The Indigenous Healing Tradition in Calabria, Italy* Stanley Krippner,** Ashwin Budden,*** Michael Bova,**** and Roberto Galante*****
ABSTRACT: In 2003, four of us spent several weeks in Calabria. We interviewed local people in regard to folk healing remedies, attended a Feast Day honoring St. Cosmo and St. Damiano, and paid two visits to the Shrine of Madonna dello Scoglio, where we interviewed its founder, Fratel Cosimo. In this essay, we have provided our impressions of Calabria. Although one of the poorest areas in Italy, it is one of the richest in regard to folk traditions and alternative modes of healing.
In April 1995, before it became the Center for Alternative and Complimentary Medicine, the Office of Alternative Medicine (OAM) of the United States National Institutes of Health held a conference on research methodology. The charge of this conference was to evaluate research needs in the field of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), and several working groups were created to produce consensus statements on a variety of essential topics. The OAM recognized the importance of studying CAM, given that a majority of the world’s population used traditional medicine, spending 60 billion dollars a year for this type of health care. In the United States, about 17 billion dollars per year is spent on CAM practices, many of which fall under the category of traditional medicine, or ethnomedicine (Freeman, 2004; O'Conner et al., 1997).
The OAM panel on definition and description accepted a dual charge: To establish a definition of the field of complementary and alternative medicine for purposes of identification and research; to identify factors critical to a thorough and unbiased description of CAM systems, one that would be applicable to both quantitative and qualitative research.
The panel defined CAM as follows:
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is a broad domain of healing resources that encompasses all health systems, modalities, and practices and their accompanying theories and beliefs, other than those intrinsic to the politically dominant health system of a particular society or culture in a given historical period. CAM includes all such practices and ideas self-defined by their users as preventing or treating illness or promoting health and well being. Boundaries within CAM and between the CAM domain and the domain of the dominant system are not always sharp or fixed. (O'Conner et al., 1997)
The second charge of the panel was to establish a list of parameters for obtaining thorough descriptions of CAM systems. The list was constructed on 13 categories first conceptualized by Hufford (1995):
1. Lexicon. What are the specialized terms in the system?
2. Taxonomy. What classes of health and sickness do the system
recognize and address?
3. Epistemology. How was the body of knowledge derived?
4. Theories. What are the key mechanisms understood to be?
5. Goals for Interventions. What are the primary goals of the system?
6. Outcome Measures. What constitutes a successful intervention?
7. Social Organization. Who uses and who practices the system?
8. Specific Activities. What do the practitioners do? What do they use?
9. Responsibilities. What are the responsibilities of the
practitioners, patients, families, and community members?
10. Scope. How extensive are the system’s applications?
11. Analysis of Benefits and Barriers. What are the risks and costs of
12. Views of Suffering and Death. How does the system view suffering
13. Comparison and Interaction with Dominant System. What does this system provide that the dominant system does not provide? How does this system interact with the dominant system?
A 14th category was provided for researchers, listing various procedures that should be followed in formal investigations of CAM systems. This category will be bypassed in this descriptive account of Calabrian healers and healing practices.
A Brief History of Calabria
Calabria, renowned for its Mediterranean climate and its history of conquest and settlement reaching back into antiquity. This narrow strip of land in Southern Italy is 250 kilometers long, with no point in the area more than 40 kilometers from the coast. Specifically, it is located between the Tyrrhenian and Ionian Seas, the “toe” of Italy’s “boot.” The presence of humans dates back to the Paleolithic Age (as determined by the graffito in Cosenza), and about 700,000 years B.C.E. Homo erectus left artifacts along the coastal areas. There are artifacts from the Copper Age and the Bronze Age, often in caves, as well as from the Iron Age (e.g., tombs in Cassano Ionio). When the Neolithic replaced the Paleolithic, hunters changed to farmers, founding the first villages about 3500 B.C.E. (Douglas, 1915/2001).
Calabria prehistory ended with colonization about 2000 B.C.E. The term “Italy” was derived from King Italo of the Enotrians or Arcadians, the first colonizers, the name eventually spreading to the entire peninsula. Beginning about 720 B.C.E., various city-states from another peninsular, that of Greece, founded colonies that were rich and colorful, meriting the name “Magna Graecia” (i.e., “Greater Greece,” because the mother country seemed small by comparison). Magna Graecia was known for the healthiness of its people. Much of this reputation was well earned, the result of proper territorial management and ecological balance. In those days, Calabria was renowned for its fertile farmlands, as well as for precious minerals and silks. Bronze tablets, unearthed in 1732, described how the Greek colonists were obliged to replace wind-swept or dead trees, and initiate land reclamation works.
With Roman occupation, the traditional ways of life were disregarded, pastures replaced tilled fields, and the population began to decrease. Casualties due to malaria took farmers away from their land, and the uncultivated land produced marshes that increased the spread of malaria (Danubio, Piro, & Tagarelli, 1999). In time, Italy became the center of the Roman Empire, which began its conquest of Calabria in about 275 B.C.E., defeating most of the Calabrian tribes within a few years. Many of these tribes supported Hannibal during the Second Punic War, but when Hannibal withdrew from Italy, he responded by murdering his Calabrian allies to protect himself against facing them in battle should they defect to Rome. When the threat of Hannibal and Carthage ended, the Roman conquest of Calabria was completed in 211 B.C.E. The mass deforestation initiated by the Romans marks the first serious environmental challenge to the area. The deforestation practices of the Romans also expanded marshy areas were mosquitoes could breed.
Goths and Visigoths invaded the area, towns were sacked, and much of Calabria’s Greek and Roman legacy was lost. After the fall of Rome in the 4th century C.E., Byzantines dominated the area and named it “Calabria” in the 7th century C.E. Eastern Orthodox monks came with the Byzantine rulers, establishing monasteries and building shrines in the secluded mountains. Byzantine rule lasted until the 11th century C.E. and was followed by that of the Normans, who arrived about 1050 C.E., creating the Kingdom of the South. The Swabians conquered the Normans in 1194 and produced one of the most civilized nations in that part of the world, the so-called “Kingdom of the Sun” in which people of different religious persuasions (e.g., Islamic, Greek Orthodox) lived as neighbors in peace. This kingdom was followed by others, specifically Anjou in 1266 and Aragon in 1435; their rulers left a feudal system as their legacy to Spain, which conquered the area in 1503. Austrian domination began in 1707, followed by Bourbon rule in 1734. Under the title, “The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies,” the Bourbons exploited the local natural resources, especially what was left of the forests.
