Culture

This Woman Found Brujería In Her Wall During A Home Renovation And How Is She Still Standing There?!

Cuidado: this post contains actual brujería which may cause goosebumps and a high need for access to holy water.

Being Latino means growing up believing that an entire other plane of existence is all around you. Let a curandero read you and you know you’re constantly surrounded by spirits; that your spirit guide is a giant bald tattooed man (true story); that you were a bruja in a past life, living by a lake and using it as your own magical cauldron. We all have our own stories of making contact with the dead and the spirits around us. Usually, we share our stories with the people who believe, needing no proof but our word. Unless you’re Sandra.

On June 23, 2019, Sandra was minding her own business renovating her own pinche home when brujería found her. In fact, brujería had been living with her family all along and she only just discovered it.

Sandra’s family decided to knock down a wall in their home and found an assortment of obvious brujería inside the wall.

Credit: @2sandz / Twitter

“We been living in this house for like six years now lol,” Sandra followed up. You know that “lol” is all kinds of nervous laughter. 😅At least she had the good sense to wear a glove to prevent skin contact with the trapped spirit inside that feather.

Like, what is this? Can anyone explain what this is and what it can be used for?

Credit: @2sandz / Twitter

All we know is that Sandra’s family home is in Denver, Colorado and that the brujería must have dated before 2013 when the family moved in. Her padre was off work for a week and “he needed something to do,” which prompted the renovation. Latino dads are restless and it is clear that they were not expecting to find any of these artifacts hiding behind the wall.

There were also velas, matches and “OLD gum and weird red rocks” in the wall. *shivers*

Credit: @2sandz / Twitter

Someone had the courage to ask Sandra for an explanation of the photo she shared. “It was mad feathers, candles, matches, OLD gum and weird red rocks,” she replied. The very fact that these brujas were not allowing any lighters to be involved is just further proof that this was a bruja ceremony.

Sandra’s comadres were quick to come in with some protective measures.

Credit: @lovelyyyySJ / Twitter

“Pour rubbing alcohol and sugar, then burn it sis. That sh** is wild,” tweets one friend. Look. We all have our experiences and beliefs around brujería. First and foremost, Latinos are believers, no question. Most of us just don’t mess with it because we fully understand its power and consequences by allowing that kind of energy into your life. Another friend told her straight up, “Ask a santero.”

Time to meet brujería with brujería lite.

Credit: @beenhadthewave / Twitter

“Get your house blessed! hang up some crosses,” replies another friend. Ever wondered why Santería was born so naturally? Tell a bunch of Taínos and brujas that, also, this holy water will repel evil spirits and we just add it to our collection of tools. Slap a Saint on that vela and now you have the power of that spirit behind you. We’re not saying it doesn’t work. We’re not questioning the powers of anyone. *makes the sign of the cross*

Others think that Sandra’s family is already cursed.

Credit: @Xtassy / Twitter

We love a friend whose going to be so brutally honest and unhelpful. It’s all over, comadre. Bendiciones to you and your family. Honestly, if we were to add all the superstitions of every Latinx family and take it as truth, we wouldn’t be able to do anything without it being bad luck.

So much for renovating the home–now you have to move.

Credit: @cocoashaibin / Twitter

HGTV, we’re waiting for this quality-level plot twist. Bait us, por favor. We need follow-ups! Meanwhile, Justin a.k.a. @cozyyJ came in with something to consider, “Nah y’all buggin. Everyone here saying brujería but what if this shit was blessing ya house and now you took it away.”

Over a month post-brujería and Sandra says “so far so good lol.”

Credit: @daniellimarz / Twitter

Is it just me or am I reading into that “lol” as nervously-kidnapped-by-spirits laughter? No? Just me? We’re avoiding eye contact with all the walls and lighting mad velas for you girl.

READ: Aja’s ‘Brujería’ Is The Anthem For All Of The Brujas Who Are Just Living Their Best Life

Your ‘Palo Santo-Burning’ Habit Is Causing The Deforestation Of What Indigenous Communities Consider A Sacred Tree

Culture

Your ‘Palo Santo-Burning’ Habit Is Causing The Deforestation Of What Indigenous Communities Consider A Sacred Tree

With #Selfcare culture in full swing, Palo Santo has become quite the sensation when it comes to wellness. Instagram users and influencers have been quick to popularize alternative methods of self-care and taking them to the masses —eg. “Cleanse yourself of bad vibes and let the good ones flow in.”

