#VOZWOMAN | Eutimia Cruz Montoya
What is your daily ritual?
As Muse In Medicine is my personal medicine practice that expands a wide breadth of modalities, my days are varied and full of many different treatments, events, courses, and adventures. I would be lying if I told you I had a specific daily ritual that is representative of any kind of routine, but I do have a few practices that I do not go a day without.
The first is greeting the sun as soon as I walk outside. I stand and allow its rays to wash me clean, give me life, and offer me healing. Then I greet the earth. I kneel, connect to her with my hands, thank her for all she offers and also ask that she give me life, tonify my yin and remind me of stillness. I also cleanse myself throughout the day of energy that I may have gathered from people and the environment that does not belong to my highest self or work. I do this by visualizing this energy gathering within my body and moving upwards. Once it reaches the top of my head, I open my arms and hands to the sky and watch it leave, to be at once reabsorbed by the Universe and recreated into all things good and beautiful. This practice may happen a few times throughout the day, but definitely happens before I fall asleep at night.
Tell us about some of the rewards and challenges of practicing alternative medicine in America today.
This is a very political question. There are many horrific problems with the industrial healthcare paradigm of America today. I could go on and on about them, but to be brief, unfortunately, I have seen that most people who seek me out do so because 'traditional medicine’ has not only failed to make them better, but in fact, it has made them WORSE. The patients have symptoms “managed’ or “under control.’ They get things cut out or foreign products put in, only to be bombarded with a whole new list of ‘side-effects’ or ‘recovery’ symptoms. It is evident to me in my work that none of these invasive chemical or surgical interventions actually addresses the ROOT of the problem. What’s worse, these interventions distract the body’s innate intelligence from actually addressing the preliminary problem as the body now has to deal with multi-layer surgical wounds or liver and kidney complications due to the high levels of chemical toxicity caused by pharmaceuticals. It is not sound. It is not healthcare. It is painfully misguided by corporate profit. It is sad and terribly unfortunate for us, our elders and our children.
And then there is the whole chemical-non-food industry that is creating all the problems in the first place, but we’ll spare you the horrifying details on that for now (I will eventually write a book on this. For now, if you care to learn more, please watch the documentary “Fed Up”).
Being that the system is so broken, I must say I get many rewards and a lot of satisfaction doing what I do. I touch people’s bodies and their spirits. I remind them of their humanity, their pains, their gifts, their challenges, the fact that their bodies ARE intelligent and they DO know how to heal themselves. The way people open up to tell me their whole stories gives me humility and makes me have faith in people and prayer and love and Creation. I see tears. I help loosen old tightnesses and release old emotional wounds. I have seen truly miraculous healing breakthroughs and I continually rejoice and am baffled and humbled that I was chosen for this work. It is most beautiful. I am healed everyday through my work, and I know that because we are all related, so is the rest of the world.
What have been some of your greatest moments of accomplishments as a holistic medicine practitioner?
I am blessed to feel so much accomplishment in my line of work. Once on a hunch I sang/vibrated into someone’s liver with the intention to move stagnation that was creating disharmonious symptoms. My client told me after the treatment that she felt this vibration run through her entire leg and out through her toe- when she traced it, it was along her liver meridian. I coursed the entire liver meridian with my voice! That was super cool!
Another time, before I came strongly back into my Indigenous Medicine ways, I was on my way to help induce dilation in a laboring woman with acupuncture, and I instinctively grabbed my rattle before leaving. After she hadn’t dilated passed 4 even with acupuncture and BodyTalk, I pulled out my rattle and started singing Mexica ceremony songs at the level of her cervix. This is when active labor began and baby came shortly after. This is the power of prayer and song. Later, I overheard the elder midwife recounting my ritual to the younger midwife: “and this one (referring to me), she did some intense chanting thing, and I don’t know if it made her dilate, but it sure did make ME wanna dilate!” That was also really cool. Six months after this birthing experience, I was gifted the book Red Medicine, Traditional Indigenous Rights of Birthing and Healing, and I realized I wasn’t only acting on my intuition when I left the house with my rattle; I was following my ancestral memory of birth as ritual and ceremony.
Most recently I had a liver cancer patient. When he came to me he was weak, out of balance and cloudy with growing tumors in his liver. He was having consistent, severe stabbing pain in his side that was debilitating. We worked together on and off for about 5 months. The last two times he went to the MD, they were surprised to see him and told him he shouldn’t still be alive. All his levels had stabilized. He had no signs of growing worse, his spirits were better and he all around brighter and more clear. But what’s more, he is now completely without pain. No Pain! He is happy and moving through much of the turmoil that led him to his western diagnosis. I have a strong love for him and his wonderful wife and they for me.
The greatest accomplishments are the relationships of love and openness that are continually created between myself and the beautiful souls who are brought to me through the power of the most high.
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Why did you decide to settle your practice in Denver, CO?