Even though they had lived in Italy for 12 centuries, probably longer than in any other place in Europe, Jews suffered persecution at the hands of the Catholic Church. The move dated back to 1290 when a Dominican friar accused the Jews of Apulia of putting a Christian child to death in mockery of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Calabrian Jews put up a strong resistance to maltreatment, but organized Jewry virtually disappeared from southern Italy for several centuries once they were expelled from Calabria in 1541. The Jews in Sicily had escaped harassment because Frederick II and his immediate line protected them from the Crusaders and from fanatical church authorities. However, Spain controlled Sicily during the years when Ferdinand and Isabella began the expulsion movement. Half the Jewish population converted to Catholicism to prevent the loss of their property. (Jewish communities slowly regained equality and emancipation only to be persecuted again during the Fascist era in the 20th century.)
Another act of intolerance during Spanish rule occurred in 1571 when the Waldenses were massacred because of their allegiance to the Protestant movement in Europe. During the era of Islamic expansion, there were periodic incursions of Muslims. Bourbon rule was interrupted by French domination from 1805 to 1816, and then resumed until Garibaldi unified Italy in the middle of the 19th century.
In the meantime, disastrous agricultural practices had transformed the pristine coastlands into marshy and malarial swamps. Much of the population withdrew inland to avoid both malaria and pirate raids, primarily from the Saracens and the Turks from 1100 to 1800. Roman Catholic monks had built many chapels and churches, whose contents helped preserve Calabrian culture. However, a major earthquake destroyed many buildings and other cultural artifacts in 1783. Secret societies abounded in the early 19th century; they worked toward helping Garibaldi unify Italy, a task confirmed by a plebiscite on October 21, 1860 (Crawford, 1901).
The term “traditional southern Italy” refers to the provinces of Calabria, Abruzzo, Basilicata, Campania, Molise, Puglia, and Sicily before World War II. After the war, and the downfall of Fascism, all Italy changed dramatically and many folk traditions disappeared or were modified beyond recognition. This process was not as noticeable in Calabria which, for centuries, had only one road, due to both internal and external isolation (Orlando, 1998). This isolation is one reason why folk healing traditions have survived over the millennia.
Another reason is that Calabria represents what Keates (2001) has called a “savage Europe” that existed alongside its more “civilized” equivalent, a place where the Renaissance and the Enlightenment were unknown. Calabria has always been among the areas of Europe most resistant to the Europeanizing process (p. 7) and, later, to industrialization. Without the production base provided by industrialization, many of the local agrarian based customs, including folk health practices, remained.
Keates (2001) continued, “Lonely, intractable, often impenetrably strange, sheltering the oddest of paradoxes, the weirdest of survivals and the darkest of secrets, Calabria endures, sullenly defiant of our modern manias of system, connection, and universal openness” (p. 8). However, it was not so much that Calabria waged an open or even a covert revolt against Rome and its more contemporary rulers; its remoteness was responsible for neglect by the forces of modernization.
We encountered a somewhat different Calabria, as we stayed in the populated areas of the Locride, i.e., the topographical area that is said to have been influenced by the Greek city of Locri. We learned that young adults and families with children are leaving their ancestral mountain villages for the coastal towns and cities to seek job opportunities and a modern lifestyle. The Calabria that was once resistant to change now ensures that all its children learn foreign languages in school. Many of the children who we met spoke or understood at least basic English. Computers are part of many households; thus the world is at their fingertips. Hence, the break from the isolationist Calabria of the past was evident in the areas where we traveled. Indeed, we suspect that the "savage culture" described by Keates (2001) and others is a misnomer, perhaps influenced by a colonialist attitude.
Calabrian institutions and culture have been deeply influenced by Roman Catholic traditions. For example, the 12th century Calabrian abbot Joachim of Fiore brought the Holy Spirit as a distinct Divine entity into Catholic theology for the first time (McGinn, 1985) and the Holy Spirit has been evoked by several folk healers in the area. Typical of the legends that substituted Christian figures for folk characters is the alleged conversation between St. Peter and Jesus Christ as they were walking in an olive grove:
St. Peter: It takes too much time to collect all these small olives. Let’s make them the size of melons.
Jesus Christ: Very well. But something awkward is bound to happen when you suggest improvements.
Within minutes, there were huge olives, one of which fell on top of St. Peter’s head, ruining his new hat, provoking laughter on the part of Jesus Christ.
This story is typical of “folk Catholicism,” practiced in mountainous and rural areas; this is a syncretic mixture of some pre-Christian elements with a dose of Roman Catholicism, while remaining relatively resistant to aspects of official church doctrine. The church has been allied with the elite political and economic classes, causing it to be seen as collaborating with the cultural and economic oppression of the Calabrian peasants. Anti-clericalism has been rife in Italy, in part because priests disapprove of such folk activities as non-religious festivals, birth control, and premarital sex. Nevertheless, Calabrian folk healing has a Roman Catholic veneer (Ramage & Clay, 1987).
Folk Healing Practices in Calabria
In 1898, White wrote that medical science has frequently been blocked by belief in "supernatural agencies" but that folk traditions have gradually given way to Western biomedical science. However, exceptions can be found in such locations as the remote mountainous areas of Calabria. One can find, in this areas and even in some nearby urban settings. A mosaic of rituals and remedies that fall into the category of Calabrian “popular medicine” (or “folk medicine”). It survived, at least in part, because biomedical practitioners were rare and costly. However, in 1866 the government began to fund physicians, sending one to every small town in the newly unified nation. As a result, many popular medical practices have disappeared; those that have survived can be described using the OAM framework (O'Conner et al., 1997). We have used the “ethnographic present” in presenting these descriptions; some of them do not reflect contemporary beliefs and practices while others survive, primarily in isolated areas. Knowledge about folk medicine circulated without written texts; hence there were regional variations. Nevertheless, this account reflects Calabria in general, with an emphasis on the regions we visited in particular.
1. Lexicon. What are the specialized terms in the system?
The key term in popular medicine is malocchio, the “evil eye,” an illness brought about either unintentionally or by malice (Simorto, 1990). In the first instance, it can result from simple envy or jealousy. In the second instance, it can be evoked by attaccatura (attachment), fascino or legatura (binding), or fattura (fixing). The perpetrator of malocchio dominates the victim’s body by one of these three mechanisms, producing such maladies as “dryness,” which might take the form of barrenness, the inability to have or bear children. Especially vulnerable to malocchio are “wet youth” (because “wetness” represents fertility, the opposite of “dryness”), new brides, pregnant women, and even livestock -- if they evoke envy on the part of someone who knows how to cast the “evil eye.”
It is believed that hunchbacks know how to cast malocchio. Priests also have this ability and will practice it if they lose their moral bearings. One practitioner of malocchio confessed, “Every good thing I ever had was gained at the expense of a neighbor.”
Another term dates back to ancient times. Pliny the Elder wrote about women who could transform themselves into birds of prey, flying by night, looking for babies to slaughter. The Inquisitors, who prosecuted women suspected of practicing witchcraft, promulgated belief in this folkloric witch, and these women still appear in local folktales, being referred to as streghe. These women have the power to give people malocchio, so are highly feared. There are a few male streghe, and sometimes streghe of either gender transform themselves into animals rather than birds.
