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Cleansing Rites of Curanderismo: Limpias Espirituales of Ancient Mesoamerican Shamans


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Contextualizes the ancient Mexica and the Yucatec Maya with regards to their dominant religious beliefs, calendrical systems and ceremonies, and the various types of shamanic trades within these societies. The terms, “Aztec,” “Mexica,” and “Nahua” are first defined as they have been used interchangeably to discuss different tribes within the Aztec empire, often resulting in conflating peoples with cultural variances, such as assuming that all the peoples in the Aztec empire engaged in blood sacrifices. Thereafter the following is discussed: their religious beliefs, the two major components of their Round Calendar, the purposes and activities associated with their calendrical religious rites, and the many shamanic trades that existed. The chapter then examines how the terms “Maya” and “Mayan” evolved to describe millions of different tribes that prior to the 20th century had never identified themselves as “Maya” or “Mayan.” The major periods—Preclassic, Classic, and Postclassic—and their major characteristics are explained to locate the Yucatec Maya of this book within the Postclassic Period. The polytheistic nature of their religion, their deities, shamanic trades, and calendrical systems and rites are also discussed.
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Cleansing Rites
Limpias Espirituales
Ancient Mesoamerican
Erika Buenaflor, M.A., J.D.
Bear & Company
Rochester, Vermont
Bear & Company
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Rochester, Vermont 05767
Bear & Company is a division of Inner Traditions International
Copyright © 2018 by Erika Buenaf lor
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An Introduction to
Limpias and Curanderismo 1
The Intersection of Experience
and Research
1 Coming into Being 16
A Modern-Day Xicana Curandera
2 Historical and Cultural Background 38
The Mexica and Yucatec Maya
3 Pre- and Postcontact Texts 52
Sources Used and Why
Commonly Practiced Limpias from
Ancient and Modern Perspectives
4 Platicas 64
Ejecting Unwanted Energies from the Body
5 Fire Limpias 83
Transformation and Renewal
6 Water Limpias 111
Cleansing and Rebirth
7 Sweeping 132
The Way to Purification and Revitalization
8 Sacred Spaces 153
Creating, Vivifying, and Renewing
Epilogue 172
Notes 176
Bibliography 187
Index 195
Fire Limpias
Transformation and Renewal
Fire is one of the most common limpia tools. It can establish a gate-
way to the supernatural and can be used as a divinatory tool to
assess past, present, and highly probable outcomes. (As I was taught, the
future is composed of highly probable outcomes. Limpias help to push
the outcome toward one that is desired.) Fire clears away dense influ-
ences affecting a person and/or circumstances surrounding that person.
Fire limpias can be used to create a path toward a more graceful and
positive transformation and to mark a new beginning. The tools used
in limpia healing sessions are frequently burned to destroy the causes
of the affliction. Limpia tools can also be cleansed or renewed by being
placed over a fire while saying prayers to the fire and tools.
Fire in the form of a candle, as used in a velación, can link the
suppliant with divine beings who have the power to grant a petition.
The flickering candles repel unwanted spiritual beings and energies
from a situation and also attract divine beings and benevolent spirits.
Velaciónes can transform a difficult situation into an ideal one and can
ensure a more effective clearing, healing, and renewal.
Fire ceremonies were among the most common limpia rites in
ancient Mesoamerica. They were multifarious in purpose and mean-
ing and could be prognostic. They activated and/or renewed the sacred
essence energy within buildings: homes, temples, political spaces, sweat
Commonly Practiced Limpias from Ancient and Modern Perspectives
baths, and ritual spaces.1 Igniting a fire could also denote the termina-
tion of period-ending ceremonies as well as the inauguration of calen-
drical renewal, marking a new cycle. Fire rites using candles honored
and housed deceased family members, appealing to them to join the
living for a period of time.
The fire ceremonies of the Mexica commemorated and inaugurated
periodic cycles of death, rebirth, and renewal. Fire limpia rites also
served as gateways to conjure and communicate with deities and could
cleanse and renew ritual tools such as medicine bundles. The fire from
a candle could attract and temporarily house a deceased individual dur-
ing particular calendrical ceremonies. In many temples, certain shamans
were assigned to ensure that the fire in braziers, rooms, and courtyards
were constantly lit day and night.2
The elaborate fire limpia Xiuhmolpilli, “binding of the years,” typi-
cally identified as the New Fire Ceremony, played a critical role in per-
petuating and renewing the world as the Mexica knew it. The rite was
held every fifty-two years, a complete cycle of the Calendar Round.
For this New Fire Ceremony, the Mexica, unsure whether the sun
would continue to rise or the world would be destroyed, would hold a
somber feast. In preparation they would put out the fires in all of the
homes and temples in the Aztec empire. (Homes, like temples, usually
had hearth fires burning at all times.) The passing of this fifty-two-
year cycle called for the termination of these fires. Homes and temples
were also diligently swept and cleaned. They also disposed of old idols,
rubbish, and household items.3 Byron Hamann suggests that breaking
and disposing of certain ritual and household items was critical, because
these items had been created in a soon-to-be-passing cycle, and did not
belong in the new one. These items were “matter out of time,” a form of
chronological pollution.4
When night came, the peoples of the Aztec empire were frightened.
Fire Limpias
They believed that if fire could not be drawn that evening, the sun
would be destroyed forever. The Tzitzimimeh would then descend onto
earth and devour humans.* The movement of the heavens would desist,
and all would end in darkness and eternal night.5
During the first quarter of the night, the shamans and servants of
the temple of Tenochtitlan went to the summit of the mountain near
Itztapalapan, which they called Uixachtecatl, reaching it at midnight.
The summit had a great pyramid on it from they could pay close atten-
tion to the movement of the Pleiades. They waited for the constellation
to reach and pass its zenith. When it had, they knew that the move-
ment of the heavens had not ceased and the sun would not be destroyed.
They would perform a New Fire Ceremony to facilitate its recreation.6
The ceremonial drilling of the New Fire was said to have been created
by rubbing two sticks together quickly to ignite a flame—a reenactment
of the sun’s birth from a divine turquoise hearth.7 The fire atop the
pyramid was seen from all the surrounding mountains, letting people
know that the world would be renewed for another fifty-two years.8
The New Fire Ceremony signaled the termination of period-ending
ceremonies and the inauguration of calendrical renewal celebrations.
Annual year-end ceremonies in central Mexico likely incorporated
scaled-down versions of the rites described for the more grandiose
Plates 29 through 46 of the Borgia Codex tell an elaborate story
of its central character, Stripe Eye, who is transformed into a respected
shaman or community leader. This event is marked by a New Fire
Ceremony, signaling a new era. Stripe Eye performs a long ritual jour-
ney to activate a sacred medicine bundle and effect a new beginning.
