El Niño Fidencio… de Roma a Espinazo

27 09 2010

A review and reflection on the film

The above is the trailer. The whole film can be watched here. You gringos got lucky, because this one has subtitles.

It is best to start at the beginning. Around the beginning of last century, a child was born in Guanajuato, Mexico, by the name of José Fidencio Sintora Constantino. He was orphaned and came of age amidst the turmoil of the Mexican Revolution and its aftermath. Unlike most Mexican young men, he seems to have been committed to domestic service rather than field work. It also seems that he was afflicted with Kleinfelter’s syndrome, meaning that his sex organs were underdeveloped and he seemed to be perpetually a boy (niño), without facial hair or a deep voice. In the early 1920’s, he would settle in the northern state of Nuevo Leon, in a small railroad town known as Espinazo.

Like a select few, Fidencio was thought to have el don. That means that he had the power to cure using traditional healing methods. Literally, it is a “gift”. But Fidencio’s gift was something extraordinary, something that comes along only every so many generations. From his humble beginnings as a local curandero, he became a national phenomenon. Apparently, he could cure anything using nothing but herbs, prayers, and in extraordinary circumstances, surgeries with a piece of glass (without anaesthetic). His fame grew to the point that the urban legend spread (not based on any facts, but still) that he cured the radically anti-clericalist president of Mexico, Plutarco Elias Calles, of leprosy. Some say that in exchange for his cure, Calles was asked to cease his radical persecution of the Church, which subsequently happened. To the people of the time, and in his legacy, he was given the name, el Niño Fidencio, or the Child Fidencio, even though he lived to forty years of age.
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Three NCR articles

30 08 2010

The first by their token Latina pundit:

But, in Latino healing practices called curanderismo, it is just the opposite. Curanderismo, which is often taught under the guidance and protection of the older women, is the spiritual practice, most often devoted to intercession through Jesús y Maria, toward the healing of spirit, soul, mind and body.

This spiritual discipline is specific and varied in each locality. It can be said that in parts of Mexico, it is a combination of the ancient Nahua people’s (the original tribal name which Spaniards overlaid with their word, Aztec) spiritual understandings, blended with very old Sephardic traditions that had entered the Catholicism of the 16th century Conquistadores, and sometimes merging further with spiritual practices from 15th century Africa, via slave women and men forced to the east coast of Mexico and Central America.

Such militant cultural posturing does a disservice to our ancestors in that it fails to acknowledge the complexities of the origins of their beliefs. Notice that she lays the credit for curandero practices at the feet of Aztecs, Africans, and Sephardic Jews. That seems to be a sort of “reverse” colonialism: anything exotic must be foreign to the Christian ethos, because “real Christianity” would never permit that sort of thing. The problem is that in the Catholic world such healing systems were so ubiquitous even in the “old country” that you cannot trace their origins just to Aztecs and African slaves.

(Note: the Aztecs are not the only indigenous people in Mexico, or even the valley of Mexico. Associating all Mexicans with them is an exercise in bourgeois nationalist posturing.)

Also, making it an exclusively female thing is aligning such practices to American “liberal” thought. Some of the greatest practicioners of “curanderismo” were men such as Don Pedro Jaramillo and el Niño Fidencio. These people should really check their facts before using traditional culture in their rhetorical wars.

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Traditional faith healing in the Catholic world

18 04 2010

Above, the opening of a film that you can watch on-line concerning a curandero and bone-setter in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico. Sorry, no subtitles.

The second set of videos I found was on a newsite in Lake Charles, LA, regarding Cajun traiteurs. AG’s great-grandfather was a Creole traiteur, according to my father-in-law. This is the first extended video I have seen on-line concerning this practice:

Unveiling the mystery of traiteurs

Profile of a traiteur: Helene Boudreaux

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From the Magical Conclusions

19 08 2009

Voices and words have efficacy in a magical work, because in that work in which nature first exercises magic, the voice is God’s.

Every voice has power in magic insofar as it is shaped by the voice of God.

Voices that mean nothing are more poweful in magic than voices that mean something. And one who is profound can understand the reason for this conclusion from the preceding conclusion.

-Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, from the 900 Theses





Las doce verdades del mundo

12 08 2009

moses-breaking-the-tablets-of-the-law

Prayer of the Twelve Truths of the World, common in Mexican curandero healing, especially for limpias (lay exorcisms). There are some variations on this prayer as well. The last verse I have only found in one source:

Dios Padre, Dios Hijo, Dios Espíritu Santo por los siglos de los siglos. Amen .

