Learning from Traditional Women Healers of Oaxaca

IMG_5333 (1)When you emerge from a Temazcal (a meso-american-type sweat lodge) after the intensive heat and healing often the first thing you receive is a cup of wonderful refreshing tea, full of restorative herbs, in a pottery cup such as the one in the photo. When I was in Oaxaca, Mexico earlier this month I  bought this cup to remind me of the wonderful learning and  healing experiences that I enjoyed there.

During the first week of April I was lucky to participate in the very special “Discover Traditional Cultures and Healing Arts of Oaxaca” educational tour led by Robert Vetter (NYC)  in partnership with Laurencio Lopez Nunoz (a biologist and a healer aka a curandero from Oaxaca). During the nine day trip we were gifted to be able to learn about traditional healing practices (or curanderismo) from several indigenous women healers.

These women were, in one word,: AMAZING.  They were matter-of-fact women, doing amazing healing works with their knowledge and the plants they had around their villages, supporting their communities as midwifes and leaders of health promotion, and in so many other ways.  These were strong, strong women who learn from Mother Earth and their “grandmothers” and are supported by Mother Earth in their work. Through sharing many aspects of their life stories during our time together it was clear that they had overcome many obstacles to do the work they were doing and that they trusted in their roles, their knowledge and their gifts for their families and communities.

It was a privilege to be able to immerse myself in the insights and knowledge shared by these woman and to learn about:

  • Spiritual healing cleanses of “limpias” from Catlina Jimenez Ramos, a Mixe traditional healer (or curandera). She is also a midwife and leader of temazcals.
  • Many aspects of healing and life wisdom from Queta (Enriqueta Contreras Contreras), a Zapteca healer and midwife. If you want to know more about her there is a book that you can read: The Life of the Midwife-Healer Enriqueta Contreras Contreras by Maria Margarita Navar
  • The politics and environmental enhancements in her village and healing plants from an Afro-Mexican healer and municipal leader, Lucia Mariche Magadano,
  • Insights from healer Teresa Contreras (from Cuernavaca) who led the temezcal from the feminine perspectives.

I am planning on using some of the techniques I learned in my healing sessions. But also I have a sense of optimism from being with these traditional healers.  Knowing that amazing women, such as the ones I met in Oaxaca, exist in the world and that they are using and sharing their knowledge, gives me such hope that this world will find answers to address the key issues that we need to deal with.

And so, when I hold my new pottery cup with the healing purple flower painted on it and drink the fragrant tea from it I will remember all the gifts that the cup represents: the dedicated indigenous, healing teachers and practitioners, their knowledge gained from life, from their grandmothers and from the land, and their healing plants and the profound hope that they each bring into the world by being enriching examples of how to live in deep connection with Mother Earth.


Author: elin.gwyn@gmail.com

I have been many things including a connector of people to knowledge (at research and government institutions) and a mother of three now grown children. And in additions to these, and after many years of training and preparation I am also a holistic energy practitioner where I provide support to others for their healing processes and journeys and to assist in the caring of the natural world.

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