Although he is not in the last two scenes, in which the New Fire
Ceremony actually takes place, his ritual journey appears to invoke
*Tzitzimimeh were deities associated with stars that could be seen during an eclipse.
They were believed to be attacking the sun during an eclipse. They were often depicted
as skeletal female figures wearing skirts with skull-and-crossbone designs (Klein, “The
Devil and the Skirt,” 23–27).
Commonly Practiced Limpias from Ancient and Modern Perspectives
deities who will kindle the fire for the new era. The five enclosures of
plates 29 through 32 seem to depict preparations for this limpia and the
associated journey that Stripe Eye will embark on.10
Plates 35 through 38 provide an account of a medicine-bundle rit-
ual performed before the Temple of Heaven. These pages appear to be
portraying a complex medicine-bundle ceremony, in which a person is
elevated to the role of shaman. The ceremony involves a series of activa-
tions of the bundle with smoke, fire, and a sweeping device similar to
the one with which the wind god Ehecatl is often depicted (see plate
10). After the long journey and the opening of the bundle, the shamans
impersonating or embodying principal deities are no longer performing
actions on behalf of Stripe Eye. Instead they are acting as his assistants.
The activation and opening of his bundle has transformed him into a
shaman who can now lead ceremonies.11
The last plate of this story, plate 46, features beings drilling a fire
with a flint stick within the heart of a combined image of the fire god
Xiuhtecuhtli and his nahual, Xiuhcoatl, a mythological serpent with a
sharply back-turned snout and a segmented body.* There are four direc-
tional Xiuhcoatl surrounding a central image of the burning hearth.
The four Xiuhcoatl represent the emergent smoke and flames to the
four directions. This scene likely refers to the fiery creation of the sun
during the Xiuhmolpilli.12 Drilling the New Fire brings the ceremonial
sequence to a close, as well as inaugurating a new era.13
Fire ceremonies were also performed to conjure gods. Xiuhtecuhtli,
for example, was often depicted as being conjured by drilling fire on
top of a mirror. Mirrors were likely used to garner the reflections of
the sun’s glares to make fire.14 Xiuhtecuhtli typically appeared to peo-
ple through his nahual, Xiuhcoatl. Images depict Xiuhcoatl as having
mirrors on its body, with beings drilling fire on the mirrors. Mirrors
also served as tools of prognostication and self-reflection, as a way to
*A nahual is often thought of as a supernatural guardian animal that can share a soul
with a person or deity.
Fire Limpias
connect and communicate with deities, and as passageways for souls.15
Mirrors, like fire, were bridges to supernatural realms.
According to the Historia de los Mexicanos por sus pinturas (History
of the Mexicans as Told by Their Paintings), only two years after a great
flood, Tezcatlipoca Mixcoatl, the red aspect of Tezcatlipoca,* “wanted
[ . . . ] to feast the gods, and that is why he brought out flame from the
sticks, which he usually did, and that was the beginning of fire-making
out of flints, which are sticks that have a heart, and once that flame was
obtained, it was a fiesta to make many great fires.”16 The flints that were
used for the fire drilling were also believed to have an essence, to have
a heart. Both the fire itself and the tools that were used to start a fire
were understood as having their own soul essences.
The Mexica also studied the way in which fire burned for divina-
tory purposes and made offerings to Xiuhtecuhtli. They fed him pul-
que, incense, quetzal feathers and other precious feathers, sprinkles of
blood, minerals, and tobacco.17 They listened to the ways in which the
fire crackled and the embers creaked in order to prophesize. They also
watched how the fire would smoke and sparks would leap to divine a
The ritual objects and offerings they made to the deceased chil-
dren and adults during the ninth month, Tlaxochimaco (Bestowal of
Flowers), and the tenth month, Hueymiccaihuitl (Great Feast of the
Dead), of the xiuhpohualli calendar, included chocolate, fowl, fruit,
great quantities of seed and food, and candles. These offerings attracted
the deceased, and again, the candle likely served as a conduit to tem-
porarily house and welcome the deceased into the realm of the living.
These feasts and festivities resemble our current Dia de los Muertos
celebrations, but instead of three days, the festivities for the deceased
would continue for twenty days during these two months. They were
celebrated with rejoicing, ceremonies, and many elaborate offerings.19
*Tezcatlipoca was often understood as having four aspects. Each aspect was associated
with a color, cardinal space—a quadrant of universal space, and an element (León-
Portilla, Aztec Thought and Culture, 46.).
Commonly Practiced Limpias from Ancient and Modern Perspectives
The early ethnographers of the Mexica were not especially inter-
ested in the meaning and purpose of candles left to honor the deceased.
My mentors, however, taught me that the fire of a candle could act as a
bridge to other worlds and, through the flame on the wick, could tem-
porarily house the spirits of loved ones. I suspect that the Mexica used
candles to honor the deceased for analogous purposes.
For the ancient Yucatec Maya, fire was the medium by which curan-
deras/os conjured the gods through the offering of blood, copal, and
other precious substances. Fire limpias were used to cleanse, renew, and
vivify physical spaces and ritual objects. Fire limpias, typically referred
to as fire drilling, are pictured in several almanacs of the Madrid and
Dresden codices, again often signaling period-ending ceremonies and
the inauguration of calendrical renewal celebrations (see plates 4–6).20
In these ceremonies, a New Fire was typically lit and fed with incense or
resins to facilitate and commemorate a renewal or a new cycle.
During the month of Pop’ of the 365-day hab calendar, the New
Year, the Yucatec Maya engaged in many rites that involved renova-
tion and renewal.21 The shaman purified the temple while men and
older women would gather in the court. The chosen chacs (ty pica lly
respected elders of the community who represented the mythologi-
cal skybearers holding up the sky at the four corners of the world)
would then seat themselves in the four corners and fasten a rope to one
another. Participants would have to enter through the rope; in doing so,
they purified themselves and continued to purify the space. Thereafter
all the men began saying their prayers. The chacs lit the brazier, the
temple’s symbolic hearth and heart, and made a New Fire. The shaman
then began to feed the fire with incense. Then the chacs came forward
to receive incense from the ah-kin (shaman) and threw the incense into
the New Fire. The other men followed suit. The incense was an offering
to the New Fire, ensuring a successful renewal to a New Year cycle.22
Fire Limpias
The Yucatec Maya also created a New Fire during the month of Sip
to cleanse and renew their medicine bundles. These bundles typically
contained idols; am, small stones used to cast lots;* and other items
they used to cure, cleanse, renew, and perform divinations. During this
month, shamans gathered in one of their houses. The ah-kin leading the
rite first cleansed the space. The shamans began to open their medicine
bundles and with great devotion called upon their deities of medicine:
Ihcil-Ixchel, Itzamna, Cit-bolontun, and Ahua-chamahes. They then lit
a New Fire and fed it with incense, cleansing and renewing their tools
and the medicine bundle itself.23
Fire limpias were also used to activate or renew the soul essence
of temples. These are sometimes called fire-entering ceremonies. The
Maya would start a New Fire in the temple brazier and feed it with
offerings. The New Fire was believed to create a bridge to supernatural
realms and to serve as a home where the gods would be fed.24 The bra-
zier was both the house of the supernatural being and the place where it
could be invoked.25 Fire limpias were also used to vivify the muknal, the
dwelling of a deceased ancestor, thus charging it with the soul essence
of the deceased.26
Fire limpias could also signal and sanction the accession of a lord,
which often included a cycle of destruction and death followed by a
rebirth. These accession ceremonies often inaugurated a transformative
cycle that bestowed the new reign with cosmic significance, perhaps
marking the rebirth of a principal creator deity as the new lord.27
The well-preserved hieroglyphs at Temple XIX at Palenque, in
Chiapas, Mexico, for example, denote a possible rebirth of GI, a princi-
pal creator deity, on the same day of the seating of ruler K’inich Ahkal
Mo’ Nahb. On the day of the ruler’s accession, he is depicted as wear-
ing distinctive emblems associated with deity GI, such as a small heron
grasping a fish in its beak. They chose the date of the king’s accession
*Casting lots is a divinatory practice that involves throwing stones or other small objects
to see into circumstances.
