childhood

Couldn’t get the sage going: What kind of Puerto Rican am I?

Let’s establish a few facts from the outset. I’m Puerto Rican. Am a New Yorker. I’m superstitious. And, I’ve visited many a “botanica” in my days. What is a Botanica? Well, there are many in New York. As a matter of fact, there is one right across tbe street from where I live. Although, I’ve yet to go in there. It’s nice, though, knowing there is such a place I can turn to. What is it? The name botánica is Spanish storefronts which function as dispensaries of medicinal herbs, candles, saint figures and spells to ward off the evil eye. That’s my definition. Others may just stop at the dispensary of herbs. Anyway, we have established several facts and created my own definition.

As a kid, my mother would tell me or guide me on at least one superstition a month. From upside-down brooms (of which I have a painting at my doorway) to corner elephants to the indoor use of umbrellas. Don’t ask. We would on occasion go to a Botanica to ward off the evil eye. Which by the way, is a completely true phenomenon.

Although, I grew up that way I don’t really light candles or any other entertainment of superstitions other than avoid crossing paths with black cats and walking under a ladder. Well, actually when I fly I have a set of rituals I must undergo for the safety of the flight. That’s somewhat a digression. Growing up we would at times do what is called a “limpieza” – a cleaning. What many may refer to as using sage. Except in Puerto Rican culture the cleaning is deeper than that. I haven’t done a cleaning in decades.

Today, while I was resting I looked behind me and there was a sage candle I had placed a while ago. I then thought that a cleaning would do me good. I grabbed the lighter and tried, to no avail, to light up said candle. I tried and tried. I felt like a mini-failure. I hadn’t been super invested in this process, afterall it had been an impulsive act. I laughed to myself thinking about how I couldn’t light the candle that maybe could get rid of the bad vibes in the universe. I suppose I will have to get rid of them the old-fashioned way. I’ll wear my necklace which is meant to ward off the evil eye.

I welcome your thoughts

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