hope that the wind would ease a little.

Just before six, the wind did ease somewhat. Quickly, we got up and gathered our things together but as we left the tents, we were struck by the incredible beauty of the dawn. It was getting light very fast, so we quickly broke camp and had a light breakfast. We started to walk at a good speed as we wanted to reach the top of the mountain before the sun broke over the horizon.

We arrived at the last slope, the steepest, and we had to slow down. This was also as a sign of respect before crossing the seventh and last gate before the summit. Our effort was our best offering and without difficulty we climbed the remaining cliff that surrounds the peak of Tlahuitepetl or the Mountain of the Light. Just as we arrived, the sun rose above the horizon bathing us in amber light, which is only visible at that time of day. Jubilant, we greeted the sun with whoops of joy and gave thanks for such a magnificent gift.

The wind also gave us a gift when it starts to play with little clouds, drew us to observe the clouds making lovely shapes. These were constantly changing due to the strength of the wind and moving quickly. We were fascinated to see higher up other clouds moving slowly in the opposite direction. Phenomena like these are hard to see in any other place so we were grateful with the Tepoz for this other gift.

We then contemplated the morning view. These contemplative exercises are much more than simply enjoying the scenery. There are moments when we realize we are connected to everything; a time when we vibrate with the note that links us to the universal concert; when we know what our place and our work are in this world; times when we know what we have to do and what blocks us. In short, these are moments when we commune with Great Spirit.

Well, what goes up must come down! After a substantial meal, we began to make our way down, which also had its surprises. Very soon after we started, we walked at the edge of a precipice. The message here was to cling strongly to live. Remembering another occasions in which we have got lost on this mountain, we were very attentive to the path. To make sure that the path we were following was the right one, we climbed a cliff and had a great view of the possible routes. The wind once again increased in strength and the rocks were somewhat slippery so we decided to go down immediately.

Along the way, we encountered trees and since they seemed to be inviting us to embrace them, we stopped and did some exercises of perception with them. In a heightened state of awareness, we continued finding the best path and arrived at a graveyard near train tracks. We were surprised to find that the tracks had disappeared and had been replaced by a gravel road. Later on we found out why this had happened: a man was cutting the sleepers into sticks that were piled on either side of the road. "The advance of progress, ladies and gentlemen!" I am sure you would agree that, like those who used to travel by train, we are regretting very much the demise of the Mexican railway system due to under funding.

Without any problems, we found the real path and continued on our way down. This lava path was, on this occasion, covered in green and we enjoyed with each step the marvels of Nature. Also without difficulty we found the way that took us to the path leading to the pyramid, passing near the "crack of the worlds", a gate of Tepozteco where many of us were able to move our assemblage point.

We paid our respect and in this way we crossed the various gates on this side of Tepoz, each with its own special tonality and beauty. Further on the gates were opened and all we needed was to cultivate a state of attention and an attitude of respect as we encountered them. Before arriving at the pyramid, we stopped to greet a beautiful waterfall that only appears at this time of year. Immediately, we felt tired yet filled with serenity and peace.

This inner state helped us not to be affected by the atmosphere of distraction, anxiety, anger or personal pride that most people have when they arrive at this ritual site of the Aztecs. The pyramid, built in honour of Tepoztecalt, still has a powerful energy but we did not like the tonal atmosphere so we quickly had a look around and continued our descent. As we were going down, we met people who were carrying heaving bundles of oranges, lemons and bottles of water. They were sweating profusely but had a pleasant expression. They were a living example for all of us and particularly for those who pant their way up to the pyramid of Tepoz with only the weight of a cigarette in their hands.

Following their example, we continued downwards carrying our heavy backpacks but with a lightness of spirit, following the steps to the village. With legs shaking with the effort we had made, we arrived at the last gate or the first on this side. This gate is a magnificent tree, split in two by lightning. Tired but happy, we reached our car and headed to the market through the Sunday traffic of the village of Tepoztlan. Due to the volume of people there, we had to wait for half an hour or so before we could savour mandarin juice and some hand made delicious quesadillas. As usual, the owners of "Los Chinelos" extended their care and friendliness to their clients. This was the best way to finish an adventure through the gates of Tepozteco.


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