Episode 173: Inciting A Brujería Riot
The magical tradition of brujería is shrouded behind a veil made of assumption, colonization, and entitlement. We assume quite a lot about it. One common assumption is that it’s simply the word for witchcraft in Spanish and therefore anyone practicing any kind of magic is, indeed, practicing brujería.
Learning about this tradition is difficult and confusing for a newcomer. If you don’t already know where to go or who to ask, you do what a lot of people do - you go online and look for books or YouTube videos or podcasts. The issue there is that the novice is suddenly faced with the task of discerning which practitioners are coming from a place of genuine scholarship, cultural ownership, or good faith.
Too often practices such a brujería, hoodoo, yoga, or reiki are mined by white, western practitioners for magic that will be appealing to suburban audiences, stripped of the fullness and context of the culture from which they originate. They might be combined in a slapdash manner with other practices hailing from unrelated spiritual traditions and sold back to you as genuine for a nice profit.
In that murky space it can be difficult to discern how to start learning and where to go once you’re on the path.
I spoke to Laura Davila, a lifelong bruja and hechicera who hails from a family of practitioners in Mexico. She came to the US a few years ago and discussed what it means to be a cultural carrier of this magical tradition, who can claim ownership, what gates exist to brujería and who - if anyone - are the gatekeepers.
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