Thus, as we live in a place out of time, there are what are called curanderas here in México. The term loosely translated is “one that cures”, for the most part with herbs and prayers, that which ails you. All sorts of innocent looking items may be part of the cure. For instance, once I asked about this hairy looking thing in my mother-in-law’s house. It was a long brown stick with hair sort of like a horse tail whip that she said was a ward for evil and helped with the cure of her arthritic knee.
Now, I know that herbs are plenty helpful, in many cases more so than manufactured chemicals prescribed by doctors. There is nothing new in the idea of wise women in the history of the world. It was when I understood that a curandera is often a diviner, a fortune teller, or spell caster, that I was taken aback. After all, the bible warns against any association with witches and I had been raised a good Christian girl. But wait a minute, Chencha, the curandera was a devout Catholic.
So, before judging with biblical admonitions to “You must not preserve a sorceress alive” (Exodus 22:18) I needed to remember that the bible also speaks of prophets and prophetesses or seers in a positive light. For every witch of Endor (1 Samuel 28:7-25) there is a Deborah. (Judges 4:4-24)
Well, why not? When in Rome, the saying goes. . .So as things at the time were not going so well, off we trooped, my husband, my mother-in-law, my sister-in-law L and myself.
Chencha had a little waiting room/store. She sold amulets and lotions but the bulk of items for sale seemed to be ladies undergarments. So we sat in the waiting room and were eventually called to the secret room behind the store. And I was introduced Chencha, a tiny woman that radiated peacefulness and power, an efficient elf. She got right down to business and read the cards for each of us with a well worn and shuffled tarot deck.
L’s cards were full of woe and even the egg that was used to cleanse the body came out bloody. She would need more cleansing sessions before she could be “cruzado” crossed or blessed.
My husband’s cards were also portentous. Chencha made the comment that if she told everything she saw in the cards, he would surely weep. And when the egg was waved around his body and then cracked open, it contained oodles of salt. Apparently this means he is “salado” or had envious friends or acquaintances that were interfering with the flow of his life spirit.
Then it was my turn. She took my hand and placed it on the deck of cards and asked me to pray with her. I repeated what she said. It was something like I asked that the cards would show me answers for my well being and future happiness and that we would be wise in the interpretation of what was about to be presented.
So she said that I had a good heart, that I would live a long time, that my child would be fine, that my husband liked to drink but that didn’t mean he didn’t love me, that I had problems with the butterfly shaped organ that affected my mood, that I got angry easily and found forgiveness difficult and that my finances had been going down steadily for 2 years. As an afterthought, she said that any trip I might be planning would be fine.
So how close was she? My husband and I were having serious problems, so much so that I was planning on leaving México to go back to the US in a matter of weeks. However, I hadn’t told even him of that plan. I have hypothyroidism, the thyroid is the butterfly-shaped organ in the neck, and I had not been taking my medication for about a year. Three days after this consultation, we celebrated our second year in México, and our funds were at an all time low. And my in-laws chimed in and said that I was a “corajuda” or easily provoked. Who am I to gainsay them?
She seemed right on the money.
Chencha passed an egg over certain areas of my body, those I suspect that are in the centers of power and prayed. She cracked the egg into a clear glass already full of water and peered into it. I had some salt, literally, salt. As with my husband, it meant I was salada, that someone or some persons of my acquaintance were ‘echandome el sal’ or wishing me ill and that it was interfering with my sense of well-being. However, it wasn’t enough for her to suggest the full treatment. She was pretty sure it would take care of itself.
However, L and my husband needed the full dose, 9 sessions of cleansing and prayer and then the final blessing if the egg was clean. Nine seems to have special significance here. When a person dies there is a “novena” or prayers for 9 days after the death. When a prayer making petition is published in the newspaper, it is for 9 days. And it seems to me there are 9 stations of the cross in Catholicism as well.
My husband completed his treatments and we went about our daily lives.