Who They Are
Curanderos (male) and curanderas (female) are healers that use herbs and other natural and supernatural remedies to cure ailments. According to Mexican lore, peasants first turn to a curandero. If that fails, they will seek a physician. Curanderos offer a mystical blend of healing arts that has inspired the confidence of rich and poor alike. Never underestimate the healing range of curanderos, who rely upon botanicas, herbal remedies. Curanderismo applies to physical, mental, emotional and spiritual ailments.
The Basis of Curandero Healing Arts
Curanderismo, spiritual healing art, is widely practiced in Mexico as well as other Hispanic countries. But, curanderos date back to pre-Hispanic Indian shamanism. Contemporary curandero draw upon faith in the Virgin of Guadalupe who is believed to be the same as the more ancient Tonantzin, the mother goddess of Mesoamerican tribes. Many M.D.’s seek curanderismo training. They recognize that modern medicine is devoid of any spirituality and, therefore, cannot bring about holistic healing. Curanderos still rely upon the anicient Aztec healing rituals and methods. Curanderismo represents the melding of many cultures, Spanish, Aztec, African and Native American.
Gifts of the Curandero
A curandero can specialize based on his don, his spiritual gift, granted by God. One curandera may be gifted with a knowledge of herbs. This hierbera or herbalist will know the healing properties of herbs and will commit her life to gaining advanced knowledge and experiential herbal healing. She will know the medicinal and the spiritual powers of herbs. A sobadoro relieves physical and emotional distress with massage. Consajeros are counselors who listen and guide those who seek direction in their lives. Other dons include midwifery, chiropractors and those who can channel spirits. (This information is cited from “Curanderismo: Soul Medicine for Disability at https://www.healingtherapies.info/Curanderismo1.htm )
Ailments for Curanderismo
Curanderismo is holistic healing and strives to find and cure the causes as well as symptoms of any kind of illness. The curandero’s goal is to discern what states of consciousness create physical and other havoc in a patient. Extreme anger, energy blockages or even bad spirits are considered to be legitimate and powerful influences on a person’s overall health. People with disabilities suffer from soul loss (susto), a spiritual affliction. Although everyone experiences susto at some point by loss of some sort, someone who is afflicted by severe disabilities can experience a blow to the sense of self, of their identity. A curandera knows that she must address the emotional aspect in order to succeed at any level of physical healing.
Curanderismo does not pretend to magically lift out all ailments. With reliance upon alternative healing methods and a sound recognition of the whole being, it is a practical approach to healing. Not everyone who goes to a curadero is “healed” in the Western European sense of the word. The person seeking help is involved in the healing journey and can achieve a realization of inner strength and acceptance that allows forward motion on the inner levels of life. In that sense, curanderismo has the power to heal in ways that are not always physically obvious. Happiness, peace of mind, openness to different possibilities are states of being that cannot not be underestimated for their value in a healthy life.
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This post is part of the series: Indigenous Healers
Exploring the world’s indigenous healers and the ways that they bring healing to their respective cultures.