Commonly Practiced Limpias from Ancient and Modern Perspectives
to evoke cosmological significance. His accession took place on 9 ik,
which was also the mythological date of the enthronement of GI. The
ruler relied on GI’s creation story to legitimize his reign religiously and
politically. The dedication ceremony of Temple XIX vivified the build-
ing with the accession of this ruler as GI. Through the ceremonies,
buildings did not simply record this history; rather they were animated
by the fire rite and then embodied this cosmological transformation.28
Although ethnohistorical records indicate that candles were used as
offerings, they do not discuss the manner or positioning of the candles
for limpias. Currently, however, candle ceremonies, or velaciónes, are
used among many Maya peoples to activate new buildings with a soul,
to clear clients of negative energies, to clear pathways, and to renew the
Among the modern Tzotzil Maya of Zinacantan, the Ch’ul Kandela
(“Holy Candle”) ritual, which takes place soon after a new house is built,
is used to give the house a soul. The ritual begins with the erection of
a small cross, with burning candles and incense, outside the structure.
Inside, the ritual continues with a prayer to the Earth Lord over a table
with six candles on it. Candles and pine boughs are placed in the four
corners of the house, and chicken broth is poured into the corners and
at the house’s center. Then broth and liquor are poured over the raf-
ters of the roof, feeding the house with these items.29 In neighboring
Chenhaló, a similar house dedication ceremony includes lighting of the
first hearth fire by an elderly couple to tame the “wild” new house.30
Tat Eliseo, a shaman elder in Nahualá, Guatemala, uses the element
of fire in the form of candles on his three-level altar, where he prac-
tices rituals of veneration, protection for his clients, and renewal of the
earth. The highest table, running across the back wall of the receiving
room, represents the upper vault of the cosmos and its principal dei-
ties. Separated from the first by a two-foot aisle, another substantial
table, representing earthly matter and the owners of the earth, is empty
except for an array of representative candles that parallels the high altar.
A third altar, connected to ancestors and the underworld, constituted
Fire Limpias
of planks with candles and figures, sits on the ground under the second.
The fire of these candles enables Tat Eliseo to conjure and invoke the
aid of the beings of these three worlds.31
Before I began formal training with any curanderas/os, I always hon-
ored the elements on one of my altars. Fire was often represented with
a lit candle, and I knew to offer incense to it. (Curanderismo practices
have always been second nature to me.) But after my training, both in
the field and academically, I gained a greater understanding of my tradi-
tions and myself.
Researching and understanding how the ancient Yucatec Maya and
Mexica conducted fire limpia rites greatly deepened the sacrality of the
fire limpias I offered. The level of faith of both the curandera/o and
participant always correlates with how effective it will be. By equip-
ping myself with the sacred meanings and practices of my rich history
and culture, I became more grounded in and comfortable with these
rites. I also began to put into practice nuanced ancient understandings
and methods, particularly the knowledge that all the tools used have
a soul essence. I learned how to work with these entities and for what
I use some kind of fire limpia rite in all of my sessions. The dif-
ferent forms include igniting a charcoal and lighting a New Fire in my
brazier; facilitating a white fire (see chapter 8, page 164, for how to con-
duct a white fire limpia); using fire sticks; igniting a puro and cleansing
a person with it; creating a fire pit; and velación. For example, I usually
light a white fire at the beginning of a class. I chant a prayer to the four
directions in Yucatec Mayan and English and ask people to release into
the fire anything that may prevent them from being fully present at the
class, or anything that no longer serves them. I typically only work with
a fire pit in a ceremony where I have people honor the sun, moon, and
Commonly Practiced Limpias from Ancient and Modern Perspectives
fire and declare what they are releasing into the fire and what they are
welcoming into their lives.
Changing Streaks of Bad Luck with Fire Limpias
To change streaks of bad luck, I recommend at least three fire limpias
on three consecutive cycles.* I will request that the client schedule three
limpias that reflect the frequency of the misfortunes. If someone is
experiencing difficult fortune on a daily basis, I suggest three sessions
on three consecutive days. If the bad luck happened within a week, I
will suggest sessions on a weekly basis on the same day and at the same
time. Once the person is starting to reach a better position, I may rec-
ommend biweekly sessions, and then monthly sessions, always on the
same day and time, if possible.
The cycles of repetitive limpias are inspired by ancient Mesoamerican
thought. They mirror the understanding that life is composed of con-
stantly repeating cycles of change. Although a ceremony may be repeated
in the same way, every cycle is unique. It is its own process, and every
process enables the person to more gracefully peel away limiting core
beliefs. After a time, they may attain a different point of reality, in which
they discover what they truly love and begin to actualize it in their life.
Lighting a New Fire
Whether sessions are remote or in person, I always begin by lighting a
New Fire in my brazier in order to cleanse and transfigure my clients’
energies and offer them a new beginning. I always use a wooden match
to light the charcoal tablet and then place it on my brazier. It is said that
wooden matches have a soul essence and can garner more magic and aid
in the cleansing. After I light the charcoal, I place frankincense, myrrh,
*Streaks of misfortune can be distinguished from chronic or prolonged periods of misfor-
tune. A streak is a somewhat unusual short period of misfortunes that have taken place
within approximately one week to three months. On the other hand, prolonged or chronic
periods of misfortune often require soul-retrieval work coupled with limpias. Soul retrieval
helps someone to regain a lost piece of her or his soul, or sacred essence energy.