There are a number of traditional folk terms for special conditions. Il mal caduco, or the “falling sickness,” is dreaded but can be prevented by charms. Il male di San Donato or epilepsy is felt to be due to supernatural causes, and can be controlled if the afflicted person carries iron nails or keys, or pictures of lunar crescents and frogs, practices that date back to pagan times.
2. Taxonomy. What classes of health and sickness does the system recognize and address?
In Calabrian popular medicine, folk healing, sorcery, witchcraft, magical spells, and religious causation overlap. Not only did we derive this information from our review of the literature, but from conversations with local inhabitants, and what we personally observed. Indeed these were the three sources for all the data presented in our description of Calabrian health practices.
3. Epistemology. How was the body of knowledge derived?
Popular medicine in Calabria can be miraculous, medical, or magical. Miraculous healing defies natural law; its effects are attributed to divine intervention, often mediated through the panoply of Roman Catholic saints who have appeared over the centuries. Knowledge of magical practices has been diffused thought the rural population rather than being limited to a secret group of practitioners. Our conversations with local informants suggested that self-medication is common, both for oneself and one’s family.
Folk practices in Calabria, and elsewhere, are derived from local economies as well as from local modes of subsistence and production. Folk medicine relies on herbal and animal substances, some of which date back to the time of Greek colonization. They are felt to work because of an inherent power basic to their nature; no special rituals are needed to evoke these qualities.
On the other hand, magical medicine is a collection of rituals, spells, elixirs, potions, and the like, that resemble cookbook recipes. Their purported effectiveness results from the step-by-step procedures that give them the special qualities that they only possess latently. Both benevolent and malevolent practitioners employ magic, but in Calabria it is also the province of ordinary people. For the inhabitants of Calabria, life is a precarious enterprise, full of dangers at every turn. Magic is one of many protective strategies people rely on to ensure their survival as well as that of their family members. Magical practices were adopted from Egyptian, Greek, and Roman times and even have a Roman Catholic component.
4. Theories. What are the key mechanisms understood to be?
The Calabrian universe is an interconnected whole; tweaking one part of the fabric is likely to bring about changes in another part. For example, peasants often plant according to the phases of the moon. But life is also seen as a precarious enterprise, full of dangers at every turn. Calabrians believe that the world is inhabited by a variety of local spirits as well as by angels, demons, and saints. These beings can be invoked to aid survival, but may also be hazardous. Appeasing these entities through prayer and magic is not seen as sorcery or witchcraft but as common sense, as protective strategies employed by people to insure their survival. These practices are not limited to a small group of esoteric practitioners but are widely practiced. Recipes for protective formulae are typically passed on to younger family members on Christmas Eve or St. John’s Eve (January 23rd), after which time the previous owner stops using the procedure.
Before the arrival of Western biomedicine, a number of causal mechanisms were advanced for common ailments by Calabrian popular medicine. For example, malaria was variously attributed to sorcery, the evil eye, evil spirits, eating putrefied vegetables, consuming too many blackberries, and drinking stagnant water (Danubio, Piro, & Tagarelli, 1999).
The use of wire netting, began in 1899, was found to be an effective way to prevent malaria. On the other hand, quinine was suspect initially, even among physicians who suspected its use might become addictive (Douglas, 1915/2001). Such practices date back to an earlier time and we did not find them being used in contemporary Calabria.
Illnesses treated by magic, such as malocchio, are few in number today. The medical model usually is used to explain the success attributed to most herbal and animal substances. However, God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, Mary, and the saints are given credit for miraculous recoveries. Intercessory prayer by the afflicted person or by a friend or family member initiates these healings.
Permeating all of these conditions and practices is the notion of a “vital force,” a basic principle of the belief systems of Calabria and all of southern Italy. This force is said to be strengthened or restored in miraculous healings; it resides in medicinal plants and foods, and magical rituals can evoke it. It can also occur naturally, for example, the vital force is transferred from a mother to her child during nursing (Binde, 1999).
5. Goals for Interventions. What are the primary goals of the system?
The goal of interventions, whether by prayer or the administration of herbal remedies, is to restore the vital force of the person who has fallen ill.
6. Outcome Measures. What constitutes a successful intervention?
An intervention is considered successful if the vital force has been restored completely or partially. Restoration of this force allows someone to return to work, to participate in family life, and rejoin community activities.
7. Social Organization. Who uses and who practices the system?
Calabrian popular medicine is not a unified set of beliefs and practices. It has deep roots in the past but is not a systematized extension of an ancient religion. Rather, it is an integral part of a rural peasant economic and social way of life, highly syncretized with folk Catholicism.
An exception is midwifery. In addition, there are some practitioners of popular medicine, usually female, who have extensive knowledge of herbs and are able to treat minor illnesses (but not tuberculosis and malaria). Their knowledge is frequently mixed with popular magic and Roman Catholicism. These female folk healers are referred to as magle while male practitioners are called maghi. The “fixers,” or practitioners of magic, are referred to as fattuchhiere. Many of these practitioners are felt to have inherited their gifts from their ancestors. Genetics aside, it is a common practice for mothers to pass on herbal recipes and other folkloric knowledge to their daughters.
Some of the magie, maghi, and fattuchhiere work in altered states of consciousness. This may involve “merging” with their client’s condition. Practitioners may incorporate spirits, especially if they dabble in sorcery. While in an altered state, a folk healer may be asked to find lost objects, stolen livestock, or determine if a client has been “bewitched.” However, there is a considerable overlap of folk healing, sorcery, witchcraft, and religious ritual.
8. Specific Activities. What do the practitioners do? What do they use?
Popular medicine is extremely dependent on herbal preparations, its advocates hold that “only death can not be cured by plants.” Especially popular are plants with an “anti-thermic” or diuretic action, “embittering plants” (e.g., bitter pomegranate roots, male fern, wild olive, oak and willow bark, lupine seeds, sea onions, ergot of rye, sabina, mustard, and Cajenna (Cayenne) pepper (De Giacomo, 1899). Popular medicine also utilizes animal parts; it is believed that “nearly every animal has been discovered to possess some medicinal property” (Douglas, 1915/2001, p. 71).
The most popular herbal and animal medicinal substances include chamomile tea (prescribed for cases of anxiety), swallows’ hearts, tortoise blood (believed to strengthen people’s spines) puppy dogs’ hearts (thought to be especially effective for scrofula), undigested fish taken from the stomachs of larger fish (used for “sea fever,” sicknesses felt to be due to exposure to the sea), chamois blood (given to shepherds’ children to enable them to function at high altitudes), and snake blood (thought to enhance glandular functioning)(Douglas, 1915/2001, pp. 70-71).
