Limpia or Limpieza (a Spanish word that literally means cleansing) is a common form of healing in Curanderismo and can be best described as rituals that involve “spiritual cleansing” or “energetic cleansing.” It’s sometimes also referred to as “mal limpieza,” which means “purge of evil” or “cleansing of evil.”
The goal of a Limpia or Limpieza is to cleanse the person (or even an environment or house) from the influence of negative energies and/or malevolent spirits that cause various physical, emotional, and/or spiritual ailments, such as bodily pains and afflictions, traumas, anger, fear, bad dreams, resentment, anxiety, or sadness.
The treatment may consist of various features: herbs or objects that are swiped (barrida), beaten, rubbed, or brushed over the body of the patient, herbal concoctions or fumes that need to be ingested, burned, or inhaled, heart straightening talks (pláticas aka counselling talks), the use of explicit items in specific ceremonies (such as eggs, candles, amulets, and/or a crucifixes), and prayers, but also more common attributes that are brought into the treatment, like salt, sugar, cornmeal, water, and soil, to name some of a vast array of elements.
After a Limpieza the materials that were used during the treatment are usually disposed of (or ritually cleansed themselves, if possible) because it’s thought that the negative energies were transferred to them.
Although each Curandero (or Curandera, for the female healer) has their own style in performing Limpiezas, the principal idea behind a treatment is to clear the person or environment of (the influence of) negative energies or malicious entities, bring back balance, harmony, and health, and invite the person’s lost or wandering spirit (soul) to take its home back into the body.