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  • Interview with Juana Montañes Avila / Una Entrevista con Juana Montañes Avila
  • Charles H. Rowell and Marcus Jones
  • Interview with Juana Montañes Avila
  • Charles H. Rowell and Marcus Jones

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Juanita Montañes Avila
Mata Clara, Mexico

Photo by Marcus D. Jones © 2007

[End Page 132]

This interview was conducted on May 12, 2007, in Mata Clara, Veracruz, Mexico.

JONES: What is your name?

AVILA: My name is Juana Montañez Avila. I was born here in Mata Clara.

JONES: What type of work do you do for this town?

AVILA: For this town I do almost nothing. I cleanse out-of-towners.

JONES: And what is the name of what you do?

AVILA: It's a cleansing, with an egg.

JONES: You are a folk healer?

AVILA: Exactly.

JONES: And can you explain what it is you do, exactly?

AVILA: For instance, if they have a headache or have been hit or they come with burns on their feet, I cleanse them. I give them an herbal remedy, and they get better. I need to have an altar, but I only have my Virgin of Guadalupe there. I cleanse children and older people. They come from Tres Valles, from Yanga, from far away.

JONES: And people from here don't come?

AVILA: Not from here.

JONES: Why not?

AVILA: Because I don't like it, because they say that folk healers are witches. I'm not a witch. I'm a folk healer. God gave me the gift. [End Page 133]

JONES: What's the difference between a witch and a folk healer?

AVILA: Supposedly, a witch does black magic and a folk healer simply rids you of what ails you. If you have bad luck, if you want a job, folk healers cleanse you. But a witch doesn't, because she dedicates herself to casting spells. She works with black chickens, black cats; she works with evil. But I don't. You can see from my house that I don't have a lot of clients. If I had a lot of clients, I would live in an elegant house. I'm a single mother. I have four children and three grandchildren. My children are grown up and I have dedicated myself to two or three people who come for cleansings. As you know, life give me more. But I don't charge much. If people come from the United States who have problems, I help them. They're the ones who help me the most. But from here, from Mata Clara, the only people who come are Flor's family. Two or three people from here is all. The rest are all out-of-towners.

ROWELL: Is your healing only for the physical or is it also psychological and for the heart?

AVILA: For about thirty-five years, I have been curing the physical. I cure spiritual ills. I read your cards. I don't read cards for everyone, but there are a lot of people who like for me to read theirs.

JONES: So you can read the future in the cards?

AVILA: Of course. I like it a lot. Sometimes I like it, sometimes I don't. There are people who come with faith, and they even bring me the cards, a whole deck. I cure them and I read their cards.

JONES: And where did you learn this?

AVILA: My feet were burned once. I didn't believe in folk medicine. I didn't believe in it. But while going to different doctors, I met someone who took me to another person, and it was there that they healed me. They told me that I had the gift, because what I said and what I saw turned out to be true. They asked me if anyone had ever said anything to me about it. I told them no. And they said to me, "You have the ability to heal." And I learned at that place. That's when I started to heal. People didn't build me a temple because many here don't believe. My temple would be made with the seven steps and an...


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