Saludadores and Witch-Finders
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The presence of healers known as saludadores both within and without the city walls means we have to look at the twin concepts of sorcery and witchcraft (see Chapter 6) from a new perspective. While, strictly speaking, witchcraft was a rural phenomenon, it is equally true that plenty of people saw an opportunity to profit from the beliefs associated with it away from its home environment. Indeed, the success of the occupation of saludador (a means of earning a living closely linked to urban chicanery) was based not only on curing the sick but also on pointing to the possible causes of disease, and in particular on discerning the supposed evil influence of witches.’ There is an obvious complementarity between the myths of witches and of saludadores: while the former were said to be able to harm their fellow men by their will alone, channelled through their gaze, the latter were thought to be able to restore people to health principally through their words, breath or saliva. If evil emanated from a witch’s eye, its cure was to be found in a saludador’s mouth.4
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- 2.Francisco de Quevedo, ‘Sueno del infiemo’ or ‘Las zahûrdas de Pluton’, in Desvelos soholientos y discursos de verdades sohadas, descubridores de abusos, vitios y engahos en todos los oficios y estados del mundo, Barcelona, 1629.Google Scholar
- 4.See Robin Briggs, Witches and Neighbours. The Social and Cultural Context of European Witchcraft, London, Harper Collins, 1996, pp. 171–195Google Scholar
- 5.See Luis Sanchez Granjel, Aspectos medicos de la literatura antisupersticiosa espanola de los siglos XVI y XVII, Salamanca, Universidad de Salamanca, 1953, p. 66.Google Scholar