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Acadiana helping to keep traditional healing alive in Louisiana - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

Acadiana helping to keep traditional healing alive in Louisiana

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LAFAYETTE, La. -

Before hospitals, before doctors, before modern medicine, there were healers.

For centuries countless traditional healing techniques have been passed down to each new generation, before dwindling down to the rare mention of traditional medicine in present-day America. However, a small few in Acadiana are determined to keep those traditions alive.

"There's been this artificial war between western and traditional medicine, and I don't think it's necessary, to be honest. Each of us has our strengths, each modality has its strengths. If I break an arm, I'm going to the ER," said licensed massage therapist and healer Megan Assaf.

In the event of many other, sometimes less severe, health issues or ailments Assaf says she would likely choose a different treatment route than a hospital or walk-in clinic. Unlike many countries in Asia and Africa, traditional healing and medicine can be hard to come by in the U.S.

"But we're lucky in the south, especially in the Acadiana region, because we have still as part of our history a lineage of Traiteurs and other sort of folk healers or spiritual healers who recognize that there are such things as spiritual sicknesses. And who also still carry the medicine of how to work with that and release that," said Assaf.

Becca Begnaud, who lives here in Acadiana, is one of the very few Traiteurs that still exist today.

Traiteurs, or faith healers, originated in Native Creole Louisiana. Their rituals are traditionally passed down by other healers.

"And once you learn some type of healing, everything you add you add to what you already are. So basically, I'm a Catholic. And then, I learned something called Reiki, but I'm still a Catholic who does Reiki now. Then, I was trained in something called healing touch," said Begnaud.

Assaf specializes in women's health abdominal massage, many times helping women achieve results that she says modern medicine wasn't able to.
               
"They'll find me for menstrual cramps, also infertility. They'll find me for either wanting to enhance natural fertility, or they'll find me because they're at the end of the road. They've done all of the IVF, all the IUI, all of the procedures and expert work that they can in the Western model. They're at a dead end. They're desperate to have a child, they deserve to have a child, they want to have a child and they're willing to go outside of the box in order to seek help for that," said Assaf.

Begnaud's practices offer a more spiritual experience as a remedy for simple symptoms like ear and toothaches--to more serious health issues such as tumors or cancer.

"People come to me for what they need, or what they perceive I have to offer. So, everybody comes for a different reason. If you understand energy work, then you come for energy work and I'll balance your energy and clear you shakras. If you're a Catholic and you know there are Traiteurs, then I do work as a Traiteur because I've received the Traiteur prayer. My grandfather was a Traiteur," said Begnaud.

The scope of their practices overlap as much as they differ; all of them just as vital to keeping traditional healing alive for the next generation.

"It works. I continue to do it because I get what I need when I give to you. I didn't start to do it because I wanted to be a healer. I started it because I didn't want to die from cancer," said Begnaud.

"There are people now all across the country, and there are trainings happening all across the world now. It's coming back and I'm glad. We almost lost it. We were really lucky. It's still here and now we have a chance to own it for ourselves," said Assaf.

Most healers, like Begnaud and Assaf, recognize the importance of modern medicine and say although traditional healing practices are a good supplement, they all agree regular visits to medical doctors are critical.

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