Heilige Jungfrauen, Krankheiten und wilde Geister: Indianische Wallfahrten nach El Quinche, Ecuador
Curare 26.2003:81-94

##Holy virgins, illnesses, and dangerous spirits: Indigenous pilgrimages to El Quinche, Ecuador
El Quinche, the most important sanctuary of the Holy Virgin in the highlands of Ecuador, represents not only a religious, but also a medical institution that occupies in the case histories of Indian patients a similar place as the traditional healers. This equivalence is not without reason: The pilgrimage contains also in practice many elements of the rituals of Ecuadorian shamans. In the indigenous cosmology the Holy Virgin is closely related to the spirits of rocks, mountains, springs and waterfalls. In conclusion the pilgrimage is understood as an act of reciprocity between the human and the spirit world: As with shamanic healing it represents the exact complement to an etiology which is based on the concept of iilness as lost equilibrium.##

Keywords: Otavalenos, pilgrimage, health seeking behavior, medical pluralism, Christianization, spirits, shamanism