A War of Witches: A Journey Into the Underworld of the Contemporary Aztecs

Timothy J. Knab, Author, T. J. Knab, Author
Timothy J. Knab, Author, T. J. Knab, Author HarperOne $22 (224p) ISBN 978-0-06-251264-2
Reviewed on: 05/29/1995
Release date: 06/01/1995
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-8133-3387-8
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-0-06-251265-9
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The soul of a child has been seized by the Lords of the netherworld, and anthropologist Knab, as an apprentice curandero (healer), undertakes to restore it. Tutored by two elderly healers whose trust he had won during 10 years of visits to their Mexican village in the high sierra near Puebla, Knab descends alone into a nearby cave where, with tobacco smoke, incense, prayers and incantations, he contacts the Lords. He must also reach them in dreams, whose startling content provides leads not only to the child's condition but to the history of the community's murderous witches. In this and other cures he undertook (some with the aid of modern medicine and nutrition), he probes the vibrant ancient Aztec cosmology and its healing and hexing powers. Speaking Spanish and Nahuat gave him access to this village's culture that outsiders would lack. More gripping than fiction, Knab's account describes only what he saw, heard and learned, his conclusion being that ``I still do not... know what it all means.'' 30,000 first printing; author tour. (June)
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