chapter  6
20 Pages

La Limpia de San Lazaro as Individual and Collective Cleansing Rite


The ameliorative effect that the limpia, or ritual cleansing, promises is one of the main reasons why botánica patrons seek this form of treatment.1 If physical maladies are understood not solely as products of an unsound body, but also as manifestations of socially derived conditions, then a limpia proves to be a body technique that addresses physical discomfort in relation to social conditions.2 In this chapter I suggest that the limpia represents a body technique that allows an individual to address and negotiate socially derived physical problems. In this case, socially derived refers to the emotional exchanges that occur in social relationships as emotions, such as envy, and are cited as sources of illness in Latina/o ritual healing practices. In this chapter the physical expression of envy as a

source of illness is analyzed within the context of collective action embodied in the form of ritual healing. Consequently, the limpia described in detail in this chapter represents a language that provides a syntax for the articulation and negotiation of illness.