Image Source: Zayda Rivera
I was 30 years old and on the tail end of a 27-hour fully natural labor, giving birth to my oldest child, when I had my first out-of-body experience. I was struggling and my midwife and doula were concerned I wasn't dilating at a healthy pace. The next step was to take me to a traditional hospital instead of the birthing center. In my somewhat delirious state, I overheard them telling my mother this and I felt my body go into overdrive because I did not want to deliver my firstborn at a hospital hooked up to machines. As I began slowly walking down the hallway, hoping the movement would assist in dilation, I felt my soul leave my physical body. It's hard to remember how quickly this happened, but it felt as though it occurred in the blink of an eye. Suddenly there I was, across the hallway, watching myself struggling to walk with a huge belly and swollen legs. I don't know how long I watched myself, but the next thing I remember is lying on the bed and being instructed to push. After a short while, I was holding my oldest child in my arms. I knew I would never be the same again.
Not only did I become a mother that day, but I also had confirmation that we are so much more than our physical bodies. At 30, it wasn't the first time I had experienced deeply spiritual events, but it was certainly the most profound one up until that point in my life. However, I have always known that there is a Great Spirit watching over me and guiding me through this life. As a child, I went to various churches, from the Pentecostal Church with my dad to the Baptist Church with one of my aunts to the Catholic Church with my maternal grandmother, Mama. While I felt a higher presence at each one, I didn't feel a deep sense of connection with these organized religions. I realize now that I first unleashed my inner bruja as a child without even knowing it. By simply trusting that these mysterious feelings I had about the universe and human life were authentic, I was already embracing the bruja within.
Image Source: Caridad de la Luz
I believe that surrendering and trusting the unknown is a form of magic, even if I didn't know it at the time. But I knew in every fiber of my being that there was something greater out there in the universe, and that greater something was also within me. It was a profound connection I could not explain in words, but I received confirmation in many ways.
One was in the way Mama lived. She loved with so much color, and I often wondered if anyone else could see this beautiful light shining from her. The proof that they did came in the outpouring of unconditional love she received just by being herself. Mama was a shapeshifter, transforming from a protective mama bear to a fairy godmother sprinkling love and blessings to everyone and everything she encountered. Just as she loved people, she loved the earth, including her flowers, her garden, and the fruit and vegetables she'd pick and serve fresh.
Mama also had rituals. Some that went with the seasons, and some that she consistently did weekly or monthly in her home. I remember watching her place bowls of water around the house high up on shelves or on the top of the refrigerator. Later I learned that bowls of water are believed to soak up negative energy in the home. Every season, Mama would go through each room changing the drapes and bedding, and sometimes moving the furniture around. Hence, shifting the energy. Whenever she did this, a comforting scent would flow throughout her home. It was the spiritual cologne known to many as Agua de Florida, aka Florida Water.
In fact, she didn't only use Agua de Florida to cleanse her home, she also used it on me and her other grandchildren. Whenever we had ailments of any sort, Mama would pull out the Agua de Florida. I remember once having bad cramps as a teenager, and with one mention of it to Mama, we were in her bathroom, and she was rubbing Agua de Florida on the back of my neck. She then instructed me to lie down for a bit. I slept and woke up with no pain at all.
Mama did these things so effortlessly. It was just a part of who she was. These were traditions that were deeply embedded in her spirit and carried on from our ancestors.
Image Source: Zayda Rivera
The brujas of previous generations that also embraced the Great Mystery of this life trusted in the magic around us and within us. The mysteries they embraced were considered by some as dangerous or a threat because of the unknown. Still today, the word "bruja" is considered taboo for many. But that fear of the unknown could never truly blanket the magic that we are more than this physical frame and this human experience. In understanding that, we heal, we grow, and we end generational traumas.
Now, I am a mother of three children. Through leading by example, I am teaching my children that the word "bruja" is not something ugly or bad. In fact, it's a powerful term of independence, courage, strength, trust, connection, and surrender. I practice mindful living and communicate with Source through meditation, yoga, tarot, reiki, and other forms of spiritual practices. I experience soul journeying often now through breathwork, deep meditation, soul-retrieval work, and energy work, and I am honored to share these experiences with others so that their souls can journey, too. This begins with my children, who are discovering their magic by watching me unleash my own, just like I watched the light glowing from Mama.