By Juan Carlos Espinosa
Mexico City, Jan 1 (EFE).- From prosperity-bringing candles to the makings of spells and potions to find love: anything goes at this capital’s Sonora Market, which saw big crowds this week as Mexicans turned to the occult in hope of ensuring a healthy and successful 2022.
A stroll down Aisle 8 of the 64-year-old market fills the nostrils with the aroma of herbs and the ears with the sound of merchants hawking their unusual wares.
Among them is Isa Cruz, who touts Tarot card readings, varieties of incense, special soaps and “an infinity of things,” telling shoppers, “whatever you need, you can ask.”
With two days to go until New Year’s Eve, she is seeing a considerable increase in people seeking a year-end “cleansing,” which entails Isa’s ritually passing an egg over the client’s body to banish all of the negative energy.
Though roughly 80 percent of Mexicans are at least nominally Roman Catholics, occult practices enjoy broad acceptance and some regard them as complementing their Christian faith.
Virginia Sanchez, who has come to Sonora Market to buy New Year’s candles for her mother, “like every year,” said that things such as Santeria, witchcraft and even the Mexican outlaw cult of Santa Muerte (Holy Death) can have the same validity as a Catholic Mass.
“If you have faith, be it in a stone, you will have health and economic well-being,” she told Efe. “This comes from our grandparents and I believe we must conserve traditions.”
Life has returned to Mexico City’s “most magical” market after the pandemic lockdowns of 2020 and even a serious fire on Nov. 4 left the merchants undaunted.
“We ran toward the fire. We all have extinguishers here. We got (the shoppers) out and the firefighters arrived we already had the people outside and everything closed,” Cruz recounted.
And the flames never reached Aisle 8.
Another merchant, Fabiola Ruiz, insisted that the best way to prepare for the new year was to light some candles and soak in a tub filled with the herbal mix she calls a “bath of abundance.”
“Ultimately, we are energy, and as long as we are positive and the immune system is strong this helps us a lot. This is what most defines us as Mexicans: we are people of beliefs,” she said.
Money and health are the chief concerns driving people to the stalls on Aisle 8 of the Sonora Market.
Mexicans are contending with the highest inflation in 20 years and the country ranks fifth globally in deaths from Covid-19, with nearly 300,000 fatalities. EFE jce/dr