By Yvonne Santy
Dr. Joyce struggled for audibility with a barely-there voice but pushed through her presentation with enthusiasm as she shared her experiences from Curanderismo, a two-week conference in New Mexico covering traditional healing practices. Robles and Dr. Joyce also provided instructions on how to make remedies to support health and personal well-being. In addition to their enlightening information, Reiki and astrology readings were provided.
After welcoming the healing spirits into the group and honoring the four directions, Dr. Joyce presented a slideshow and pointed out why she was struck by the beauty of this tradition and it’s colors as she explained how the song for her slideshow, Gracias a la Tiera by Elena Klaver, was an appropriate fit for the images presented. Soothing music complemented the peaceful pictures of women in traditional white dresses with red scarves, smoke blowing out of ceramic cups, a woman blowing a Conch Shell, people playing guitar, and others gathering flowers. If you sat close enough, you could hear Dr. Joyce’s faint voice singing along.
The slideshow ended and Dr. Joyce explained how her grandmother inspired her. Her grandmother gave birth to a child who was not expected to walk or talk. After taking the child to an ocean peer and letting the waves touch her child’s legs, Joyce’s grandmother worked with the child, who soon began talking. One could see how it was her calling to study Earth-based spirituality. “Plant world and plant life has always been a tradition to me,” Dr. Joyce explained.
She then shared the story of pruning her butterfly bush one day and something told her to write her dissertation on Curanderismo. She hit the books and couldn’t find the information she needed. She got advice from a friend, made an altar, and eventually found Dr. Eliseo Torres, a Curandero who had turned his home into a healing center. Curanderismo, she learned, is not just a collection of healing techniques, but a way of life. Copal is burned, while healers offer prayers. Ancient Mayans practiced contemporary acupuncture, except they used quills instead of needles. Current practices are even used for detox by putting needles in a person’s ears to eliminate substance cravings.
A couple other themes of this healing practice were covered, including one that emphasizes how everything is interconnected. “Body, mind, spirit, nature, plant, and animal life are all part of peace, love, clarity, and cooperation,” said Dr. Joyce. She shared stories of people who were sick, like Torita Gonzalez, who was struck with Bell’s Palsy and much grief, unable to feel half of her face. After receiving hours of acupuncture and attending Temescal (a sweat lodge ceremony which offers a chance for someone to leave behind what’s weighing them down), she had no more indications of Bell’s Palsy, and realized she didn’t have to feel alone again.
Perhaps the most striking theme covered was that we are responsible for our own healing. “Mother Earth gives us what we need for health and healing; your food is your medicine,” said Dr. Joyce. So, with that, Trudy Robles took the floor and invited everyone to try the homemade garlic honey with crackers she brought from home. After a short break, Trudy led stretching, breathing, and even laughing exercises (which release as many endorphins as a 30 minute workout) before she enlightened everyone on the power of herbs and spices.
It turns out Tumeric, commonly used in curry, is an anti-inflammatory, good for use against Arthritis, and Eczema. Alfalfa cures kidney problems, fluid retention swelling, and auto-immune disorders like Fibromyalgia, Graves Disease, Lupus, and Arthritis. While Trudy gave specific instructions on how to blend Alfalfa, Maria Miranda offered her methods for cooking with garlic.
The second part of the presentation was mostly a sea of information, so it was wise to take notes. Who could walk away and remember that Paprika was the lightest in antioxidants of all peppers? Or that Oregano, Thyme, Marjoram, and Rosemary are all locally grown and can be thrown into a blender and poured over salad or pasta? If anything, one would hope to recall Trudy’s advice on avoiding too much aloe if he or she didn’t want to deal with diarrhea (while it’s great to go herbal, you probably don’t want to overdo it). If anybody who showed up to this presentation had issues with insomnia (like myself), they found out there are different forms of it. Luckily, different herbs target different types of insomnia. The California Poppy, for instance, is a great sleep regulator. Valerian root, though it tastes awful, is equally effective in tiring a person out. While Passion Flower, Lavender, and Chamomile teas are not as strong as the former two, they do aide in relieving stress and tension. So, go find these teas, and get some sleep!
Last but not least, those who attended were asked to introduce themselves and share why they showed up. One man wanted to share how he had cured his Colitis pain by drinking the boiled tea made from chili leaves. One woman offered her astrology and numerology readings, as well as her massages. Others were there to learn about the healing aspects of energy to help others heal. John Ruiz, who practices Shamanic work and Curanderismo, was at the presentation to offer his expertise in vocational rehabilitation through energy sessions he facilitates through Reiki. Whoever showed up, for whatever reason, left with one last reminder from Trudy Robles, “Breath is life. If you want to center yourself, if you want to heal, breathe right.”