The Magic of Casa Werma

A reflection on Casa Werma, thirty years on.


By Brus and Jean Westby

What is the difference between the “magic” of sleight of hand or a trick of the eye and real magic? The first amuses, even astounds, while the other completely transforms us.

On October 15, 2010, at Casa Werma in Patzcuaro, state of Michoacan, Mexico, at the exact spot and day where the Druk Sakyong, Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche, wrote the Werma Sadhana thirty years before, our small group of eight students, led by Acharya Allyn Lyon, gathered to celebrate a Werma Feast. We’d come from Boulder, Los Angeles, San Miguel de Allende and Tepotzlan. Several of us had been students of the Druk Sakyong, others newer and younger.

Our feast was the culmination of a week-long practice of the Werma Sadhana. Although we were a small group, we represented three different areas of practice: general sadhana, Scorpion Seal 1 and 2. We discovered that practicing together in the same shrine room was not only workable, but inspiring. Throughout the week, both the Druk Sakyong’s and the Sakyong’s presence was palpable for all of us.

In the middle of the week, we all took a short pilgrimage to Tzintzuntzan, or “The Place of the Hummingbirds.” This is an ancient Purepacha Indian site known for its “Yacatas,” or rounded and flat-topped pyramids, the only ones of their kind in all of Mezo-America. Although it isn’t a certainty, this may have been the place where the Druk Sakyong, Lady Diana and their retinue had performed a lhasang in 1980. So we performed a lhasang as well. The parks management was quite accommodating in allowing such a strange ceremony in the middle of a national park!

During the Werma Feast, we shared delicious Mexican food and drink–tequila instead of sake–and read the Druk Sakyong’s teachings from various texts. Some of us told stories of our encounters with him, which were poignant, funny and even terrifying! We each felt as close to each other as if we were family members, a remarkable transformation for distant acquaintances and complete strangers only days before!

By now many words have been written by a number of practitioners as to the beauty of Casa Werma and its five acres of trees and gardens in the middle of the lovely mountain pueblo of Patzcuaro. Has it been mentioned though that Casa Werma is completely magical and is an experience that should not be missed? Directors Eve Halpern and Cris Sandoval, along with their baby girl, Aziza, are delightful people and very helpful in providing information about travel and accommodations. Their email is This Fall and next year a number of Werma, Scorpion Seal and Shambhala programs have been scheduled. Consider a visit soon for a program or individual retreat. You will be transformed!