Fire Limpias
and copal on it. I take the brazier in my hand and swirl it in circu-
lar motions as we begin the session. It is believed that circular motions
entrap dense energies and clear them more effectively. I then place the
brazier, with the copal smoking, relatively close to the client, unless the
smoke begins to bother them. If so, I move it away from them, although
I keep it in the room.
White Fire Limpias
I may use a white fire limpia to help people release and reconstitute the
energies of a situation they are ready to let go of. I also have them make
offerings to the fire to invoke the assistance of the fire spirit and of the
divine beings that are assisting them on their path. First, we have a plat-
ica to determine what needs to be released and what they are ready to
release. Then we talk about what they are going to commit to doing to
facilitate a release and change in their lives. Their commitment to doing
some kind of work after the session is an ofrenda (offering) to them-
selves to ensure that they will continue to work toward releasing the
circumstances they have chosen to let go of. I have clients write down
what they are going to release and positively change in their lives with a
number-two pencil on a white piece of paper.
Next, I may take clients on a shamanic journey to begin the purg-
ing and rescripting process. Not all curanderas/os facilitate shamanic
journeys during their sessions; in fact, most of the ones I came across
did not. I nonetheless learned how to facilitate shamanic journeys
through drumming, rattling, beating of brass instruments, breathwork,
and adjusting the cadence and intonation of my voice to produce repeti-
tive, trancelike intervals. The repetitive sound of a drum, rattle, or deep
brass instrument produces changes in the central nervous system. The
rhythmic stimulation affects the electrical activity in the sensory and
motor areas of the brain. Deep, repetitive beats of lower frequencies
transmit impulses along nerve pathways in the brain that induce trance
states for both the practitioner and client.
If you are starting out, drumming is recommended, and having
Commonly Practiced Limpias from Ancient and Modern Perspectives
someone else do the drumming or using a recorded set is advisable.
The beating should be strong, monotonous, unvarying, and rapid.
There should be no contrast in intensity or in the intervals between
beats. Once you become experienced at entering shamanic trances, you
can play deep brass instruments and use your voice—intonation and
cadence—to take yourself and the client into the journey.
Generally the tools I use to engage in journeying involve breath-
work, shifting the cadence and intonation of my voice, and beating a
Tibetan bowl with a mallet at repeated intervals. I use the drum and
rattle when I am working with larger groups of people rather than with
individuals; this is simply a personal preference. When I am work-
ing with individuals in a session for the shamanic journeying, we first
engage in cobra breathing, and then I have them lie down and perform
a barrida on them with Florida water, a rattle, and a feather fan. (I dis-
cuss how to do cobra breathwork in chapter 4, page 76, and how to do
a sweep in chapter 7, page 132.)
After the barrida, I beat the bowl at repeated intervals. I have the
client tune into a reality or space that brings them into a state of joy
and peace. In this space, I have them make a commitment to themselves
to be aware of what needs to be released and what they are going to do
to facilitate this release. I do not have them speak during the journey-
ing. Instead I tune into and work their I Am presence, the divine pres-
ence within all of us. Any gifts of healing, clearing and rescripting are
offered to their I Am presence. But I always vocalize the gifts that are
being offered and ask the person to silently speak whether or not they
choose to accept these gifts—honoring free will. I usually also inform
them of the imagery I am seeing as I am seeing it.
The most important elements in shamanic journeying are ensuring
that the practitioner is the one on the journey and can navigate through
the many realities the client is connected and associated with. How
does a practitioner guide the client into this reality of joy and peace?
Simple: the moment the practitioner stops questioning or doubting
themselves, and knows without a shadow of doubt that they are able to
Fire Limpias
do so, they are ready for journeying. But keep in mind that a white fire
limpia does not require shamanic journeying. Often the platica and the
practi tioner’s intuition will be sufficient to determine what needs to be
released and what the client is ready to do to release it. But typically I
facilitate a journey if time allows.
In any event, after the client has written down what they are going
to release and change in their lives, I prepare a white fire for them. This
consists of two handfuls of Epsom salt, a splash of rubbing alcohol, and
dried plants, such as basil, rosemary, chamomile, rue, mint, tobacco, or
parsley, all of which are placed within a pot that is only used for limpias.
I throw a lit wooden matchstick into the pot, and I have the client pro-
claim their intentions as they throw their paper or pieces of paper into
the fire. Then I hand them copal, herbs, and/or palo santo (a cleansing
fragrant wood) and guide them to feed the fire with their offerings. As
they are doing so, invoking the aid of the fire and of the divine beings
that are assisting them on their path, I have them state what they are
choosing and what they will do to commit and move forward toward
their choice. Inspired by my Mesoamerican ancestors, I know this cer-
emony not only facilitates a release but also invokes divine assistance in
actualizing the client’s choices.
Sometimes after the limpia, I study the manner in which the resins
and herbs burned, either in or away from my client’s presence. I soak the
pot for five to ten minutes in water. The amount of residue stuck to it
tells me how much the person has let go, which includes letting go of
the identities and stories associated with related traumas or issues. No
matter how much residue has been left, the fire limpia has facilitated
a release. With every release, we change and become something new; I
hold the space and encourage positive transformation.
A Puro Cleansing
The Mexica and Yucatec Maya used tobacco as an offering to their
deities, smoked it for healing and cleansing, and used it at their most
prestigious rites.32 Tobacco has the soul essence of a grandfather plant
Commonly Practiced Limpias from Ancient and Modern Perspectives
and can impart immense wisdom, clearing, and healing, if approached
with reverence and respect. I often use tobacco in the form of a puro,
which is blessed tobacco in a cigar. The puro, like all limpia tools, both
cleanses and provides a divinatory window into the circumstances sur-
rounding the issues.
Before using the puro, I say a prayer to the spirit of the tobacco and
thank it for cleansing and aiding my client. After I have given thanks,
I get a red marker and make a straight line down the puro. I begin by
blowing the smoke from the lit puro at the top of the person’s head;
then I go to the neck, arms, chest, abdomen, hips, legs, and feet, and I
have the person turn around, and I follow the same sequence. I make
sure not to inhale the smoke, so I can perform the limpia with the cigar
burning down to the end. I use an aluminum container for ashes and
spit into it as needed.
Generally, if the puro burns to the top left of the red line as I am
cleansing the person, this indicates clearing of unwanted circumstances
that the person is aware of. If it burns to the bottom left, there is a
clearing of unwanted circumstances that have been unknown. Burning
on the top right indicates a change toward more favorable outcomes
that the person has been hoping for, whereas burning to the bottom
right indicates an unexpected favorable outcome.
