Among the Inca there was good magic and evil magic. Men who practiced evil magic were hated and feared, and if a man accused of sorcery proved to be guilty, he and his family were killed. To bring sickness or death to an enemy the sorcerer made an image of him and spit on it or burned it. This, the sorcerer hoped, would harm the enemy or kill him. A sorcerer could plant a foreign object in a person's body, the Inca believed, and he could turn a person's insides upside down.

 Disease could be cured only by magic and by prayer, since it was caused by sorcery. The plants used in curing were numerous, and today many of them have been found to possess healing properties. The Indians, however, did not know about chemicals. They thought the plants had the magic with which to cure an illness.

A curer had to be a diviner. By praying he divined where the sickness lay and then proceeded to cure it by taking it out of the patient's body. Curing power sometimes came to a person who had been ill and recovered from the illness. To others the curing power came in a dream or a vision. Often, before treating a patient, a curer made a sacrifice to honor his vision and thus gain its cooperation.

With much practice many of the curers were able to diagnose an illness, and oftentimes they used the right herbs to cure it. Some even treated broken bones by putting them in casts, and some sawed off broken arms and legs and did it so skill-fully that the patient survived. Skulls were incised while the patient was drunk with chicha, and some of these patients survived.

Curers also used hypnosis. It is told that a special room was cleaned and sprinkled with corn flour. The sick person was brought into the room, hypnotized, his body cut open, and the object that was causing the pain removed. The curers were paid with gold, silver, clothing, ornaments, and gifts of produce. Occasionally, after a diviner had declared a disease incurable, a man attempted to cure himself by sacrificing his own child. This was the most precious offering a father could make. Since the god wanted a human life, perhaps he would take the child and spare the man, on whose sup-port the rest of the family depended. The Inca believed that when the emperor became ill, his sickness was due to the people's sin. The Inca prayed and confessed and purified themselves, so their emperor would get well.


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