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Tío Wili: One of the Last Mexican Healers

Written by Parriva — January 4, 2024
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By Reynaldo Mena

An ache in my knee was about to spoil my retreat in mountains located over three thousand meters high in the Sierra Sur of the state of Oaxaca, Mexico.

The terrain goes up and down, the effort and weight that my injured knee had to bear were too much.

In San Mateo Río Hondo, a community of a few hundred inhabitants where there is no phone signal and the wifi is very weak, I had to turn to the roots of Mexican culture.

“Is there a healer in the community?” I asked.

La Tía Juanita, another iconic character who owns a rustic little eatery where she only serves handmade tortillas and black beans, looked at me incredulously.

“Of course! Tío Wili the town healer, just ask, and a taxi will take you. He’s very good; everyone here goes to him when they’re not well,” she said.

San Mateo is known for its mushroom festivals; during the months of July and August, hundreds of European tourists arrive to experience the medicinal effects. Its inhabitants are accustomed to using products provided by the land as a medicinal element, far from Western medicine.

I went that same afternoon, and Tío Wili’s cabin was empty; his truck was not there, and he seemed just one more element in the vastness of the mountains. The next day I returned, and there he was, a dozen people patiently sitting on tree trunks, waiting to be attended to.

El Tío Wili came out of a room and greeted me; with much embarrassment, he told me he couldn’t attend to me, maybe later, but not at that moment. I explained that I was leaving soon and might not have time to come back. He looked at me and decisively said, “Come in.”

He examined my knee and began to apply an ointment made from mountain herbs; only he knew what he was putting on me. He shook my knee from side to side, then the other.

“Your tendons are damaged,” he said. “But that’s inside the muscles, not outside. You’ll have to keep applying this and rest; in a week, you’ll be fine,” he concluded.

I was impressed; not only did he show great knowledge of human anatomy, but also great wisdom to connect not only the physical but also the spiritual.

“Many times we worry about the physical and don’t think about our soul, our spirituality. Many think wrong; they don’t accept that we all come from the same creator, God is the one who provides for us and decides everything. He gave me the gift of healing, which I learned from my mother, but it was his decision and that of our mother earth,” he said.

We talked for a long time about his philosophy.

“I don’t charge for my services; if they have the possibility to give me something, I accept it; I also have needs. But for me, the most important thing is that they leave cured and transmit this to others, only then will we make a better world,” he said.

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