Let’s take a break from the ongoing trauma of Katrina’s aftermath and remember that, even in the midst of this chaos, there are stories of heroism, kindness, love, and healing. I received a letter this week which healed me from my despondency. The letter was from my relatives who accompanied me last year to work with the Huichol Indians in central Mexico.
For those of you who may not remember, or were not subscribers then, I encourage you to review the Schlagbyte Archives (May17, 24 and 31, 2004) to fill in the details. In summary, six professionals (three Mexicans and three Americans) made a trip deep into the Sierra Madre mountains to work with Huichol children in a boarding school.
Children from six to 16 were afflicted with what appeared to be demonic possession. They became animal-like, aggressive, even murderously violent. These manifestations had been going on for 10 years and the Shaman, called Marakame, had not been successful in eliminating it. I had some experience in treating such culture-bound syndromes, and was invited to organize a team to do a diagnostic evaluation and hopefully provide some therapeutic intervention. This work has had a life-changing impact on me and was the most profound healing ceremony I’ve ever experienced. This year our Mexican colleagues returned without us to do some follow-up work. Their letter follows:
Dear Brothers and Sister:
This is the rainy season, travel is difficult, and instead of the dust of last year we move through mud and roads that sometimes seem like rivers. We miss you, but feel your presence, even the old truck started coughing in despair at your absence……We were greeted warmly in the village, just like old acquaintances. There is universal recognition of the radical decline in cases (only two or three mild cases), and the change is noticeable to all. The community has come together, the Extraordinary Assembly (the highest authority in the community) appointed 5 Marakame to serve as the guardians of the healing of the children. Support groups among friends and parents have been formed to address the children’s needs as well. There is no question that the community senses the problem of the children is something from the past ……The Navajo shawl you brought last year as a protective covering for sick children, is no longer at the Nuevo Colonia boarding school. It has found its way to the boarding school at Pueblo Nuevo, where it is kept as a protective omen. In the Calihuey (holy temple) of Pochotita, we sang, performed blessings, and presented gifts. …. On our way home we sang, the Doors’ “This Is The End.” We are grateful beyond words and worlds for our connection, and the blessing of our work together.
In the dark moments, I am reminded that coming together in community creates an energy that can heal all wounds.