Monday, May 24, 2010

Cleanse Thyself......with Basil. Mexican Limpia

Last week while at a park on the river Chino and I were hanging out, watching the river flow by, contemplating just how much we could terrorize Daisy by dipping her toes in the water, trying to figure out how to get our Pit Bull to swim and not sink like a rock and you know, just enjoying the day. Along came a woman and her friend and we were privileged to witness a true Mexican Limpia - a cleansing ritual - and just how they go about doing it.

One of the women was wearing a faux flower rainbow lei around her neck and sat herself down on the dock with her feet in the water. She had a big bouquet of what smelled like sweet basil and she began what looked like dusting herself off with it. She rubbed it over her entire body, swiping away the bad.... luck? Sickness I've no clue, off of her head, back, arms and legs. She appeared to be sweeping the demons into the water. It only took a half minute or so and she stood up, tossed the bouquet of basil into the river and then took off the lei and tossed that in as well.

A part of me wishes I knew more about it - and I'm sure Google could remedy that in an in an instant - but another part knows that it would dim the magic of it all. Magic seems such a silly word to write but if you could have seen her throw the bouquet and into the flowing river as if she were casting away all her problems and worries and if you could have seen her walk away, as if she were nearly floating across the ground, you wouldn't think it such a dramatic description. She wore a beautiful smile and her body seemed to be on the verge of skipping or dancing with every step she took. It was lovely.

I envy this part of the Mexican culture that places faith in simple rituals and their ability to believe so whole heartedly in them. It's much like Christianity I guess, going forward on faith alone and I imagine I'm envious because I've fallen so far away from my own faith. It would be nice to be back in a place where I could place every circumstance that came my way away from myself and into the hands of God. I miss that. It's a gift when you don't have to carry the weight of everything square on your shoulders but to have someone or something or some ritual to take part of the burden.

My friend Amanda says that people come into our lives for a reason and I think the glimpse of this woman's pure faith was a big dose of "HELLO!" that I needed to get my butt back on track to finding a church again. I speak a lot more Spanish these days so perhaps it won't be the train wreck that it was when I first moved here and Chino and I went church shopping.

Ok, I've gone far off track here, I meant only to tell you about witnessing a little bit of witch craft and it seems I've gone quite off the beaten path. Anyhoo, Mexico never ceases to surprise me it seems and I look forward to witnessing more of these cultural haps in the weeks and months to come.

13 comments:

obladi oblada said...

Good post...and not to get all preachy on you or anything but "getting back to leaving everything in God's hands" is just a prayer away:). I can relate though. Good luck on this!

Rebecca said...

Great post. You are never to far gone to come back. God is there waiting for you, becuse he has never left you. 8) Prayers that you can find your way back to him.

Suki said...

You know, I think everyone comes up with a set of things that just works to hold him/her together. It's this lei-basil ritual for this woman, it's the blog for some people, it's some me-time for me... as long as it works, it's all good. Just rambling.

Driven To Distraction said...

What a lovely, lovely post! I really admire (and am envious) of people who have such strong convictions in faith and belief in religion, and wish that it was something that I found comfort in as well. I too love the mysticism and 'magic' that comes with some of the rituals and ceremonies, and will whole-heartedly admit to being a geek over Catholic dogma.

Good luck with your search!

(P.S. It's F & F . . . my sister went bat-shit crazy and I had to take down my blog.)

Sunshine said...

Oh...I've been limpia'ed....it really is a cool ritual...i felt cleansed to a certain degree....they actually pray when they do it...so really it's not all that bad...well at least the limpia's i've had...I've tried to google more info on the matter and could never find anything much on it!
Ok...now i'm seeing i use to many dots...hope that doesnt drive you batty!
And yes I agree that everyone has a set of things that works to hold him/her together...I agree totally!

Gringa-n-Mexico said...

O.O. - Thank You :) And lol you can get preachy any time you like :)

Rebecca - Thank You and you're right and lol I'm not lost anyways, just being stubborn.

Suki - I'm pretty sure I need ALL of those you mentioned! (but the basil only in cooking) :D :)

D 2 D - Driving with the brakes on, F&F - D 2 D - I swear!!! But lol I can't wait to click on your new link! :) AND YOU TOO?? I'm seriously interested in the Catholic stuff - saints and what not. I don't believe in it - being Baptist or just plain ole non-denom - but it's INTERESTING! :)

Sunshine - I would totally do it! And lol your dots are FINE, don't stop using them!! ..... :D

A Write Life said...

How wonderful you got to experience that! Lovely post. Thanks for sharing.

One Pot Wonder said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
One Pot Wonder said...

(I had to delete my last comment b/c I found a misspelling and that shit drives me bonkers)

Before I even begin to comment on your post, I absolutely have to tell you RIGHT NOW that I looooooove that you have a pro-love message on your blog! I am gay and out to almost everyone except certain family members (don't wanna give Grammy a heart attack), and I just love love love to know that there are straight people out there as awesome and cool and funny as you are who understand that LOVE is for EVERYONE!

*end rant*

That being said, I live in San Antonio where Mexican traditions abound, and I too think that Limpia is outrageous and beautiful and inspirational and weird. I can't wait to read more about your experiences in Mexico. I can so relate to a lot of them, and I am not even remotely Mexican!

Gringa-n-Mexico said...

A Write Live - It WAS cool! :) And Your Welcome! :)

One Pot Wonder - First off - I can't WAIT to check out your blog - I hope the title is true - I love to cook like that! :) And gosh, Thank You! You know, I don't think anyone has ever mentioned the banner before, I'm glad to know that people do see it :)

Aaannd " I too think that Limpia is outrageous and beautiful and inspirational and weird." I couldn't like how you worded that sentance ANY MORE - you really summed it up, I totally like how you express yourself! :) And Thank You so much for the compliments - they really make my day! :)

Sparx said...

How lovely - I have a deep belief in the power of ritual... and god is everywhere and everything so you can't get away even if you think you have... no need even for prayer, although prayers and rituals help one to find the connection.

The Limpai sounds lovely and a classic cleansing ritual. Running water is used all over the world to remove cares and troubles and take them to the sea where they will be permanently cleaned. Basil is used magically in many places too. You can do something similar in the bath even and imagine your troubles going down the plug!!

Mary C said...

I love these rituals too, and thank you for describing the one you witnessed.

Since you have a little one, have you ever heard of this? When my grandson was born, my daughter and her husband took him to D.F. for the family to see him.
After a few hours of doting by family members, some of the women in the family decided he had had too much "air." They explained you get too much air by being around too many people doting and looking at you.

They took him up to the bedroom and told my daughter they were going to get rid of the "air." After a few questions, she allowed it. They took a raw egg, uncracked, and rolled and rubbed it all over his little body.

When they were finished, they cracked the egg into a glass of water and showed her all the bubbles (air) it released.

Outrageous, beautiful, inspirational, weird? Yep.

P.S. My daughter said he seems to enjoy the little massage with an egg.

Gringa-n-Mexico said...

Mary - Wow right! Thank YOU for sharing! :) And man alive don't they have a lot of rituals with the egg!? I wonder what is so magical about chicken eggs here? That's super neat (and there really was air in the yolk and white? cuz that's weird!!!)