The Limpia

Spiritual, Emotional, Mental and Physical Cleansing

We make art of life in the sacred hoop, a way of life inherited through a small slice of the Toltec tradition. The Limpia is a foundational practice in the arts of healing.

By the time Cortez came to Mexico, our ancestors, the Mexica – more commonly known as Aztecs – were already keepers of a living Toltec tradition, assimilated from earlier times, in the history and evolution of Mexico City, Tenochtitlan.

The Toltec way of life, philosophy and practice, has one defining characteristic. No matter what one does – lead armies or wash dishes – one does it with art, finesse, elegance and precision – art.

“Do it artistically” describes this belief, but the actual philosophy is more like “Be the act, be the art.”  This functional knowledge was and still is a foundation of our cultural and physical survival, because art, in all its many forms, makes true change, healing and evolution.

When the Spanish came to perform their so-called conquest the battle raged across the cultures – life, death, religious belief, medicine, everything. Precious things were destroyed, others stolen, including our medicine, and much of it, was shared willingly by our ancestors. This resulted in a mixture, a mezcla, of medicines.

Indigenous and European healing methods, including sorcery and high spiritual understandings, along with the talent to use them, fused, while the fight for Tenochtitlan, Mexico City, raged on.

The result is the mixture of Catholic and European medicine with Indigenous ways and medicine – found on traditional altars literally around the world.

From that mixture, countless altars have emerged, including this one, a speck in the infinite number of “altars” that have birthed from that legendary time.

From that fusing comes a healing pass that is practiced at 99% of latino/hispanic folk altars. Presenting, to wit, la Limpia, a spiritual, mental, emotional and physical cleansing.

From a Cuban dictionary comes this definition:

Superstitious cure (the limpia) that involves rubbing a person with certain herbs to free them from bad luck or some evil spell.

We obviously don’t agree with the superstition part. If it works, we have learned, it’s not superstition; it’s science, physics, chemistry. Many times it’s science we don’t understand, but we learn as we go, precisely, because it works. And while it’s true there can be some “rubbing with herbs” in our traditional medicine, here we see it more like a pass, a treatment.

Before anything else, it’s important to know that a limpia ­– the actual work of making a person better by purification – can be done a million different ways. This limpia with an Egg is among the best known for its effectiveness.

If the practitioner is more Christian/Catholic leaning you might hear an Our Father or a Hail Mary as the practitioner passes the Egg. A more indigenous leaning practitioner might pray, roll eyes or sing while holding the Egg at places around the patient’s body. Rattling and drumming, fire and smoke, fans made of feathers or plants also play a part, depending again, on the practitioner.

The part, in the definition above, about freeing the person from “bad luck or evil” is quite right, but it’s more accurate to say that the limpia frees them from the energy causing bad luck or evil in his life.

All of us know energy exists and now, from more advanced science, we know that even inanimate objects have energy of some kind, at some frequency, at some volume, with some effect. We know, in other words that energy affects energy. 

The healer has smoke going. He’s waiting for any patient with an Egg, a dry Chile and a Lemon.

The Curandero passes the trio of Earth matter over the smoke saying a short prayer as he guides the bundle in geometric passes around the patient’s heart, navel, up and down his spine, around his head, as if combing out invisible debris. Then he places the three foods – all sacred to human survival – at the patient’s forehead, his heart, liver, spleen, naval and finally, at his wrist and other joints.

The patient uses the moment to think about his personal spiritual condition, should he go to church more often or begin a more serious practice of spirituality? He worries he hurt his daughter when he told her he didn’t have “time for this shit.” And maybe he even considers learning meditation. Any and all of this leads to better results than where his mind was before the limpia.

New energies, right? Energies changed, shifted. Crappy feelings and urges dissipated, and some clarity about more important issues came to mind. How? Energy affects energy. The energies of the Curandero and the three foods cleared excess, foreign energy from the patient!

We’ll have a few articles on Limpias: types of limpias, how to perform a Limpia on yourself or others, and so forth. Keep an eye open.


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