De las doce verdades del mundo hermano bueno quiero que me digas una: una es la Casa Santa de Jerusalén donde vivas y reinas para siempre. Amen.

De las doce verdades del mundo hermano bueno quiero que me digas dos: dos son las Tablas de Moisés una es la Casa Santa de Jerusalén donde vives y reinas para siempre. Amen.

De las doce verdades del mundo hermano bueno quiero que me digas tres: tres Trinidades, dos Tablas de Moisés, una es la Casa Santa de Jerusalén donde vives y reinas para siempre. Amen.

De las doce verdades del mundo hermano bueno quiero que me digas cuatro: cuatro Evangelios, tres Trinidades, dos Tablas de Moisés una es la Casa Santa de Jerusalén donde vives y reinas para siempre. Amen.

De las doce verdades del mundo hermano bueno quiero que me digas cinco: cinco llagas, cuatro Evangelios, tres Trinidades, dos Tablas de Moisés una es la Casa Santa de Jerusalén donde vives y reinas para siempre. Amen

De las doce verdades del mundo hermano bueno quiero que me digas seis: seis candeleros, cinco llagas, cuatro Evangelios, tres Trinidades, dos Tablas de Moisés una es la Casa Santa de Jerusalén donde vives y reinas para siempre. Amen.

De las doce verdades del mundo hermano bueno quiero que me digas siete: siete palabras, seis candelabros, cinco llagas, cuatro Evangelios, tres Trinidades, dos Tablas de Moisés, una es la Casa Santa de Jerusalén donde vives y reinas para siempre. Amen .

De las doce verdades del mundo hermano bueno quiero que me digas ocho: ocho angustias, siete palabras, seis candelabros, cinco llagas, cuatro Evangelios, tres Trinidades, dos Tablas de Moisés una es la Casa Santa de Jerusalén donde vives y reinas para siempre. Amen.

De las doce verdades del mundo hermano bueno quiero que me digas nueve: nueve meses, ocho angustias, siete palabras, seis candelabros, cinco llagas, cuatro Evangelios, tres Trinidades, dos Tablas de Moisés una es la Casa Santa de Jerusalén donde vives y reinas para siempre. Amen.

De las doce verdades del mundo hermano bueno quiero que me digas diez: diez mandamientos, nueve meses, ocho angustias, siete palabras, seis candelabros, cinco llagas, cuatro Evangelios, tres Trinidades, dos Tablas de Moisés una es la Casa Santa de Jerusalén donde vives y reinas para siempre. Amen.

De las doce verdades del mundo hermano bueno quiero que me digas once: once mil vírgenes, diez mandamientos, nueve meses, ocho angustias, siete palabras, seis candelabros, cinco llagas, cuatro Evangelios, tres Trinidades, dos Tablas de Moisés una es la Casa Santa de Jerusalén donde vives y reinas para siempre. Amen.

De las doce verdades del mundo hermano bueno quiero que me digas doce: doce apóstoles, once mil vírgenes, diez mandamientos, nueve meses, ocho angustias, siete palabras, seis candelabros, cinco llagas, cuatro Evangelios, tres Trinidades, dos Tablas de Moisés una es la Casa Santa de Jerusalén donde vives y reinas para siempre. Amen.

(De las doce verdades del mundo hermano bueno quiero que me digas trece: trece rayos del sol conduzcan a las brujas y a las hechiceras a los infiernos y así sea Dios Padre, Dios Hijo, Dios Espíritu Santo por los siglos de los siglos.) Read the rest of this entry »





Mexican Folk Medicine in the U.S.

1 08 2009

curand1

An article in the New York Times from a year ago on Mexican folk healing. Scroll down for an accompanying informative video. Not only does this article show how folk medicine is at times effective, but it also shows that in many places, even in this country, it continues to be necessary. Also, it addresses illness not just from a naturalistic perspective, but brings in the “spiritual” dimension as well.





Tomasito Herrera

19 05 2009

tomasito

Spirit of an unknown child curandero. Image found on this site.





