Eliseo Torres, known as 'Cheo', grew up in the Corpus Christi area of Texas and knew, firsthand, the Mexican folk healing practised in his home and neighbourhood. Later in life, he wanted to know more about the plants and rituals of curanderismo. Torres's story begins with his experiences in the Mexican town of Espinazo, the home of the great curandero El Nino Fidencio (1899-1939), where Torres underwent life-changing spiritual experiences. He introduces us to some of the major figures in the tradition, discusses some of the pitfalls of teaching curanderismo, and concludes with an account of a class he taught in which curanderos from Cuernavaca, Mexico, shared their knowledge with students. Part personal pilgrimage, part compendium of medical knowledge, this moving book reveals curanderismo as both a contemplative and a medical practice that can offer new approaches to ancient problems.
"The book is a thoughtful introduction for those who are interested in the further study of "curanderismo" or in the study of the various crossing places between modern medicine and folkways, the mind and the body, or the meeting place that is the US-Mexico border. I will certainly keep it on my shelf if, for nothing else, its thorough index in which I can look up inexpensive natural cures for headaches, depression, or canker sores."
Eliseo 'Cheo' Torres is vice-president for student affairs at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.