We have all had inconvenient moments of introspection since the pandemic hit early last year. And honestly, it is to be expected. If you didn't question life in 2020, were you ever truly awake? We've all been collectively faced with our own mortality. It was and continues to be really scary. Stress, death, unemployment, inequality, and disease have caused old cracks and faulty support systems to crumble.
As a result, many of us are now more open to seeking answers to the unanswered questions in our lives. For many Latinas, this has meant dabbling in the esoteric, as well as looking into ancestral spiritual practices. Now more than ever it seems divination tools like runes, pendulums, and tarot are pretty mainstream. Witchtok is a thing, and #brujasofinstagram is a thing, and the interest is growing. This cultural shift has also caused many of us to stand even more firmly in who we were already becoming.
But as we know, in most Latinx households, there is still a lot of stigma against all things that are not of the church, or at least in line with what society deems "normal." Anything outside of that is labeled "brujeria" or "evil," even though there are plenty of us with family members who were secretly or not so secretly involved with the esoteric. If you feel like you're spiritually sensitive, someone else in your family probably is, too. There are plenty of us with mothers, tias, and abuelas who were super devout to certain Catholic saints. Having a deep connection with the spirit of a dead person and petitioning them to do stuff for you is very on-brand as brujeria in my book, but a lot of folks aren't ready to hear that.
Coming out of the bruja closet is hard and scary when our families' religious and cultural beliefs are at odds with who we are and who we want to become. So how do we touch on this subject? Well, I wish I had clear-cut answers, but they don't exist. Indoctrination takes time to learn, and it will take even more time to unlearn. Whether you're getting into a non-Christian religion, dabbling in tarot, or learning about your ancestors, there are definitely some things to consider when you feel ready to tell people.
Be Ready For Any Response
First and foremost, we have to remember that telling people about our spiritual and/or religious practices is for us and only us. We have to hope for the best but be ready for anything. Bruja and healer Emilia Ortiz reminds us that staying ready so we don't have to get ready is really important.
"Prepare yourself mentally for them not to be receptive — coming out is more for you than it is for them. While of course we want people we care about to know about our journey and identity, their reaction shouldn't define how we feel about it," she tells POPSUGAR Latina. "We share our journey not just for support (or hope for support) but to also not feel as though we're living in secrecy."
Prepare yourself mentally for them not to be receptive — coming out is more for you than it is for them.
Not having our parents' stamp of approval is hard, but if you're reading this and feeling seen, chances are you never had their approval to begin with. Plus, we are grown! Having to always seek out our parents' approval is another thing entirely that should be taken up with a licensed therapist. Being a bruja means standing in your own power, and that's why it's so terrifying. So many of us as women — as Latinas — have been trained to see our power as something we need to relinquish in order to be loved or accepted. "Our family's approval would be nice, but don't expect it. Simply because this is your path, it may not be theirs. So their understanding of you may be limited to their own beliefs," Ortiz adds.
Be true to yourself
Being true to ourselves is the secret sauce. Also, no one said this would be easy. One of the most common things I hear from clients is that they want to live their most authentic lives, but at the same time, they won't admit that they have gifts and abilities that require attention and training. It's rather inconvenient and awfully painful to realize that our comfort is built on a foundation of fairy tales and self-betrayals. It's even harder still to accept that the lies have to end in order for self-truth and healing to begin.
For many of us, looking into ourselves will mean untangling the past and accepting the present. The legacies of inequality, white supremacy, and misogyny caused by colonization mean that most of us with Latin American heritage have significant unexamined ancestral traumas that are still playing themselves out today — there are many layers on top of why accepting ourselves is so hard to begin with. This is why shadow work, lower chakra work, and therapy are so important.
If you're a bruja, be a bruja and own it! The moment that I finally said this is who I am, this is what I believe in, and this is what I stand for, everything changed for me. No one can tell me who I am if I know who I am. Bruja Blanca Espinoza, aka Moon Chola, recommends that baby brujas get solid in their beliefs before taking on difficult conversations with family members.
"Get as confident as you can with your connection to magic, spirituality, and brujeria," Espinoza tells us. "There are going to be so many opinions out there, and it's best to be prepared for that . . . the truth is rooted in you. I would also recommend building a community you trust, even if it is only one friend. Also, be OK with how you may need to adjust in the event that others decide to treat you differently — you have to be so solid in yourself."
Be About That Life
Remember, you are not alone! If you want to feel like people understand you, then you need to find people who actually understand you. Or as bruja
Nicole Bloodmoon put it: "I have no desire to argue or convince people to see things my way. I know my beliefs, I know why I believe them. This is my life, and I lost the need to convince people why I should be allowed to live it how I want." It is your turn to create the life you want to live! Seek out people who make you feel seen, and allow yourself to evolve. Social media is a great place to take a peek at what's going on in the witch sphere, although some of it is outright nonsense, so beware and use your discernment.
It is your turn to create the life you want to live! Seek out people who make you feel seen and allow yourself to evolve.
You can build community while you slowly chip away at the resistant people in your life, because it can really take years. Being an example of the ideas and philosophies you are incorporating into your life is important. If they think you are evil, the best way you can prove them wrong is by doing amazing and being your best self. Because if your life isn't significantly improved by your practices, then you should rethink them.
The most important lesson I learned about winning over my family was that it takes baby steps over time. Even nine years into my journey, my family has gotten to a place where they are permissive and tolerant of my "weirdness," and I have to accept that it's likely the best they can do for now or maybe forever. "But just remember that any relationship worth saving will be with someone who is open to communicating with you — they will love and support you," Bloodmoon adds.
It's also important to recognize when you're not actually safe or ready to come out. Both Ortiz and Espinoza recommend working on yourself, studying, and creating a relationship with whatever faith you choose to walk with.
"Read books. Pray often. At the end of the day, this is between you and the spirits. The time to fully come out will always reveal itself in divine time," Espinoza said.
Ortiz recommends focusing on your practice and creating daily rituals that fit into your routine. "You can do visualizations in the shower, or use Epsom salt, or Himalayan salt, etc. in your baths," she says. "Call on your ancestors, who once had to practice in secrecy for similar reasons, and ask for their guidance, whether it be in the form of a dream or a gentle push from spirit in the right direction."
We are called to these practices because they are the tools we need to evolve and become the pilots of our own destiny. We have to remember that for the first time in the past 400 years, we are finally allowed to choose our own faith and practice what resonates with us. Don't ignore the call because the colonizer taught us our ancestral practices are primitive and evil. You are bountiful and sacred. Don't ever forget it.