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Shamans (curanderos) and their role in ceremonies

Curanderismo incorporates a large part of healing practices and Christian principles. The Bible and teachings of the Church are combined with wisdom, which creates the foundation for the theory of disease and healing, forming the structure of curanderismo. The Bible strongly influences curanderismo in relation to the healing properties of animals and plants. In addition to the biblical influence, curanderismo originates from shamanic practices of certain cultures and European beliefs about shamanism that were brought to the New World by Spanish settlers.

The role of curanderos today

Curanderismo is actively practiced in various parts of the Americas. Most people support the use of this spiritual practice as a complement to scientific and medical treatments.

Curanderos provide medical services in many communities, but with the development of modern medicine and healthcare, herbal healing is often dismissed by scientific medicine in the practices of modern doctors.

As the role of curanderos diminishes, it becomes important for the medical community to understand the positive application and spread of influence these folk healers have in the Latin American community. The tradition is based on the need for communication between healer and patient.

Dr. Martin Harris notes that cultural issues that arise in patients are related to mental health in the Latin American community. Integrating curanderos into modern society is crucial to their success in healing. They utilize special houses for their practices, including waiting areas and consultation rooms. All doctors practice only within the community they serve. In addition to geographic division of patients, treating doctors gather information about social and economic status, class, origin, religion, and language, as well as disease classification systems.

Those who practice curanderismo can be grouped into categories, including:

- Yerberos, who practice herbalism. They use teas, poultices, and mixtures.
- Parteras, who are midwives and help with childbirth, as well as assist women who have trouble conceiving and provide postnatal care.
- Sobadors, who are massage therapists and use touch and massage methods to facilitate healing.
- Ayahuasqueros, who are skilled shamans in the use of ayahuasca.
- Maestros Toéseros, who specialize in working with the plant-teacher Toé.
- Naturistas, who are master herbalists and healers.
- Curanderos, who use plants in their practice. Vegetalistas undergo special diets or fasts for a year or more to acquire the power and wisdom of the plants.

The main goal of curanderos is to maintain a balance of natural forces. If necessary, this balance is restored. To achieve this, healers restore the dynamic balance on all levels of reality available to each curandero.

In traditional culture, there is special reverence for the Spirit of the Earth, understanding the importance of harmonious relationships with the animal and plant world, as well as the realistic world of beings known as spirits.

Curanderos with spirits assist their fellow community members and those who seek their help. They help them overcome psychophysical ailments. This therapy includes massages, smudging, and extracting negative energy from the patient's body, which can take the form of various harmful objects.

A shaman curandero is capable of predicting the future, interpreting signs, protecting against evil spirits, and attracting good luck. Such a shaman mainly focuses on healing, but can also inflict harm on enemies.