Last updateFri, 10 Apr 2015 5pm

A whistle-stop tour of witchcraft in Guadalajara

The village of San Martin de las Flores huddles behind a series of clambering hills. Although linked to Guadalajara by a twisting, rocky road, the geographical remoteness of the community gives it a distinct cultural identity.

The area is best known as the annual setting for dramatic performances of the passion, where local volunteers reenact the trial, flagellation and crucifixion of Jesus Christ, aided by liberal splashings of cinematic blood.

Yet it wasn’t the town’s dramatic Catholic rituals that attracted me but its reputation as a cradle for witchcraft. It’s known as the best place to remedy curses, find supernatural healing or put hexes on enemies. 

I came looking for a simple limpia, or spiritual cleansing, a rite with pre-Hispanic roots that often incorporates prayers to Catholic saints. A local shopkeeper told me that for an expensive but truly effective ritual, Dr. Jesus was the best in town. Vicente Fernandez, the iconic ranchera singer, had apparently been a client. 

A short bus ride up the mountain brought me to my destination, a spacious orange house overlooking the town. The secretary at the door told me to take a seat and the doctor would call me through. The bright walls were adorned with pictures of local wrestling stars. 

When I was summoned into his office, a stocky white-haired man stood to greet me with a smile. I explained that I was a journalist and offered him my card. “Can you tell me about the kinds of magic your practice?” I asked. 

“I’m a medical doctor,” he replied with a blank expression.

“But I was told you perform limpias,” I insisted. 

The doctor looked puzzled and pointed to the framed medical certificate hanging from the wall.

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