Magical World View

Having arrived on the other side of the border in Mexico, Alberto tells me,“I have lots of enemies, including some of my own relations. Sometimes I believe I can see the curses and protections zinging back and forth through the elemental world in spiritual battle. And when I get paranoid, like I am today here in Mexico, where curses are as common as cats, I don’t function right. Here in Mexico, people use witchcraft like people in the States use the court system.”

Alberto Salinas in The WASP and El Curandero

Synonyms for magical
supernatural, magic, occult, shamanistic, mystical, paranormal, preternatural, other worldly.

The belief system of the synonyms occult and paranormal, for instance, are generally dismissed with superiority by WASPs .  With western  proclamation of science as the bedrock of thought, WASPs generally believe the occult and paranormal are superstitious evil, and possibly delusional, up against a Christian belief system.

But, more functionally, when sympathetic magic is parallel to fe, esperanza, y salud (faith, hope, and health), we’re looking at el pobres-the poor ones of Mexican folk culture of the Rio Grande Valley of Texas-who are examples of citizens of a Magical World in The WASP and El Curandero .  They are the ones who live in poverty in colonias; the alienated ones who have no agency to function in the larger Rio Grande Valley society.

Safety is one of Maslow’s human needs.  Safety is more secure when you feel you can exercise some power over your choices. For el pobre, alienated from larger society, sympathetic magic is an operative resort to power and control.  Sympathetic magic ameliorates the existential angst that comes from a loss of meaning in an alienated life.  But it requires agency. Witches, demons, and spirits are the agents in el pobres magical world view.

Also, Alberto Salinas is a shamanistic agent, brokering healing power from the spirit world by channeling the spirit of the dead Mexican folk saint, El Ni~no Fidencio.


Author: Katherine Brittain

Writer/Cultural Anthropologist

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