Saturday, May 30, 2015

Repirse of Part Two - From Kansas to Other-and-Altar-wise, An Account of Personal Experiences and Observations in a Mexican Curandismo Clinic

 All photos by Warren Falcon unless otherwise attributed.


[This was originally published as Part 2 on March 5, 2008. I have republished it so that new readers may get the major gist (besides my poetry) of what Paul Tillich would call my (currently) "Ultimate Concerns".]

The following is part two of a two part account of my personal experiences and observations of curandismo, traditional indigenous healing practices, in Southern Mexico (see Part One.).

[This opening section here is the same as in Part One. You may skip to "Part Two" if you've already read Part One.]
[The photo at the top is of the limpia fire circle (click on the photo to enlarge it). A pentagram has been drawn with denatured alcohol in the center of the circle to cleanse it. The other photo is of Bety R. at her card reading table. Click on the photo for enlargement and you will see the card deck she uses for card readings].

For six years I have apprenticed with Bety R. who has a very busy and successful healing clinic near a large city in Southern Mexico in the high planes between two cordilleros (mountain ranges). Born into a family with generations of curanderos and curanderas Bety grew up around healing practices all of her life. She has incorporated techniques and philosophies of Western wicca which includes widdershins, the use of the pentagram and other wiccan practices. There are angel meditations but I do not know whether these are from wicca for these are no sweet Christian or New Age angels. They are more akin to angels as primal energies of creation mighty and terrible in their service of the Almighty and Mysterious Creative Energy. Part 1 consists of autobiographical experiences with thoughts about these experiences as written in my notes during and after extended visits with Bety. I account for some of the tools and techniques and offer personal obserations and thoughts about personal motivations for studying and practicing curandismo. I speak of the appeal of power and the temptations thereof.

View some photos of my recent trip to Mexico at this site:



Many of Bety's clients drop in regularly for a card reading. Bety and her assistant are extremely intuitive card readers. The card deck appears to be a regular playing deck only I have never seen this deck in the U.S. The "Bety Spread," as I call it, consists of placing all cards on the table in lines of ten. I have yet to determine how the spread works, the significance of placements, etc. Once all the cards are placed on the table Bety looks over the spread then with a flash of fast fingers starts to count from the first card with a human figure, up and down, back and forth. She will ask a clarifying question or two and then begin to interpret the cards. The client participates by providing information along with their own questions from which the reading unfolds. Often enough people waiting in the same room participate by volunteering their own intuition, questions, comments. This seems to be tolerated very well by the person whose cards are being read although I personally would prefer a more private session. Bety's readings can be tender or tough, mincing no words when she needs to convey to a client that they're on a perilous path or ignoring a serious problem.

An unexpected participation in a card reading

On this most recent trip I unexpectedly participated in a card reading by Bety for a fifteen year old young man dressed in gang clothes with many insignias. Very tatooed with death heads, Santa Muerte, the Virgin of Guadelupe, and several famous Mexican rock band names, he had a lizard-like look as he sat at the card table across from Bety, hunched over, head down, trying to vibe her out with his tough venere. Unfazed and somewhat amused Bety quietly, quickly and agressively tapped over the cards in his spread. Then with a look of disgust she cleared her throat loudly as if spitting up some foul thing. Leaning over the cards with a head butting motion almost into the face of the kid now arching his head away from her, she screamed at him, "No me mentires!! Don't you lie to me!! You are a liar and the first lie I catch you in I'm going to beat you myself and run you out of here! You are in great danger. You could get killed by three people whom you foolishly believe are your friends. They have already killed two people and they are thinking of killing you. Verdad?!! True?!!"

Wide-eyed, the tough collapsed into tears and poured out a tale of gangs, drugs, sexual initiations, violence, betrayals, jealousies with easily shifting loyalties, and territorial turf war. He was planning to run away to another distant Mexican state to escape the gang and the three young men who were planning to kill him. He was distressed because he discovered that the gang he was in also had a chapter there where he wanted to hide out. The young man's older sister who had dragged him to Bety wept, too, and looked to Bety for real help. Bety had called me over to the table just before the reading to observe. Bety looked at me and asked me what I saw in the cards. I saw nothing as I was not familiar with this particular deck. I had nothing to offer regarding this young man's story so I suggested that another card spread be made with the goal toward solutions or possible solutions to this young man's problem.

