Earth Medicines: Fire

Harness Traditional Power for Better Digestion
a shamanic woman beating a drum by the fire

Reprinted with permission from Earth Medicines: Ancestral Wisdom, Healing Recipes, and Wellness Rituals from a Curandera by Felicia Cocotzin Ruiz ($24.95, Shambhala Publications, 2021)

The Power of Fire

Whether you are relaxing around a campfire, hypnotized by its flames or listening closely to the news of a nearby brushfire, Fire captures everyone’s attention. An alchemist by design, Fire is transmutative. The energy behind its flame is one of mystery, change, and destruction.

Nonetheless, after even the greatest of destruction comes renewal and rebirth as demonstrated by the mythological phoenix. Illuminating people with its medicine, Fire is the strongest and most powerful of all the elements, and it is something that I was taught to respect.

Ceremonial Fire

Throughout my life, I have witnessed Fire keepers tending to Fire for ceremony or dance. Fire keepers are designated community members upholding the age-old tradition of keeping a fire strong and hot, working with it, praying to it, and showing it utmost respect.

Keeping the fire strong is not simply for heating stones that may be used in a sweat lodge or providing light and warmth for a dance. It is also representative of the spiritual energy of the ceremony or gathering, which is why a fire needs to remain strong and must never die out until the end of the ceremony.

Depending on the tribe or tradition, sacred aromatics may be placed on the hot rocks heated by this sacred flame. This exchange is an offering and a prayer of gratitude. It is a reminder that when you work with Fire to see it as a living entity.

Fire for Your Body and Spirit

Nourishing my body with the bright Fire of the sun is not only one of my beauty secrets for glowing skin, but it is also a key to good gut health.

Eating daily an array of colorful fruits and vegetables is nutritionally healing, and their colors transport me to memories of sunny days. It’s no wonder that when many of us experience high levels of stress or consume too many processed foods, we can send our digestive systems into high alert.

Nutrient-rich plant foods infused with the sun not only invigorate our metabolism, but they can also energize our spirit.

Warming Herbs and Spices

Warming herbs such as ginger have widely been used for the digestive system, helping with ailments such as an upset stomach, nausea, and indigestion.

While studying Ayurvedic cooking, I learned that several of my common kitchen spices could be eaten to increase the digestion of food and raise the metabolic process in our bodies.

This is valuable because a strong metabolism causes more heat in the body, which helps with the digestion process and is believed to help break down and transform food. This action is called agni, the fire of digestion.;

Hence, consuming the correct herbs and spices can “feed” agni and strengthen its energy, thus allowing for healthy ingestion of nutrients.

The general signs that you may have a weak digestive fire are experiencing a poor appetite, feeling sleepy after meals, having excessive gas, and feeling heavy or lethargic.


An electuary is simply a mixture of powdered herbs and spices combined with honey to make a thick paste that you can take by the spoonful or add to warm water.

I have made electuaries using fresh plant material such as the zest of a lemon or grated ginger, but for the most part, they are traditionally made using dried powdered herbs and spices for a longer shelf life.

Any of these spices (listed below) are great for digestion and can be used on their own or blended to make your own special combination. It’s a straightforward method and a tasty way to introduce more Fire into your body.

Electuary for Digestive Fire

This recipe makes one small jar and is very flexible.


  • 12 cup of runny honey
  • 4 teaspoons ground spices of your choosing:
    • Anise seeds
    • Black pepper
    • Cardamom pods
    • Cayenne
    • Cinnamon
    • Coriander seeds
    • Cumin seeds
    • Dill seeds
    • Fennel seeds
    • Ginger


  • Small jar that can hold at least one half cup, or 4 fluid ounces


  1. To begin, first decide which spices you would like to use from the list below, choosing one single spice or several spices for your creation. Don’t worry about exact measurements, but aim for roughly 4 teaspoons total. If any of your chosen spices are whole, you will first need to grind them using a mortar and pestle.
  2. Once you have your blend of ground spices, place them in your jar and begin adding honey to create a thick paste, mixing and adjusting the honey if you want a thinner or sweeter electuary. Label the jar.
  3. To use the electuary, take one small teaspoonful before meals to enkindle your agni.

In Earth Medicines, Felicia Cocotzin Ruiz, a curandera (or traditional healer) who is a Xicana with Tewa ancestry, combines Indigenous wisdom from many traditions with the power of the four elements.

This modern guide is designed to support readers on their path to wellness with lifestyle practices and recipes perfected by Ruiz in her twenty-five years of training and working as a curandera.

Ruiz teaches readers to be their own healers by discovering their own ancestral practices and cultivating a personal connection to the elements.


Felicia Cocotzin Ruiz

Felicia Cocotzin Ruiz is a traditional healer, storyteller, and indigenous foods activist. As a child, she was deeply influenced by her great-grandmother, who was well known in her community as a curandera, working with traditional herbs, catching babies, and using her hands to heal.

Also called by the healing medicine, Felicia honored her own spirit and began studying massage therapy, energy work, aromatherapy, Indigenous herbalism, whole food cooking, and other holistic modalities, earning the title of Curandera in ceremony in 2018. Felicia lives with her husband in the Sonoran Desert where she works with the sun, the moon, and the elements, offering medicine workshops and one-on-one healing sessions for her community.