Throughout the cleansing, I recite prayers for the person, thank the
spirits of the tobacco and fire, and have the person declare what they
are choosing to release and to have happen in their lives. As the puro
burns, holes can appear in it as I ask the person to declare the particu-
lars of their issues. This often reveals that someone may not have been
wishing the person well and that, for whatever reason, the person has
begun to internalize this dense energy. If holes appear, I place a little bit
of cinnamon powder on them, which transmutes this dense energy and
typically prevents the hole from getting bigger. Through prayers and
getting the person to state with conviction what they choose, we can get
the puro to begin to burn evenly, which is the goal. The prayers I say for
the person as I am blowing the smoke on their body are private and are
Fire Limpias
only for their ears. I encourage practitioners to create their own prayers
and invocations for performing limpias. These prayers should be special
and should be shared only with the client.
After the puro has burned to about one-third of the way down to
the end, the limpia is done. At that point the client and I talk about
their homework and about what they are going to do to further the
Anne’s Streak of Bad Luck
Anne had just experienced a streak of misfortunes in a little less than
four weeks. In this period, she had two car accidents, got laid off,
was told that she had sixty days to vacate the apartment that she
had been living in for three years, had her car declared a total loss
from the second accident, and had been experiencing nightly bouts of
insomnia—waking up at 2 or 3 a.m. and being unable to go back to
sleep. I started the session by lighting a New Fire in my brazier and
conducted a platica, holding the space to allow her to begin ejecting
the energies of those traumas from her body.
In our platica, she confessed that she had been somewhat unhappy
with her job and often felt unappreciated. She had been with the com-
pany for three years, was only given one very small raise throughout
that time, and did not see opportunities for growth within the com-
pany. Nonetheless, she did not see the layoff coming and was not
financially prepared for it. Prior to the streak of misfortunes, she had
broken up with her boyfriend of four years. Although she loved him,
she had known for quite some time that she was no longer in love with
him, so she f inally got up the courage to leave him. He did not feel
the same, which made her choice significantly more difficult. She also
continued to mention that she thought it was very odd that this streak
of misfortunes had taken place shortly after she had broken up with
him. I told her not to worr y about what seemed like peculiar timing;
we would clear her of any dense energies. If she wanted to change her
Commonly Practiced Limpias from Ancient and Modern Perspectives
fortune, she had to keep focused on her great fortune and not worry
about anything else. After the platica, I cleansed her with a puro.
The cigar began to burn boldly on the left of the red line at the
top and bottom. When I asked that she be cleansed of any dense
energies, holes began to form at the bottom of the cigar. I placed
cinnamon on them to change this energy and cleanse her from it. I
had her declare multiple times that her life was full of great fortune
and abundance on all levels and that she was going to get an offer for
the ideal job. Toward the very end, as she was declaring her great
fortune, the puro finally began to burn more evenly.
Afterward I requested that she cleanse her house, particularly her
living space, with a white fire limpia for at least three consecutive
days. I also inspired her to work on her résumé, to start sending it
out that day, and to contact former coworkers. I requested that she
come to see me in two weeks, on the same day, at the same time.
The next time Anne came in, she told me she had been sleep-
ing better and loved doing the white fire limpias. Her apartment felt
considerably calmer, even in the midst of uncertainty. But she was
still stressed out because she had not yet found an apartment or a
job. She also admitted that in a moment of desperation and confusion
she contacted her ex-boyfriend and went out with him. She did not
want to return to him and reaffirmed her choice to him shortly after
the incident. According to her, leaving him was the one thing she had
recently done to free herself from a long period of complacency and
waves of mild depression.
Then the glimmer of hope came in. Two days before, one of her
former coworkers e-mailed her back and told her about a possible
opening that seemed like a great job opportunity. I cleansed her with
another puro. It was burning on the left side at the top. I had her
declare her great fortune and state that complacency was no longer
an option for her and that she would get a great job offer within the
next couple of weeks. At this time the puro began to burn on the top
right side, indicating that she would get such an offer. Then, halfway
Fire Limpias
through the limpia, the puro began to burn evenly, which indicated a
new path of balance and happiness. At the very end of the session, I
told her that the job was hers if she wanted it.
For Anne’s third session, she came in ecstatic. She had gotten
a job offer. Although it was only for a six-month contract, there
seemed to be a high likelihood that it would become permanent.
She had also put in applications for three apartments that she really
liked. They were not in West Los Angeles, where she had been liv-
ing, but they were closer to her new job, bigger, and less expensive.
Nevertheless, she was worried because she only had ten days to
move out. I taught her how to do a velación with a circle of eight
white seven-day candles, and a principal candle, so that her appli-
cation for her most ideal apartment would be accepted. (I explain
how to do a velación in the next section.) After our platica, we did
a white fire limpia for new beginnings. She wrote down a description
of the complacency that had plagued her for years on a white piece
of paper with a number-two pencil. She threw the paper into the
fire. Then I had her proclaim all the things she was welcoming into
her life, transforming the circumstances and the energies that had
weighed her down. She e-mailed me six days after the session to
inform me that she had gotten the apartment she most wanted and
was able to move in immediately.
Anne had been complacent for many years, in many aspects of
her life. Shortly after leaving a relationship she was no longer happy
with, the streak of misfortunes was triggered, possibly so that she
would return to patterns of illusory safety and complacency. The
fire limpias helped cleanse her from these dense energies and grace-
fully usher in a new path. Along with getting an ideal job oppor tu-
nity and a wonderful living space, she was told two months after
starting her new position that it would likely become permanent,
and it did. She had also purchased an almost-new Toyota Prius and
got an extraordinary deal.
Commonly Practiced Limpias from Ancient and Modern Perspectives
During a session, I may also recommend that a client do a fire limpia
with a velación. Fire limpias in the form of velaciones are very strong
sources of clearing, healing, and renewal for persons and/or situations.
People I have worked with have successfully performed velaciónes for a
variety of circumstances, including:
Obtaining ideal living spaces
Realizing an ideal outcome in a lawsuit
Securing ideal renters
Getting an ideal job
Increasing business flow
Acquiring ideal employment contracts for various types of
Softening hearts and healing relationships
Removing various kinds of obstacles
Revealing the truth
Typically, if the person has a safe space to conduct a velación, I teach
them how to do it. I rarely do velaciones for people; rather, I encourage
them to step into their own power and do it for themselves. It is always
exciting to get a call or e-mail a few weeks later and hear that what they
had asked for in the velación came out better than expected.
Guidelines for Velaciónes
To begin with, two fundamentals must first be stressed. When writing
the petition for a velacion, (1) ask for an ideal outcome, and (2) under-
stand that everyone has a right to their reality.
Most of us have not experienced ideal realities. We may not even
know what our ideal looks like or can be, so I recommend that the per-
son ask for an ideal outcome and be open to such. While the person is
waiting for this, I encourage them to maintain a positive, faithful, and
grateful attitude and to expect to experience something ideal. These
Fire Limpias
high energetic vibrations—happiness, faith, and gratitude—fuel the
magic and intention of the velación.
