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Putting the psycho in
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Men who stare at goats
By the powers of tinfoil

Pachita (19??-1979)[1] was a Mexican "psychic" surgeon who claimed that after being possessed by the spirit of the Aztec emperor Cuauhtémoc and going into a trance she was able to perform miraculous healings in a similar way to psychic surgeons in the Philippines, except she used a rusty hunting knife instead of just using bare hands. Her exploits in English-speaking countries are mostly known through Johanna Michaelsen, who after visiting the theologian Francis Schaeffer in Switzerland was convinced that Pachita was using demonic powers to do her acts and became a paranoid fundamentalist.

Multiple choice origin story[edit]

Just like the Joker in the Killing Joke, Pachita seemed to prefer a multiple-choice origin story. According to Alejandro Jodorowsky, Pachita first became possessed and performed psychic surgery when she was only 10 years old,[2] while according to Johanna Michaelsen, she did so in her late twenties.[3] Why would someone who was sincerely interested in helping people lie about her origins?

Inconsistent wonders[edit]

Johanna Michaelsen asserted that every time there was a surgery, there would be a magic light that made the area around the room super clear[4] (pretty convenient plot device, don't you think?), yet others claim there was only dim candlelight and that it was so dark anything could have happened, including fraud,[5] while Pachita herself claimed that strong lights damage organs (guess that's why surgeons don't use strong lights, right?).[6] Some claimed that Pachita could literally create organs out of nothing,[7] while others claimed that she needed to buy extra parts from the city morgue[8] (yummy!). In addition, as one might guess there were quite common accusations that she was a fraud playing around with animal guts.[9] One really would think that Pachita, if she did have psychic powers, would perform them more consistently. Why, even Alejandro Jodorowsky, a total crank who seems to believe every superstition under the sun, believes that Pachita was using tricks.[10] You know you're out there if you've lost even Jodorowsky!

Attempted testing of abilities[edit]

Pachita would relate a few stories involving investigators testing her abilities. In typical psychic fashion, she found ways to deflect her inabilities. Some researchers asked her to find a sick person with her mental abilities; she flat out refused. Others took her to the Zone of Silence [an area of urban myth similar to the Bermuda Triangle but in the middle of the desert] to see if she could find anything. She “found a tortoise and brought it.” She said they searched for searching’s sake and they’re never satisfied with what they find. Another time, her friend took her to some family property to look for something that was buried. When she arrived, she saw that the land was full of dug up holes. She was asked to see if she sensed anything on the property. She didn’t report anything. She’s been asked to speak at conferences but refuses because she doesn’t want to be made to look like a fool. Her excuse? “I leave and brother [Cuauhtémoc] arrives. I’m not even aware…” [11]

Death of Charles Mingus[edit]

Just like Andy Kaufman, the jazz musician Charles Mingus decided on visiting a psychic healer. In this case it was Pachita in order to fix his Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. After the surgery there was no sign it ever took place, no scratches, marks nor one drop of blood, no signs that there ever was anything done on Mingus. At the same time, Pachita insisted on prescribing bizarre diets like snails. As his family would say, we all knew she was a fraud.[12]

Theological problems[edit]

If Michaelsen's description of Pachita really was accurate, then we would run into several problems for the fundamentalist who believes it. Namely, she asserted the force behind Pachita (whom she claimed was demonic) brought a dead boy back to life,[13] then it would mean the Bible is wrong? As wasn't one of Jesus' major demonstrations of his divinity him coming back to life? If devils can raise the dead what's so special about Jesus doing it?


  2. Dance of Reality: A Psychomagical Autobiography by Alejandro Jodorowsky (2014) Park Street Press. ISBN 1620552817.
  3. The Beautiful Side of Evil by Johanna Michaelsen (1982) Harvest House Publishers. ISBN 0890813221. page 122.
  4. Beautiful Side of Evil,Johanna Michaelsen, 1982, page 92
  6. "Subliminal Body: Shamanism, Ancient Theater, and Ethnodrama" by Gabriel Weisz In: Primitivism and Identity in Latin America, edited by Erik Camayd-Freixas & José Eduardo González (2000). University of Arizona Press. ISBN 0816520453. page 216.
  7. The Source Field Investigations: The Hidden Science and Lost Civilizations Behind the 2012 Prophecies by David Wilcock (2012) Dutton. ISBN 0452297974.
  8. "Subliminal Body: Shamanism, Ancient Theater, and Ethnodrama" by Gabriel Weisz In: Primitivism and Identity in Latin America, edited by Erik Camayd-Freixas & José Eduardo González (2000). University of Arizona Press. ISBN 0816520453. page 216.
  12. Better Git It in Your Soul: An Interpretive Biography of Charles Mingus, Krin Gabbard, 2016, page 107
  13. Beautiful Side of Evil, Johanna Michaelsen, 1982, page 119