Every March a gathering of brujos takes place on Cerro Mono Blanco (White Monkey Hill), just north of Catemaco town. Mexico has thousands of witches, warlocks, shamans, herbalists, seers, healers, psychics and fortune-tellers, whose belief system blends Catholicism with ancient rites and practices. The thirteen brujos of Catemaco, who call themselves “the Brothers”, are acknowledged as the high priests of the trade.

These days, shamanism is big business in Catemaco. Many brujos have websites and toll-free numbers over which they sell long-distance spells, and in town you’ll be pestered by their agents. By no means all of those claiming shamanistic powers are the real thing, so if you do want a consultation take advice from people locally, and be sure to know what you’re getting and how much you’ll be paying for it. The rituals can be fascinating – but they can also be theatrical flim-flam, designed to empty your wallet rather than expand your consciousness.

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