Who was Elena Avila?
Elena Avila was a nurse, a poet, a playwright, and a curandera. A curandera is a traditional healer who uses herbs, rituals, prayers, and counseling to treat physical and spiritual ailments.
Avila was born in 1944 in El Paso, Texas, to a Mexican-American family. She grew up in a bilingual and bicultural environment, where she learned about the folk remedies and superstitions of her ancestors. She also developed a passion for literature and theater, and wrote poetry and plays since she was a child. She studied nursing and psychiatric nursing, and worked as a nurse for over 20 years. She also became interested in alternative medicine, and studied with various teachers and mentors in the field of curanderismo.
What did she accomplish?
Avila was the author of the national bestseller Woman Who Glows in the Dark: A Curandera Reveals Traditional Aztec Secrets of Physical and Spiritual Health, published in 1999. In this book, she shared her personal and professional experiences as a curandera, and explained the principles and practices of curanderismo. She also offered advice and guidance on how to achieve balance and harmony in one’s life, and how to heal from various illnesses and traumas.
Avila also wrote poetry, plays, and gave lectures throughout the United States. She was a recipient of several awards and honors, such as the New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, the New Mexico Endowment for the Humanities Award, and the National Association of Hispanic Nurses Award. She was also a founding member of the National Association of Curanderas and Curanderos, and a board member of the National Latino Behavioral Health Association.
How did she die?
Avila died on January 1, 2011, at the age of 66. The official cause of death was not disclosed, but according to her family and friends, she had been battling cancer for several years. She passed away peacefully at her home in Albuquerque, surrounded by her loved ones.
Avila’s death was a shock and a loss for the curanderismo community and the public. She left behind a legacy of healing and wisdom that will not be forgotten. She was a woman who glowed in the dark, and who illuminated the lives of many people with her compassion and grace.