Dirt Chronicles Part 9: Healing Dirt

April 25, 2012

Tomorrow is our dirt/earth party at the Academy of Sciences, so we figured it’s about time for a little update of the Dirt Chronicles. This time we’re exploring the magical powers of dirt around the world! While clay has been used as medicine by indigenous peoples for ages, the first recorded use is traced back to ancient Mesopatamia and Egypt, where people would consume clay pills and use mud to cure and prevent all kinds of ailments. All cultures have turned to the earth for natural solutions to health problems- from mud baths, masks, and packs to clay consumption and collection, it seems like dirt really doesn’t hurt!

People still flock to special locations where the earth is rich in minerals and curative powers. These powers are often tied to religion, like the dirt from the Santuario de Chimayo in New Mexico, a yearly pilgrimage site for thousands of Catholics filled with alters, candles, and the crutches of healed pilgrims. Other sites are said to be linked the supernatural, like the Chilca Lagoon in Peru, whose mud is said to be powered by UFOs! And places like the Burgas Lakes near the Black Sea in Bulgaria, are salty local hangouts for those looking to be cured.


Images via Enrique Castro-MendívilAntoni Georgiev, & David Teter.

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