1. Your previous book, Crossroads of Conjure, and your new book, The Sacred Art of Brujeria, both focus on folk magic and magic of the South and Southwest. What inspired you to write each book?
I was raised in Appalachian magic and went on to practice folk magic for many years after leaving Kentucky in 1978. As I began to study other forms of folk magic, I was surprised to find many similarities in the modalities. Throughout my practice with many different types of magic, I noticed no one was talking about American magic. HooDoo dominated any conversation on folk magic much as Wicca dominates any conversation on Witchcraft. The impact of the United States as a birthplace of strong, effective magical paths rarely came up, so I took it upon myself to push the paths of Appalachian Granny Magic, Black Belt HooDoo, and Brujeria into the conversation with Crossroads of Conjure.
When I was called into Brujeria training by my mentors, they had the ambition of creating more healers, trained in spiritual cleansing and healing on the levels of mind, body, and spirit. They passed the urgency of the need on to me, which prompted me to start a year long series of Brujeria classes once I was fully trained and had worked in the field for a while. The overwhelming response to the availability of these classes shocked me and ultimately, I taught three year-long series of classes to accommodate the students who came to me eager to learn how to heal people with this kind of magical practice. The students repeatedly asked me for reading recommendations to supplement their learning, so I turned them onto books like Woman Who Glows in the Dark by Elena Avila and to address their questions of the history of the practice, The Pyramid Under the Cross by Viviana Díaz Balsera. There were very few books addressing how I was taught to practice, so I put my year-long course into book form. The intention wound into the book is that those who are meant to learn from the book will find it.
2. What exactly is Brujeria, and how does it differ from other magical practices?
Brujeria is technically the Spanish word for "witchcraft," so linguistically speaking, many people practice Brujeria. Culturally, however, it is a specific form of magical practice with the emphasis on healing others. Curanderismo is its counterpart and primarily focuses on physical healing with mind and spirit components factored in. Brujeria focuses on spirit and magic with mind and body components factored in. Rather than just a translated word, Brujeria is its own practice with specific modalities intended to heal through magical practice and focused attention. In Brujeria, all forms of misfortune, disadvantage, or illness fall under the category of dis-ease. We work to find the magical solution for those maladies and to restore a quality of life to the people who come to us whenever possible. In the thirty-plus years I have worked in the magical arts cross-culturally, I have rarely seen magical paths with an emphasis on working for others. That is what drew me to Brujeria… the act of service.
3. Do readers need to have any previous knowledge or experience with Brujeria to apply the information in The Sacred Art of Brujeria?
This is an introductory course, so while previous knowledge of energy movement and manipulation or magical practice is handy, it is certainly not required. A person can pick up this book without any prior knowledge or experience and successfully apply the information provided in the book.
4. Why is Brujeria so powerful?
The final class in my series is called "The Nature of Sacrifice" and discusses the actual nuts and bolts of working as a professional magical healer. Although the ambition in Brujeria is to act as a conduit for Divine Energy to flow to the client through magical practice, it is exhausting to heal people and do spell work for people all through the day. Sacrifice has power, and setting aside your own feelings, needs, and schedule in favor of helping others who come to you is a powerful offering and in exchange, strong energy flows. Traditionally, Brujeria is an apprenticeship practice, so as I did and as my personal students do, the apprentice learns from the mentor, who learned from their mentor, and so on. This lineage of practice also imbues Brujeria with power and as each level of master changes what they do, Brujeria becomes more powerful. On of the sayings we have is that, "Brujeria chooses." Not everyone can be a Bruja or a Brujo, and when those who are not intended for the path attempt to follow it, they get sidetracked and prevented from further study. This means that another component to the power of Brujeria is that if you make it to the level that you are trained and providing services to your community, you were meant to be there. The refinement of the team Brujeria chooses to bring into practice contributes even greater energy to the power of Brujeria. If you make it that far, Brujeria called you and intends for you to represent it in the world, regardless of what the people in it believe. Brujeria is its own living, growing, thriving entity, and Brujeria chooses.
5. What do you hope readers will take away from The Sacred Art of Brujeria?
I think many of us get locked into the idea of magical practice as celebratory, Wheel of the Year rituals or Band-aid spells to whip out when we have a crisis. The Sacred Art of Brujeria shows that there are vibrant magical practices that externalize us from what is happening in our own lives and compel us to use magic to help other people. Brujeria forces tolerance. If a client comes to a Bruja/o for help, they do not have the luxury or passing judgment on that person. Their job is to find how to help them, even if that means referring them to someone else. My hope is that people reading the book develop greater compassion for one another and get outside their own heads, magically speaking. Maybe if we recognize that the profound work we do through banishing and manifestation can create a better quality of life someone else, we can in turn raise the aggregate consciousness of everyone. One of my mentors many years ago said, "I am training an army of healers." This book is my way of extending the part I play in his downline to help train more people to help one another.