I have uploaded some of my Mexico photos at this website, Flickr. I'll upload more soon here and on flickr. Hopefully these will give you some flavor of Mexico, my journey, the rich varied geography and culture there and why I love it so.
If you click on the photos posted here on the blogspot these will magnify greatly and you can certainly get a feel for the magnitude of the mountain range (cordillero) between Puebla and Oaxaca. These shots are taken from the cuota (new toll highway) about 4 hours south of D.F. (Mexico City). Unfortunately, there are no paradors (scenic parking areas) so I couldn't stop often enough to quaff the vision and the power of these magnificent and austere slopes. There is still a lot of construction going on along this route so there are pullovers for construction equipment which is where I took these photos and others which will be uploaded soon.
Regarding the photos uploaded here on the blogspot of Bety's altar, some information about Metatron, the skeletal angel in the red cape holding the sickle, may be in order as such images and others abound in Mexico and Central and South America but not so much probably for most of you who are reading and viewing my blogspot. It may appear very strange and off-putting.
Bety has explained to me that the Metatron figure is not that of "the grim reaper" though death and skeletons show up in Mexican myth and in the old and new (Catholic) religions. The Day of the Dead is perhaps the most unique of holidays seriously celebrated in Mexico and Latin America. Death is embraced religiously and culturally there unlike the USA.
Metatron is the angel closest to God according to my research and to Bety's teaching. I'll copy and paste here a brief but very informative article online about Metatron which may assist you in understanding why there would be so many images of Him on Bety's altar. In her healing work Bety appeals to God and various mediators of Grace and Power Metatron being chief of her pantheon of manifestations of God. Metatron referred to in early texts as the "lesser Yahweh," is grand in scale and is the size of the Earth. From the article:
"Metatron is one of the most important angels in the heavenly hierarchy. He is a member of a special group that is permitted to look at God's countenance, an honor most angels do not share. In the literature, Metatron is often referred to as "the Prince of the Countenance.""
You'll see in the photos uploaded here an image of "the Eye of God" in the center of images just above Metatron. This eye refers to God and to Metatron who is permitted to look at God's countenance. In evoking Metatron and "the Eye of God" Bety is calling upon the Presense and the Power of both (which are really one) in her, the clinic and her clients. In a recent email from a young man who Bety and I worked with he refers to Bety's clinic as a "templo" or temple. Perhaps my referring to the place where Bety works as a clinic is too secular and "clinical." Her clients most certainly see Bety's place as a temple and given the altar and the palpable power within this temple and the healing work that is done there the word "clinic" may be for more secular American ears.
There is, however, an aspect of a clinic to Bety's place. It is efficiently run with a large waiting area for those with appointments as well as walk ins. Large amounts of supplies are laid in of candles, ribbons, alcohol, incense, eggs, limes, and many other things which are the tools of Bety's trade. Her assistant, Marta, answers to Bety's every beck and call fetching, preparing, performing healings and rituals along with keeping inventory and ordering supplies as needed. Weekly and sometimes daily trips to the mercados to buy fresh flowers, herbs, seeds, etc., are part of the daily running of the clinic as the altar requires daily feeding, if you will, of not only prayers and worship but also of fruit, water, tequila, mezcal, cigarettes, etc.
THE focus of awareness and energy is obviously the altar which is an active workspace and the source from which healing energy, intention and power is magnified and made present. Metatron is that mediator of such energy and thus the function of Bety's "clinic" is most certainly that of a healing temple.
For your further information about Metatron here is the address for the article I've mentioned: http://www.pantheon.org/articles/m/metatron.html
The skeletal image of Metatron is also that of Santa Muerte. I've not heard Bety refer to her icon(s) in the temple as Santa Muerte at all. She always refers to them as Metatron but the obvious associations to Sante Muerte are there. Sante Muerte is a most ambivalent saint or divinity. Ancient Mexico has many deities and one of the most prominent is the Death god; this from Wikipedia:
"Saint Death may have his/her roots in pre-Christian beliefs of the Aztec Native Americans who worshipped a similar figure by the name of Mictlantecuhtli, the god of death, along with his wife, Mictecacihuatl."
Go here for more on Santa Muerte: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Muerte
Santa Muerte has a new resurgence since the 1960's amongst the poor of Mexico, Central and South America. She has various aspects depicted by the colors She wears or is dressed in. More and more templos/temples are growing throughout the Latin American world to Her. She has a Hermes-like character in that She like Hermes plays both sides of the "good and evil" drama. Hermes amongst many other functions protects people from thieves and is also a protector of thieves. He can be a thief himself (he stole his brother Apollo's cows) but then brings about good from such thievery (shoes being one of them) but not always.
Gang members, criminals, drug cartels evoke Santa Muerte's protection in their "work." Everyday good folk, hard working, struggling with life's problems, also are devoted to Her.
There is much online re: Santa Muerte and googling for more info will yield much more about Her. I have been to Santa Muerte templos in Mexico and the feel in them is altogether different from Bety's. Her continued reference to Metatron clearly states her belief that the icons and images in her templo are of Metatron. I plan to ask her about Santa Muerte in my return to her this summer. I'll share here what she may have to say and I'm sure she will have much to say.
I will be publishing Part One of my account of working with Bety in a few days.
Thanks for reading and viewing.