Sometime ago, I found out that a person I had dated for a short period was not only claiming to now be a bruja, but that there was also the possibility of a maldición put on my head soon after we broke up, especially if social media is to be believed. While it might sound like superstitious talk to you, it makes the most diabolical of sense to me, especially in painful retrospect.
Shortly after a parting of our untenable ways, I remember that I began to feel a sharp pain in my back, one that felt like a rusty needle being driven deep into my near-dead flesh. Family, friends and doctors would see no signs of trauma, but in the middle of the night, there were times when I would shoot up in bed out of a sound slumber, trying desperately to soothe the pin-prick pain that not a person in my life believed even existed. I thought I was going demente.
For a few months though, after I got out of the hospital with my stroke, the pain was, thank God, gone; I figured the phantom smite was gratefully expunged from my physical being for good…until it returned a couple of weeks ago with an absolute fucking vengeance. Now fully fearing this wasn’t mostly medicinal but mayormente mágico, I decided to get spiritual help with far more of a Mexican bent to it.
Botánica San Cipriano, 1229 S.W. 29th, is less like walking into a theatrical portal of infernal darkness and more like walking into your beautiful abuela’s house, with numerous statues of la Virgen María surrounded by novena candles and prayer cards and the like, always armed and ready to fight in the on-going battle of guerra espiritual. Recommended to me by a like-minded amiga, after viewing many of their informative YouTube videos, Cipriano seemed like they might be able to help.
Beyond the wooden crucifixes and plaster priests, past the glass counters that lined the frontage, there was a large section devoted to the praising of folk-saints like Santa Muerte, the blessed scent of holy incense and other assorted aerosols, and just about all of the novenas you and your problems could—or should—handle. They even had the cheap cologne that I usually buy online, Siete Machos, as well as the soap. Now I can at least buy that locally.
I walked up to the back-counter and told the owner, Jaime, about my strange dilemma. Almost immediately, he told me he’s helped many people of all sexes and persuasions with this problem and he had one possible solution: the dull-pink San Alejo novena. Per his instructions, before lighting the wick, I was to write the name of said ex on a piece of paper and place it under the candle; then, I was to say the prayer on the back as I light the candle. Suficientemente simple.
San Alejo—or Saint Alex, for the español deficient—is not only the patron saint of beggars and those in poverty, natch, but prayers to him have been known to not only remove, but supposedly help to keep enemies away. If you’re suffering from the evil eye, dark witchcraft or, as I feel, the unholy vindictiveness of an ex-lover, calling out “San Alejo, ¡aléjalo!” has been known to drive those demonic love-hungry forces away. One hopes, at least.
I paid five bucks for the novena and thanked Jaime for the advice. He said to come back if that old black magic is maybe a little too powerful and I need something stronger. Sitting on the makeshift altar in my room, as the singular spot on my back begins to flare up while I write these words, I can sense the dark forces of mal amor beginning to convene in their nightly dance of mild annoyance; so much so that I think tonight I might say the prayer and light it up…
…if only I had remembered to buy some matches.