Curanderismo is a syncretic type of folk magic practiced in the United States and Latin America which blends elements drawn from Native American, Christian, Arabic, and European magical, medicinal, and religious traditions. Curanderos make use of herbal mixtures, ritual baths, candles, oils, perfumes, amulets, stones, and so on. Rituals also involve the use of Catholic prayers, petition to the saints, and invocation of God, the Holy Spirit and/or Jesus. Some practitioners also invoke folk saints, child-spirit helpers, duendes (forest elves), and mythical spirits such as La Llorona, the weeping woman.
Further information regarding this fascinating tradition:
Prayer is the foundation of curanderismo. Curanderas have strong religious faith and believe that they were given the ability to heal as a gift from God. Curanderas pray to spirits and/or Catholic saints for help in healing their patients, often praying to specific saints for particular conditions.
A traditional healing session may include one or more of the following: spiritual cleansing (limpia), ritual, massage, and/or herbal therapy. Curanderas use a variety of objects in their healing sessions, including herbs and spices, eggs, lemons, flowers, fruits, holy water, pictures of saints, crucifixes, candles, incense, and oils. Each object has a specific purpose.
Holy water is used for protection from negativity or evil spirits. Eggs and lemons are patted on the patient’s body to absorb negative energies. Rosemary, basil, and rue branches are brushed on the body to remove negativity.
Candles are burned to absorb negative energy and create a healing environment. Different colored candles are burned for different reasons: red for strength, blue for harmony, pink for good will. Incense is used to purify the room, while garlic and oils are used as protection from negativity and bad spirits.
- Excerpt from an entry on Curanderismo at the Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine website.
Curanderismo is not only a form of folk healing, it also includes the practice white magic, ritual, cleansings, energy work, spirit contact, divination, and a vast amount of prayer just to name a few. While some practitioners prefer to engage only in one area, others work in all areas.
Curanderismo is a very spiritual practice with strong religious faith. Practitioners use a variety of objects including herbs, spices, eggs, lemons, limes, Holy Water, Saints, Crucifixes, prayer, candles, incense, oils and divination tools. Most include spirit assistance.
- Excerpt from a Curious Curandera article.
This article from a Texas newspaper, which looks at the work of a curandero, is also interesting.