In recent years people have been flocking to crystal shops, yoga studios, shamans and whatnot, to grow their stash of healing and instagram-worthy veladoras, sage bundlescrystalsand other elements of ancient indigenous cultures’ traditions. Well, turns out that one of these ‘trendy’ items is Palo Santo, and the demand for it has started to affect communities and ecosystems —so how about we read about it before we keep ignorantly burning what is an ancient ‘holy’ plant to some communities.  

First off, what even is Palo Santo? 

Palo Santo, is a tree found in Ecuador and Peru. Other varieties of the tree are found in parts of Beazil. Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia. Palo Santo, which is Spanish for ‘holy stick’, is a sacred tree for indigenous communities and their sacred practices. Shamans traditionally burn Palo Santo sticks in bundles, to cleanse their space and ward off spirits —a tradition which has been commodified and appropriated by self appointed shamans  in the west. 

The ‘holy stick’ has many therapeutic benefits.

The therapeutic benefits of Palo Santo are many— the tree is actually medicinal and healing. The only way to get the full benefit of this tree though, is by letting it die naturally, and allowing it a four to ten year resting period on the forest floor. The highest quality oils form in the aged heartwood, which is used in sacred ceremonies and to heal by specific local cultures.

Why is it a bad thing that we’re all burning it?

Credit: vidaconsciente / Instagram

“Cleanse yourself of bad vibes” read countless marketing emails announcing the cleansing properties of ‘Palo Santo’. For a few years now, wellness, beauty and homeware brands have been betting on the “good vibes” that are welcomed into your space by Palo Santo. 

What is a sacred and holy plant to some indigenous communities has now turned into an indie shop trinket. Sacred bundles of Palo Santo can be found everywhere from Urban Outfitters to farmer’s markets, and of course, your Instagram feed. It’s become commonplace to stop scrolling through selfies and vacation posts to see a photo of crystals, sage, and Palo Santo neatly arranged against some marble-top, basic af, backdrop. Sample caption: “Good Vibes Only.”

We should all know better by now. But if you don’t? Consider this your official notice: It’s time to stop burning Palo Santo. Here’s why.

1. It. Is. SACRED.

It is simply problematic to take an element of someone else’s culture simply because you like how it smells, it calms you or because everyone on instagram is doing it. It basically qualifies as cultural appropriation.

Not only are we picking and choosing part of Indigenous cultures that we like, while turning a blind eye to the things we don’t like, trends like this negate the actual importance behind the practice. We’ve turned something sacred into a commercial commodity. And ignoring the meaning that cultures have appointed to Palo Santo for hundreds of years further robs these sacred cultures of their revered traditions.

2.  The Palo Santo tree is currently endangered —and it’s on a watch-list. 

There are no more than 250 mature Palo Santo trees in the wild at the moment. And According to the United Plant Savers Medicinal Plant Conservation, those numbers are plummeting. While the tree is not extinct, it has been added to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) list due to the over-harvesting that its been subjected to, which can lead to extinction. 

Fun fact: According to sacred beliefs; in order to gain the actual benefit of the tree, a Palo Santo tree should never be cut down, and it should not be sold as a commodity —LOL we’ve played ourselves. If you buy Palo Santo wood from ANY source, then you are contributing to the economic incentive that drives deforestation.

3. Burning the wood without being mindful of how it landed in your #selfcare kit, is the opposite of woke.

Acknowledging Indigenous communities, their traditions and rules when using the plant is key. Working with these communities, establishing a relationship and supporting their livelihood matters. However, most brands either don’t care about the process or have no idea where or how they get their Palo Santo.

There are many alternatives you can use for space cleansing, or for creating a calming atmosphere —just steer clear of Palo Santo and Sage, another vastly appropriated plant. If you find that you want to burn herbs for their beneficial properties, look for alternatives that you can use that don’t affect Indigenous rituals or that harm the earth. 

You can always use herbs that are aligned with your unique heritage and ancestry. Look into your own heritage to participate and continue your rituals. The best thing to do is source herbs that are grown locally, or even better; grow your own!