I have also had a few clients throughout the years ask me, “Can’t
we make him or her understand, or do, XYZ?” Everyone has free will,
so we cannot make anyone do anything if they are not willing. Nor can
we make something happen to someone if there is no opening. Trying
to do so can be a waste of money, time, energy, and is often flat-out
unethical. We can, however, ask for and have a right to our own ideal
To do a velación, the following will be needed:
Seven-day candles. The number of candles depends on the forma-
tion and intention.
Two four- to eight-ounce glasses. (Please do not use these glasses
to drink from after this or any limpia. The items that are used
for limpia rites are sacred magical items and should be placed in
a separate space, out of reach, so they are not mistakenly used for
other purposes.)
Filtered water.
Parchment paper.
A number-two pencil.
Charcoal tablets.
Wooden matches.
A brazier, a steel urn for burning the charcoal tablets.
An egg.
A picture (optional).
Start out by using a white fire to cleanse the space where the vel-
ación will be performed (chapter 8, page 164, discusses how to make
a white fire). Then write out the petition with a number-two pencil
on a piece of parchment paper. (As my mentors taught me, pencils are
magical instruments.)
Commonly Practiced Limpias from Ancient and Modern Perspectives
I start all petitions with “God, Company of Heaven, I Am That I
Am, please and thank you with and by the sacred fires of God’s Light
and Love for ensuring . . . ,” and end with “Thank you.” When I use the
term God, it is free of any monotheistic religious associations; rather, it
is the divine principle of the Highest Love. The sacred fires of God’s
Love and Light clear and transmute any and all kinds of density to
light. If the term God does not resonate with the person, I encourage
them to refer to something they feel is a divine principle, one they feel
has the power to clear and transmute, whether the prayer be to Krishna,
Buddha, Hecate, or any other force or deity. Faith in a divine force or
principle is what fuels the magic in cleansing and renewal.
If a picture of the person or persons or situation is available, use
it, and place the picture on top of the parchment paper. On top of the
paper and picture, place the principal candle, as well as the glass of
water and the egg. The egg is an offering. The glass of water and the
egg should be next to one another, and the principal candle should be
at the top, in the shape of a triangle.
For the principal candle, garner the help of a saint, bodhisattva,
angel, or master. Get a candle that reflects the intention. Here are some
ideas for the types of divine help and some of their known specialties.
Sagrado Corazón de Jesús (Sacred Heart of Jesus) and Buddha:
for any type of petition where divine help is needed
Archangel Michael: to clear any type of negative energies
Archangel Raphael: for healing and illumined vision
San Judas de Tadeo (St. Jude Thaddeus): when asking for a
San Juan Soldado: for safe travels
Virgen de Guadalupe (Our Lady of Guadalupe) and Kwan Yin:
help stop family quarrels
Angel de la Guarda (Guardian Angel): helps to look over you and
family members
Changó and Lucky Buddha: good luck
Fire Limpias
Santa Clara: good fortune
San Antonio (St. Anthony), Our Lady of Grace, and Yemaya: forlove
St. Lazarus: to guide in a new beginning
Divina Providencia (Divine Providence): for prosperity
Mano Poderosa: to help with work and business matters
San Ramon: business prosperity
San Simón: to have more financial abundance
Santa Elena: to discover the truth
Santa Lucia: to see with clarity
Santa Marta: to gain strength
Santa Teresa: to increase the power of a magical petition
Siete Potencias: to get rid of bad luck
Infant Jesus of Atocha: petition for help in any situation
San Martin de Porres: petition for financial needs
Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception: for fertility and health
Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal: to break bad habits
St. Francis of Assisi: for better understanding and peace
Velación Formations
To strengthen the intention of the velación, place the principal can-
dle and the parchment petition in the center of any of the following
Tria ngles: to strengthen a petition. A triangle is considered the
strongest formation to strengthen an intention. To create a tri-
angle, obtain three additional seven-day candles (see figure 5.1,
page 105).
Circles: often used to influence a situation a certain way, this is
probably the most common shape used. To create a circle, obtain
eight additional seven-day candles (see figure 5.2, page 105).
Squares: often used for stability and to seal an intention. To
create a square, obtain four additional seven-day candles (see
figure5.3, page 106).
Commonly Practiced Limpias from Ancient and Modern Perspectives
Candle Color
As for the color of the candles, here are some meanings:
White candles are all-purpose candles; they purify a situation,
and garner divine help.
Blue candles are burned for serenity and tranquility.
Red candles are burned for health and power.
Pink candles are burned for goodwill.
Green candles are burned to remove a harm or a negative
inf luence.
Purple candles are burned to repel dense energies.
Black candles are burned to bring closure to something or
Steps for the Velación
After the candles have been placed in a particular arrangement, begin
by cracking the egg in the glass jar and discard the shell. Light the
middle candle with a wooden match. Then begin by lighting the
other candles in a clockwise motion. Use one match per candle, and
never use the breath to blow out the match or candle. My mentors
taught me that using wooden matches empower the magical intention.
I suspect that this belief has its roots in ancient Mesoamerican beliefs
that wood or flint has a heart or essence, which can strengthen the
magical intention.
Once all of the candles have been lit, do not place anything inside
the formation or blow out the candles. Let them burn out naturally (of
course, make sure to do the velación in a safe place). Finally, light the
charcoal and place copal on it. Plan beforehand to place the charcoal
on a steel urn, as the charcoal gets very hot; leave the urn outside the
candle formation. Make offerings of copal regularly, preferably at night
before going to bed and in the early morning. During the velación, pay
attention to how the candles are burning. If any of them has a very low
fire, burn copal next to that candle.
Fire Limpias
Figure 5.1. Velación in the shape of a triangle.
Illustration by Carolina Gutierrez.
Figure 5.2. Velación in the shape of a circle.
Illustration by Carolina Gutierrez.
Commonly Practiced Limpias from Ancient and Modern Perspectives
After the candles go out naturally, if the intention was to have
something flourish, pour the water on a plant either inside the house
or in the garden. If the intention was to clear any kind of dense energy,
place the water in the toilet, or outside of the house in an area where
nothing is growing. Place the petition on an altar or in a special place.
When the request has come true, bury the petition. If the rite cleared
away dense energy, bury the petition in a location where nothing is
growing; otherwise, you can bury the petition anywhere.
Phases of the Moon
It is unnecessary to begin the velación at night. But the phase of the
moon should be known, especially when it comes to drafting the petition.
New moon: new beginnings
Waxing: increasing or expanding
Figure 5.3. Velación in the shape of a square.
Illustration by Carolina Gutierrez.
Fire Limpias
Full: bringing something to a close
Waning: decreasing or clearing
How the Candle Burns
Remember that just because they are called seven-day candles, this does
not mean that they will burn for the full seven days. The time it takes
for the candles to burn out depends on the situation.
