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I Got My Spiritual Oil Changed

Laying down with local energy healer Antoinnette Chirinos
Limpia energy healing by San Diego Peruvian healer, Antoinette Chirinos

Lately I’ve been having trouble focusing on the moments between yesterday and tomorrow. Days pass with much work but little intention. Which is part of the reason I found myself lying face-up on a massage table, a medicine woman rubbing my forehead with a whole egg.

And though I know many an abuela swear by the practice, no one has ever rubbed an egg on my face before. Covered with a woven blanket, the room darkened by an eye mask, the shell feels familiar yet foreign against my skin. I like it. 

Above me hovers Antoinnette Chirinos, a Peruvian healer who has called San Diego home for the last 16 years. I’m here for one of Chirinos’ limpia sessions, or what some might call an energy cleaning. A first for me. And while I’ve never been in a session like this before, I wouldn’t call myself a nonbeliever.

I’ve worked with psychedelics for more than a decade, and the overlap between what Chirinos does and what plant medicine practitioners do is not insignificant. Having arrived skeptical of the efficacy of chakra clearing and chicken magic, I’m simultaneously hoping it works. I’m earnestly hoping to visit a sacred place inside myself I haven’t lately been able to find. 

Labradonite rocks that contain healing properties and are used by  San Diego Peruvian healer, Antoinette Chirinos

“It’s a massage for your nervous system,” Chirinos tells me of her work. “I’m adjusting energy that’s out of balance. It’s like an oil change—so you don’t burn out and don’t get depleted.”

I imagine myself ding-dinging into a spiritual Jiffy Lube for a tuneup. I’d like to be running smoother by the end of this. More grounded. A better version of myself.

“Americans are extra stressed,” Chirinos says. “It’s very important to treat calmness and mental health as a priority.”

This resonates. Between work and a baby at home I often feel as though I’m caught in a great crushing stampede of people—arms pinned, struggling to breathe. I try to slow down, to plant my feet, but barely manage to feel them scraping the ground as I’m carried. My heels never seem to catch.

Having lost touch with my center, so-to-speak, when Chirinos reached out to San Diego Magazine offering her service, I felt a call to come. Perhaps all I need is someone to dry clean my aura and I’ll be able to step out of the rat race, and back on track.

Interior of San Diego Peruvian healer, Antoinette Chirinos's sacred space for plant-medicine based healing

Chirinos moves around me playing a crystal singing bowl. Loud, in a good way. Have you ever seen those macro photographs of water being hit with different sound frequencies? Or sand on a plate rubbed with a violin bow? The atoms dance into geometric shapes.

Enveloped in the low humming vibrations of the bowl, I feel the liquid molecules in my body turning to half melted snowflakes. I’m a cartoon angel lounging on a cloud. The louder she plays, the deeper I sink.

I like this too.

Meeting Chirinos felt like we spoke different dialects of the same spiritual language. She is kind and warm and passionate about what she does. This work runs in her family. Her grandmother was an energy worker, too; her grandfather worked with plants. Chirinos does both.

“I didn’t learn this in school,” she says. “It’s been guided to me. When I’m working, I feel my grandmother’s presence. She’s talking to me.”

Chirinos’ clients are often social workers and moms, she tells me. People who take on a lot. “And cancer patients who come to her in addition to their other treatments, because their body is under a lot of stress in chemo,” she says. Her work blends sound therapy, various energy work modalities like Reiki, smudging, crystals—and the egg.

Egg yolk used in Antoinette Chirinos' limpia healing treatment

The egg, she tells me, will pick up any spiritual detritus that’s attached to me, like an antibiotic for energetic germs. Whatever is trying to take my energy, the egg will vacuum up. I envision invisible barnacles stuck to me, sucking my vibrant life force, slowing me down. Yes, I think, scrub me with that egg.

After touching it to my arms, hands, legs, and feet, she cracks the egg into a pint glass of water. Later, she examines the suspended albumen, chalaza, yolk—and shares with me what she sees. A divination of sorts. Perhaps a form of tasseography—like a fortune teller reading tea leaves, or maybe more than that

She points out dozens of tiny bubbles at the tips of whisper-thin strings of egg white.

“Each of those bubbles was attached to you,” she says. “Something you don’t need.” 

I nod in agreement, wanting to believe her more than I do.

I remain skeptical. In our hyper-competitive and hyper-consumptive culture, it can often feel as though the wellness world has been infiltrated by an army of snake oil salesmen looking to cash in. Chirinos doesn’t set off those alarm bells for me. She seems genuine in her desire to help. Perhaps she’s on to something.

Sign saying "Welcome to our sacred space in San Diego Peruvian healer, Antoinette Chirinos's studio

Looking at the bubbles I don’t feel any particular connection to them, nor do I feel noticeably lighter, but I’m curious how I’ll feel in the coming weeks. I didn’t come for spiritual Botox. I don’t want a temporary fix. I seek a deeper healing. Some penetrating knowledge I might carry with me.

Our session lasts an hour or so. Before we part, Chirinos offers me suggestions on how to protect myself from the harsh energies of the everyday world we live in. “There’s so much energy and stress coming at us at all times,” she says. “It’s necessary to prepare and protect yourself.”

We discuss Agua de Florida (a kind of botanical-infused alcohol used to clear energies), which I’ve long enjoyed. She tells me to use it more intentionally, at the base of my skull and behind my knees to protect myself.

“Behind the knees is where the bad energies attach,” she says, telling me to bend down and bring Earth energy up and around my body to protect and ground me. She seems excited for me to begin the practice.

“Raise your vibration and the healing will continue,” she tells me.

I wait weeks after our session to write about it.

In the meantime I take her advice. I use the Florida water more diligently, smudge my house after weekly cleanings. Connect more deeply with the Earth. Overall, I’m more intentional with my energy. 

Throughout the weeks I notice moments when I feel calmer than I have in many months.

I couldn’t feel it at the time, but her session was helping me slow down in a profound way. Maybe it was the singing bowls, or the way she adjusted my energetic balance, or maybe it was the egg. Whatever it was, I found myself more easily able to find and return to the quiet center within me.

I’m still caught in the stampede, but I can start to feel my heels catching. I’m slowing down. Life hasn’t changed dramatically, but it has shifted towards more patience and calm. And that makes me want to get my oil changed again in due time.

By Mateo Hoke

Mateo Hoke is San Diego Magazine’s executive editor. His books include Six by Ten: Stories from Solitary, and Palestine Speaks: Narratives of Life Under Occupation.

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