Could Curanderismo Be Right For Your Healing? An Intro To Latin American Folk Healing

November 11, 2022

The world is in need of healing, now more than ever. Fortunately, I also think that we are becoming more open and aware of different forms and traditions of healing. As a POC, I’m especially grateful to the rising popularity of healing cultural traditions. Gone are the days when one’s physical maladies were treated only by Western medicine and inner challenges only by a therapist. While these are powerful indeed, I think I’ve been helped just as much by acupuncture, TCM, yoga, reiki, and home remedies. My friends also swear by acupressure, tarot reading, African herbalism, and other modalities to nurture their whole being. Recently, I’ve also become curious about curanderismo—which is a Latin American healing system that works on physical, mental, and spiritual levels.

Like Latin American culture in general, curanderismo blends Indigenous knowledge, Catholic beliefs, Mestizo heritage, and Sephardic and African heritage (especially depending on the background of the practitioner). When the practitioner reaches the experience level of an elder, the community awards them with the title curandera or curandero—an honorable title meaning “healer.” This healing process happens with a heart-to-heart conversation called “platica” between the practitioner and the patient. This allows the patient’s negative energies to be purged in a safe, sacred space. The practitioner may call upon divine aid  with prayers and magical invocations, and can also use this time to determine the right healing method, or limpia, to progress further.

What sets curaderismo apart is the strong religious foundation with a focus on nature, spirit, and self. It values both physical and interpersonal health, and prioritizes nutrition.

  1. Curaderismo can help those who suffer from PTSD, grief (losing a loved one or a pregnancy), and abuse. Curaderismo can also help with harder-to-identify spiritual issues with guidance from your ancestors, angels, saints, deities, and animal protectors.
  2. Like other forms of shamanic and energetic modalities, you should get the help of an experienced healer. Now, I’m not saying you can’t do a fun self-loving cacao ceremony at home without a healer’s help. That seems pretty innocent—and also, it’s chocolate, which feels pretty universal! But any time we partake in other cultures’ traditions, it is important to honor it and not appropriate it. It takes years of training for a curaderismo practitioner to earn their knowledge, so respect it by working with them. Some practitioners work in a trance, and others work in dream-time.
  3. Curaderismo doesn’t insist on being the only healing modality. Your healer will refer you to Western doctors or other treatments as needed.
  4. Your curaderismo healing might include plant potions like remedios (remedies), baños (baths), limpiezas (cleanses); song; burning sacred herbs; cacao; and energy work, similar to reiki. It also can involve special amulets worn in a medicine bag or as jewelry, and psilocybin, a psychedelic mushroom that has been taken for centuries in Mexico to induce spiritual journeys.

Would you try curaderismo to nurture your whole being?

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Photo: Jennifer Marquez via Unsplash


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