MEXICO CITY – Making money, finding love, learning English and exercising more are New Year’s resolutions that most people have made at one time or another and there is a place in Mexico City where, for a few coins, people can get a “Santeria” practitioner to give a little push to the powers that be to ensure that such wishes come true in 2020.
At the Sonora Market in downtown Mexico City, Corridor No. 8 is a bit of “Magical Mexico” – and it is in that narrow passageway amid the smell of incense and aromatic plants that 44 shops selling esoteric and mystical items are located.
Since 1958, all kinds of people who have lost faith in traditional religion have been coming to this spot to purchase charms, have spells cast or their fortunes told with an eye toward finding true love, a job and/or wealth, especially as the New Year approaches.
Maribel, originally from the southern impoverished state of Chiapas, has been selling a special combination of seeds to help people make money in the New Year. The 12 different seeds must be left on a plate with coins so that the green shoots can flourish, she said.
“Recently, the economy has gone down quite a bit and people come seeking wealth,” Maribel told EFE on Sunday in discussing the fact that the Mexican economy will close out 2019 with zero percent growth.
To help people get past the present lean year, this shopkeeper offers amulets made of aloe leaves, assorted charms and packets containing an ear of corn painted gold with paper currency attached to it.
A short distance away, Elisabeth Morgan, a self-proclaimed witch, lays down tarot cards to read the fortune of a customer who wants to know what 2020 holds.
When her father began working as a fortuneteller, he was afraid to give bad news to his customers in case he might inadvertently break up a marriage or precipitate some other calamity, but almost two decades later Elisabeth has no such qualms.
“Since this year wasn’t so good, people are afraid to see how next year will be. Unfortunately, the prediction is that it’s not going to be very good,” she said, with her black and white cat sitting by her side.
In this part of the city there are all kinds of cults, ranging from the worship of Santa Muerte (Our Lady of Holy Death) – a female idol, deity or folk saint – to Catholic cults like the one of St. Jude, African-Cuban “Santeria” or Chinese traditions.
Alfonso Espejel is a “santero,” a Santeria priest, with a shop at the market who says that fulfilling people’s wishes requires 80 percent magic, with the other 20 percent being paranormal energies that for a few pesos can be summoned or channeled at the market.
“If you come to ask me for help to find a job and you don’t leave your home ... they’re not going to come to your hours to give you work,” he said.
With three generations of family tradition behind him, Espejel is convinced that the cleansings he performs for people with a flowering branch work to dissipate the bad energies that have accumulated during the year, but he warned that you need to be alert for the swindlers who prowl around the market.
Jorge Perez, whose family has been working in this business for four generations, proudly displayed the big seller for the New Year: a packet including soap, perfume and incense all devoted to the Chinese Year of the Rat, which will begin in January.
“It will be the year of Mexican politicians,” he said sarcastically while holding up a small figure of a rat, and it would be no surprise to find out that a number of people have already bought little voodoo rat figures to give to various political leaders and officials as a mark of displeasure for 2020.