First lighting: when you first light the candle, if it emits blacksmoke,
then it is transmuting dense energies. When the smoke is white,
then the prayer will be answered, but there may be some struggles.
A strong f lame: working to send a lot of energy and power to
manifest the intention.
A weak or low flame: slowly removing heavy obstacles. Burn copal,
other resins, or incense next to it to strengthen the flame.
A jumping flame: spiritual warfare on your behalf.
One or more of the candles goes out during the velación: there
is, for whatever reason, a lot of resistance to this intention. Relight
the candle that has gone out, and let it burn out naturally. If more
than one candle went out, relight those as well. After the candle
has burned out, redo the velación. But this time, ask that all ener-
gies impeding the petition be transmuted with and by the sacred
fires of God’s Love and Light.
Crackling sounds: the spirit of the fire is pleading your case. The
stronger the crackling, the stronger the opposition.
Candles burn unevenly: if two of the candles that are opposite
to one another take more than a day to burn out, then there may
be some delays. You can determine then if you want to do another
velación to clear obstacles around the situation.
Reading the Glass
Clear: if the glass remains clear, then your petition will be
Commonly Practiced Limpias from Ancient and Modern Perspectives
A lot of wax residue: when there is a lot of wax residue on the
glass and those candles have taken longer to burn, it is a good idea
to redo your velación and ask for obstacles to be cleared.
Turns black: if there is any kind of black, smoky residue on the
glass or black spots at the bottom of glass, this generally means
someone has been intentionally sending negative thoughts or energy
your way concerning this situation, so be discerning. Give yourself a
baño (chapter 6, page 128, discusses how to do this), give your space
a white fire limpia (chapter 8, page 164, discusses how to do this),
redo your velación, and if needed, seek help.
Glass breaks: depending on the circumstances, this can indicate
that someone or something may be working against you. On the
other hand, the glass breaking indicates that the energy sent your
way has been broken. Nonetheless, it is a good idea to still give
yourself a baño, give your space a white fire limpia, redo your vel-
ación, and if needed, seek help.
A Velación for Divine Intervention and Renewal
The following is a great example of divine intervention and renewing
a situation with a velación. It involved a client that wanted me to help
her brother, whom she believed had been bewitched by his fiancée.
According to my client, the fiancée was principally after his money. The
first time this client came to see me, she gave me a laundry list of the
numerous things that were going on in her life, which included ongo-
ing cycles of negative emotional outbursts and a failing marriage. After
a platica concerning her stories and woes, she mentioned her brother’s
engagement. I requested that we first work on her own life, and then we
could work on her brother if it was needed.
After a few months, my client finally got to a point where she felt
grounded and happy, and the emotional outbursts were becoming a
thing of the past. She requested again that we help her brother. She
believed that the fiancée had been placing something in his food, influ-
encing him to act erratically and to pull away from his friends and fam-
Fire Limpias
ily. When my clients bring up beliefs concerning magical work done
against them, I do not discount these beliefs. I have seen and experi-
enced too much to do so, but at the same time I know never to empower
them. We are children of God, and I know that no one and nothing can
ever touch us or do harm to us unless we allow it on some level. So if
the client has permitted this to happen, it must be closed off for good.
I recommended for her to do a velación with Archangel Michael
as the principal candle in a circle of eight white seven-day candles. I
instructed that in her petition she invoke the sacred fires of Gods
Love and Light, ask that all energies that are less than love and light
directed at her brother or between the brother and the fiancée be
cleared, and to allow divine truth to be seen. After the candles went
out, she threw the water down the toilet as instructed. That night the
toilet began to overflow. Approximately two weeks later, the brother
was inspired to ask the fiancée for a prenuptial agreement. Shortly
thereafter, she broke off the engagement and returned to Europe.
Velaciónes are very powerful tools.
The New-Year Fire
My mentor Don Tomas taught me the importance of beginning theNew
Year, the first of January, with a New Fire Ceremony to setthe stage for
the coming year. He instructed me to thoroughly clean thehouse, let go
of items that may hold energies that no longer resonate with me, cleanse
and charge my ritual tools, and cleanse and feed the soul essence of my
house. To clean the house, I typically make lemongrass and rosemary
tea and place a cup of it in the cleaning solutions.
If there are items that no longer resonate with me, before donating
them, I usually smudge them. On one occasion, I let go of a crystal that
had been given to me by someone whom I had a falling out with and
had moved away from. I let go of it by burying it in the earth. I went
hiking one day, dug a hole, and placed the crystal within the earth,
allowing all the energies of this situation to be released and healed by
the earth.
Commonly Practiced Limpias from Ancient and Modern Perspectives
I then cleanse and feed my house with a white fire limpia and per-
form sahumerios in each room with copal, frankincense, and myrrh
(chapter 8, pages 163–64, discusses how to make a white fire and a
sahumerio). Afterwards, I leave a gorgeous platter of my favorite fruits
on the dining table with a seven-day candle next to it. I do not, how-
ever, light the candle until the sun rises. I write my intentions for the
New Year with a number-two pencil on a piece of parchment paper.
I place the paper underneath the candle, next to the platter of fruit.
When the sun breaks, I light the candle and let it burn out naturally.
Then I eat half of the fruit on the platter and put the other half into
the compost, sharing the fruit with the earth. The candle is symbolic of
a New Fire for the New Year, similar to ancient Mesoamerican customs.
Beginning the New Year in this fashion is said to bring in great
fortune for the year. It has always been fortunate for me.
24. León-Portilla et al., In the Language of Kings, 398; Tedlock, Popol Vuh,
1. Stuart, “The Fire Enters His House,” 375, 417–18; Taube, Karl A., “Flower
Mountain,” 72–73.
2. Benevente o Motolinía, Historia de los Indios, 29, 57.
3. Sahagún, Florentine Codex, 4–5:138.
4. Hamann, “Chronological Pollution,” 803–6.
5. Sahagún, Primeros Memoriales, 153.
6. Sahagún, Florentine Codex, 4 and 5:143–4.
7. Stuart, Order of Days, 45; Taube, Karl A., “Temple of Quetzalcoatl,” 81.
8. Sahagún, Florentine Codex, 4 and 5:143–44.
9. Hernández, Christine, “Yearbearer Pages,” 357; referencing Taube, Karl A.,
“Bilimek Pulque Vessel,” 1–15.
