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Laurance Johnston, Ph.D.

Although I had approached this Ghost Ranch workshop as a detached, analytical scientist desiring to learn more about Curanderismo, my awareness was profoundly altered by a limpia-clearing ritual. Because Iím not in that altered state anymore, it is difficult to describe. Perhaps, it is comparable to what the Zen Buddhists call a kensho experience, in which the imprisoning filters through which we perceive the world are temporarily broken down.

My limpia was carried out using traditional Curanderismo elements, including rubbing raw fertile eggs (intact not broken!) and fresh rosemary over the body. In addition, curandera Elena Avila waved an eagle feather around certain body areas in an effort to push out the negative energies she perceived in my energy field. Although recognizing the power of ceremony to shift consciousness, given my scientific background, I viewed the incorporation of raw eggs and rosemary as just quaint cultural traditions. As such, I was astonished by my limpia-induced perceptual transformation.

As a part of lifeís trials and tribulations, all of the workshop participants had brought with them various personal, sometimes truly tragic, problems that had adversely affected their lives. During the workshop, these issues were often extensively shared with others, especially during the heart-to-heart plŠticas; and how I perceived others was based, in part, on how I subjectively weighted these issues in my mind. My heart went out to some, and in others, I had little tolerance for their problems.

However, when my limpia was concluding, I looked around at my fellow participants and saw them very differently. Itís hard to explain, but in spite of my previous, judgment-laden perceptions, I now saw everyone as beautiful beings, radiating Godís energy.  Refusing to acknowledge that my view of the world had shifted from inside me, I initially attempted to analytically assess what had shifted externally, i.e., what had happened to them.

After going outside for a closing ceremony, I was in awe of the vividly blue New Mexico sky and the earthís vibrant hues. I couldnít understand why I hadnít noticed before; it seemed that previously I had been looking at the world through glasses that had muted Godís ubiquitous radiance. Lasting several hours, my perceptual ecstasy affected all of my senses. For example, the junipers were more fragrant, the birds were more melodious, and at lunch, previously unnoticeable pudding tasted like it was manna from the heavens. Unfortunately, later that afternoon, I came crashing back into everyday reality when I stupidly decided to check my obligation-reminding emails.

This transient perceptual state was one of my most powerful life experiences. As Shakespeare stated in Hamlet, ďThere are more things in heaven and earth Ö than are dreamt of in your philosophy," and for me, Curanderismoís eggs and rosemary are among them.