I’m Half-Latina, Half-South Asian And Full Bruja — But That Took Some Time To Accept

credit: Christina Henderson

I remember the shores of Fajardo and the magical nights near the bioluminescent bay. Entirely torn after an abusive relationship, I sought refuge there in July 2005. As a woman born with Puerto Rican and Indo-Guyanese ethnicities, I wanted to experience what life was like on my father’s island, having him as my tour guide. My childhood was filled with stories about his days in “La Isla Del Encanto” as a musician and a seeker for adventure. I felt enamored and curious about Puerto Rico and wanted to know more about it.

The thing is, I barely knew how to speak Spanish. My failed attempts ended up in Spanglish, rather than concrete structure sentences. Unlike my father’s side of the family, I was considered, though never intentionally, the awkward child. I dreaded family events, where I was unable to connect with my relatives through their language. Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and Three Kings Day were synonymous with betrayal, solitude and the unwillingness to participate in traditional meals. In passive-aggressive manners, I can hear the chatter from my relatives as they indicate to my father, “Why doesn’t your daughter speak Spanish with us?”

(Courtesy of Diana Chin)

“I don’t want to force Diana to learn Spanish. If willing, she will do so in her own time.” While I am thankful for my father’s support, I wasn’t comforted knowing the heckles and favoritism of my cousins from the older generation.

How is it possible that a woman like me, who looks Latina, doesn’t speak the mother tongue?

A part of me used to wish that I could wipe away my ancestry, but as I went near the waters one night in Fajardo, I felt my blood sing with relief as I was near the full moon.

I wanted a new life. I wanted to be accepted for who I am. Even with my South Asian roots, I still wanted to know what it was like to be Latina.

The waters were translucent as if I were looking at the mirror of my soul. The salty breeze mingled with my senses while being part of a small group of folk in a rowboat during the middle of the night. I touched the lake with my nimble fingers and sensed it buzzing with energy.

(Courtesy of Diana Chin)

The first time I called myself a bruja was when I said a prayer under the full moon to find my soulmate. As cheesy as it sounds, I wanted to fall in love again. Even in my naiveness during my college years, I felt that someone was waiting for me on the other side.

At the time, I didn’t know anything about brujería. As someone who couldn’t connect with my father’s side, I remember thinking about my late abuela. When I look back in my life, I realized she knew how to hone in her magic through the use of prayer and votive candles lit alongside the saints. She was the only one who cared about me, regardless of my background. I will always remember her fierceness and tenacity to live life to its fullest. Her brothers held her in high regard, as she was the matron of the family. My abuela did not speak English fluently. However, her gestures and actions were more than enough for me to understand her love and affection.

Reciting a spell under the full moon in English at a place where the language was spoken in Spanish felt unusual. Not because I proclaimed it loudly — just mentally, of course. But I felt that my spell failed because I did not properly connect with my ancestors.

(Courtesy of Diana Chin)

The universe proved me wrong when I met my future husband on social media after I came back from my trip. And the rest, they say, is history. I’m happily married with a toddler who shares our heritages in one body. To this day, I’m still in awe during that night under the full moon in Fajardo.

Over the course of my lifetime, I’ve realized that being a bruja doesn’t necessarily mean you need to recite spells in Spanish. As much as I’ve been shunned for not speaking fluently, I’ve picked up phrases from different conversations. Thankfully, I have friends who are kind enough to correct my grammar with care. When I perform my spells or conduct tarot readings, the presence of my ancestors are available, no matter the region.

I believe that the magic we hold goes beyond our human vernacular. Words are powerful, no matter which language it is spoken in. Speaking a foreign tongue does not make a bruja any more powerful, spiritual or mystical. A Latina born without speaking the mother language doesn’t make her any less of her heritage. Each of us is unique. I feel that we are all connected one way or another. Regardless if we choose to speak English or Spanish, our roots are as thick as our love for our ancestors.

(Courtesy of Diana Chin)

I’m proud to honor my ethnicities on both ends. Often, I’m asked why I prefer using the term bruja instead of “witch.” I take great pride in calling myself a bruja as a way of honoring my late abuela. Even with the language barrier, I’m thankful for her unconditional love.

Now and then, my father reminds me of his mother. “You’re the spitting image of your abuela, with her long hair while kneeling down to pray.” With a smile, I would say, “She’s still here with us, no matter where we go.”

I’m pretty sure my abuela would understand my sentiments, even though it was said in English. She is with the stars, a member of the universe where the only language spoken is love.

Read: Bruja Tip Is An Instagram Account Sending Love Notitas To Brujas Embarking On Spiritual Journeys

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