Josie Casteneda Curendera

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Mixes An Ancient Tradition With Modern Ways

Self-healing with herbs has come a long way since we bought coltsfoot and comfrey from the ’70s New Age mecca Aphrodisia on Bleecker Street, self-diagnosing our maladies, while dabbling in Transcendental Meditation and doing yoga on the tennis courts at Grand Central Station.

Much has changed, but a thriving D.I.Y. spirit is fueling people who want to de-stress and de-tox more naturally. Josie Casteneda is leading one such movement. Born in Mexico City, she does work based on Curanderia, the ancient spiritual and herbal healing art rooted in Latin American folk traditions, along with meditation and yoga.I went to her workshop “Folk Remedies on the Spiritual Journey” in Brooklyn one Saturday to learn what this modern curandera is offering in the new millennium.

Josie, an effervescent thirty-something woman, greeted me warmly, along with her long-haired chihuahuas Nena and Memin. We sat down in her cozy, earth-red kitchen, lined floor-to-ceiling with sleek, white Ikea cabinets that brim with apothecary bottles bearing her charming CuranderaNYC logo.

Chatting like friends meeting over lattes, we soon got down to business. What issues did I want to address? The usual suspects, I told her: energy levels that can spiral out of control and scatter my focus into piles of pick-up-stix, resulting in panic and depression.

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One-on-one interaction is important, as Josie strongly relies on intuition; her family history includes the gifts of shapeshifting and clairvoyance. She began to choose ingredients known to help, while picking up some vibes I didn’t know I was emitting. For instance: I was a vinegar, not oil infusion candidate. How did she know I drink two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar every morning instead of coffee? Later, she explained that as she headed for the oil, a visual popped into her head that told her to choose vinegar.

During the course of the three-hour workshop, she would concoct and explain what each one was and why it was chosen: Tulsi and reishi mushrooms to counter stress, ruby crystal for heart-opening, plus some general all-purpose healers like cayenne and garlic. I left with four hefty jars: a crystal essence remedy, a tea blend, an herbal and alcohol tincture to help with meditation