Maria Ramos is a shaman in Lima, Peru, a city that is ninety percent Roman Catholic. Ramos has a particular specialty in the dark arts. She takes a black guinea pig and rubs it over the head of worshippers in order to “cleanse” and “purify” them during New Year celebrations.
The guinea pig is native to Peru, where the animal is used for food rather than for friendship (more than 65 million guinea pigs are consumed for food in Peru each year).
On New Year’s Eve, people attend the Feria de los Deseos, also known as the “Fare of Wishes.” It is here that hundreds line up to be blessed by the rodent.
In addition to general blessings, the rodents can also allegedly diagnose illnesses by “marking” a diseased spot on the body. People also will have their fortune read by the shaman, who receives the spiritual insight from the guinea pig she’s holding.
Ramos told the press, “A cleansing with the black guinea pig to take out the bad energies, the bad vibes, has always been done by our ancestors.”
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