The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Therapist details folk healing history

By Charles Swanigon/reporter

“Every Mexican-American knows someone that has been to a folk healer,” a therapist said last week on South Campus.

Stella Rodriquez, a licensed marriage and family therapist, presented Folk Healing Therapies, a seminar on Latino healing traditions and therapy April 14.

Latin folk healing includes Aztec, African and European influences and comes from a rudimentary knowledge of herbs.

“Over 450 herbs used by the Aztecs are common in medicine used today,” she said.

The mind, body and soul are all respected parts of wellness, Rodriquez said. Aztecs relied heavily on specialists for cures. Like now, physicians or healers were part of an elite group called The Teixtomani. A healer is called a Ticiti. Other Aztec specialists include Tepantiani, who specializes in massages and bone settings; the Tetlacuicuitiani, who uses leeches for suction as a means to heal, and the Tescuapanine, who uses illusion and persuasion to cure.

European medicine is largely influenced by Catholicism and the Humoral theory proposed by Galen (Hippocrates). Catholics believe illness can be a punishment from God, who lets people get sick. They are no longer protected because they were not faithful and strayed from the path. In 15th century medicine, illness was attributed to blood, imbalance of bile and phlegm.

In African medicine, the human personality is comprised of three parts: the body, the breathe soul or conscience and the sleeping soul, which leaves the body while one sleeps.

“These practices come largely from the Belgian Congo,” she said.

African medicine was introduced to Mexico through the Spanish slave trade. A connection between the living and the dead exists in African medicine. Ancestors are influential because when people die they ascend to another plane, but they are revered and their memories are used to teach their descendants on this plane.

“Root medicine and herbs are prevalent, like in Aztec culture,” she said.

In Curanderismo, illness is divided into three inter-related categories: somatic, psychological and the spiritual. Rodriquez said they are based largely on stories of sorrow, dreams and visions. Curanderismo also contains both negative and positive principles. First someone has to diagnose the disease and determine if it is a social maladjustment. Most illnesses result from an imbalance of hot or cold, and the disease can have a spiritual or emotional origin. Illnesses also can be a result of a disturbance of the organs.

An example of an illness having spiritual origin would be an illness coming as a result of a curse or inappropriate energy.

Rodriquez said society is filled with frauds. Just like many evangelists and psychics in the United States have been exposed as con artists over the years, people should not be surprised if they go into a community where Mexican-Americans are well represented and find imposters claiming to have knowledge of the old practices.

True folk healers do not ignore or forsake the use of Western medicine, Rodriquez said. They use both.

“Be advised a true healer is a part of your community and would not charge you for their services,” she said.

Donate to The Collegian

Your donation will support the student journalists of Tarrant County College. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Collegian