Thursday, November 29, 2007

Venezuelan idiosyncrasy

As we are coming close to Hugo Chavez finally taking over the country, all along with the people who live in it included with the package, something is calling my attention.

This post about Hugo Chavez and the occult has become incredible popular. So far, I believe this is the all timer post I get most hits about and this week it had record visits.

It tells a lot the kind of country we are coming from. A soup of cultures, a country in which witchcraft and other religions, like Santeria, play a very important role in the life of the people, thanks to our African heritage. Even though we are mainly a Christian-Catholic country, people like to engage in other practices on the side, practices that, btw, are totally forbidden by the Catholic church.

A lot of people practice Santeria religion in Venezuela. Other people like to engage in some witchcraft practices either they know it consciously or not. Some people do it for fun, and practice what is called Magia Blanca, or Good Witchcraft, some sort of New Age practice that includes future reading once in a while with Tarot cards, lighting colored candles for different intentions, and carrying on old traditions, like having Sábila plants and Auyamas (Pumpkin) in the house to "collect" bad intentions, or the "evil eye" from envious people, just like a vacuum would do with dirt, carrying little amulets, that can be a piece of garlic, or a cacho made from ebony (I believe, not sure), and other stuff that I don't really know. Other people get into more hardcore rituals, like "amarres" y "limpiezas" to attract love, money, success... etc... even to harm other people. :(

I have a question for the connoisseurs. How does the Maria Lionza cult fit into the world of the Santeria? Are they tied to other witchcraft practices? Like Magia Blanca for example? Are they totally separate from the people who like to read Tarot Cards in Venezuela, the people we like to call them "Brujas" or "Brujos"?

I don't practice any of this stuff since I follow the teachings of good'ol Jesus, but is not uncommon to have a good friend who is into some sort of witchcraft practice, the most common, card reading. And, then you heard some stories... (!) Like for example, the rumor that Mr. President, a baptized Catholic, gambles a little bit more heavy on this issue of witchcraft, thanks to his Cuban partners. This rumor has been vox populi since a long time now. Is it true? A lot of people swear he does. I personally wouldn't know, my feeling is that he does do practice some bad rituals, not nice ones, because of the things he says in his speech (like what he said about the martyrs who died for him on April, 11).

Note: I don't want to be offensive with this post, I am only writing with a very limited knowledge in this issue, so if anybody feel offended because I am saying something that is not totally right, or if I am mixing apples with oranges, let me know, OK? I'll be happy to learn more about this matter that belongs to our Venezuelan culture and traditions.

Photo credits: "La Maria Lonza del cuadro" by Hendrik Hidalgo.

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