Jacob Silberberg / Panos
At the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Lagos, Pastor T.B. Joshua absolves a woman of her sins, part of an effort to cure her of skin disease. People come to the church from all over Africa to seek treatment for afflictions like AIDS, cancer and infertility.
Ivan Kashinsky / Aurora
A yachac, or shaman, performs a water ritual on a man in a spring near Cotacachi during an indigenous celebration. The water is believed to wash away bad energy and purify the soul. When done before a fiesta, the ritual gives people the energy needed to dance for days.
John Stanmeyer / VII
Balinese Hindus go into deep trance on Peti Tenget Beach in Bali, part of a ritual known as Melasti, a purifying ceremony that prepares not only the individual but the entire community for the new year. It is the holiest event on the calendar in Bali, where Hindus are known for their elaborate spiritual practices.
Axel M. Cipollini / Aurora
In this candle ceremony, known as the velacio’n, the patient lies on an oracolo, a drawing of esoteric symbols made on the ground with talcum, surrounded by candles and fruit, and is showered with flower petals meant to impart energy.
David McLain / Aurora
Twice a year, the faithful come to Espinazo, a small dusty village in Northeast Mexico that is the birthplace of El Nino Fidencio, one of the country’s most revered healers. Although he died in the 1940’s, worshippers believe that certain priests, known as Materias, can channel his healing gifts. On his birth and death days, tens of thousands give thanks at his gravesite and seek healing in the local mud baths.
New Mexico, USA; Lourdes, France
(l. to r.) Karl Lehmann / Lonely Planet Images; Dieter Telemans / Panos The dirt at Santuario de Chimayo, left, north of Santa Fe, is said to have healing powers, not unlike the water which flows from the spring near the site where Catholics believe the Virgin Mary appeared to a peasant girl in 1858.
Bartek Wrzesniowski / WpN
A boy touches a rock in the town of Lac that is believed to heal sickness. The rock’s powers are linked to a Christian pilgrim named Shna Ndo, who passed through the town during a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and performed miracles.
Yann Mingard / Panos
Shamans in the remote Tuva region of Siberia are believed to have the power to see the invisible world and communicate with spirits. In this photo, the shaman, right, works with a client at a clinic in the city of Kyzyl.
Johann Rousselot / Oeil Public
Founded 12 years ago by the Nigerian pastor Sunday Adelaja, the Embassy of God is a charismatic Protestant sect. Its followers believe that some of their members have been chosen to receive the Holy Spirit, which allows them to speak in tongues and heal with their hands. In the photo above, one such woman uses the spirit to elicit a trance and cure an ill church member.
Dieter Telemans / Panos
In a refugee camp in Chad, Sudanese refugees prepare the mihaya, a traditional healing drink. Verses from the Koran are written on wooden plates like these with a special ink and pen, the plate is then washed with water, and the holy fluid is drunk by the sick.
Chor Sokutnhea / Reuters
A nun holds a terrapin to the mouth of a villager in Kandal province, near Phnom Penh. The animal’s touch is believed to cure rheumatism and other bodily ailments.
Olivier Martel / Corbis
A client suffering a fertility problem is sprayed with a medicinal liquid by the son of a marabout named Ciss in Sereres. Marabouts are dervishes in Muslim Africa credited with supernatural powers.
Robert Nickelsberg In some sects of Islam, the verses of the Koran are thought to have healing properties. In Srinagar, the capital of the Indian-controlled section of Kashmir, a spiritual healer treats a man suffering from temporary blindness with prayers and restorative Koranic verses.
New York, USA
Oscar Hidalgo / Aurora Practitioners of Santeria gather in New York City. A blend of African, Native American and Roman Catholic religious practices, Santeria involves the worship of Santos, an amalgam of African gods and Christian saints. Followers believe that ebos, or imploratons, can bring luck, place and remove curses and heal sicknesses.
Sven Creutzmann / Polaris
A Santeria High Priest prepares a rooster for sacrifice in a ceremony for the recovery of ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro.