On the margins of theology – 2.5

1 10 2009


The lodestone cultus in Mexico

The men in Mexico still carry lodestones to give them success and great virility. They regard the stone as a living being, every Friday placing it in water, then in the Sun, and giving it iron filings to “eat”. However, they also believe that this stone has a devil inside and will not enter a church with it. Another belief is that if a lodestone is rubbed on a knife blade, anyone wounded by that blade will die of the poison left there.

-found here

Some may discount the above as coming from a disreputable source, or think that it is the result of some bizarre “New Age” thinking influencing the minds of Mexican men. The only problem with such a supposition is that the cult to the lodestone is an established “tradition” in many parts of Mexico, and I have even translated a prayer to it here.

Isabel Kelly, in her book, Folk Practices in North Mexico, has a significant section on the lodestone cultus. Although she speculates that it is a “recent cult” (keep in mind that the field work for this book was done in 1953), she nevertheless goes into quite a bit of detail regarding how it manifested itself in daily life. The “theology” behind it is stricly oral (of course), and oddly based on dubious Christological origins, as was explained to the anthropologist by an herbalist in Torreon:

The [lodestone] is where Christ is kneeling. Have you not seen the picture? A “light” woman [presumably Mary Magdalene. The Libro de San Cipriano twice mentions “the Samaritan woman” in connection with the lodestone] cut a piece of the stone for luck…
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