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Commonly Used Terms & Phrases


Please make sure to refresh your browser. Some curanderas and curanderos specialize in, or include, one or more of the following in their healing practice specialties:


  • Yerbera, Herbalist. Specializes in the use of herbs, roots, and teas brewed from plant leaves to treat disorders such as diabetes, heart problems, ulcers, etc. 

  • Sobadora, Traditional Bodyworker. Practitioner who uses Mexican Indigenous-based massage using techniques that may be similar to acupressure to treat blockages in the stomach or digestive tract, known as empacho,  and constipation. Also targets other areas where client may be experiencing  pain or discomfort. Sobadas are also used to relax the body and muscles, and to soothe and relax patients who are frightened or in pain. Some sobadoras use a rebozo to align the spine, open the hips, or to stretch muscles.

  • Huesero, Bonesetter, trained in the indigenous method of adjusting or setting bones and  performing spinal alignment.

  • Partera, Traditional birth attendant. Midwife who attends births, helps deliver babies, and provides prenatal, postpartum, and well-woman care.

  • Consejeras or Señoras (female counselors): provide advice and counseling for personal or  professional interpersonal issues. Some consejeras offer divination services using cultural tools or tarot cards.

  • Acupunturista, Acupuncturist. Mesoamerican acupuncture using natural items found in nature such as cactus thorns, fish spines, stones, or turkey spurs. (Today, some practitioners may also include aspects of Chinese acupuncture.)

  • Granicero,  Weather Worker.

  • Espiritista, Spirit Medium. Someone who enters into trance to channel a famous healer such as El Niño Fidencio.

  • Temascalera/o. Temazcalli / Sweatlodge keeper who conducts purification ceremonies.

  • Brujeria, brujo, bruja. (Witch in the Mexican cultural way, not the same as European spiritual tradition). A person who uses their abilities and training to perform coercive spiritual rituals in order to cause harm to another. For example, loss of work, difficulties in relationships, cause illness, etc.

  • Curandera (female healer), Curandero (male healer): considered the most well-rounded; they are gifted in utilizing herbs (may not be herbalists in the strict sense of the practice), pláticas, dream interpretation, dreaming and meditation practices, indigenous massage, and spiritual interventions to help , heal, and protect clients. Most often these curanderas/os are who persons consult in serious cases of susto, salaciones or mal trabajos — or when seeking help for problems that have not been resolved through conventional means. A culture-specific term. A term of respect given to a practitioner by their community.

Commonly Used Terms


  • Curandera. Female cultural healer.

  • Curandero. Male cultural healer.

  • Maestra (f) Maestro (m) (teacher). A respectful mode of addressing a curandera or curandero who besides having a healing practice also teaches. Other modes of address are: doña (or don for men), señora (Mrs.), abuela or nana (grandmother), abuelo or tata (grandfather).

  • Confianza. Like the word, plática, confianza goes beyond its literal translation as "confidence." In curanderismo, confianza conveys a deep trust and respect of the curandera as someone who views her relationship with their client as a sacred relationship and responsibility.

  • Pláticas (Heart to Heart talks). In a cultural "clinical" setting, this term is used to refer to a part of the session where the client is given the opportunity to speak from the heart to clarify issues, share the reason for seeing Grace, resolve old hurts and free blocked energy in order to move beyond current unsatisfactory situations.

  • Limpias espirituales. Spiritual cleansing. There are many forms of spiritual cleansings ranging from using the smoke of copal or sage to  clear the auric field of stagnant energy to the use of a small fire, raw eggs, water, candles, limes, sound, and breath to ceremonies by the ocean.

  • Limpia, Cleansing. Purification rituals using prayer and sacred tools such as a sacred feather to remove stagnant energy from the client's luminous body or the use of a fresh unbroken raw egg that is rubbed over the body in a specfic pattern, then broken, and placed in a glass of water, allowing the practitioner to "read" the person's energy. There are many different types of limpias. The limpia usually precedes hands-on healing or "doctoring" as it is referred to in U.S. and Canadian Native medicine ways.

  • Barridas, Sweeping.  Auric cleansing done by sweeping the body with a bundle or broom made up of herbs such as rosemary, rue, basil, and peppertree branches. Often this is accompanied by sprinkling consecrated floral waters on the client.

