As the new year approaches, botanicas throughout NYC enter their busiest periods. The mom and pop shops – which are filled with religious merchandise and natural healing products drawn from Afro-Caribbean religions like Santería, Candomblé or Haitian Voodoo – provide a space to connect with spirituality and holistic wellness. “They’re places of healing,” Joseph Murphy, a theology professor at Georgetown University, told the Huffington Post. “To me, the story is that there is this network of help that people can find there that they often can’t find elsewhere.”
At Original Products – a 15,000-square-foot Bronx botanica that calls itself the “Home Depot of Spirituality” – there are more than 10,000 items for those looking for luck, wealth, love, career opportunities, and cleansing before the beginning of the new year. Though Original Products has a mostly Puerto Rican, Dominican, Cuban, and Jamaican clientele, the store’s stocked with products from all across Latin America.
We headed to the Bronx shop weeks ago to learn about what items may bring you good luck and energy in 2017. If this year didn’t go your way, here are the botanica essentials that could up your chances for success.
Reporting by Itzel Alejandra Martinez and Yara Simón.
Mexicas widely use Copal – a natural tree resin – as an incense for spiritual cleansing. It’s particularly effective for clearing your home of bad energies.
The Tainos of the Caribbean originally consumed Mamajuana – a drink made up of roots and herbs – as a tea. Believed to have curative properties, Mamajuana is specifically used to improve sexual vigor and fertility.
Yoruba culture uses herbal baths as a way to pray and gather strength from the seven major Orishas (gods and goddesses). A combination of herbs – boiled in water and then cooled – are used to bathe with. You can use mixtures of basil for Obatala to bring you wisdom, chamomile or honey for Oshun to aid with a love request, and mejoran to open doors and opportunities with Elegba’s help.
Amuletos, charms, and spiritual bracelets serve as a physical reminder of an intention or prayer set. Minerals within the bracelets are believed to bring, break, or transform specific spiritual energies. You can use rose quartz for self-love and other matters of the heart, black onyx as a protector, and bracelets with rhodonite for harmony.
Colored, saint, herbal, and prepared candles are used at a variety of spiritual rituals from Santería to Catholicism. You can use a Rue candle for prosperity, a yellow candle can serve to ignite your creativity this 2017, or a St.Claire/Santa Clara candle to find clarity in a given situation.
Altars date back to pre-Columbian times as an offering to the spirits, gods, and goddesses. Building an altar centered around Marta Dominadora from the Hoodoo religion helps you keep control during challenging situations. One dedicated to Papa Candelo helps overcome past frustrations. And San Simon –also know to many Guatemaltecos as Maximon– can bring you success in business and aid in overcoming addictions.