Defining spiritualism becomes a broad task when so many cultures take the practice in many different directions.  When we think of spiritualism in America, it brings forth thoughts of the Fox sisters, Ouija boards, spirit rapping and gypsies with cards and crystal balls.  In Europe, Allan Kardec’s image may be summoned to mind as he developed what was termed as ‘spiritism,’ which also held among its belief the concept of reincarnation.  Kardec is very popular in Latin America as well.  Statues and seven day candles can be found in many Spanish botanicas in Harlem, New York, and other Latino neighborhoods. 

 My definition of spiritualist is: One who works with spirits of the dead.  This person may be a medium or practicing necromancer, each with his/her own style of conducting communication beyond the veil separating the worlds or what some like to term as alternate realties. 

 In South Texas and Northern Mexico, spiritualism may be inclusive, and most often is, of curanderismo. 

  A curandero (male)/curandera (female) is typically a community servant who practices folk healing with herbs, shamanism or sorcery, may also use some forms of European ceremonial magick or conjurations of elemental forces (air, fire, water, earth and spirit).  Like the American Indian medicine man, the curandero is an important part of the fabric of the community and is usually well-respected individual.  Many practitioners are tied to the Catholic Church as their core belief, incorporating what would be termed “Santos” into their rituals, or the worship and use of various saints.

  This belief or faith has many similarities to the slaves of old New Orleans whom, upon their arrival to the new world from Africa, unveiled their beloved deities under the masks of each saint.  The Mexican-Indian has found himself in a similar situation, in which he has built his own faith to intertwine with the church, resulting in a beautiful melding of strong faiths. 

  The topic for discussion here in particular, is the practice of curanderismo in an outline. 

  I will list a few of the tools, herbs and other items used in the practice simply to give the reader an idea what might be incorporated in the practice. 

  Like many magickal practices, the basic tools consist of some type of altar.  This serves as the grounding base, connecting earth and sky.  The altar may be dedicated to any deity the shaman wishes to invoke or work with.  Over the years I’ve seen all kinds of altars ranging from Aztec Gods to ancestral shrines, but the most common used is St. Jude, Our Lady Guadalupe, or Santa Muerte.  Some may start out with one altar and then add more shrines to different powers as they progress.  These altars may include photos of deceased loved ones to help aide the prayers, rosary beads, pictures of saints and prayer cards, a glass of water to trap bad energies, food offerings at certain times, and a variety of candles. 

  Like with most any other type of devotion, there will usually be two standard candles burning at all times.  They are normally white candles dedicated to the saint’s altar and blessed in any type of altar oil or olive oil and a few sprinkles of salt.

  The preparation of the room or area prior to establishing the altar is a good cleaning with soap and water.  A mop bucket and some Fabuloso with a little salt and ammonia added to it works well for hard floors.  A good vacuuming and a spray bottle with a little ammonia, Florida Water, sea salt and holy water can be sprayed over the rug and left to dry. 

  Walls may be cleansed by dipping a small, leafy branch from a mesquite tree in holy water and ammonia, then lightly tapping the walls in a prayer for the release of any bad energy.  This method is also a good way to clear a sick room or a place in which arguments have taken place. 

  The incense Copal is commonly used to bless and clear a room.  For a stronger cleansing, other ingredients may be warranted.  I will cover this at another time.

  The use of a wood-handled knife may be incorporated to trace a cross in each quarter for banishments.  Whether using Mexican witchcraft or voodoo, it is believed that the blade of any knife will cut and banish spirits, when necessary. 

Some staples in herbs:

Rose Geranium, Rue, Basil, Rosemary, Anise, Star Anise, Cinnamon and Copal.  These are just to name a few of the most common used in healing, cleansing and blessing.  Of course, there are many others.

 Some spiritual colognes used to remove bad energies are Siete Machos, Florida Water, Orange Blossom Cologne, Rose Water, Colonia 1800, to name a few.

  It is common belief that ‘malochia’ or the evil eye, envy or jealousy is the common cause illness and misfortune, or despondency in small children.  A fresh chicken egg is rubbed over a client’s body and prayers recited in belief the egg will take on and remove evil and sickness.  The egg is then broken into a glass of water and interpreted as to what is making one ill.  It is then disposed of outside or down a drain. 











Shrine for Our Lady Guadalupe inside the San Fernando Catholic Church 

downtown in San Antonio, Texas.


  A lot of folk magick and herb-lore is not being passed down to some of the younger generations today.  I don’t know if it’s because we have such a gap of communication between the old and young, if more people have relied on chemicals as a way to solve health and spiritual problems, or if there just isn’t enough interest from those passing the information to who may not have an interest in learning it.  Nonetheless I’m assembling a list of Spanish to English herbs for those interested.  I will add to these as I go, because it is certain that there are numerous plants and species in which will arise out of my research.  I may include some old-fashion medicinals as well from the old country such as sulfur.  (Please keep in mind this is for informational purposes only, read disclosure).

