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Date: Sun, 7 Jul 2002 22:23:36 -0500 From: "E Bryant Holman" (firstname.lastname@example.org) Subject: San Malverde, Nino Fidencio Don MartIn MartInez, a famous curandero here, who now spends a lot of time traveling to Texas, mainly, and to San Luis PotosI, is the son of an even more renowned curandera, DoOa Crispina Gonz.lez Vda. de MartInez. Don MartIn simply does not make enough money to get by in Ojinaga, because he does not charge for his services, and the tiny amounts that people give him are not worth his time, hardly. When he is in town, however, he sees an incredible number of people. The last time I saw him, a couple of weeks ago, before he went to Midland, Texas, to attend to the community there, he told me that he had seen close to 50 persons the day before, almost all of whom came to him because they believed that they had been "mal puesto" - which is to say, that they had been placed under an evil spell by a sorceress (bruja), most likely. This is mostly what don MartIn does, a process known as a "limpia" (spiritual cleaning), and I have his complete prayer in English at http://ojinaga.com/curandero/Part_Seven/part_seven.html and the original, in Spanish, at http://ojinaga.com/curandero/Part_Eight/part_eight.html Don MartIn passes a brass crucifix all about the head and body of the "patient" while reciting these prayers. I have talked to members of the Tarahumara tribe, who are friends of mine, and their curanderos do pretty much the same thing, including the use of the brass crucifix, albeit that they pray in their native tongue, and I am not sure what their prayers are all about, but I intend to find out. Don MartIn, of all of the curanderos and curanderas that I know, is the one whom I am closest to - so close, in fact, that he has asked me to learn the trade from him, but I am certainly not about to do so! Frankly, I find the whole thing to be quite frightening, and I don't think I have the aptitudes for this anyway. For the longest time, I was quite convinced that MartIn, with the longest track record and most solid background in this than anyone else around here, was definitely the most astute and the most powerful, but I have since changed my mind. Even more powerful than MartIn is Paty, a woman that I met in 1999 precisely because MartIn was out of town when Michael Wood was scheduled to showed up, in course of the filming of the Cabeza de Vaca segment on his "Conquistadors" series, which was later aired on BBC and then on PBS. With only a few days to go, we searched for another likely candidate, and we found Paty, who did appear in the series, under a section wherein Wood alleged that Cabeza de Vaca was, in effect, the first Mexican Curandero, as he was the first to use Spanish prayers with Indian rituals, and established the norm that is almost completely intact among the Tarahumara, where, indeed, it was Alvar NuOez Cabeza de Baca himself who established the forms that the Tarahumara curanderos continue to use, almost without any modification whatsoever, right down to the present. That the practice of "generic" Mexican curanderos and curanderas throughout Mexico is so similar, then, is no coincidence. Certain fundamental beliefs of all Uto-Aztecan speakers throughout all of Mexico, all the way from the Tanoan speaking tribes of the Norhern Chihuahua and their cousins in New Mexico, down to the Nahuatl speaking tribes such as the Aztecs in the Valley of Mexico, and even their cousins in the Valley of Oaxaca, for instance, took up these norms quite readily, and with the widespread practices from Europe that Cabeza de Vaca had in mind in that which he proposed to do, the pattern was almost an automatic thing, and therefor it is no wonder that it has turned out to be such a homogenous belief system. Even more conducive to its homogeneity is not the Indian elements, but the European element, which, as I mentioned earlier, can be traced back to San Cipriano, and through him, back to such persons as Moses and Solomon, who are mentioned in his book, the "Tesoro del Hechicero". For these reasons and more, it is becoming, for me, continually more and more easy to understand this subject. Central to the practices of most curanderos are the cults of various saints, and I should put that word in parentheses, really, because some of these persons are really not saints at all, or else they have struck from the roles, as it were, by the church, because it was shown that they were quite mythological all along, in more than one sense of the word. Others of these person, or spirits, actually, are "banned saints", which is to say, the church is officially opposed to their cults, and if one were to not include, exactly, the practices of the persons who are most properly called "curanderos" and "curanderas" as opposed to "brujas" and "brujos" - terms which some people would use interchangeably or view their use as possibly dubious in one or another case, or ambiguous, perhaps - you might have to try and distinguish between the "good" "banned saints", which the practitioners of "white magic" adhere to, and those bad ones, which the other guys use. So, for instance, the most famous "good banned saint" of all time, I think, would be El NiOo Fidencio, who is revered by both Paty and don MartIn, and who was a neighbor of MartIn's mother, such that they were contemporaries, and protEgEs, after a fashion, and MartIn believes that he can conjure the spirit of Fidencio to help him with his work, one might argue, judging from the information that MartIn has revealed to me. see http://ojinaga.com/curandero/Recipe/recipe.html The most notorious "bad banned saint" would have to be Jesus Malverde, a bandit who was hanged by the rural police in Sinaloa, I don't know when or under what circumstances, but he is the "saint" to whom the narcotraficantes pray, and he is very popular right now. Affectionately known by the most common nickname for an person named Jesus - "Chuy" - my father in law, don Fausto, told me that the narcos, whenever they are about to cross the drugs in to the US, mutter to themselves "ay.danos, Chuy" (help us, Chuy). The other day this kid came into the store and asked me if I have any images or prayers to "San Malverde". I have since located a place where they sell them, and they were just about out of everything! I got a candle from them, and it shows a hanged man on the front. Okay, well, I am mostly rambling at this point. All of this information will be in my book, and right now I am still investigating, and I have yet to transcribe and translate all of my interviews, of which I have several hours on tape. My next project will be to interview the federal police about the narco-brujerIa, about which I already have a wealth of information, so that I will know what to ask them and how to interpret what they tell me. My brother in law, a lawyer with plenty of connections to them, is going to arrange for me ot talk to the local office of the Federal Judicial Police here (my other brother in law is a federal judge, and all I have to do is to mention his name and they practically snap to attention!). I am not so much interested in "San Malverde", or in another banned saint from around here, "El Anima de Leyva", but in an entirely different subject: that of how the narcos pray to regular saints for the matter of their business, particularly San Judas Tadeo (Saint Jude), San MartIn Caballero (Saint Martin of Tours), and San MartIn Porres. I already know a lot about this, but I want to hear it from them, and to take pictures of the statues they have right there at police headquarters! Bryant
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