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Norma writes for Selvedge Magazine Issue #109 -- Rise Up, November 2022
Norma Writes for Selvedge Latin Issue #89
What is a Study Tour: Our programs are designed as learning experiences, and as such we talk with weavers about how and why they create, what is meaningful to them in their designs, the ancient history of patterning and design, use of color, tradition and innovation, values and cultural continuity, and the social context within which they work. First and foremost, we are educators. Norma worked in top US universities for over 35 years and Eric founded the education department at Oaxaca’s textile museum. Our interest is in creating connection and artisan economic development.
Why We Left, Expat Anthology: Norma’s Personal Essay
Norma Contributes Two Chapters!
- Norma Schafer and Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC has offered programs in Mexico since 2006. We have over 30 years of university program development experience. See my resume.
Study Toursd are personally curated and introduce you to Mexico's greatest artisans. They are off-the-beaten path, internationally recognized. We give you access to where people live and work. Yes, it is safe and secure to travel. Groups are limited in size for the most personal experience.
Programs can be scheduled to meet your travel plans. Send us your available dates.
Designers, retailers, wholesalers, universities and other organizations come to us to develop weaving relationships, customized itineraries, study abroad programs, meetings and conferences. It's our pleasure to make arrangements.
Select Clients *Selvedge Magazine-London, UK *Esprit Travel and Tours *Penland School of Crafts *North Carolina State University *WARP Weave a Real Peace *Methodist University *MINNA-Goods *Smockingbird Kids
Tell us how we can put a program together for you! Send an email firstname.lastname@example.org
- WEAVE Podcast: Oaxaca Coast Textiles & Tour
- NY Times, Weavers Embrace Natural Dye Alternatives
- NY Times, Open Thread–Style News
- NY Times, 36-Hours: Oaxaca, Mexico
- Cooking Classes–El Sabor Zapoteco
- Currency Converter
- Fe y Lola Rugs by Chavez Santiago Family
- Friends of Oaxaca Folk Art
- Hoofing It In Oaxaca Hikes
- Living Textiles of Mexico
- Mexican Indigenous Textiles Project
- Museo Textil de Oaxaca
- Oaxaca Lending Library
- Oaxaca Weather
- Taller Teñido a Mano Natural Dyes
Folk Medicine and Spiritual Healing: Visit to the Curandera
We passed through the open door into the courtyard of the corner house that sits at one of the numerous back street crossroads of the village. Behind the tall wall that protects the house from the street was another world, but it wasn’t evident to begin with. Stepping in off the street, I entered a small store filled with neighborhood necessities: chilled soft drinks, beer and wine, packaged snacks — chips and cookies, bathroom tissue, laundry soap, small bins of avocados and mangoes, a stack of commercially packaged tortillas made in the city, jars of salsa. The convenience store is ubiquitous in Teotitlan. They exist on every other corner.
A woman greeted us in Zapotec expressing the traditional welcome – a tonal and gutteral tongue-twister that I have yet to master — her two hands outstretched to clasp my two outstretched hands. Her face was seasoned, creased, serious. Her hair was braided with red ribbon and wrapped around her crown. Her over-dress was the typical embroidered apron (mandil) that is the uniform of village womanhood. I would guess her age to be somewhere between 50 and 60, but she could have been older and it was hard to tell. She led us into the altar room and did not turn on the lights. It was dusky gray and the open door to the courtyard was back-lit with light that gave the aura of otherworld smokey, ethereal existence. She told us she learned her healing from her mother, who learned it from her mother, and so on and so on. We were in the process of beginning to expunge the demons from our bodies. Through association, any of us who had a relationship with those who had been in the car accident were ripe for the curandera. It was interesting for me to understand that interrelationships, emotional well being and support, and how something of significance that happens to one or two people can have an impact on many. When all heal together, the healing is faster and has greater benefits and results.
It was an honor and a responsibility to be invited to this very intimate and personal ceremony. We were there to get past the accident and move forward with our lives. Sitting in a semi-circle, we waited. The woman left the room. We looked at each other in silence wondering what was next. There were whispers and a giggle or two. In 30 minutes, she returned with glasses and a glass pitcher filled with a green, foaming concoction that looked like spinach blended with soap suds. She offered each of us a full glass and asked us to drink. Someone asked, what’s in it? A family secret, she answered. Herbs I pick from high in the mountains that are only available in the spring. They drank, I sipped. After each person finished their drink, the woman took a mouthful of the liquid, stood facing him/her, and spat the mouthful onto his/her face with such surprise and force that it propelled each of us backward a step. She murmured something, and went on to the next person. When the circle was complete, the eight of us thanked her and left. The family would make three or four more return visits to complete the cleansing process.
I went with curiousity, mild anticipation, and a sense of wonderment at being invited into this sacred and special space to share in this ancient ceremonial folk tradition. I came away with a sense of awe and respect for how important it is to honor what goes on in our minds. The stories we tell ourselves about “good and bad” are powerful. Standing together in this small community of family and friends, we could acknowledge the pain together, and strengthen our bonds of support through this ancient custom.
Posted in Cultural Commentary, Oaxaca Mexico art and culture
Tagged ceremonial healing folk tradition, complementary medicine, curandera, folk culture, healing, Mexican culture and healing customs, Mexico folk medicine, traditional healers, traditional medicine, Zapotec healers