LA VELADA ESPIRITUAL / VELACION
LA VELADA DE LA MESA BLANCA
La Velada Espiritual is a public ceremony where a congregation of 30 or more, come to have their Causas lifted by an Espiritista. The Veladas are held on the first and or the third friday of each month in Centro Espirituales, private homes, apartment buildings, or garages across Puerto Rico and areas in the U.S. where Puerto Ricans migrated.
A large rectangular table is decorated with a white table cloth, this table is called, La Mesa Blanca de la Velada, or de la Velacion. Upon the table are is a large Fuente filled with Holy Water, white candles, Agua Florida or Alcojolados, filled with a mixture of albahca, ruda, rompe saraguey and perjil herbs and roots, a white covered bible, “many times a black leather bible, covered in satin and lace”, and paper backs of, La fe en la Oracion. On one side of the table, 3 to 9 chairs are arranged so that the Mediums can face those who have come to attend La Velada. The center chair is for the Presidente de Mesa, which can either be male or female, to the right sits the Mediamidad de la Mano Derecha, which is almost always female, and towards the left, el Asistente de Mesa (male or female) if there are other chairs they are occupied by Mediums of various ranks in their spiritual growth, with the less experienced aprendizes and ajihados towards the end. Across from the mesa blanca is placed the altar to the Patron saint and Guardian Spirit of the house. The altar is elaborately decorated with flowers, candles, rum, and aguardiente. To the foot of the statue of the saint or guia rests a wicker basket with warm Puerto Rican, pan asobao or pan de agua, “the pan espiritual” (spiritual bread) and warm coco and coffee, sometimes a platter of cheese and luncheon meat is placed their also. On the foot of this altar blooms a Siempre Viva ( Reserection Plant – Rose of Jericho) in Holy water. Halfway through the end of the Velada, during a break session, this food will be consumed by the guests as it has received the blessing of the Saint and Guardian Spirit.
Guests are asked to arrive at The Velada at 7:00 p.m. sharp as it usually starts at 8:00 p.m. and the doors will be closed for no further interruption. Cellphones, and all outside distractions are prohibited. The ceremony starts by all the candles being lit and all electrical lights are turned off. The Presidente takes the Rosary from the mesa and begins to recite the Our Father, and the congregation follows along with the Ave Marias. After the Rosary has been completely recited, the Mediamidad de la mano derecha prays a random prayer from La Fe en la Oracion, or a psalm of the bible, this gives the Presidente confirmation of the first Causa that will need attending. When the prayer is finished, the Presidente de Mesa rises and points to a random individual that is sitting across from the mediums and asks him or her to stand. The Presidente through divine interpretation of the prayer that was recited and by a strong psychic spiritual force directing him, knows to whom the prayer or psalm has been directed to. The Presidente tells the person of a “causa” he or she might have. If the causa is of a serious nature the person is escourted to the mesa by an aprendiz or ahijado, where the Asistente de Mesa will bless the person with holy water, and cleanse them with either florida water, herbal shrubs tied together with strings or yarn, this is known as Masos de Yerbas, tobacco smoke from a cigar or by fire, from a candle or which has been created with the Florida Water. A cross is poured with the florida water on cement or pavement and lit by one of the aprendizes while the Asistente de Mesa performs the Pases on the client. Some of the congregation come to have an illness, a disease or bareness spiritually treated, others come to banish a bothersome spirit, or a curse lifted. The Presidente de Mesa is the one who handles these strong Causas. The Velada does not end until all the congregation has been attended. Some receive healing, while others receive a spiritual message. The Velada usually will not last any later than 2:00 a.m. as it is believed that 3:00 a.m. is the hour of el Diablo and Demoños, and all who attend la Velada should be safely home by this time. There usually is a break during the Velada, around 11:00, before la hora de la Bruja, or witching hour. This is when everyone attending, grounds themselves and receives the healing benefits of el Pan Espiritual and drinks warm coco or coffee. The Velada ends with the Presidente taking the Fuente into his hand and sprinkling the water on all who has come, behind the Presidente the Asistente smudges the crowd with cigar smoke or incense as the mediamidad de mano derecha closes the velada with a prayer. Although Veladas are done during the night, a similar procedure is done in centros during the early hours of the morning or at midday, this is called a Velacion. The Velacion is to treat young children, housewives, or the elderly from Causas ranging from personal problems, helping in healing an illness, work related, cleansing, removing el Mal de Ojo, or simple purifications to name a few. Like the nightly velada a donation basket is passed to cover expenses of the ceremonies.
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