identities

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

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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These Online Botanicas Will Satisfy The Bruja In You

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These Online Botanicas Will Satisfy The Bruja In You

With young Latinxs reclaiming the bruja identity, the demand for access to novenas, herbs and other specially crafted ritual tools has grown tremendously. Luckily, these Latinx-owned online botanicas have made it easy for brujas, or anyone who wants to dive deeper into the practice, to get their hands on the goods. Whether you’re looking to conjure up more cash flow or secure some extra protection from those pesky mal de ojos, these shops have the magia you need.

1. The Flowerchild Bruja

You know you’ve received some real tesoro when you open your delivery and see the holographic cellophane. Unmistakable and unique products are what make The Flowerchild Bruja’s shop un cielo de flores. Garden Smudge Sticks adorned with colorful flowers and loose herbs packaged in clear hearts make this online botanica a must-visit if you’re looking to manifest more love and beauty into your life.

2. Brooklyn Brujeria

No forlorn-looking saints and pale stricken Marys here! Brookyn Brujeria offers a fresh and modern take on the classic bruja necessity of novena candles. At $10 a candle, you can enhance the vibrations and style of your space without blowing all your chavo. With intentions like Boss Bitch and F*ck Outta Here, these ain’t your abuelitas’ novenas.

3. The Hoodwitch Store

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Thank you for all of your love & support to those who have been readers and customers of @thehoodwitch over the years. ♥️You know truly how hard I work and that this is my livelihood and culture. Visual art and magic ARE my life and practice. Not a peach flavored “turquoise” glitter drink. My magic is in my blood, my magic is in my ability to bring life to my visions, it is creation & destruction. Over the last 6 years, I have been so honored and lucky to be featured in some of the largest media publications internationally not limited to Instagram. This is bigger than that and the creative team for Starbucks knew that. I have personally worked on consulting large companies in their design concepts this work comes naturally to me. “So what’s the big fuss?” My personal style has become synonymous with the visual aesthetic of my brand. No, I absolutely did not “invent” the crystal balls nor acrylic nails but What I created was a space for myself along with other POC to feel represented and have visual imagery that was representative of us. The colorful candles of my local botanicas, my gold jewelry, and my long nails clutching my crystals are certainly not “new” but to see them presented in a manner that I shared visually in this space was. Katherine de Vos Devine @devosdevine is a lawyer and art historian who wrote a powerful and insightful look as to what exactly is happening with this situation and we are sharing it in our story today because more than anything she truly gives the full tea of the situation. I can strip away the crystal balls, the nail art, and delete all of my beautifully curated photos but I will always be me, I will always be my grandmother’s voices and wisdom. I will create, and I will always know my value and my worth. I trust and believe that my ancestors and my guides are looking after me. These giants may have the money to bully artists, creatives, and small business but we know the truth and absolutely must not allow it. As a small business owner, I appreciate you standing with us in this uphill journey and even if it goes nowhere, at the end of the day I can laugh to myself knowing that Starbucks made a drink inspired by HW 🔮

A post shared by The Hoodwitch® (@thehoodwitch) on

If you’re in the market for an obsidian scrying mirror, unique tarot decks or nail polish for your mystic manos, then The Hoodwitch Store is your one-stop bruja shop. Be sure to also check out the Bruja Bookshop tab, where you’ll find vintage, one-of-a-kind libros to up your witchy wisdom. The shop offers some rare finds en español as well. However, make sure you stay up to date on the latest inventory. These goods sell out fast!

4. House of Intuition

If you live in LA, you’ve most likely heard of House of Intuition. With four brick and mortar stores throughout the area, plus an online shop, it’s probably a wise investment to grab one of their “Success” intention candles. Their beautifully colored novenas aren’t the only reason to check out the shop, though. Seriously, this casa is staked with everything from crystals skulls, cauldrons and wands to a line called “Hair Mystics” featuring crystal-infused hair mists. You’ll be glad your intuition led you here.  

5. Lunar Magic Shop

Lunar Magic Shop is the super affordable and super thoughtful shop with some of our favorite bruja apparel. You will for sure want to grab the “My Mom Will Hex You” tee for the little one in your life or the “I Am My Own Sacred Place” one for yourself. While you’re at it, you might as well secure the “Motherhood”and “Student” crystal kit bags. This small shop definitely has the whole family’s brujeria needs in mind.

6. Curandera Press

While this shop is currently taking a small hiatus, they will re-launch on August 1. This gives us time to save up for a big vela haul. We could all use some divine intervention with lazy lovers and bad hair days, right? With Curandera Press’ “No Mas Amante Perezoso” and “Good Hair Day” velas, your prayers are answered. We’re excited to see what intentions they roll out next.

Read: In These Trying Times, Boricua Bruja Emilia Ortiz Provides A Digital Space For Healing

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Mixe Author Yásnaya Aguilar Says Mexican Government Killed Off Indigenous Languages In Powerful Speech

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Mixe Author Yásnaya Aguilar Says Mexican Government Killed Off Indigenous Languages In Powerful Speech

Indigenous languages are often characterized as archaic, a connection to a past life, certainly not thriving cultures and communities that exist in a modern society. But this mentality isn’t just wrong; it’s also dangerous.

In a powerful speech delivered by Mixe author Yásnaya Aguilar to Mexico’s Congress last month, the writer explains that in the country, where indigenous languages are largely viewed as backwards, the state has killed off certain tongues.

“Our languages don’t die out, they’re killed off,” she said. “The Mexican state has erased them with its singular thinking, its [promotion of] a single culture, a single state. It was Mexico that took our Indigenous languages, [Mexico] erases and silences us. Even though the laws have changed, it continues to discriminate against us within its educational, health, and judicial systems.”

According to Aguilar, known for works like “Nosotros sin México: Naciones Indígenas y Autonomía” and “#Ayuujk: ¿Lenguas Útiles y Lenguas Inútiles,” by making Spanish, a language forced on the people of the region five centuries ago by Spain, the most important tongue of the nation, the state has created a culture where language discrimination can flourish.

“Languages are important, but their speakers are even more important,” she added. “Languages die because their speakers are subjected to discrimination and violence.”

For Aguilar, the country would thrive if it recognized the beauty and strengths, rather than challenges, that come with a multicultural society.

“Being Mexican is a legal status, it’s not a cultural status,” she added.

Watch Aguilar’s thoughtful speech in its entirety in the video above.

(h/t Remezcla)

Read: This Latina Is Saving The Indigenous Peruvian Language One Computer Game At A Time

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