Tzotzil Maya: healer

The family grow their own poultry.

I met the spiritual leader from Chamulá village outside the Church of John the Baptist. She was wearing a black skirt made of goat hide, with long fibres. Such a skirt is supposed to last 20 years and is a matter of social prestige. That immediately indicated to me that she had some position in the village and was most likely a spiritual leader or curandera, a healer. By the way, men also wear black woollen vests here, and if they are white, that indicates a more prestigious position.

I was still a bit shaken from the visit to the church, the most unique in the whole of Mexico. It is a Catholic church but they practise shamanism here. It is effectively a Maya shrine where the shamans cure the villagers with a ritual involving a chicken, which they kill at the end of the ritual, while everybody drinks pox, a liquor made of corn, sugar cane and wheat. Well, it is to be expected with a voodoo or pagan ritual…

Chamulá Church.

Chamulá Church.

So I put myself into the hands of a Tzotzil healer. She had eggs on her altar, next to the Virgin Mary, and she indeed needed them as she performed an egg cleansing ritual. Apparently, eggs can take on negative vibrations. The healer therefore pinpointed specific areas on my body and allowed the egg's sponge-like properties to absorb my inner energy. The negativity transferred from me to the egg and the egg trapped the energy. Whether you believe in such powers, or not, I can certainly say that as the healer moved the eggs over my body and intoned her blessings in Tzotzil, I felt cleansed and uplifted by very different powers.

If you come to the village of Chamulá, they won’t smile at you. They won’t allow you to take photos either. They just don’t like the intrusion of the strangers. This is a traditional society (of patriarchy) and the tribe is allowed by the Constitution some level of autonomy. They have their own government and their own police. They even have the death penalty here, unlike the rest of Mexico. And because they guard their autonomy, they are as indigenous as it gets.

Young Tzotzil girls wear just black cotton skirts.

Young Tzotzil girls wear just black cotton skirts.

The goat hide of this woman tells of her higher social status.

The goat hide of this woman tells of her higher social status.


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