10. Byland, Codex Borgia, xxiii–xxiv.
11. Byland, Codex Borgia, xxv.
12. Taube, Karl A., “Temple of Quetzalcoatl,” 81.
13. Byland, Codex Borgia, xxvi.
14. Scherer, Mortuary Landscapes, 133.
15. Taube, Karl A., “Through a Glass, Brightly,” 293–4, 306.
16. Garibay, “Historia de los Mexicanos por sus pinturas,” 33.
17. Durán, Book of the Gods, 262; Sahagún, Florentine Codex, 2:88.
18. Durán, Book of the Gods, 262.
19. Durán, Book of the Gods, 442.
20. Vail and Bricker, “Haab Dates,” 223–4.
21. De Landa, Yucatan, 70.
22. De Landa, Yucatan, 70–1.
23. De Landa, Yucatan, 72.
24. Stuart, “The Fire Enters His House,” 375, 417–8.
25. Taube, Karl A., “The Jade Hearth,” 427, 448.
26. Stuart, “The Fire Enters His House,” 418.
27. Velásquez García, “The Maya Flood Myth,” 4; Stuart, “Blood Symbolism in
Maya Iconography,” 195; Taube, Karl A., “Study of Classic Maya Scaffold
Sacrifice,” 340–50; Proskouriakoff, “Historical Implications,” 455.
28. Stuart and Stuart, Palenque, 226–8.
29. Stuart, “The Fire Enters His House,” 393; see Vogt, Zinacantan, 4 61–5.
30. Stuart, “The Fire Enters His House,” 393; see Guiteras-Holmes, Perils of the
Soul, 26.
31. Hawkins and McDonald, “Prologue,” 3–6.
32. Sahagún, Florentine Codex, 2:195, 211; 4–5:29; 10:94; Durán, Book of the
Gods, 264–5; De Landa, Yucatan, 45.
1. Kristan-Graham, “Building Memories at Tula,” 94; Fash, “Watery Places
and Urban Foundations,” 232.
2. Miller and Taube, Illustrated Dictionary, 79–80.
3. Soustelle, Daily Life of the Aztecs, 129.
4. Sahagún, Florentine Codex, 2:139.
5. Sahagún, Florentine Codex, 4 and 5:69; Durán, Book of the Gods, 264.
6. Miller and Taube, Illustrated Dictionary, 183–84; Sahagún, Florentine
Codex, 6:175.
7. Sahagún, Florentine Codex, 6:176.
8. Sahagún, Florentine Codex, 6:197–99.
9. Sahag ún, Florentine Codex, 6:197–99.
10. Sahagún, Florentine Codex, 6:197–9.
11. Sahagún, Florentine Codex, 4–5:53.
12. Sahagún, Florentine Codex, 4–5:2 , 5.
13. Sahagún, Florentine Codex, 4–5:114 .
14. Sahagún, Florentine Codex, 4–5 :117.
15. Durán, Book of the Gods, 264.
16. Durán, Book of the Gods, 264–5.
17. Du n , Book of the Gods, 124 –5.
18. Gonzalez, Red Medicine, 202.
19. Durán, Book of the Gods, 245.
20. Durán, Book of the Gods, 245, 266.
21. Durán, Book of the Gods, 266.
22. Durán, Book of the Gods, 245.
23. Sahagún, Florentine Codex, 2:132.
24. Durán, Book of the Gods, 269; Benevente o Motolinía, Historia, 114.
... Retrospective reports have been used to reconstruct the distribution of age-of-onset (AOO)an alternative to the estimation of incidence. 162 In the World Mental Health (WMH) surveys, median within-country depression AOO was 26 (interquartile range 17-37) years of age in high-income countries and 24 (17)(18)(19)(20)(21)(22)(23)(24)(25)(26)(27)(28)(29)(30)(31)(32)(33)(34)(35) years in low-and middle-income countries. There was also a meaningful secondary peak for onset late in life. ...
... Since the 1840s, it has been used to address chronic pain, reduce nausea and vomiting, stimulate appetite, aid in relaxation and sleep, and treat convulsions (Wilkie, Sakr, & Rizack, 2016). In 43 The use of entheogenic substances for transformative, purifying, spiritual, and medicinal purposes has been present among indigenous cultures across the world for thousands of years (see : Buenaflor, 2018;McKenna, 1993;Metzner, 2013;Schultes, Hofmann, & Rätsch, [1992. 44 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, also sometimes referred to as 'ecstasy'. ...
Full-text available
Gay and queer men tend to experience higher rates of mental health issues, STIs/HIV, suicide, substance dependency, and poor well-being than other demographics. Despite sustained public health efforts internationally, many of these issues continue to disproportionately affect members of the gay community. This thesis presents a new approach to the health issues gay and queer men face. It examines how 'risky' health-related practices including condomless sex and the use of illicit drugs might be legitimate ways of performing self-care and pursuing well-being. In order to address this aim, I conducted 16 interviews over a 12-month period in New Zealand and Australia using a constructionist grounded theory approach and a theoretical framework that draws upon the work of Judith Butler, Elizabeth Grosz, Michel Foucault, Homi Bhabha, Kane Race, Nikolas Rose, and Pierre Bourdieu. My participants and I explore a wide range of topics including the performative nature of sex and the notion of 'play', how pleasure and the emotional significance of sex might be related to self-care, the ways in which space might influence sexual practices and experiences, and to what extent having sex outside the home might be a form of self-care. I also cover safer sex practices and the experience of disease, how PrEP has radically changed the way gay men approach sex, the way drugs are bound up in self-care practices, and the relationships between self-care and community. The concept of 'wild self-care' emerged from these interviews and describes how practices or behaviours which appear risky, dangerous, or unhealthy can also be seen as legitimate ways of caring for the body and the self. I demonstrate how my participants used creative, unexpected, ii and alternative methods of caring for themselves using substances or 'risky' forms of sex and describe the way self-care is communal nature rather than a solitary practice. I also present the notion of health-as-process. This concept allows researchers to approach health as an ongoing process rather than a state of being that might be achieved. This speaks to the emotional and personal way that risk is constructed and experienced. All these facets come together to articulate the deeply complicated ways that people care for themselves.
Mexica Women on the Home Front
  • Burkhart
Burkhart, "Mexica Women on the Home Front," 37, citing Durán, Historia de las Indias, 2:164-65.
The Fire Enters His House
  • Stuart
Stuart, "The Fire Enters His House," 395; Guiteras-Holmes, Perils of the Soul, 111.
340, n.1; Clendinnen, Aztecs, 1; León-Portilla, Aztec Thought and Culture, xix
  • Burkhart
Burkhart, "Mexica Women on the Home Front," 340, n.1; Clendinnen, Aztecs, 1; León-Portilla, Aztec Thought and Culture, xix.
Handbook to Life in the Aztec World, xiii; Smith, The Aztecs
  • Aguilar-Moreno
Aguilar-Moreno, Handbook to Life in the Aztec World, xiii; Smith, The Aztecs, 61.
The Codex Borgia, xv
  • Byland
Byland, The Codex Borgia, xv.
The Metamorphosis of Xochiquetzal
  • Mccafferty Mccafferty
McCafferty and McCafferty, "The Metamorphosis of Xochiquetzal," 103. 17. McCafferty and McCafferty, "Spinning and Weaving," 28.