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Outside a grand colonial cathedral in el Zócalo, the historic center of Mexico City, you can find men in feathered headdresses and beaded garments performing pre-Hispanic spiritual cleanses on tourists and down-on-their-luck locals. The Catholic church just behind them sits on the site of a fourteenth-century Aztec pyramid that once featured four sloped terraces and two shrines. Despite the tangled history of the two belief systems, they now coexist in the square; it’s not uncommon to find a churchgoer signing the cross as they head toward a healer for a fifteen-minute herb-and-incense “limpia.” Much of Mexico, where I’ve lived for the past four years, is like this, a blend of Spanish and Indigenous traditions that results in a constant reminder of the country’s colonial past. In…
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