Over the years, the treatment of malaria by popular medicine has included a variety of practices. They ranged from applying witchcraft to overturn a sorcerer’s spell to such practices as drinking wine infused with the embers dug out of a fire on St. Lorenzo’s night, using herbal preparations (e.g., juice from bergamot oranges), eating a preparation of viper’s head and wormwood, and tying a variety of supposed curative agents (e.g., toads, lizards, nuts) to patients’ spleen area. Historically, there were regional differences; in the city of Reggio Calabria, it was common to have sick people swallow three living bedbugs wrapped in tissue paper. In Bisagno, folk practitioners had their patients eat cobwebs, drink their own urine, swallow pulverized insects, or ingest a preparation made from wine and baked rabbit’s blood. People living in other areas took great stock in drinking their own saliva or masticating chunks of tobacco. Prayers also were used to counter malaria; in Consenza, for example, Madonna della Febbre (i.e., “Mary of the Fever”) was frequently petitioned (Genovese, 1924).
Treatment of malocchio runs a wide gamut. People who accidentally feel resentment or jealousy can prevent the other person from succumbing to malocchio by immediately blessing him or her. Another remedy is to apply water to the victim into which salt, oil, wheat seeds, and molten lead has been dripped. Vulnerable people can take protective measures by wearing amulets, for example horns made of red coral, phallic representations (e.g., keys, roosters, snakes, daggers, fish), a mano fica (a fist), a mano cornuta (a horned hand). Some of the most effective amulets are made from silver or tin, and contain cimaruta, the top of the rye plant. Some large amulets are in the shape of trees with a different symbol (e.g., horns, suns, moons, fish, keys, Sacred Hearts) at the tip of each branch.
The use of amulets date back to Roman times; women often wore bullae (small bags filled with phallic-shaped objects) around their necks. These evolved into brevi, small bags filled with rue and lavender, semi-precious stones, ashes taken from sacred fires, flowers grown near churches, or images of saints. Especially valuable components of brevi are stones filled with iron-rich clay that rattle when shaken. Special brevi are filled with pietre della pravidanza (pregnancy stones), pietre del sangre (red-spotted jasper that will stop a wound from bleeding), and, for protection against sorcery and witchcraft, brevi filled with pietre stellar (star stones – polyporic pebbles dotted with tiny star-like spots that are sometimes carved into crosses and carried with the image of a saint) or legno stregonia (holly twigs carved into crosses).
Rue is a popular medicinal herb, especially for the treatment of colic, digestive problems, skin eruptions, and even sorcery or witchcraft.
9. Responsibilities. What are the responsibilities of the practitioners, patients, families, and community members?
Even though a sizable proportion of the community may practice popular medicine, there is the responsibility to do so in a skilled manner. Family and community solidarity is an important value, and this balance must not be put at risk by an intervention.
10. Scope. How extensive are the system’s applications?
Calabrian popular medicine is still practiced by people living in rural areas, in the mountains, and by gypsies. However, it generally focuses on health problems that are transitory. During our stay in Roccella Ionica, we conducted interviews with several inhabitants of this small town, asking them what “home remedies” they employ. The resulting list provided us with examples of Calabrian popular medicine at the beginning of the 21st century.
a. If someone is the victim of malocchio, friends and family members can address the condition with prayer. Specialists are needed for more specific treatment. Not much can be done to prevent malocchio, but its diagnosis can be made with a special preparation: Start with a cup of water. Add five pinches of salt and five grains of incense. Add pieces of five palm leaves that have been blessed by a priest, five leafs from an olive tree, and a few embers obtained by burning twigs from an ash tree. Drop five pinches of salt into this concoction; if the salt turns black, the person in question is the victim of the “evil eye.” An alternative is to let three drops of olive oil fall into a cup of water; if the drops break, the person of concern has malocchi. In both cases, the liquid solution must be thrown away at a crossroads.
b. To treat small cuts in the skin, boil water, add salt, wait until the water is tepid, then apply it to the skin. If possible, soak the afflicted body part in the salty water for half an hour. Another treatment is to substitute the section dividers from the bamboo plant for the salt. If the cut has occurred far from one’s home while working or playing, urine can be applied immediately.
c. To treat a recurring cough, put sugar into a foot-warmer or a similar receptacle. Ask the person with cough to breathe the fumes, and place a blanket over his or her head so that the fumes do not escape. Another remedy is to drink vino cotto, wine that has not yet fermented. Vino cotto is commonly used in cooking, e.g., to make fruit pies.
d. For stomachaches, dry the stems of several cherries, boil these stems in water, and drink the brew once it cools down.
e. For the treatment of bronchitis, saturate waxed paper with olive oil, warm it by placing it near a fire, then apply to paper to one’s chest. Another treatment is to boil linen seeds and place them on the chest.
f. For second-degree burns, mix olive oil and plaster; apply it to the burned area of the skin. Later, when there is a scab on the burned area, substitute strono leafs for the olive oil and apply.
g. For treating high blood pressure, olive leafs can be crushed and mixed with water, then imbibed.
h. In the case of a headache, sliced potatoes can be applied to one’s head and held in place by a headband. If the headband is soaked in vinegar beforehand, the treatment is even more effective. Linen seeds can be substituted for potatoes.
i. Chamomile tea is frequently used to calm someone down who has had an anxiety attack.
j. If a baby is constipated, the tip of an oregano stick coated with human hair or parsley can be carefully inserted into his or her anus.
k. In the case of recurring dandruff, use soap made from pig fat, soda, olive oil, and lemon skin.
l. If a mother cannot nurse a baby, and if a substitute is not available, almond milk is better than cow’s milk for the baby’s milk bottle. If the baby develops an intestinal disorder, a solution of water and leafs from the ruta plant is an effective remedy.
m. When washing clothes, add embers from an ash tree to the water, even if the clothes are washed in the river. This serves as a disinfectant.
We were told that these remedies are passed down from person to person, usually from mother to daughter because most home practitioners are women. One informant remarked, “Everybody knows about these treatments.”
11. Analysis of Benefits and Barriers. What are the risks and costs of the system?
Folk medicine is the treatment of choice for those who cannot afford Western biomedicine, or in those areas where a physician is rarely seen. One of our informants told us that there are areas in Calabria “where there are only a few physicians, and they are too expensive for many people.” Nevertheless, in the large cities as well as smaller villages we encountered people who make use of biomedicine, especially pharmaceuticals. Among, older adults, knowledge of folk remedies, such as herbal preparations is still held, and they seem to be willing to use both modalities.
Of course with respect to malocchio and witchcraft there are social risks and costs. As with many societies people are often reluctant to address such issues in the open, even though may be a deep-seated belief in them. Suspicion of using witchcraft or giving evil eye can come with the price of social stigma or even social ostracization. Given the increasingly modern and “rational” attitudes toward these matters, being exposed as a dabbler in these arts may also incur a label of craziness, irrationality, or backwardness. Nevertheless, belief in malocchio and witchcraft are still run as an undercurrent even in the cities. Some will turn to the latter for solving various social and health related problems, but most tend to keep a respectful distance.
