How My Catholic Latina Mom Learned To Embrace My Bruja Spirituality

Growing up Catholic, not only did I make my Communion and Confirmation, but my Puerto Rican mother was also my religious instruction teacher

Photo: Unsplash/@farreal

Photo: Unsplash/@farreal

Growing up Catholic, not only did I make my Communion and Confirmation, but my Puerto Rican mother was also my religious instruction teacher. We went to mass on Sundays and we said our prayers at night. My mom told me to pray for my loved ones and to ask God for help whenever I needed it. She used to say, “Listen to your head, your heart, and your right side.” Of course, she was referring to the little angel on your right shoulder. I was brought up with the belief that you should always listen to your gut, but you should NEVER dabble in brujeria, so you could imagine my anxiety when my mother learned that I was studying tarot card reading.

For my mother and a lot of religious Latinxs, Brujeria could consist of: spells/magic, psychics, tarot, playing with a Ouija board, and other games like Light As A Feather, Stiff As A Board, or simply just investing too much time into learning about anything seemingly occult-related. This was the most difficult part for me because I always had a fascination with the mysteries of the universe.

I grew up with a strong interest in theology and thriller movies to boot (another no-no from mom, but dad was more obliging.) When I was a kid, I actually asked my mother if I could attend Catholic school. What kid says that?! Luckily, I was in a great public school district, so Catholic school didn’t pan out. I didn’t realize it or even put all the pieces together until later in life, but I’ve always felt a strong pull to spirituality.

My father always knew I was interested in reading about different beliefs and religions. When I was younger, he even bought me a little “spell book” one time, which my mother was especially displeased about. My dad’s take on religion is a little lighter. It is his opinion that everyone’s relationship with God is quite personal. So, however you choose to maintain that relationship, is up to you. There really aren’t any rules. I feel similarly. For some people, going to church on Sundays and having more of a regiment makes sense and works for them, while independent prayer, or other, might resonate with someone else — like me.

Of all the moments in my life, I don’t think there was any better time to present my tarot practice to my mom than just after my hiking accident when I was at my most fragile. It was almost as if she was obliged to hear me out. What instigated the conversation was the fact that, when I had gotten into my accident, I was nearing the end of a tarot course I had been attending for quite a few weeks. My teacher was nice enough to offer remote tutoring over the phone in order for me not to miss out on the last two classes. Because my mom was with me 24/7 at this point, I knew I’d have to initiate this conversation. So, I just hoped for the best.

She was much calmer than I expected and asked me a lot of questions. I told her why it interested me, tarot’s history, origins, and how it came to get a bum rep. I explained how tarot cards are merely a tool. They aren’t magic in themselves, and they don’t make things happen. I told her how tarot cards are a conduit for your angels to communicate and guide you. The reality is, anyone can use anything for a dark purpose. You can use words to communicate love, positivity, and gratitude, or you can use them to cut someone down. At the same token, you can use a knife to eat food with, or you can use it to hurt someone.

While the cards are not dangerous, themselves, the point I was trying to drive home was that even if I was practicing “magic” it isn’t about the modality, so much as it’s the person’s intention behind it. After all this explaining, I had struck a chord somewhere along the way and she began to gain a new perspective. I offered to give her a simple reading and she agreed. Now, my mom was pretty exhausted from taking care of me and ended up falling asleep during the reading, but hey — at least she was open to it!

I would come to learn later on that my mom had her suspicions about my reading tarot before I ever even mentioned it. She had found my deck while she was packing up my apartment. She admitted to me that she thought about throwing them out. I am still more surprised that she didn’t. If this was teenage Jacqueline, those cards would have been long gone and there would have been no time wasted in hearing about it.

My mom still has a very traditional, negative association with the term, “bruja” (which means she is going to love the title of this essay) and truth-be-told I never thought I would see the day she would accept me reading tarot, let alone support it. Now, she recommends my Weekly Tarotscope to all of her clients and tells everyone about my tarot reading. Trust me when I say there is hope for all of you struggling with that generational gap between yourselves and your parents. Knowledge is power. If I could make it happen, so can you!

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acceptance bruja church culture Education empowerment faith family hiplatina latina latinx relationships spirituality tarot women Yoga
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