Italian Vernacular Healing and the Enchanted Worldview

Sabina Magliocco, California State University-Northridge

When Italians came to North America, they brought with them a panoply of vernacular healing traditions, from herbal cures to techniques that were more spiritual or magical. Cunning traditions, as they are called, are part of a larger magico-religious worldview that was, and remains, deeply embedded in the everyday life of rural Italy. These healing practices were tied to rites of passage, the agro-pastoral cycle, the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar; and the most ordinary aspects of day-to-day life. This presentation examines some Italian cunning traditions in the context of this enchanted worldview, and asks what became of them in New World communities.