#Mexplaining La Limpia


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Photo by: Camilo VanderHuck

Photo by: Camilo VanderHuck


Energetic cleansing, ritual, ceremony, healing ... the word may be different but the purpose is the same: to restore calm and protect the spirit.

La Limpia translates into “the cleanse”. This practice is a deep-rooted inheritance from our Aztec ancestors, as they believed everything in this world had a spirit. Today, it’s still commonplace for the elder - especially in rural or mainly indigenous communities - to resort to spirits and implore their intervention to obtain good harvests, produce rain, cure illnesses or to avoid misfortunes.

These pagan behaviors are seen all over the world but a common denominator is they’re usually reserved for a lower class, socioeconomically-speaking. In Mexico, on the other hand, all classes fall into these belief patterns. The wealthy, the working class, politicians, men and women of all ages: absolutely everyone, resorts to or suggests a cleanse when something goes wrong, perhaps a bad financial streak, a car accident, a sprained ankle or a divorce.

This behavior marks the difference between Mexican culture and the rest of the world, where resorting to spirits is practiced only by a lower class (again, only referring to level of education/economic wealth) as in the case of New Orleans with voodoo, Brazil with white or black magic or in some countries in Africa, where spells are still common.

When walking around Centro Historico, you’ll notice healers and shamans practicing Limpias, using various instruments to achieve the purification, protection and sanction of a patient. The body is traversed head to toe with herbs, flowers, stones, candles and incense, which serve as tools to "connect" with Mother Earth. The limpia or "cleanse" cannot be complete without the sound of drums or the snail conch, which symbolize the natural elements. You’d think this is just show for tourists but the reality is its mostly CDMX locals, on their way home from the office or whilst running errands, who stand in line waiting to get their limpia.

Photo by: Istock

Photo by: Istock

At the Zócalo, a ceremony of this kind lasts about 15 minutes & costs $1 or $2 dollars, it’s up to you how much you want to pay. Your body is now ready and blessed to continue its stay on earth free of any tragedies, setbacks or ill-wishes from others. Pretty good deal if you think about it - getting your soul purified for a buck. Only in México!

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