12. Views of Suffering and Death. How does the system view suffering and death?
An omnipresent “vital force” is felt to be a substance that can be lost or gained. Losses lead to illness, weakness, or death. Gains can be evoked by external sources that reinvigorate the body. When death occurs, there is a “transcendence” in which a new body is created, manifesting a different type of “vital force.”
From the perspective of folk magic, suffering often results from sorcery or witchcraft. From the Roman Catholic perspective, suffering is part of the human condition, often representing a “test” that God provides to test one’s faith.
13. Comparison and Interaction with Dominant System. What does this system provide that the dominant system does not provide? How does this system interact with the dominant system?
There are several “dominant systems” in Calabria. There is Western biomedicine, the Roman Catholic Church, and such familial organizations as Mafia and Camorra (known in Calabria as ‘ndrangheta). The latter organizations originated to protect households against greedy landlords; in a holdover from the feudal system, debts from one year were added to the next year; children would inherit their parents’ debts.
The Feast Day of Cosmo and Damiano
We visited the town on Riace in September 25 to participate in a three-day feast honoring saints Cosimo and Damiano, and to interact with the gathering of gypsies who participate in the festivities. The two holy physicians lived in the region of Cilicia, Turkey in the 4th century C.E., and some of their followers, most of them Byzantine monks, arrived in Calabria around 1000 C.E. According to legend, however, Cosmo and Damiano themselves once sailed to an area near present-day Riace, Calabria, coming ashore and instructing a local shepherd to build a church. Another tells of how the physicians converted to Christianity, much to the consternation of the Romans who had depended upon their healing ministrations. The physicians were urged to drop a few seeds before the statues of the Roman deities, promising them that this would save them from the wrath of temple authorities. Cosmo and Damiano refused and, as a result, they were secretly beheaded in a distant field. However, the legend continues, their faith was so strong that they picked up their heads with their hands, and walked several meters singing Christian hymns before they expired. Thanks to stories of this nature, and alleged healings that occurred subsequently, heir canonization was assured.
The principle activity of the feast involves the journey of the statues of the physician saints, along with a procession of devotees, from Riace’s Church of San Nicola di Bari to a smaller church, the Sanctuary of Cosimo and Damiano approximately a quarter of a mile away. The Church of San Nicola di Bari, where the statues of the doctor saints Cosimo and Damiano are housed, was ornately decorated with a type of vibrant colored paper called paratu that was colorfully displayed on the church’s walls, arches and ceiling. Parishioners and devotees entered this church and approached the statues for blessings. Some brought their children who they lifted to touch the base that joins the statues. Others came with ex voto, special devotions made of wax or bread that were replicas of body parts. These devotions represented parts of the body that had been prayed for and/or healed by the saints. These offerings were placed on the base of the two statues.
The vendor told us that people who were going to ask for a healing often purchased a replica of the ailing body part. The wax effigy would be put at the feet of the statue as an offering. When we asked if there were any wax ex voto of phalluses the salesman told me that he had none, adding that they were only made for witchcraft, primarily in coastal cities in the Locride. He did not remember seeing them but, in his youth, knew of witchcraft practices. We did not have any leads to witchcraft or magical practices in this area until we queried the family of a member of our group; they also recalled hearing about this practice.
One of us observed that perhaps there was no phallus because curing sexual dysfunctions is beyond the purview of the saints. For example, we saw no eyeballs and no ears, suggesting that blindness and deafness are rarely treated successfully. In any event, the man selling the ex voto lamented that not enough people were buying them and it would possibly be his last year selling them at this feast.
The statues stay in the Church of San Nicola di Bari all year and are taken to the Sanctuary of Cosimo and Damiano for the duration of the feast days. They are taken back to the church for the closing ceremony of the feast. While we were in the church for a service, we saw several ex voto offerings being placed at the base of the statues, as well as some children being placed at the feet of the statues or touching them, presumably for blessings or good luck.
The statues were later placed on a caravan that was hand carried. By this manner, the statues traveled through the town to their sanctuary, a smaller church built and named in honor of the saints. The procession of the statues through Riace was a dynamic involvement of several thousand parishioners, devotees of the cult of the saints from other towns, and of gypsies who comprised a distinct but separate traditional celebratory role at the feast. Parish priests, followed by church members and volunteers carrying the caravan holding the statues, led the procession, which was accompanied by a choir, brass band, and police. The masses attending the feast surrounded the procession, following and preceding it. Booths selling ex voto and other religious items lined the streets between the church and the sanctuary of the saints.
Scattered throughout the procession were men with large wooden staffs. These wooden staffs are used in a popular martial art in southern Italy, especially in Sicily and Calabria, and were first seen in the Middle Ages. The ancient name for the stick is Paranza. Over time this wooden staff became a sign of command and was called Capo Bastone, which can be roughly translated as Chief Cane or Chief Stick. This stick morphed to the local Mafia groups where the holder of the stick is the Capo, the Boss or mob/family leader (English, 1993).
The sanctuary of the saints was the destination of the procession and was the central area for the gypsies to gather. Since most of the gypsies (more properly, the Rom) were already assembled closer to the destination point, they preceded the assembled procession. Some were dressed in colorful costumes and many groups were dancing tarantellas in and were playing tarantella music on traditional instruments. Three instruments that we identified were the tamborello (a type of tambourine), an organetto (a traditional accordion), and a zampogna (an instrument very much like a bagpipe with five pipes of uneven length and a double reed).
The tarantella has Greek origins, apparently being related to the orgiastic rituals of Dionysus, the god of wine. Tarantella was also a type of trance performance used by women as an idiom of psycho-social distress. I common folk belief about the tarantella is that was induced by the bite of the spider Lycosa tarantual. More recently it has evolved into a folkloric dance. The musicians are known to adapt to the dancers, speeding up the music or slowing it down, as seems appropriate. Most of the victims are women who dance ecstatically until, exhausted, they collapse (supposedly cured). This behavior could be interpreted as one that provides a socially approved outlet for women whose self-expression and emotional expression often is restrained by local customs. The dance is also popular among gypsies, whether or not they have suffered a spider bite (English, 2000).
One gypsy told us that they were from Tauro Gioioa, a city on the western coast of Calabria. He mentioned that normally there would be many more gypsies, but a gypsy elder had just died and many compatriots have stayed behind in mourning. One of the reasons that gypsies gather at the sanctuary is that among its beautiful frescoes is one of a gypsy who was beatified for sainthood. However, many gypsies spent the night in the church, where they have the traditional duty of guarding the status.