MJ Rodriguez Makes History By Signing First Ever Beauty Deal With Olay Body As Trans Woman

Fierce

MJ Rodriguez Makes History By Signing First Ever Beauty Deal With Olay Body As Trans Woman

mjrodriguez7 / Instagram

Actress and singer MJ Rodriguez is having an incredible whirlwind year. In 2019, she continued her role as Blanca Rodriguez in the history making series “Pose.” Her moving and capitalizing performance won her “Best Actress” at the Imagen Awards; the first time an openly trans women has ever received the honor. She also became the first transgender woman of color to play the role of Audrey in a major production of “Little Shop of Horrors.” Rodriguez even preformed the play’s popular love ballad “Suddenly Seymour” on the “Late Late Show with James Corden” ⁠— wowing the TV audience with her powerful vocals. In addition to all that success, this week, her activism, advocacy and talent was celebrated when Rodriguez was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 NEXT.

Now, Rodriguez officially has one more win to close out her successful 2019.  

Twitter / @outmagazine

This week, Rodriguez made history by securing her first ever beauty campaign. The “Pose” star announced her new partnership with Olay Body at the 5th Annual Diversity Summit where she gave the keynote speech. She will officially be one of the label’s brand ambassadors — making her the first trans Afro-Latina to fill this role with Olay. 

“Olay Body is leading by example for other brands by opening doors for trans individuals like myself,” Rodriguez said during her speech. “I am so excited to work with Olay Body on this campaign leading up to my speech at the Diversity Summit. This is officially my first ever beauty campaign — I am so thankful to have the opportunity to show other trans women of color everywhere that they are seen and that they are worthy.”

Rodriguez’s campaign joins other trans women like Laverne Cox, Tracey Norman, Lea T and Geena Rocero — who have all recently worked with hair, makeup, and skincare brands in public roles. 

Twitter / @pedro_a

Rodriguez isn’t the only one excited about this new opportunity. Olay Body also expressed their eagerness to explore the new partnership and the diversity and inclusivity that Rodriguez brings to the brand. In an email to “Out,” the body care company shared their excitement over their new brand ambassador.

“Olay Body is excited to work with Mj Rodriguez on this campaign, as Mj is truly a recognized trailblazer,” the brand wrote. “She has transformed not just personally and professionally, but also as a leading advocate for diversity and inclusivity. This makes her the perfect fearless partner, where she is able to share her authentic journey of feeling confident in her own skin. As we begin to plan for future programs, Mj is definitely top of mind. We can’t divulge specifics at this time, but stay tuned for what’s coming next!” 

For the first act of their partnership, Rodriguez did Olay Body’s 14 Day Transformation and posted the results on her Instagram. 

Instagram / @mjrodriguez7

While she’s incredibly honored to have been selected as a brand ambassador, the call from Olay caught her off guard. Rodriguez even doubted if she was up to the task.

“When they called me, I screamed on the phone, because Olay is one of the leading forces in beauty,” she explained to “The Cut” of her new project. “I was like ‘Oh my god, am I really being considered for this, am I worthy?’”

Rodriguez explained that for trans women and women of color, these opportunities don’t usually come around so she was overwhelmed yet honored with the responsibility. 

“For starters, I’ve never been able to be considered for a partnership like this,” she told “The Cut.” “A lot of girls like myself — trans women — we don’t get the opportunity to have open dialogue, let alone be in partnership with organizations like this. As a woman, as a black or Latina or trans woman, we have to constantly give words of affirmation to ourselves. It’s just hard for us. I’m just focusing on amplifying my voice, trying to get it out there as much as possible.”

Of course, Rodriguez’s online fans showered her with love and affirmation for her new role with Olay Body. 

Twitter / @outioflove

Rodriguez’s mentions are full of fans congratulating her and wishing her the best for her career. One tweet by @guida told the star, “You deserve every good thing coming your way, I’m so happy for you!” Another by @nel_mamaboho thanked the actress, saying, “I actually truly love you just because YOU ARE SEEN. Your visibility makes so many more of us unavoidable. Thank Y.O.U.”

Rodriguez is truly paving the way for the visibility of other trans people and people of color. As an Afro-Latina, a trans woman and a member of the LBGTQ+ community, she represents many groups of marginalized people. As such, her role with Olay Body will set the precedent that these groups can and should have a visible place in our society.

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