Although I had gone to Puerto Rico and have returned to the island since, The year I spent under the care of my abuela and aunts and uncles was a pivotal moment in the growth of my Spiritual Faculties. I was to share my time with both sides of the family, my mother’s side which where predominantly Catholic or Pentecostal, and my father’s side which on Sundays practiced Catholicism, but during the rest of the week practiced Espiritismo, Mesa Blanca and Brujeria. My abuela at the time was in her mid 70s, and much up in years to perform the mundane tasks of enrolling a now 8 year old boy into school and buying the materials needed, so that she could sew the required school uniforms. So she enrolled my Tia “aunt” Maria to perform these tasks. Tia Maria my father’s eldest sister, a woman at the time, in her late 30s was a beautiful woman of olive skin, long black hair, and the high cheak bones and pronounced nose that told of her Taino indigenous heritage. As a grown up, I often think why my younger brother and sister and I had none of these features that where so prominent in my father’s side of the family. We had inherited my mother’s Spanish / Castilian, and German pale skin and European features.
Tia Maria lived in Comerio as my abuela, but while my abuela lived in a rural valley of Rio Hondo, my Tia’s house was located in the Pueblo, off the town’s square. Every other friday my Tia Maria and her husband would come and pick me up so that I could spend the weekends with her.
This often worried my abuela, for she practiced traditional Puerto Rican Espiritismo, as was taught to her by her mother and mother before her, since the beginning of time. My abuela practiced Mesa blanca, and was also, a Santiguadora “Puerto Rican Curandera” and well versed in healing with herbs, and told fortunes. But although my Tia Maria was an Espiritista, she was also known to practice Brujeria, she was a Bruja, a female witch.
While my abuela had two altars in her house. One in honor of her virgin, Nuestra Senora de la Divina Providencia, which was kept in her bedroom. On her bureau stood the large statue of Our Lady of the Divine Providence, her rosaries, the bible and a white new candle always lit, and a vase full of fresh Puerto Rican Hibiscus, “Flor de maga”. While the other altar was her Fuente Espiritual. This altar was in the living room and was a simple corner table, covered in a white cloth, with a large clear glass bowl of Holy Water, “her Fuente”, an altar bell, a bottle of Florida Water and bay rum, an old prayer book by the French Spiritist Alan Kardec, her old spanish fortune telling cards, white candle and a vase with Miramelindas and Margaritas that she would pick from her flower garden. On the wall directly above the altar was a culage of old pictures of dead relatives, and friends. My aunts altars where more elaborate.
Once you entered into my Tia Maria’s house by the door on the left-hand side of the floor stood a cement statue with a face carved out and cowrie shells that made up the facial features. Next to this cement statue was a large figurine of the Child of Atocha. On the right-hand side of the entrance, was a large statue planter of an African Mamie, that held a basket on her head. Within the basket flourished, Mimosas flowers, my aunts favorite flowers. At first glance and if one was not to notice these figures in the entrance of the house one would not identify this house as that of a Brujas. The living room had plastic covered couches, and across from the living room was the dinning room, a large table with 8 chairs, and above it a large cloth picture that portrayed The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. Unlike my abuela’s two bedroom wooden and metal roof house that was much smaller, and more of a shack than a house, my Tia Maria’s house was much more spacious and comfortable and made of cement to ward of the strong unbearable heat of the Caribbean sun. Having five bedrooms, and an indoor bathroom.with running water. “my abuela had an out house” Each bedroom.had a small night stand, converted altar to a different saint. The fourth bedroom which was the furthest to the front door and the largest of all the rooms, and directly next to the back door, and another smaller bedroom across from it, the larger room was her altar room. In this room a large statue of an American Indians stood side by side with statues of Buddhas, gypsies, African gods, and pictures of hindu gods, and other Catholic saints.
The room was well lit by candles, and across from the entrance to the room stood a large altar with a large statue of Santa Barbara and San Miguel. Below these two statues in the center stood an old spanish copy of The Great Book of San Cyprian, Treasure of the Wizard. The altar was full of bottles of Bacardi, Palo Viejo rum and aguardiente. An assortment of miniature bottles of perfumes, and candles, bottles of Kananga, water, ruda water, bay rum and florida water. The altar cloth was black and red. On the other altar stood an altar with four chairs besides it. This altar had a white cloth as my abuelas, but the border was outlined with cloth handkerchiefs of various colors. On the altar in small wooden chairs sat two 14 inch black figures fully dressed in cloth clothing. Both the statues held a half smoked cigar. Which frightened me, because I oftened wondered that when no one was looking if these statutes lit their own cigars. Below the statue not one, like my abuelas, but 9 goblets of water one larger which was surrounded by the 8 smaller. Within the large goblet was a silver crusifix, and upon the altar stood the familiar book of players as my abuelas. The altar room had many vases with expensive flowers such as red and white roses, marigolds and orchards. Unlike my abuela’s flowers that she picked from her garden or in the forrest, my Tia’s flowers looked like they had come from an expensive florist shop. The room across the altar room which also over looked the back veranda and garage, was a smaller bed room which was to be my sleeping quarters during my visits to my Tia’s house.
The veranda which overlooked the garage was large and had a large table and many folded chairs. The veranda led to a connected open area with three steps leading to the garage. Behind the veranda was wooded area. This is where my Tia Maria performed her weekly Misas and Seanses.
Following blog. The Sorceres Eyes.