On the day of the procession of the saints to their sanctuary, two of us had video cameras. We separated several times, but always found each other. Going off the main road we went up the side of a hill where several gypsies were waiting. We followed an elderly lady who was taking this "short cut" to a local cemetery. One member of our group spoke in Italian to this gypsy woman, observing that she crossed herself whenever our colleague mentioned the saints. Despite our informant's lament that sales were poor this year, we observed numerous ex voto being placed at the feet of the statues of the saints both while they were in the church and during the procession. The effigies were taken off after just a few minutes, as many more ex voto were coming and needed the space. Babies were also being handed to those working near the statues, who placed them briefly at the feet of the saints, probably as a blessing.
One of our photos clearly shows a band of gypsies at the very head of the procession. They were followed by a line of police that separated them from the other members of the procession including priests, a choral group, non-gypsy community members, and visitors joining the procession. The next group in the procession consisted of community members carrying the statues on a caravan consisting of a wooden lift, surrounded by a brass band. One of our members observed that the sacred and the profane were represented in the same procession, the former by the priests and the latter by the gypsies.
The streets on the way to the sanctuary were lined with booths where members of various ethnic groups were selling wares including ex voto. As the statues in the procession approached their destination, the Sanctuary of Cosimo and Damiano, the crowd appeared to be in a frenzy of excitation. There were many gypsies in the piazza area in front of the church playing tarantella on their musical instruments and dancing the tarantella as well. We worked our way into the church while the statues were still in front of the piazza. The church was filled of people, gypsies and non-gypsies alike, and there seemed to be comfortable mix of the groups.
The statues finally were brought into the church. The statues were turned around so they entered the church backward, allowing Cosmo and Damiano to stay facing the processional crowd that accompanied them to the sanctuary. The crowd appeared to be very exuberant and we felt the same mix of the sacred and the profane, hearing the tarantella playing and seeing it being danced as the statues of these Christian saints entered the church. Ex voto continued to be placed on the statues and were taken off just as quickly. Children continued to be lifted up to the statues, presumably for blessings. We saw that several priests were receiving confessions in as much "privacy" as was possible in a sanctuary already filled with people.
While this was an ancient rite of a Calabrese village, there was certainly an international flavor to the day. We met several African priests who were part of the Church of Nicola di Bari and who took part in the procession. There were also a number of African vendors selling wares along the procession route as well as many Afganistani, some of whom we met, living in asylum in the town.
In his classic book, Old Calabria, generally regarded as one of the finest travel books in the English language, Norman Douglas (1915/2001) comments that “A foreigner is at an unfortunate disadvantage; if he asks questions, he will only get answers dictated by suspicion or a deliberate desire to mislead” (p. 72). At the same time, Douglas felt that Calabrians were the “ideal prey for the quack physician; they will believe anything so long as it is strange and complicated” (p. 73). Insofar as the clergy are concerned, Douglas added, “they can keep people at a consistently low level of intelligence” (p. 73), and that “the intense realism of their religion is what still keeps it alive for the poor in spirit” (p. 74). Nevertheless, Douglas felt that the land itself had healing properties. He wrote, “A landscape so luminous, so resolutely scornful of accessories hints at brave and simple forms of expression; it brings us to the ground where we belong; it medicines to the disease of introspection” (p. 333).
Our experiences in Calabria these many decades since Douglas’ writing indicate that much has changed and that the same quaint picture of the land and its people could not be painted. Not only did we find that Calabrians were both embracing and adapting to the influx of modernization and social change, they were extremely hospitable to our presence and keen to inform us about many of the more obscured aspects of their surviving traditions.
The Shrine of Madonna dello Scoglio
During our 2003 sojourn in southern Italy, we paid two visits to the Madonna dello Scoglio shrine at Placanica in the hilly coastal region of Eastern Calabria. We had heard of Fratel Cosimo, who leads a grass roots spiritual community in the area, and who has gained an international reputation as a devout visionary. During our visits, we attended two evening worship sessions and were able to meet Cosimo and interview several members of his volunteer staff and congregation.
Cosimo Fragomeni was born in 1950 and from an early age was a dedicated Roman Catholic. As a boy, he was physically frail and suffered frequent bouts of illness. Nevertheless, his faith never wavered and he continued to lead a life of piety, periodically living as a hermit in the nearby hills. At the age of 18, Cosimo reported having had four visions in which the Virgin Mary, standing on a rock or scoglio, appeared to him. During the first of these visions, in 1968, the Madonna instructed him to build a shrine at the location in order "to bring people closer to God."
Shortly thereafter, Cosimo began building this shrine, which he named Madonna dello Scoglio (Madonna of the Rock), using funds from local donations. Cosimo also began to lead prayer and devotional sessions for pilgrims who placed their faith in his visionary experiences and messages. Cosimo had received little formal education and no seminary training or even Bible study; however, he was admitted to the lay order of the Franciscan brothers and was given the title of "Fratel."
In the following years, the shrine grounds and facilities have been expanded to accommodate increasing numbers of pilgrims. A foundation has been established for channeling donations from individuals and groups as well as secular agencies into projects that have expanded the shrine. We noted, in particular, the simplicity of the material environment of the angular construction made from concrete and sheet metal, the plastic chairs arranged into linear "pews," as well as the gravel aisles. The focal point of the shrine is the Madonna dello Scoglio itself, a life-sized white marble statue of Mary set within a rock that is roughly 12 feet (about 3.6 meters) high. Here, supplicants come to pray as well as to touch the sacred rock through the metal fencing that circumscribes it.
A small chapel with a slender spire sits just to the side of the shrine. A highlight of this chapel is a stunning painting of the Madonna, one that an artist painted following Fratel Cosimo's suggestions. Apparently, the artist had painted the body of the Madonna according to the indications of Fratel Cosimo and was about to begin with the face, but he found himself unable to paint her face. He simply could not work further. He put the painting aside, took a new canvas and began again by painting the body, but he could not do the face. He had the same problem with a third attempt on a new canvas and had to surrender: to paint the face of the Madonna was beyond his ability. Discouraged, he asked Fratel Cosimo what to do and was told, literally, “Don’t worry, the Madonna will think of it.” The following morning Cosimo came back and found the painting completed. However, the artist denied having worked on it during the previous evening, concluding that it was Heaven’s work. In any event, the resulting painting is regarded as an object of special devotion.
We were told that Fratel Cosimo and a community of about 60 volunteers preside over bi-weekly devotional services that attract anywhere from several hundred to over one thousand pilgrims. Special Masses are held from June to October, and we were informed that nearly 50,000 people attended a special Mass in May 2003. During the winter months, services at the shrine begin at 3:00PM, and during the summer at 4:30PM. The average service lasts about four hours and involves singing, praying, recitation of the rosary, testimonies, and concludes with a sermon and prayer from Cosimo.
