It is my hope that if you are reading these lines, you get inspiration to reconnect to the land, the directions, the elements that lay in nature. May you reconnect with what surrounds you and what is within you. May you find your inner compass and the very element of movement that is in the center of that compass animating each of those elements and giving you direction even when you know not where you are going. We don’t have to feel lost even if we don’t know where we are going.
The word Curanderismo literally means “healing” in spanish. But in truth we give it an official name when in fact it is a way of life in Mexico and the Southwest states of the US. I didn't know that my grandma’s remedies and healing techniques were special as I was born into them and it was part of everyday life. In Curanderismo, our use of language is poetic and the healer is considered an artist. We interact and acknowledge the invisible worlds and consider them as palpable as the consensual reality. We see the totality of life and how the same atoms that make a plant also make a human. How the same elements that make a seed sprout, grow, give fruit, and return to the earth are the same elements that give us life and movement.
Curanderismo is a holistic approach looking at the body, the mind, the emotions, and the Spirit. In fact, emotions are considered to be where mind and body meet, and where the very root of our illnesses start. If emotions are left unattended they become pathology and eventually fatal, but it doesn’t end there; If emotions are taken to the grave as secrets, the next generations are to inherit this cellular energetic imprint.
Curanderismo is inclusive of the person’s internal and external environment. Their surroundings are a direct effect of their well-being and influence the internal environment. If the internal environment is inhibited or limited to self-healing, that will transfer to the external environment as well. It is imperative to empower the individual by reassuring the gifts and abilities they have and making sure the individual seeking healing holds the intention of healing very clearly. In their healing process, family or friends can be invited to participate, especially if conflicts with these individuals contribute to the cause of the illness.
One of the things that curanderismo as well as many indigenous healing practices around the world do, is to make it a full body experience including sounds, fragrances, touch, the beauty of color, and the healing touch through hands-on healing, plants, sweat lodges, drumming, medicine songs, or fire ceremonies. In traditional ways of healing, we stay with the patient as long as needed for the emotional release to arise within the window of tolerance*, always making sure the person is feeling safe and accompanied by the healer. As an individual, we first and foremost remember that we are our own healer and that we do need outside forces to aid us, but ultimately, we are the ones healing ourselves.
Curanderismo: Healing body and soul
Yes, we treat body restrictions, chronic pain, and muscle tension. We also work with conditions such as shyness, self-consciousness, broken heart, bad luck, nightmares, fright, envy, loneliness, rage, anxiety, family problems, marriage problems, sexual problems, infertility, and how to leave or find a partner. While these can be complex, many of these can be cleared with much of the work already practiced in craniosacral therapy and our beautiful work of dialog. It is imperative to understand that the main part of the healing begins with the greeting, and how present we are when they arrive. If they meet us for the first time and they feel trust and the rest of their systems will too.
I had a new client come in to see me because she picked my card and felt I was the one to heal her. She continued by saying that no one else was able to touch her abdomen and that she felt completely safe not really knowing why, but she was sure I was the one. In cases like this, we know there is a force bigger than us making the client-practitioner match and we must show up fully to the task. I reassured her that besides my personal medicine, it will also be her inner wisdom doing the work and that she was going to get as much out of the sessions as her body was ready for. We had a lovely, gentle, but powerful session working with her abdomen. I felt an incredible amount of anger that had been repressed for many decades. We burned some copal and with the smoke did a blessing over her body to create an intention of healing and the next steps in her life. On the following day, I received a call from her, where she explained that she was feeling an incredible amount of anger and was using her voice against her abusive partner. Soon after, she separated from him. The very old chronic stomach issues began to resolve as soon as she made the decision to leave her abusive partner.
In curanderismo, we also classify these folk “dis-eases” into: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual (tonal/energy body). Each of these has their own unique approach and depending on the tradition, the situation, and the curandero/a doing the healing is how the healing is going to look like. It is true that if the healing is in the body, the healing will be given to the body with the many therapies and techniques known by the Curandera/o (practitioner), but also including mind emotions, and spirit. If the illness is emotional a combination of both mind and body will be offered using movement, sounds, herbs, flowers, and waters depending on the emotion being worked with. However, if it is spiritual in nature, we will be introducing, ritual, and elemental ceremonies such as fire or water to do a soul retrieval and spiritual cleansing and retrieve the soul and energy back to the person. When the illness is of the mind, we assist the individual and the family or supportive relatives of the individual in how to best cope with it integrating their already administered medications as well as a lifestyle that includes joyful events and feeling the support of loved ones.
Curanderismo is a preventive medicine approach that if we learn to use it will keep illness and imbalances away. As winter arrives, let's welcome the medicines that we have. Perhaps you are in summer or winter, what does your body need? If you are in the northern hemisphere enjoying the coolness of winter, give your body warm baths with bay leaves, feverfew, rosemary, and eucalyptus to bring warmth into the body and release inflammation within the respiratory system. Drink plenty of teas including cinnamon, cloves, and other warm spices.
If you are in the southern hemisphere enjoying the summer, it is a great time to do green smoothie cleanses to bring gut inflammation down using one green apple, 1 stick of celery, lime juice of one lime, and one cup of spinach with plenty of water to blend. Drink your smoothie in the morning on an empty stomach and allow the fiber to work for a good 45 minutes before resuming normal meals. Drink plenty of fluids. You will enjoy feeling more slender after a week of this practice, but be careful, only do this smoothie for a maximum of three or four weeks to prevent ulcers. If you want to do it again, allow three weeks before doing it again.
This is part 1 in a 4-part series centering the practice and writing of Curandera, Margarita Camarena.
Learn more about Curanderismo and Margarita Camerena by reading her contributor bio.