Tag Archives: massage

Lumi Lumi/ Tui Na Massage

Informant Information 
Nationality: Filipino American 
Occupation: Teacher 
Residence: California
Date of Performance/Collection: Apr 23, 2022
Primary Language: English 

My informant is my mentor who is Filipino and Hawaiian and during one of our phone conversations, we talked about Filipino folk medicine/massages.

S- We do a type of massage and it uses taping these two thin sticks, two tan sticks you held open the pores of the body so you tap it on to the skin of the body and so the person lays on their stomach with their back exposed and you would think someone’s whipping them with the sticks but what it’s actually doing is helping get the toxins to come to the surface like beating. There’s– there’s a guava oil that’s rubbed down your back in your legs and your back your neck and you lay out in the sun until it starts to open your pores, and then they tap you as if you’re playing a drum, up and down your back real thin sticks so it isn’t– it isn’t hitting hard, it’s more of a whipping the skin to bring the toxins to the surface other than fatty tissues and then all that guava that is put on you turns black, then you— then you go into a stream or river and wash it off but all that all the toxins in the body are brought up in the guava is the stabilizer in holds the toxins.

This massage reminds me of an ionic foot massage where a person places their feet in a footbath filled with water and a probe is placed in the water that draws out the toxins. After a little more research, I learned this massage is also done to treat children with stomach problems and soothe pregnant women. 

Spy, Pencil-circleSummer, et al. “What Is Lomi Lomi Massage?” What Is Lomi Lomi Massage? | Lomi Lomi | Good Spa Guide, 6 May 2016, https://goodspaguide.co.uk/features/lomi-lomi-massage.

Ways to Induce Labor


My informant, RW, is my mother. She was a labor and delivery nurse in a Dallas hospital in the 1990s. I asked her to tell me if there were any superstitions or rituals she learned working as a nurse. She told me there were lots of different ideas about how to induce labor. This piece was collected during an informal interview at home.


Main Text:

RW: “I learned a lot of this during my nursing residency at Parkland hospital. And there’s a whole giant hispanic population there, and there’s lots of things they do to induce labor. Well the midwives will tell you that perineal massage with olive oil, or any kind of essential oil will help. Um… you know rose hips, drinking tea with rose hips will induce labor. Um… of course, any time on a full moon, if you’re lucky enough to do that, will help. You know, walking obviously helps. Sex helps. Um… oh nipple massage or stimulation, that helps. And because that actually does make your body produce pitocin, on that one. There’s some things that the hispanic women would do… weird things like laying metal spoons across their belly. Not sure why they thought that would help, but…”



Working in a labor and delivery unit, it’s not surprising that my mom picked up lots of folk medicine surrounding how to induce labor. As she mentioned, some of it has been scientifically proven. However, there’s also probably an element of wanting to do what you know culturally, or what has been repeated by your own mother. Childbirth can be stressful, and having rituals that your family has said would help may help women to relax and calm down more than any medical effect it may have. This can be shown because, as RW said, many of this practices are associated with a specific culture.

Mexican Egg Massage

Informant Bio: Informant is a friend and fellow business major.  He is a junior at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business.  His family is from Mexico but he has lived in Southern California for nearly all of his life.


Context: I was talking to Fabian about Mexican stories and folklore.  He shared with me the following superstition that is prominent in his family’s village where his grandmother still lives.


Item: “If someone is feeling bad, not always, but sometimes.  What they do is they get this massage with an egg that has been dipped in holy water.  They just kind of rub it on your back, arms and stuff.  Then they make the sign of the cross on your back, chest and forearms.  It’s supposed to be a blessing kind of thing.  Once you’re done, you crack the egg in a cup of water.  When you do it, the egg, which has been shaken from being rolled around your body, has a very opaque yolk which kind of represents the evil from your body.  The yolk is then released from the egg, and, supposedly the evil, which is contained in that opaque yolk, is then released from the body and dispelled into the water.  This is usually done by older women.  There are some people that have a lot of knowledge/spiritual energy to them that perform a lot of these massages for people in the villages.  A lot of the older women – the grandmothers – mostly know how to do it.”


Informant Analysis: Many superstitions in Mexico involve direct contact and touching using crosses, since Mexico is such a religious place.


Analysis: This superstition seems to involve the idea of contagious magic, the idea that things that have been in direct contact can have influence and interact with each other.  The informant’s comment that many superstitions involve direct contact and touching seems to reinforce that Mexican beliefs heavily involve contagious magic.  It makes sense that Crosses are used due to the deeply religious nature of the country.


The opaque egg yolk symbolizing the presence of evil brings about the idea of order being good and disorder being bad.  Something being jumbled up represents disorder, something that civilization and society has tried to eliminate.


The fact that older women usually perform this ritual exhibits the very powerful position that they have in Mexican familial hierarchy, as they are revered as being knowledgeable and beyond reproach by anyone else in the family.  The informant recounted a time when he yelled at his grandmother and was ostracized from his extended family for months after.  It is possible to disobey/yell at other family members, but the grandmother is off limits, showing the position they hold in Mexican familial structures.