  • Susto or Espanto, (Spanish) literally, "fright" (more commonly known as soul loss or soul wound) can be caused by accidents, severe or acute trauma such as rape or being a victim of sex trafficking, or unresolved grief for loved ones lost by death or divorce. Intergenerational trauma is sometimes referred to as intergenerational susto.  It is a spiritual, emotional, and energetic illness that is caused when an aspect of the soul, known as tonalli in Nahuatl, is "shocked" out of the body after a traumatic emotional or physical event wherein that spiritual aspect of the body remains stuck in the place where the incident took place, causing what some people call soul fragmentation. The time between when the event occurred and the soul displacement can be anywhere from days to years, even from one generation to another. In the case of many years of untreated susto, it then is referred to as espanto. Susto may be acute and includes a variety of complaints such as chronic insomnia coupled with nightmares, a feeling of disassociation or the inability to concentrate on tasks, glassy eyes, rapid pulse rate even when resting (not caused by taking meditations that might cause a rapid heart rate). It can also affect one's relationships to partners, parents, and community. Treatments help persons reclaim and reintegrate the parts of themselves still stuck in time/space of the trauma, so they can be fully integrated and present.

  • Envidia. Acute jealousy or envy, directed toward another. Both the one projecting envidia or the recipient can experience symptoms which can resemble anxiety, upper respiratory issues (similar to colds), the feeling of having a ball in the pit of the stomach. 

  • Nervios, nerves. Marked by anxiety, palpitations, symptoms of depression, uncharacteristic behaviors. Commonly used term for describing different types of emotional or mental health issues that is often used as a courtesy so as to not offend family members or friends. It may be necessary to refer a client who suffers from nervios to a culturally competent mental health therapist.

  • Mal Aire/Mal Viento. Literally, bad or harmful air or wind. Caused by breathing in cold night air, moving rapidly from a warm to a cold ambient environment, or working up a sweat and not allowing for a proper cooling down period are among some causes. The term is also used to identify an elemental force that can cause illness or bad luck which is transmitted through the wind or environment. Exposure to mal aire may happen when visiting places such as cemeteries, houses of the recently deceased, ravines, and/or rock outcroppings, and areas considered sacred, that is emitted by spirit beings that occupy these places. Upon contact, mal aire sticks to a person and over a short period of time it penetrates and affects the entire body. Symptoms associated with mal aire / mal viento can include combinations of coldness, diarrhea, headache, aching of the back of the neck (occipital area) vomiting, paleness, fatigue, and trembling.

  • Bilis. Strong suppressed anger, eating while experiencing strong conflict/anger; can lead to susto.

  • Mal de Ojo, Evil Eye, may affect infants especially and adults and caused by a person with a "strong gaze." Looking overly long  at another person with either admiration or jealousy.  Mal de ojo in children is avoided by touching an infant lightly (with the parents' permission) when admiring or complimenting it. Some persons may interpret a strong direct look as an attempt to send someone this illness. Headaches, crying, irritability, and restlessness are common symptoms, accompanied by stomach ailments

  • Caida de Mollera, Fallen fontanel. It is believed that the soft spot located at the top of a baby's head, known as the fontanel, is pulled down by suction which may be caused when the baby is abruptly pulled off of the nipple (mother's breast or bottle). Traditional interventions may include pressing upward on the soft palate, sucking on the outside of the fontanel, and holding the baby upside down and gently tapping the feet. A small piece of red string is sometimes placed on the child's forehead afterward.

  • Empacho, Blockage.  Stomach or intestinal discomfort;  constipation, vomiting, lack of appetite, the sensation of food stuck in the pit of the stomach or digestive tract.

  • Verguenza. Shame.

  • Salación. Chronic, long-term economic bad luck or misfortune, and minor every-day sort of accidents not explained by effects of physical illness, caused by envidia, envy, or coercive spiritual practices. Placed on someone by a person(s) who works with negative forces.

  • Trabajo or Mal Puesto, negative spiritual work. Coercive spiritual practice used to cause serious harm to another resulting in inability to work, sustain personal and/or professional relationships, or mishaps that could lead to accidents and death.  

  • Curación. The hands-on subtle energy healing aspect of a session which in the case of Maestra Grace's practice may include the use of song, touching or massaging specific areas of the body with her hands, feathers, or stones, and the application of special oils or ointments, or other materials. This is also known as hand doctoring in U.S. and Canada. Sometimes this aspect of the session may involve only the application of a light touch or breath to extract or shift embedded energy.

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