I’ve decided not to include this section on the curanderos page as I can see both pages having the potential to greatly expand.  Where did I learn this?  Initially, I began to really understand it from the book recovered from a box of things in the ground out in South Texas, the book I like to refer to as “The San Benny Grimoire.” I had a little bit of exposure from the culture while living in Brownsville and Laredo, Texas, but I vastly expanded on this while living in New York City with access to world botanicas, Columbians, Puerto Ricans, and other various Spanish people.  

The idea of this page to help people understand what some of these herbs are, what they may be used for, and relay some herbal remedies, traditions, concoctions for hex-breaking and healing that practitioner may charge hundreds of dollars for.  I must state that one size does not fit all when it comes to medicines or spiritual uses.  In the religion/belief, the reading, interpretation and diagnosis is just as important as the recommendation.  An individual’s chemical make-up ill command a certain type of treatment.  In the Far East this ‘make-up’ is called the Dosha.  Our body-types are very unique to us. Some of us are more water than fire, some of us contain more earth, and so on as far as the concentration of elementals. 

  When working with not just herbs, but the entire healing/uncrossing process in spiritualism, elements will be used to clear away problems.  The four basics as many already know are Earth, Water, Fire and Air.  It is in concept that the body is made up of these elements which is then infused with electrons or spirit life. 

  I’m going to begin with some basic common herbs used in Spanish tradition. Definitions will be brief.

Sabila: Aloe Vera—used to treat skin ailments and infections.  Taken internally to help a sore throat and used to coat the stomach during the healing of ulcers or stomach cancer. Spiritual uses: Makes beings of the otherworld appear, shape-shifting, transformation, illusions.

Anis de Estrallado: Anise—used to cure colic. Boiled as a tea with milk added. Spiritual uses: Prosperity and money, used in baths and incenses.

Albahaca: Sweet Basil—Used as a sedative and often combined with other herbs.  Spiritual use-for cleansing in a bath or floor wash to remove negative energies and evil.  Sacred to the Santa Muerte.

Laurel: Bay—Extract used for sore muscles. Internal used for lower abdominal pain and colic.  Spiritual-used in baths and incense to protect, remove evil and hexes.

Manzanilla: Chamomile—Fever reducer. Calms nerves and aides in digestion.  Spiritual uses: Success and victory, spells or rituals for the sun/good fortunes.

Canela: Cinnamon—Digestion and appetite stimulant.  Spiritual: Used to break a psychic attack and added to incense to increase passions. 

Clavo:  Clove—used for a toothache.  The oil may be placed sparingly on cotton and put in the ear for earaches.  Spiritual: Used in bath salts to help treat the possessed. 

Geranio: Geranium—High in calcium and used in tea as a dietary supplement.  Spiritual uses:

Tied in a bunch with Rue and Rosemary, may be used as an Asperger to clean bad energies from people and places.  Geranio has high protective properties and in oils and incenses to keep evil at bay.

Romero: Rosemary—used to help ease a headache or as a general detox.  Spiritual: Used to extract bad energies so better, more positive ones may come through.  This is a cleansing herb also sacred to Santa Muerte and used in many of her incenses. 

Ruda: Rue—the roots used to be boiled with dirt, bugs and all to cause one to purge or puke bad food, toxins, poisons.  Leaves and stalk used as a muscle relaxer or tonic for nerves.  Spiritual: Used in bath and incenses to banish witchcraft and black magic. May be grown near the home for the same purpose.  Rue is also believed to bring money and prosperity.

Anis de Estrella: Star Anise—Used as a flavoring ice tea. tonic, astringent.  Spiritual—luck and prosperity, sometimes used in love spells.


I will add more herbs at a later date.  These are some very popular ones.


Spiritualist baths/Concoctions sometimes are prescribed to help clear a person of bad energies, for protection, love, money, etc.

Here are a few popular ones:

To remove black magick/psychic attack: In 1 ½ gallons of water boil the following-

1 cup of dried Rue

1 cup dried Rosemary

4 Sticks of Cinnamon

1 cup of dried Basil

Allow to cool.  When finished, the liquid usually works out to a gallon.  May mix with warm water and bath time for comfort-after bath pour from head to toe.  Repeat at night for 9 nights.


After a graveyard visit to disconnect from unwanted spirits or dark energies, or after being in the presence of a dark-spirited person or spirit medium in which evil spirits have passed through, use the following:

1 Cup of Dried Rue to a gallon of water

Dried Lime tree leaves, if they are available

Boil and then allow to cool.  Add ¼ cup of Kosher Rock Salt, ½ bottle of Pomegranate juice, juice of 1 lime, 1 cup of fresh Goat’s Milk, a few pinches of cascarilla or eggshell powder.  Add to this some Holy Water.  Use in the bathwater or better, pour from head to toe after a bath or shower.  Use 3 nights in a row. 


To get rid of negative people:

Boil Rosemary, garlic and Espanta Muerte (Chase away evil herb, found in botanicas or online. Sorry, I don’t know the English name for this herb yet but I’m working on it.)

Use this combination with Florida water added to it or Colonia 1800.  This will help extract people from your life who cause problems for you.