The Healing Life of Eva Castellanoz
A biography examining the maxims, faith, and enduring struggle of a celebrated curandera
For more than a decade, Joanne Mulcahy worked with Eva Castellanoz to capture her astonishing and sometimes harrowing life story from a poor farm worker in the Rio Grande Valley to a life of dignity and recognition.
Former President Ronald Reagan called Eva Castellanoz a "national treasure" when he awarded her a National Heritage Fellowship in 1987. Featured in National Geographic, on National Public Radio, and in numerous publications, Castellanoz is celebrated as a folk artist for her beautiful coronas, wax flowers used in traditional Mexican ceremonies.
Remedios covers Eva’s experiences as a Mexican American curandera, or healer, curing everything from acne and susto (fright), to insomnia and “the evil eye.” Her remedies address various maladies and often rely on metaphor to convey a deeper sense of life and health.
Mulcahy explores Eva’s faith, her indigenous identity, her relationship to Catholicism, her community activism to better the lives of Latinos, especially women and children, and family life as an immigrant in the United States. Healing takes multiple forms in Eva’s life—as a way to overcome poverty, racism, disease, loss, and death; a means to resist social inequality; and a struggle for justice.
“Mulcahy offers us an up-close look at the life of the healer woman. We can't help but be inspired—maybe even healed.”
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— San Antonio Express-News
“Joanne B. Mulcahy has given us a rare glimpse into the life and methods of a curandera, the traditional female healers and leaders of many of our Latin American and Latino comunities. Respectfully, thoughtfully written, and beautifully structured, Remedios allows the reader to participate in these healing encounters. Each chapter is organized around a problem and its accompanying remedio. We learn about curanderismo from the inside out. The book is also a sensitive portrait of an extraordinary woman, Eva Castellanoz, and through her story we learn about the immigration experience from a female perspective. Mulcahy has done for the curandera experience what Carlos Castaneda did for shamanism. The book is itself a remedio, inspiring and healing.”
— Julia Alvarez