Bety agreed and commanded the young man to pray hard as he shuffled the cards again. He cut the deck. Then Bety pointed him and me toward the limpia/cleansing room insisting that he bathe for his life in the flames. She told me that he needed an adult male to cleanse him. After my cleansing him both she and I would work on him. He would need to return for the next 2 days for more work.

He bathed vigorously in the flames. I was as scared for him as he was for himself my being unexpectedly thrust into this life and death matter where his, his sister's and Bety's expectations were that I would be of some assistance to him regarding this dangerous gang matter. I was imagining gang members waiting outside of Bety's gate to kill us all when we exited the temple area.

The flame vortices roared twining high and hot with lots of dark smoke as I directed him to stomp, growl, punch the air and throw up bad energies. After he stepped out of the fire and while the assistant took photos for images within the circle for interpretation, diagnosis and prognostication I cleansed him further while evoking for him fortifying protective energies. I prayed to the Eye of God (see Part One for my comments about the Eye of God archetype) and all its suitable manifestations to protect, guide and save this kid from a violent death. The kid trembled having lost his persona of toughness at the card table when Bety called him out about lieing. He appeared to be 8 years old at most.

From my journal notes of the session:

Bety entered and quietly went to work.

I have never ceased to watch Bety's eyes when she commences to do energy work as they become non-human, bird-like, with a kind of sheen in them. She seeks and sees the energy field of the body and works it according to what she sees. I worked at the kid's back, she the front. Dipping our hands into a bowl of water fortified and "sweetened" with a spoonful of men's cologne called "Siete Machos" ("Seven Machos" with seven male horned goat heads on the label) we cleanse, fortify, and sweeten this young man's energy field. And we pray.

Bety makes some symbols on his forehead, throat, and heart (pentagrams) then places his hands together in front of him in an open cupping gesture. She makes energy passes over the hands as if cleansing them then drawing energy into them. She twice taps out points of a pentagram in his hands then gently pushes them together in a praying gesture. She gently guides the praying hands to the kid's heart with one of her hands over his hands at the heart and her other hand at his heart center on his back.

The kid looks visibly calmer and energetically clearer. His face is relaxed as if in trance. He really looks like a sleepy little boy. I then guide him to a small, quiet room and gently speak to him. He needs a safe place to stay. His sister enters with Bety and we together commiserate where this safe place may be. I have a rental car and so it is determined that I will drive him to a small village in the chaparral an hour and a half away where his grandmother lives alone. I'll pick him up the following morning and drive him back to Bety's for further work.

Regarding the second card spread made before the kid and I went to do the cleansing ritual, I don't know what Bety saw in the spread and I forgot to bring it up to discus with her the following day.

The end of Bety's work day

At the end of Bety's work day, usually 5 or 6 pm, and once the assistant and I have cleaned up the temple, we each have a limpia in the flames to cleanse ourselves of anything which may have adhered to us from the day's work. The assistant then dissolves and cleanses the limpia circle with more fire. A burning candle is placed in the center of the once-was-the-limpia circle to burn through the night (the floor is concrete as is the entire structure of the clinica/templo and thus it is safe to burn an unattended candle). We gather before the altar and pray to Metatron and the Eye giving gratitude for the privilege of doing this kind of work (Please see earlier blogs re: Metatron).

As we step out of the clinic and through the front gate Bety makes the sign of the Cross at her forehead, her mouth, then her heart. To her this is indeed a temple, a sacred place, and she leaves it as she enters it, crossing herself and praying.

As we all walk toward my car we discus what we'll all have for dinner, our separate plans for the evening, and then we see the taxi coming toward us driven in a fast cloud of white dust by Bety's new boyfriend. Bety cackles that he "can't get to her fast enough and who could blame him" her "being all sexxy and a real prize." She's winking wildly at us all. She speculates as to whether they'll be able to get home "before the fires start." As we howl with laugher her walk becomes exagerated, that of a "mamacita," her full and ample hips swaying like large solid bells in their tower.

The taxi slides to a noisy stop in front of us.

I drive the kid to his grandmother's as the sun sets behind the high Oaxacan mountains. He's quiet and shy. Forces larger than both of us are at play and we are both silenced by them. He runs to his grandmother standing in the doorway when we drive up as if she had been expecting us. She nods to me once in acknowledgement, embraces the boy, then both enter the adobe home surrounded by smells of dinner and the pungent odor of nearby farm animals. The insects of the chaparral loudly drone as the dusk rapidly advances.

It is night by the time I park the car and walk back to the hotel.

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