Macario – Meeting with a traditional Mexican healer
When I first heard about Macario Cimas, it was clear to me that I wanted to meet him in person and learn more about these old Mexican traditions. Macario is one of a few traditional healers, which are still operating in the Oaxaca mountain region, combining his ancient knowledge with the open mindedness of a modern human being.
In some rural places like Santo Thomas Tamazulapam, in the region of Oaxaca, the healer business still exists. In these cultures it is believed, that the ills of body and soul are closely related. Different natural substances like hallucinogenic mushrooms are used to contribute in the healing process of various diseases. These mushrooms are considered sacred and are only consumed in their natural season, or when “they are alive”.
Apart from that, Macario works with a multitude of different techniques, including Massage, Acupuncture, Electrotherapy and Temazcal, the traditional Mexican sweat lodge. He has cured all kinds of diseases from normal colds to paralysis and even cancer. When the local hospitals don’t know what to do anymore they send the patients to him, he tells us.
When we arrive at his house, Macario’s apprentice Jose is working on the Temazcal. Once per year the clay house is rebuild to be ready for the new season. While Macario is doing some healing inside of his house, we help Jose to remodel the Temazcal. It is fun to attach the clay to the wooden structure and shape it with our own hands.
Later Macario tells us more about himself and his culture. Working as a flight attendant he has travelled the world in his younger days. Now he is happily keeping his own ancestors traditions alive and helping people with all kinds of illnesses.
He tells us about a woman with a tumor in her hip region. After taking the mushroom she decided to sit down next to a tree in the garden. She stayed there for a few hours and only when Macario came out of the Temazcal, he saw the women washing herself on the water tap. When asked, she tells him that the mushroom told her to proceed with the tumor like with a normal female period. When Macario walked to the tree he found the tumor on the ground next to the tree. The women had never had any problems again after that.
For other people the mushrooms have been a mirror to their own unconscious. Showing them their own good and bad habits, they have made them better human beings in the end. All of these stories are closely related to the believe in god and often seeing him through the mushrooms.
Even though I don’t believe in god myself, the interaction of body and mind makes a lot of sense to me. And if mushrooms can help people to make up their mind about certain things, I don’t see why they couldn’t help with various kinds of sicknesses, which might be more closely related to the mind than we are aware off.
In the next day a lot of people from surrounding villages come for the Temazcal and their individual healing therapies. We take part in the Temazcal procedure and are allowed to witness the healing session afterwards in the house.
For the Temazcal we help to put some stones into a big fire to heat them up to great temperature. Next to the fire, some water buckets with fresh eucalyptus leafs are heated up. Once the stones are ready, we move them into the Temazcal, which has a little round area in the middle for the hot stones. Now everyone takes place inside the Temazcal and Macario begins the ceremony. First he burns a few crumbs of Marihuana on the hot stones, before the Temazcal is closed with some blankets from the outside. He then uses the water from the buckets to create steam with the hot stones. A few different varieties of teas are used to produce diverse kinds of steam. The temperature inside the Temazcal rises to about 120 degrees while everyone is trying to clean body and soul.
It is a great experience to sit inside this completely natural Temazcal with about twelve local women and Macario himself and sweat out all the bad in our bodies. Steam houses and saunas are used in many cultures and few people would argue with their cleansing abilities.
The whole event seems to be a nice get-together for local families with cleaning effects, while some people get special treatments afterwards in the house. All the time lots of happy children are running around in the garden, creating a nice and peaceful atmosphere.
After the people have left we thank Macario for letting us take part in this tradition and continue on our own ways. Warmly we get invited to come back any time. Muchas gracias Macario! :)