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Curanderismo, the 'Way of Healing', stirs up images of copal smoke and bundles of herbs, of egg cleansings and whispers of intense prayer. Anywhere in the Spanish speaking world, those who claim or are reputed to heal may be known as curandero/as ("healers"), or medico/as ("doctors"). With many regional variances across Latin America, this can range from pragmatic medical herbalism, bone-setting or midwifery, to faith healing, shamanism, and folk magic. 


These healers, operating mostly under an (colonially imposed) 'universal' Hispanic Catholic worldview with various influences, cosmologies, and modalities, are able to cure those that come to them of various physical, spiritual, or emotional illnesses. To a curandero/a, all illness is related, and all has a source and diagnosis in the spiritual-material world. Born of the mixture of Catholicism and Indigenous belief, this hybrid worldview keeps miracles alive and God moving through the world, allowing us to heal and fight disease in ourselves and others.


Is this Christian folk healing? Rural folk medicine or superstition? Is it prayer or science? Is it the survival of native belief past colonization and state Catholicism? Is it witchcraft? Nothing is so simple when we look at the history, context, and practices that are all called curanderismo in Mexico. We will look at the cosmology, structures, techniques, materia medica and magica, the pantheons of spirits and saints, and look at examples of treatments and famous curanderos of the past. This is a class to celebrate and educate, and give praise to the teachers and practices of this medicine path. We will end the class with cleansings and prayers, in a short group ritual.


About the Presenter:

Jesse Hathaway Diaz is a folklorist, artist and performer living in New York City. With initiations in several forms of witchcraft from Europe and the Americas, he is also a lifelong student of Mexican curanderismo, an initiated olosha in Lucumí, and a Tatá Quimbanda. For the last decade he has been a member of Theatre Group Dzieci, an experimental ensemble based in NY dedicated to the search for the sacred through the medium of theatre. He is half of Wolf & Goat, a store specializing in both Traditional Craft and Quimbanda materia magica and magical art, a co-host on the Radio Free Golgotha podcast, and a co-editor on the Folk Necromancy in Transmission Series through Revelore Press.

Curanderismo: An Introduction to Mexican Folk Healing Traditions

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