About the author: an anthropologist, writer, and photographer, Gushiken resides in Lima, Peru. He received his PhD from the Catholic University of Lima. His research and photographs focus on the mountain, jungle, and coastal regions of Peru. Other works by the author include El violin di Isua, a biography of San Diego de Isua, an interpreter of folk music, and El otro Perú, a study of traditional medicine in the Peruvian jungle. Gushiken’s photographs of people and rituals have been exhibited throughout Peru and Japan.2002 0-7734-7295-9
This is a translation of conversations between Dr. José Gushiken and Eduardo (Tuno) Calderón, a native curandero, or healer of mental, spiritual, and physical disease. Looking first and briefly at Calderón’s life and initiation into the mysteries of curanderismo, the reader gets a wonderful insight into the center of curing, the Mesa or ‘Table’, an altar that stands at the nexus of many universal forces: good and evil, the living and the dead, harm and blessing, witchcraft and medicine, male and female, curse and cure. Tuno’s description of this Table remains one of the most complete discussions of this important gateway into other worlds. Tuno also introduces colleagues and mentors, the practice of the curandero from Peru to Guatemala, family, herbalists, mountain fastnesses. He explains the uses of native plants, some of them with surprising hallucinogenic effects; and other objects with familiar, almost pedestrian provenance, like Tabu perfume, water, rocks, whiskey, or tobacco. This study will interest anthropologists, folklorists, physicians, historians of medicine. Facing page translations.