During the early part of the service, Cosimo holds private meetings with 100 individuals, 90 of who had previously asked for an appointment by phone, and an additional 10 individuals who are chosen by lottery at the last minute. There was an ecclesiastical visitor during one of our visits; he was treated as an honored guest and led the congregation in prayer. We were told that he had come to attend another religious ceremony in the neighborhoods and, by chance, was staying at our hotel. We told him of Fratel Cosimo and he wanted to meet him to be able to make his own opinion. He had a personal meeting with Fratel Cosimo a day before the service and told us of his conviction that Fratel Cosimo does indeed lead a mystical life. That is why he came on the following day to attend the service. Fratel Cosimo's superiors in the Roman Catholic Church have forbidden him to conduct formal "healing" sessions, but he is allowed to pray with individuals afflicted with various ailments.
Indeed, Fratel Cosimo does not claim to be a "healer" or to emphasize healing as the focus of his work. Rather, the core of his message, as relayed to us by several members of his congregation, is that one must "open one's heart to Christ," and that can be best done through prayer. Of central importance is the belief that spiritual growth is more important than physical healing; if physical healing seems to occur, this is a sign of the deeper "miracle" that has occurred in one's heart. Nevertheless, many people come to Madonna dello Scoglio to seek help for physical ailments and relief from emotional distress.
Suffering seems to be a prominent theme in Cosimo's sermons; he takes the position that suffering is an important part of spiritual growth. Fratel Cosimo points out the suffering of Jesus and the sorrow of Mary, both of which brought light to the world. He asks his followers to make changes in their hearts through the enduring of their own suffering. He often alludes to his own suffering while doing God's work, such as spending time with distressed pilgrims. We noticed that Cosimo often shed tears as he led the congregation in prayer, and while reciting the rosary. A congregant told us that he always carries a rosary with him.
Another feature of this community is its non-dogmatic approach to belief and practice, one factor that led to scrutiny by Roman Catholic officials. Fratel Cosimo's "doctrine" does attend to the conventional roles of Mary, Jesus, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit. However, as described by a member of the community, Mary is seen as an intermediary "who takes you by the hand to God." Another depiction was of Mary as the "temple of God." Congregants pointed out that Fratel Cosimo is not dogmatic in his approach; rather, he emphasizes prayer as the primary vehicle for opening oneself to God beyond and ritual prescriptions. Although the ritual activities at Madonna dello Scoglio are in accord with Roman Catholic practice, they are much less formal. (Upon our return to the United States, a member of our group found Fratel Cosimo listed on a website titled, "Dangers of False Apparitions," apparently put together by a devoted but conservative Roman Catholic "defender of the faith.")
Some of our informants expressed their attraction to Cosimo and to this type of simplicity. Their enthusiasm bespoke of a kind of "getting down to the basics" of devotion, something they found liberating. For example, we chatted with a couple from Switzerland, "Hans" and "Bertha," who frequently visit Madonna dello Scoglio. Hans expressed his enthusiasm for worshipping at the shrine because in his daily life as a corporate executive, he could not discuss his spiritual feelings and beliefs with his colleagues. For him, coming to the shine is like "breaking out of the cage of mundane everyday life." Moreover, his wife professed that she is a "tried and true Protestant," yet, for her, Fratel Cosimo's message transcends the division between Christian denominations despite its Catholic bias. As a result, she now prefers to simply refer to herself as "a Christian."
Following Fratel Cosimo's sermons, congregants typically line up in procession, often with their children, to receive his blessings. At these times we noticed that many congregants, mainly women, would beckon aloud for his attention, calling his name excitedly and longingly, sometimes waving their hands or scarves eager to make eye contact with him or receive some gesture of acknowledgment. This behavior was very much like that of a group of fans waiting to receive a celebrity, but barely able to contain their excitement.
Occasionally, we witnessed individuals collapse on the ground, convulsing mildly. According to René Laurentin (1988), the French theologian well known for his expertise of visionary and supernatural phenomenon, these collapses are probably a sign of the “Holy Spirit” working in those people, some of whom attest to having experiences of deep liberation. The phenomenon differs from mere hysterical collapse, which also can, and does happen. It was apparent that the majority of congregants adored Fratel Cosimo and that many of them were deeply moved by this physical presence and proximity as well as by his public messages. Cosimo, however, eschewed any sense of celebrity. Instead, he projected a public disposition of pronounced meekness and piety, with a sense of reserve and 9shyness, but also one of sincerity of purpose, as well as attentiveness to a spiritual cause and a personal relationship with the Divine.
This type of relationship is suggestive of Cosimo's public role as a charismatic leader. Charles Lindholm (1992) has described charisma simply as "a certain quality of an individual personality by virtue of which he or she is considered extraordinary and treated as endowed with special power or at least specifically exceptional powers or qualities" (p. 289). The notion of charisma also embodies a sense of intensified emotion and excitement, in the extreme taking on physical manifestations such as the ecstatic episodes we witnessed. Cosimo did not engage in any ecstatic or overly manipulative behavior that we noticed; however, he was certainly viewed by congregants as a truly extraordinary individual who had been blessed with divine powers.
In this regard, Cosimo does not resemble the stereotypical charismatic leader. Rather, his charismatic properties emanate, arguably, from his embodying of central Catholic values and imagery. He embodies the ideals of piety, devotion, and self-denial in service of the Divine. His personage also encompasses the metaphorical image of Mary “the nurturing mother,” with whom he has a history of visionary experiences. Some congregants told us about Cosimo's reputed ability to bi-locate; these rumors, as well as the many reported healings associated with the shrine, add to his reputation as someone who has been touched with divine power and insight.
Although we could find no adequate scientific or clinical data supporting the reputed healing phenomena, these stories are prevalent in the lore of Fratel Cosimo and Madonna dello Scoglio. Many congregants that visit privately with Cosimo for prayer and counsel appear to achieve some degree of emotional comfort and alleviation of distress. Because psychological dispositions are concomitant with bodily states, often the "lifting" of distress can also positively affect bodily states, and vise versa.
Bertha told us that she has collected several cases of healings attributed to the Madonna. Two of these were cases of severe medically diagnosed heart disease. One case was a boy with a deformed spinal column. Another was a woman whose mental condition had not responded to 13 years of psychotherapy. One case was a woman with multiple sclerosis who is now able to walk (she left her wheelchair in a special room at the shrine that houses reminders of former disabling conditions of worshippers). The final case was a personal friend of Bertha's, a man who had been injured in a fitness center; reportedly, he made a complete recovery following a visit to the shrine.
During the first of our two visits to the shrine, a member of our group "won" the lottery and was able to meet privately with Fratel Cosimo. He reported that he talked with Cosimo about his daughter who was suffering from a congenital disease. He also asked Cosimo to bless a medal of St. Christopher. Our colleague was dealing with his own health problems at the time and when he mentioned this, Cosimo gave him a personal blessing. After the meeting, our colleague was tearful but expressed a sentiment of deep relief. Six months later, our colleague reported that his health problem had become more severe and had been diagnosed as degenerative. On the other hand, his daughter's condition had steadily improved. He also related that his niece had taken the St. Christopher's medal to her boyfriend's father who had been hospitalized and who was dying of a terminal disease. Apparently, he began to feel better after receiving the medal, and the nurses were surprised by his rebound. However, this improvement was only temporary.
