Great-grandson of María Sabina struggles to rescue her remains

María Sabina Magdalena García was a Mazatec curandera (healer), who lived in Huautla de Jiménez, a town in the Sierra Mazateca area of the Mexican state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico. Her healing sacred mushroom ceremonies, called veladas, were based on the use of psilocybin, which is the active substance in the magic mushrooms, such as Psilocybe cyanescens.

Many 1960s celebrities, including Bob Dylan, John Lennon, and Keith Richards, were rumored to have visited María Sabina, but these claims cannot be substantiated as no photographic evidence or written reports of the visits by the rock stars themselves have ever been reported.

Maria Sabina passed away on 22 November 1985.

Bernardino García Martínez, great-grandson of María Sabina García, requested official support to exhume the remains of his great-grandmother from the municipal cemetery of Huautla de Jiménez, Oaxaca; move them to their home and set up a shrine worthy of what was perhaps the most famous healer in the world at the time because she used hallucinogenic mushrooms in her healing ceremonies.

He asked “that the name of my great-grandmother be given the attention it deserves, a true museum worthy of her; the paving of the road that leads to her house which is now totally abandoned ”, mentioned the relative of the woman who died 35 years ago in a hospital in the city of Oaxaca.

María Sabina died at 2:45 in the morning of November 22, 1985, at the age of 91, and in extreme poverty because she only received things that her patients brought her in exchange for her services.

The request to exhume her remains was made by García Martínez during the mourning tribute made to him by the municipal authorities of Huautla de Jiménez, relatives and residents. 

The Mazatec ritual and prayers began in the prefabricated house that María Sabina inhabited and which was a gift from then-president José López Portillo, now converted into a small museum that houses her belongings and objects that visitors gave her.

In that place, Sabina lived and received those who wanted to heal and famous people from all over the world who wanted to be witnesses of the practices guarded by the Mazatec indigenous people.

The attendees expressed that more than an official act it was a spiritual commemoration in gratitude to the woman who shared the knowledge of traditional medicine not only in Huautla because it transcended borders and lasts until today.

Later, a procession left from there to the municipal pantheon where the remains of the “Priestess of the Magic Mushrooms” rest, to mount an honor guard and deposit flowers.

Due to the quarantine established to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, only members of the city council chaired by Óscar Peralta Allende participated. On behalf of the state government, Roger Merlin Arango, from the Secretariat of Culture and Arts of Oaxaca, was a guard of honor; from the federal government was Teresa de Jesús Ríos García, director of the Indigenous Center based in Huautla.

Other attendees were Irma Juan Carlos, president of the Commission on Indigenous Affairs of the Mexican Congress; local representative Elisa Zepeda Lagunas, and Norma Pineda Martínez, trustee of the treasury.

“For more than 500 years we were relegated, now we are not going to be silent anymore, we are going to raise our voices for the defense of our indigenous communities,” said the federal representative.



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