Biography •  Folklore •  Medicine •  Latin America and Anthropology

$17.95 paperback

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Curandero: A Life in Mexican Folk Healing

Eliseo “Cheo” Torres
Timothy L. Sawyer Jr.

Eliseo Torres, known as "Cheo," grew up in the Corpus Christi area of Texas and knew, firsthand, the Mexican folk healing practiced in his home and neighborhood. 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 Niño 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.

From Curandero

". . . for centuries, rattlesnakes were eaten to prevent any number of conditions and illnesses, including arthritis and rheumatism. In Mexico and in other Latin American countries, rattlesnake meat is actually sold in capsule form to treat impotence and even to treat cancer. Rattlesnake meat is also dried and ground and sprinkled into open wounds and body sores to heal them, and a rattlesnake ointment is made that is applied to aches and pains as well."


Eliseo "Cheo" Torres is vice president of student affairs at the University of New Mexico.

Timothy L. Sawyer, Jr., is a public information representative at the University of New Mexico.


" Curandero, a book about the art and practice of traditional Hispanic folk healing, is written from the heart by a believer who hopes readers will come to appreciate and develop similar faith and trust in the rituals of curanderismo."


Tucson Weekly

"Like curanderismo, the book is part legend, part history and part folk tale. Readers will be entertained, enthralled and mystified."


Corpus-Christi Caller-Times, TX

"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."


Southwestern American Literature

"( Curandero) is well worth the time to read to learn more and understand the importance of folk medicine."


Taos News

"( Curandero) suceeds in revealing curanderismo as both a contemplative and a medical practice. . . It is a fascinating read."


Multicultural Review

"( Curandero) offers interesting insight to a subject that deserves serious consideration for its continuing relevance to modern medicine and life."


La Cronica de Nuevo Mexico

5.5 x 8 in. 184 pages 1 drawings, 23 halftones