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Magic in Mexico

"A good healer will tell you they are still learning."
K.L. Moore

Magic, witches and warlocks and spells, boiling cauldrons, these are the things I think of when I hear the word 'magic'. But there is so much more to the word, or shall I say, concept of magic. In Mexico, magic is word not be used lightly. Many Mexicans have a deep-rooted faith in the power of magic. Most of these believers are devout Catholics as well.

The infusion of magic and religion is historical to this country. The magic touches all parts of life and the people here use it for all parts of their worlds. Personally, I have had some bad luck lately. Everything in my home is breaking. The clocks are all off and my trusty new Timex could not take it any longer. I also have always been able to make up my mind about pretty much everything in my life, lately I just can't seem to make my mind up about anything. And to top all of this off, I have had some very bad luck fishing. In fact, I was told on the dock after returning from an exceptionally bad day, that I needed to get myself to a witch, pronto. My favorite captain actually said I was not allowed on his boat until I had had a good cleansing. My interest was piqued, so I inquired around to some of the women I know here and found a place to get a cleansing. I went. I have to go back. Four more times to be exact. The next time, I must bring a special lotion for my body and my home. I am to put a bowl of fresh water under my bed and red and white flowers in my room.

I am sure many of your reading would like to go, but it is not a normal tourist thing. It is a very serious practice with many local faithful followers. I am to become one of them. But all over Mexico there are witches, good and bad, and healers with magical powers. From the highest to the lowest social classes, there are followers. If you have a good Mexican friend whom you think is a believer of magic, ask them if one day you might be able to go. It was quite an experience.

A curandero or curandera is a person who is a healer. They practice a very ancient art of using sayings or mantras, oils, herbs, incenses, flowers and water to heal people from serious ailments such as stomach cancer to a broken heart. Some are better than others, in fact, there are pilgrimages made to see the better ones every year. Curanderos often have the power passed down to them from a generation above. But it takes more than the ability, one must study the ancient art for years and years.

A good healer will tell you they are still learning. They do not treat the illness or malady, they treat the whole person. Everyone has a story and after talking to a friend, she relayed her latest tale of a curandero. She had a pulled tendon or muscle in her arm causing her to have a pinch in her neck. She endured the pain for a month or so and then set out in search of her healer. She walked around looking for her curandero and he was not to be found. An old woman approached her on the street, asked her if she needed help. "Yes!" said my friend, with emphasis. The old woman said come with me. After a cleaning, my friend was cured. No more pinched neck, no more pain.

An 'espiritualista' is a spiritual healer. Like a curandera they use herbs and natural home remedies to treat everything from jealousy to trauma. From what I have heard they have a high rate of success as well. A witch 'bruja' or, for a man, 'brujo' casts or breaks spells.

All over Mexico, there are witches in practice with good and bad magic. One of the most popular spells to break is that of envy. Apparently if someone envies you, a bad spell can be cast which can cause you physical and spiritual problems. The only way to get rid of the resulting problem is to go to a good witch and break the spell. The testaments to this particular problem are numerous. Also very popular are the love spells. You can imagine the requests the witches get to lure in love. Some good witches are constantly having to break the spells of the same bad witches over and over again. They enjoy the healthy competition of trying to out spell each other.

Magic is real. It is out there, and Mexico is a country with a belief, or shall I say, a faith in the mystical and the unknown. Hopefully, it will work for me and I can get a working clock, make up my mind and catch a fish. I will just have to have a little faith in the unknown.

February 2001

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