The growing visibility and popularity of Fratel Cosimo and his work at Madonna dello Scoglio can be examined with respect to the broader issues of modernization and social change in Calabria. The region is one of the poorest in Italy, and has only recently embraced modernization. We often heard complaints from adults and elderly people in the small villages that dot the mountainous Calabrian interior that young people were moving to coastal towns and cities marked by better jobs and "more action," which is considered by many to be part of the modern life-style. We also learned that many immigrants were arriving to Calabria, a majority of them illegally from Eastern Europe, Africa, and South Asia. These changes, among others, contribute to the escalating uncertainties and anxieties about life, family, and community, and about the changing ideas and practices that new arrivals typically encounter.
New religious movements often play a significant role in allowing people to find ways to cope with the changes that immigration breeds. This is in contrast to established mainstream religion that does not seem to be as responsive to people's needs in the same way. However, Madonna dello Scoglio is not a new religious movement. Rather, it is best seen as a Christian renewal, deeply rooted in traditional Catholic faith. On the one hand, it offers a strong and growing spiritual following that is reinvigorating community and communal networks in the face of the fragmentation of traditional communal life. On the other hand, belief, practice, and faith themselves remain familiarly and intelligibly Catholic, yet also have been deconstructed and recreated into a more simplified and stripped down system that resonates with and is relevant to people's lives.
One possible interpretation points to the emphasis that Cosimo places on suffering, devotion, and transformation. These values are symbolized and idealized in Cosimo himself, and also in the message he imparts: suffering is important for spiritual growth; prayer is the vehicle for opening one's heart; transformation and healing are the possible results of prayer. These are basic themes in the lives of people experiencing change, and Cosimo embodies them, possibly in ways not articulated in mainstream venues of religious practice. That Roman Catholic authorities in the Vatican do not recognize Cosimo as a visionary has not impeded the growth of the community. Rather, we got the sense that the immediacy and relevance of interacting with Fratel Cosimo was a significant attraction for the congregants at the shrine.
After both of our visits to Madonna dello Scoglio, we were fortunate to be included in a small group of people who were invited to have a private audience with Cosimo. On one occasion, he blessed a crucifix worn by a member of our group. He began to weep, saying that he was aware that the owner of the crucifix had endured considerable suffering. On the other occasion, he was told that a member of our group had visited and written about folk healers and visionaries in various parts of the world. He asked, "Did you find that these people had anything in common." Our colleague responded, "They all spoke of the common bonds that unite humanity, despite their different worship practices." Fratel Cosimo immediately replied, "That is my belief as well."
Edward Lear, the humorist, was a notable visitor who adored Calabria. He wrote, “No sooner is the word uttered than a new world arises before the mind’s eye—torrents, fastness, all the prodigality of mountain scenery—caves, brigands..., horrors and magnificence without end” (in Noland, 2001, p. 69).
Our group could resonate with Lear's comments, especially after interviewing townspeople who still practice folkloric healing, participating in the Feast Day of Cosimo and Damiano, and spending two evenings with Fratel Cosimo. Perhaps the land itself provides the ground for whatever healing properties are attributed to the area's folkloric remedies and religious rituals.
*This investigation was supported by the Chair for the Study of Consciousness, Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center, San Francisco, California.
**Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center, San Francisco
***Departments of Anthropology and Cognitive Science, University of California, San Diego
****Northeast Community Center for Mental Health/ Mental Retardation, Philadelphia
*****Independent Documentary Filmmaker, Rome
Binde, P. (1999). Bodies of vital matter: Notions of life force and transcendence in traditional Southern Italy. Gothenburg, Sweden: University of Gothenburg.
Crawford, F.M. (1901). Rulers of the South: Sicily, Calabria, Malta (2 vols.). London: Macmillan.
Danubio, M.E., Piro, A., & Tagarelli, A. (1999). Endogamy and inbreeding since the 17th century in past malarial communities in the Province of Cosenza (Calabria, Southern Italy). Annals of Human Biology, 26, 473-488.
De Giacomo, G. (1899). Il popolo di Calabria [The people of Calabria]. Trani, Italy: Ed. Vecchi.
Douglas, N. (1915/2001). Old Calabria. London: Phoenix Press. (Original work published 1915)
English, S. (1993). Effects of mass emigration on the social ecology of Calabrese territory: Anthropological changes and psychopathological symptoms (in Italian). In V. Micco & P. You (Eds.), Boundarypassages, ethnopsychiatry, and migrations (pp. 53-67). Naples: Liguori.
English, S. (2000). The rite, the part, and the belief: Reflections on the Sacred One in the Calabrese collective imaginario (in Italian). In C. M. Helium, S. Ferraro, & S. English, A long journey a year: Between belief and pity in the Calabria of the Jubilee (pp. 221-233). Catanzao, Italy: Instant Editions.
Freeman, L. (2004). Mosby's complementary & alternative medicine: A research-based approach. St. Louis, MO: Mosby.
Genovse, F. (1924). La malaria in La Provincia di Reggio Calabria [Malaria in the Province of Reggio Calabria]. Florence, Italy: Ed. Vallecchi.
Hufford, D. (1995). Cultural and social perspectives of alternative medicine: Background and assumptions. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 1(1), 53-61.
Keates, J. (1915/2001). Introduction. In N. Douglas, Old Calabria (pp. 7-13). London: Phoenix Press.
Laurentin, R. (1988). Learning from Medjugorje: What is the truth? Gaithersburg, MD: Word Among Us Press.
Lindholm, C. (1992). Charisma, crowd psychology, and altered states of consciousness. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, 16, 187-310.
McGinn, B. (1985). The Calabrian Abbot: Joachim of Fiore in the history of Western thought. New York: Macmillan.
Noland, D. (2001, June). Lear—ing. Sky, pp. 63-69. (Original work published 1956)
O'Connor, B.B., Calabrese, C., Cardena, E., Eisenberg, D.,
Fincher, J., Hufford, D.J., Jonas, W.B., Kaptchuck, T., Martin, S.C., Scott, A.W., & Zhang, X. (1997). Defining and describing complementary and alternative medicine. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 3 (2), 49-57.
Orlando, A. (1998). In Calabria. Soveria Manelli: Arti Grafiche Rubbettino Editore.
Ramage, C.T., & Clay, E. (1987). Ramage in south Italy. The nooks and highways of Italy: Wanderings in search of its ancient remains and modern superstitions. Chicago: Academy Chicago.
Simorto, P. (1990). The evil eye and the horn. Rome: Laruffa Editore.
White, A.D. (1898). Warfare of science with theology. New York: Appleton.
Create your own unique website with customizable templates.