Oración de la Sábila

1 04 2009

sabila

Sábila Virtuosa, Sábila Bendita,
Sábila Santa, Sábila Sagrada;
Por la virtud que tú le diste a tus Apóstoles
te pido que me alcances esa virtud…
porque te venero y te quiero
para que me libres de los maleficios,
enfermedades, mala suerte.
Te pido que me vaya bien en mis empresas,
en los negocios que comience…
y te pido que ahuyentes de mi casa
el mal y me libres de enemigos ocultos,
donde quiera que estén. Dame dicha, fortuna y dinero…
con todas las facilidades y con el menor esfuerzo,
tu virtud me hará fuerte, famoso, afortunado y dichoso;
no se me interpondrán obstáculos en todo lo que yo ambicione,
quiera o me proponga hacer.
Todo constituirá un éxito halagüeño para mí;
esta virtud divina que Dios te dio,
en Dios creo y en ti confió.
Por todas las virtudes que tú tienes concedidas
Venceré todos los obstáculos que se me presenten
y mi casa se llenará de venturas
con tu virtud sublime, Sábila Santa.

Powerful Aloe, Blessed Aloe, Holy Aloe, Sacred Aloe, by the power that you gave to the Apostles, I ask you to give me that power because I venerate you and love you so that you may free me from curses, illnesses, bad luck, so that everything can go well for me in my daily tasks, in business, and so that you cause evil to flee from my house and free me from invisible enemies wherever they are. Grant me happiness, fortune, and money, with much ease and with the least amount of effort. Your power will make me strong, famous, fortunate, and happy; nothing will be an obstacle to anything that I will strive for, want, or propose to do. All will be a pleasant success for me. This divine force that God has given you, I believe in God and confide in you. By all of the power that has been granted to you, I will conquer all of the obstacles in front of me and my house will be filled with blessings with your sublime power, Holy Aloe.

-This is a prayer common among Mexican curanderos.





La sombra de San Pedro

17 12 2008

san-pedro

La siguiente oración se suele usar mucho para apartar el mal. También la usan mucho los curanderos durante sus ceremonias. Encontré esta oración en este sitio:

San Pedro Nubes

Librame Pedro Divino
por tu caridad y amor;
Hoy salgo yo al camino,
gran Apóstol del Señor.
Te pido, Apóstol Sagrado,
que tan solo al invocarte,
Cuando me vea atribulado
tu siempre estés de mi parte.
En cualquier peligro grave,
en cualquier triste aflicción
Y en donde quiera que yo ande,
Pedro, allí tu protección.

Pues una meced te pido,
por tu sombra refulgente,
son muchos los enemigos
que me siguen diariamente.
De un asalto en el camino
en una hora desastrada,
Cubrenos Pedro divino,
con tu sombra tan sagrada.
Cuando yo la camino salga
y me asalte el malhechor,
Allí tu sombra me valga
en el nombre del Señor.

Tu de Dios fuiste elegido
para ser su secretario,
Apóstol Señor San Pedro,
sírveme de relicario.
En la mansión de la tierra,
En cualquier trance o peligro
De persecución o guerra
Librame, Pedro divino.
Haz que Dios goce en el Cielo,
Por ti todo bien se alcanza,
ábrame las puertas Pedro
de la bienaventuranza.

Tú seas mi custodio y guía
Por donde quiera que salga
En la noche o en el día,
Siempre tu sombra me valga.
Te pido con eficacia,
Príncipe Apóstol Sagrado,
que no pierda la gracia,
Que no muera en pecado.
Por aquel grande dolor
cuando tu arrepentimiento,
Pedro Apóstol del Señor,
Librame cada momento.

Cuando mi alma perdonada
Sea la culpa inmortal,
No me niegues tu la entrada
A la patria celestial.
Ruega al Señor por nosotros
Que te hacemos petición,
Favorece a los devotos
Que cargan tu devoción. Amén.

Oración

Santo Apóstol, Pedro Clemente,
De mi no apartes tu protección,
A ti me acojo yo reverente
Y elevo humilde esta petición.

Cubreme, sombra del mas sublime
De los pastores, tenme piedad,
Aparta siempre de mi destino
Toda miseria y enfermedad.

Quien no me quiera que huya de mí,
Las personas adversas apártalas,
Bendice, Pedro, tú mi camino
Y no me dejes nunca penar.

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Curanderismo on the radio

1 12 2008

botanica

image source

An hour long interview with folklorist E. Bryant Holman to be found at