The Mayan Shaman looked deep into my eyes, knowingly. What I saw both calmed and petrified me. The dark eyes swimming in those sockets held deep knowledge and sacred healing secrets that could be mine … if I drank the tea and paid the price. Or maybe it was the other way around.

The new age market in the heart of the Yucatan held many wonders, most of which were being gently pedaled by serene and beautiful dark-skinned people. Their wares included rare tinctures, infused honeys, scented oils, cakes and yes, tea made from the mighty and mysterious yaxox or ramón tree, which reaches to heights of more than 121 feet in many of the world’s rainforests.

Indigenous cultures utilized these massive “walking” trees for food, medicine, fuel and fiber.

My vendor gazed into my orbs while explaining the many spiritual and physical benefits of his products, especially the satchels of yaxox tea.

“When I drink this tea I enter a state of total relaxation and feel as though my mind has been erased,” he explained through a loving smile.

This brought on a sensation of both exhilaration and dread, like being presented with my first pyramid-shaped gelatinous tablet of golden LSD, which held the promise of cleansing, expanding and reshaping my consciousness into something both beautiful and highly evolved.

What if something goes wrong? What if I don’t come down?

He was gesticulating onto the tea bag, holding a pretend number two pencil and making erasing motions, blowing and brushing the rubber bits on my metaphoric mind for emphasis. All the while smiling, saying without words that this is a good thing that everyone needs.

He passed the bag across his table and handed it to me, knowing that the sale was all but assured. I raised the dark paper satchel to my face and bathed my senses in the scent and aura of this potent herb.

It smelled of earth, spice, magic dust, and yes, the overtones of standard number two pencil eraser. Entranced, I reached for my billfold and handed some over, not needing to know the price. Not caring, to be honest. I was sold. He dropped a few coins into my outstretched hand.

Now the mind erasing tea was mine, all mine. I only needed a safe place to take it. Somewhere entombed from interruption, outside influence and the general public. It would not do to vacate my mind only to have mewling children, vacuous television soap operas or mariachi music come rushing in. I cursed myself for not getting further guidance from my new spiritual mentor. Would I wake up drooling and naked out on the veranda?

I decided to take my chances. I steeped a strong batch in the press pot. I filled a large mug and added cream and sugar because that’s how I like my tea. I cleared my mind to get a head start and drank deep from the steaming cauldron. After clearing away all the sharp objects in the room and voiding my bladder I turned the overhead fan into a gentle reverse rotation and lay back on the bed.

I let things drift, picturing the shaman’s laughing eyes swapping in slow kaleidoscope of color and light. I fell into a mindless doze. Everything went blank. Who knows what happened in the time when my mind was being shaken clean like a kid resetting a unicorn drawing on an Etch-a-sketch? 

I woke hours later, my rumpled clothes in a damp sweat. My breath was slow and measured. The room smelled of damp leaves and peat moss. A vacant smile crept across my face. I had not slept that deeply for years.

The overhead fan was still gently circling, making a sound that resembled the leaves of the yaxox tree brushing together in a whispering breeze 121 feet up in the rainforest canopy. How do I know this sound you ask? You will have to try the tea, then you, too will know.

Steve Skinner is thinking of going into the yaxox business. Reach him at