Denver is my home. I was born and raised here. I believe the strong nature of my matriarchal and matrilineal upbringing pulled me back, and will continue to do so my whole life. I have the most beautiful home to live in that my grandparents bought in the 50s. It is downtown and located in what is currently the fastest gentrifying zip code in the United States. I do have my issues with gentrification- the displacement of people of color, the rising of taxes, the way people continually try to buy my home right out from under us with NO shame- but also, as per my Stanford pedigree (said in an overly exaggerated and facetious english accent), I have really been enjoying the galleries, coffee shops, organic eateries, and amazing walking score. I also enjoy the beautiful cultural array of my brown and black brothers and sisters mixed in with all the yupsters. It is quite entertaining, though infuriating at times. Even so, every time I leave and come back, I am so so happy to be home. And my sweet auntie whom I live with has usually prepared a homecooked meal of beans, rice and green chile for my return celebration. My family is all close by, and we are all very connected. I know, even if I leave, even for months or years, I will always find myself back here, in my ‘gramma’s’ house. It is the greatest blessing to feel so at home, at home.
What is the story behind your mocaljete?
My great-great grandmother, Rosita, from Tijeras, NM left us her Molcajete. She fled her home in a hurry to seek a better life for her children. Traveling at the turn of the century was no doubt much harder than it is now. The molcajete is one of the few items of hers we still have. It is now mostly an altar piece for me (I had to ask special permission from my mom and her sisters to let me keep it in my clinic for the spiritual strength and ethereal medicine it provides). In my life, and that of my previous 4 generations, it has mostly been used to grind green and red chile. Sometimes, on special occasions, we still use it to make this delicious and soulful traditional New Mexican dish.
Tell us about your heritage and how it informs how you live your day-to-day life.
I get asked more often than not about my heritage because of my unusual name. My first name belonged to my great-grandmother who was a Picuris Native woman from the Taos pueblos. The rest of my maternal ancestry hails from New Mexico and were the mixed-blood (mestizo) results of spanish conquest in what is now the Southwest United States. On this line I carry Comanche, Apache, Arapahoe, Picuris and Diné blood, all mixed with the Spanish Conquistador. My mother, a historian, reminds me that for every Spanish nobleman who came from Mexico in Coronado’s expedition north, he had in tow 50 indigenous american and african slaves. Therefore, I believe I have other blood in me that was never documented that I know nothing about.
My father’s parents were from El Paso, Texas. My paternal lineage gifted me the blood of the Tarahumara natives, as well as Comanche, Spanish and German blood. My father’s family relocated to the central valley in California where they were farm workers. My paternal grandfather, Alfredo Vázquez, is currently living in Fresno, is 98, was Cesar Chavez’s bodyguard in the height of the United Farm Workers Movement, and he still holds the very first United Farm Workers membership card.
I ask how can my heritage not inform how I live my day-to-day life? I believe I came into this world at this time, in this body, with this family and this rich diasporic cultural heritage, to act as the bridge that I am. I was placed here and now very purposefully by the powers that be- what I like to call The Great Mystery. I come from healing, magic-immersed peoples. My maternal lineage left New Mexico and landed in Denver because the medicine ways became so all-encompassing that my great-great grandmother, Rosita, literally fled to Denver with her remaining children for safety from the proverbial ‘witch wars.’
Her granddaughter, my mother’s mother, Cecelia, taught me how to place my hands to heal her before I could create full sentences. This is how she was taught. Whenever I would speak in the subjunctive tense growing up, my grandmother would scold me, “Si Dios quiere, primeramente!,” which roughly translates into, “always ask permission of God, first!” To this day I cannot make statements of wishful thinking or begin a healing session without at first acknowledging that I must always surrender to the Great Mystery, the Great Divine. In this way I know I am being guided to reach my highest destiny, and that of all humanity, with every decision I make and every new path I forge.
On my last trip to visit my paternal family in California, I realized when looking at a garlic field that I am so deeply connected to the story, feel, touch, smell and spirit of REAL food. The experience of being so close to these farms, sowing, cultivating, and harvesting these fruits, still lives in my veins. I only made the connection in the last year that I must recieve my passion for real food advocacy from the work of my father’s lineage in my ancestral memory.
Eutimia and her aunt, Leonires Montoya
Where do you find peace?
I find peace in moments of surrender. I find peace when reciting to Curandera prayer which reminds me that my power and my fate are intertwined and I must clear my thoughts and fears to truly see and remember myself. I find peace when connecting to the Great Creation and the Great Mystery that gifts me life everyday. Finding peace is a constant practice in remembering the connectivity and purpose of all that is, and surrendering to the lessons and gifts therein.
What does beauty mean to you?
To me beauty is harmony. Not only the harmony of any moment or person or other thing you can deem as ‘harmonious,’ draped in the light of sunshine and flowers and full lips and love-making, but also the dark times and places that are part of the universal ebb and flow of life. Harmony means balance, including all the ups and downs, and finding a peace within them. I often remind myself of the Buddhist saying, “pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.” And the more I choose to embrace and surrender to all that the universe offers me, the more beauty I see in the world.
On a more aesthetic (yet somehow, to me, also spiritual) note, beauty is vibrancy of emotion as seen through the lens of the material. I love resonance. If I am in a sad, dark mood and I wear bright pastels, I feel there is a disconnect in what is true. I would much prefer to wear deep reds and blacks to accentuate my mood when I am feeling moody. I believe the dismal can be just as beautiful as the traditionally sought after happy, graceful kind of beauty. I also love colors to be as brilliant as possible, and the brightness of said colors to match the smiles of those wearing them. I like things full and charged. To me, beauty mirrors authenticity. Authentically showing up is the most beautiful presence anyone can offer.
Photography by Jasmine Aarons and Irys Kornbluth