|Catemaco brujos went a step further and commercialized the industry. So
for a large bundle of Pesos you will get a spell to wipe out your competitor
evil spirits. The limpia price usually includes a raw egg, a few sprinkles of
rose water and some fresh herbs, but no dessert. Charms or amulets are
And then there are the Chamanes, local "white" witches. They
occasionally are deeply spiritual and mystic beings who earned their
accolades with hard work and knowledge of their physical environment
and human psychology, and are almost impossible to find for the brujo
tourist, except for the dozens of herbalists and amulet seller around the
central Catemaco market.
Traditional medicine is still a favorite medical recourse for many in Los
Tuxtlas. Culebreros (snake bite healers) are especially well known in the
region because of its variety of poisonous snakes, as well as Yerberos
(herbal healer) who take advantage of the profusion of Tuxtlas medicinal
plants. Hueseros (a form of chiropractor) and Yorbateros (massage
healers) are also still popular. Parteras (midwives) have mostly been
converted into professional nurses.
Catemaco´s major claim to fame, aside from its disappearing flora and
fauna, are these commercial brujos. The area, lately, seems to be
schizophrenic about their presence. A few years ago a glitzy magazine,
"Los Tuxtlas en el Siglo XXI" was printed without a single mention of
In the 1990´s the local brujos were identified with numerous murders and
drug related mayhem and probably caused the local populace to ignore
If you arrive in Catemaco expecting anything official regarding brujos,
forget it. Instead, throngs of motorbike riding shills accost you to steer you
to their most well paying brujo. The town has tried to put a stop to these
shills, but the system seems so be ingrained.
Gypsies, locally known as hungaros, have also found Catemaco. Their
haggling to read palms add to the brujo atmosphere, but they too, are
hounded by the official inquisition.
The first Friday in March (which is actually the first Thursday night)
celebrates the annual Congreso Internacional de Brujos when healers,
soothsayers, assorted medicine men and a garden-variety of witch doctors
descend on the town to sell their spells and exploit tourist Pesos.
|A fabulous now deceased promoter, "Brujo Mayor" Gonzalo Aguirre, organized a witchcraft
convention in Catemaco in 1970, offering a black mass, row boat races, anthropological
discourses and the presence of brujos, witch doctors, shamans, and like ilk.
Since then, Catemaco has soared in international and Mexican renown as an asylum for
mysticism and witchcraft. The convention is repeated yearly beginning on the first Thursday in
the month of March.
|Geographically the Tuxtlas mountainous terrain
essentially isolated it from the rest of Mexico until
the 20th century. The first railroad arrived in 1912.
The first paved highway did not reach here till the
Reliance on curanderos' (healers) knowledge of
step from curandero to brujo (sorcerer).
And Catemaco and Tuxtlas tropical jungles are
home to many hundreds of medicinal plants. Local
inhabitants and especially the remaining indigenous
people today still rely on these plants for the
treatment of multiple ailments
Historically brujos, shamans, warlocks, or
whatever you choose to call them, occupy a
revered place in Mexican indigenous culture. The
Aztecs classified almost 40 different types of
On the spiritual side, after the Spanish conquest,
Catholicism's attempt to slaughter indigenous
culture was transformed by native peoples into
metamorphed saint worship and, especially in
Veracruz, abetted by a large influx of African
slaves and their jungle heritage.
Cuban santeria, Haitian voodoo, and Catemaco
brujeria are closely related and promise their
aficionados blissful enlightenment, and, to cover all
bases, even throw in a little devil worship.
photos, videos, stories & links
Brujo Tourism History
antecedents of most of the current brujos
a personal account of a brujo convention
|Posters from 2013
|An ad from a "real" Catemaco brujo - in Spanish