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MEXICO: Spiritualism

Linda Nyqvist dismisses Mexican spiritualism as of little importance: "Kaja Finkler's book is Spiritualist Healers in Mexico: successes and failures of alternative therapeutics. She has also written some articles about this, which may have appeared in the American Anthropologist. Spiritualism is a very minor movement, largely confined to Mexico City", On the other hand Paola Jeannete Vera BŠez sends a long account in Spanish, of which here is an English summary. Spiritualism began in Mexico in 1866 with the rise of an ex-semarian, Roque Rojas Esparaza, who proclaimed himself the true Mexican Messiah, calling himself "the Strong Rock of Israel" and the reincarnation of Elijah. He founded the Mexican Patriarchal Church of Elijah (IMPE), whose doctrine was based on the Apocalypse. When Roque Rojas died, his church split up. His widow, Guadalupe Arias Melando founded in the state of Hidalgo the Israelite Regenerated Church, which resumed Catholic practices. IMPE was taken over by a woman priest, Fernanda Trejo Jacome, and at her death by Asuncion Lopexcano Valverde, who proclaimed herself co-redeemer with Elijah. The Spiritualists broke up, the main church being the Marianist Trinitarian Spiritualists, who stress the cult of the Virgin Mary and the Trinity. This group has temples throughout Mexico, both in the cities and in the countryside. In Puebla for example there are at least five big temples.

They have sessions in which, by communicating with the Divinity, the doctrine reaches the people. There is also "development work" in which the power of the spirit imparts to the people the gift of healing, counsel and teaching. Proselytism is carried on mainly by healing people in serious need of medical care. The spiritualists devoted to healing belong mostly to native tribes in the north of Mexico and the Southwest of the United States. For more details, see Melquiades Martinez Salvador, "Ethos y cosmovision entre los espiritualistas", a paper presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology, Santa Fe, 1989, and Ortiz Echaniz, Silvia, "Origen, desarrollo y caracteristicas del espiritualismo en Mexico", America Indigena, vol. XXXIX (2979), number 1, pp. 147-170.

Ronald Hilton - 7/24/02