Susto is a spiritual illness that is caused when a person experiences a sudden shock or a traumatic event in their life. This is also known as “Fright”, “Soul Loss”, or “Loss Of The Shadow”. When a person has susto it’s believed that their soul leaves the psychical body, unable to find its way back. Many things can cause soul loss, depending upon the person. Some things that are frightening to one person may not be frightening to another. The signs of susto are wide and can never completely be foretold because like I said... everyone is different... but some of the most common signs are....
Inability To Move On
Fear That It Will Happen Again
Feeling That Something Is Missing Or Of Being Lost
Lack Of Appetite
Loss Of Interest In Self
Feeling That Something Will Happen
Involuntary Muscle Tics
Drowsiness During The Day
Insomnia During The Night
If you took this list of symptoms to a western medical doctor he would most likely diagnose this as depression and prescribe some kind of anti-depressant pharmaceutical. In curanderismo it’s treated with either herbal tea or ritual cleansings to restore the balance in the body and allow the soul to return.
There are mild forms of susto and more complicated forms of it. Western medicine will diagnose according to the “symptoms” a person has while curanderismo will diagnose according to the “individual”. This means that a curandera will take into account the person, their experiences, their mode of thinking, their fears, their patterns of living, and the event that they feel lead them to her. From all this information the curandera will know how to deal with that person’s particular type of susto.
In the mild forms susto is cured by a simple spiritual ceremony. In the more complicated forms of susto the ceremony is more involved and longer. Since susto is believed to be a very serious matter whether in the mild or severe forms, the curandera will usually have an assistant to help with prayers.
An area on the floor is chosen and sprayed with Holy Water to cleanse the space and to bring in blessings. The curandera would have the person lay down on the floor and instructed to place their arms out to the side and to keep the feet together, forming a “cross” with the body. Four white candles are blessed and lit. The candles are then placed near the feet, the head and the two hands of the person. The person is asked to stay in this position and silently pray to his/her soul to return while the curandera makes an herbal broom with fresh twigs of rosemary, basil, and rue which are tied together with red string.
Once the herbal broom is made the assistant lights some copal incense and walks around the person making large crosses with the smoke and recites prayers while the curandera sweeps the persons body with the bundle of herbs and calls to the persons soul, coaxing it to return. By the end of the ceremony which usually takes about an hour, everyone is drained of energy and extremely tired. The curandera will have the person sit comfortably and sip some fresh brewed mint tea.
This ceremony is preformed for three days in a row, each day the curandera calls the persons spirit in a louder and in a more forceful manner. By the third day the person is healed. I personally choose to perform the retrieving of the soul on Fridays since this is a very powerful day.
On my website http://www.curiouscurandera.com I will be offering several email courses, one of which is how to perform spiritual cleansings of all kinds. I’m currently trying to finish up the course on spiritual illness and how to heal them.