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The Tradition of Curing in The Andes

There are many people who wonder how our grandparents healed in the Andes? There are many answers that take us to a world of knowledge and experience of the ancestors.

From the time of the Incas and even the pre-Incas health and healing were linked to sacred rites, the use of medicinal plants and the knowledge of healers who were experts and very knowledgeable about the universe, plants, animals, etc. It is said that each community had a grandfather who was consulted and people proceeded to cure according to their advice.

For example, in the Paracas culture we have the experts in cranial trepanning that until nowadays do not cease to amaze with their knowledge of regeneration of bone and skin using something simple like herb teas, or the gold that were able to help save lives after of the clashes they had with other ethnic groups. We could list many others that helped what is now our knowledge about healing.

After the arrival of the Spaniards this had possibly changed, since they brought us different diseases that were not typical of the place and there was an annihilation of a large part of our population, as well as the knowledge saved by generations. At the same time, the extirpation of idolatries began and many healers who were believed to work with beings that were not typical of the Catholic religion, so called “devils”, were killed.

But how to recognize something that belongs to us or our ancestors? It is not enough to see our grandparents but beyond, to be curious when it comes to seeing the traditions of communities far from the city which in their soul carry knowledge dressed in mixed and camouflaged traditions.

If we want to understand a little more about the healing knowledge of these days we could divide them into three.

The first would be clearly composed of healing with energy in a spiritual way as the communities of Qeros still do on the mountaintops, or also those of Espinar, Lares, etc. The healer works with beings such as the mountain energy known as Apus, the energy of Mother Earth known as Pachamama, the Sun, the Moon, etc. They use the coca leaf as a means of divination to obtain the patient’s healing

Qero trabajando con la energía de la pachamama en lo alto de las montañas (Foto: Walter Coraza Morveli)
Qero trabajando con la energía de la pachamama en lo alto de las montañas (Foto: Walter Coraza Morveli)

The Second would be composed of the use of medicinal plants to heal physical pain such as pain in the belly, head, ulcers, etc. With the use of plants like the phanti flower that is very good for coughs and bronchial inflammations, the roque that is used for colic, the root of the plant called cancer that is very good for urinary tract infections, etc. As well as these, we can find more than 50 varieties of medicinal plants that are known for their healing properties. Just ask our grandmothers or simply go to traditional markets and visit the herbalist sector to learn a little more.

Plantas y raíces medicinales (Walter Coraza Morveli)
Plantas y raíces medicinales (Walter Coraza Morveli)

The third would have the use of utensils such as the stick of chonta, which is very good for susto, the horn of Taruca that is a deer of the mountains that is used for fainting, the hides of animals to cure different evils of the head, or perfumes or oils to cure different ills.

Palo de Chonta ceremonial
Palo de Chonta ceremonial

And finally the use of prayers for the healing of different illnesses that is very similar to the first where the healing is done through prayers in the same body of the sick person, this is very similar to what is now known as Reiki.

A set of traditions that to this day still prevails perhaps with bit of evolution like everything in the world, but with only our responsibility to preserve learning from the unknown and give it a value in this way and still maintain the memory of our grandparents.

Brayan Coraza Morveli

Soy completamente cusqueño. Mi profesión es analista de sistemas. Me encanta escuchar y tocar la música andina tanto como bailar break. Me gusta también compartir mi experiencias como cusqueño con gente de otros lados. Una de mis metas es llegar a conocer mi cultura más profundamente y compartirla ampliamente con gente de otras generaciones tanto como con hermanos y hermanas de otros lados de nuestra planeta.

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