What Inspired Me To Embrace My Inner Bruja

Growing up Roman Catholic on both sides of my family, I was taught to staunchly stay away from anything that remotely resembled occult practice

Photo: 123rf

Photo: 123rf

Growing up Roman Catholic on both sides of my family, I was taught to staunchly stay away from anything that remotely resembled occult practice. That went double for my Latina side. My mom is so superstitious, I grew up with an irrational fear of splitting the pole with someone when walking down the street. According to my mom, that’s bad luck.

When I was in sixth grade, my friends and I bought a Ouija board and brought it back to my house to play with. When my mom found it, she was furious. I got lectured, yelled at and of course she got rid of it immediately. That Milton Bradley Ouija board was not just some innocent game to her. Spirits, angels, and anything to do with the “other side” was NEVER to be tampered with. Although my mother and I have opposing views on many subjects, I have to say, I do agree with her about the Ouija board.

I was baptized into the Catholic church, where I made my communion and my confirmation. My mom taught religious instructions for many years. In all honestly I always found religion interesting, I just couldn’t wrap my head around a lot of it as a child. I think that’s part of the reason I ended up looking outwards, because I truly wanted to understand. A fun fact not many people know about me, is that I actually thought about becoming a nun for a brief moment in time. And I am so glad that time has passed.

Photo: Courtesy of Jaqueline Fardella

Photo: Courtesy of Jaqueline Fardella

I was never disinterested in Catholicism, but moreover curious about other beliefs. I desired to add to my comprehension about this so vital, yet mysterious, part of life. I began to read about other religions in middle school, then kind of let go of it for awhile & reacquainted myself with a heavier emphasis in my 20’s. I took a theology course in college, which gave me deeper insight into some of the major religions. I studied Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism & Judaism. I was lucky enough to have grown up in a town with a sizable Jewish community, so I at least had a basic foundation of understanding of one religion beyond mine.

After that course, I began to do my own research and studied outside of school. The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn. I began implementing the principles that resonated with me into daily life. Some were Buddhist principles, some Pagan, some Christian… I loved the freedom of being able to pick and choose the things that felt right. Once those principles became a constant, I began to notice myself healing and my life changing. It made me face my obstacles and difficult truths, but in a gentle way. To me, these principles stemmed from something that seemed pure and loving, rather than by a fear that you were going to be judged. This “u-pick” helped me to get deep down to the core of myself and truly understand who I am and what I love. It helped me to get on my life path without fear standing in the way. It ultimately allowed me to let go and be who I really am deep down.

My mom had always said I was the happiest child, always smiling and laughing, and I wondered where that had gone along the way. I still felt like that’s who I was deep down, but at some point it started to become increasingly difficult to access that. Discovering my true faith had remedied that confusion.

Tarot made a strong comeback into my life about two years ago. I had gotten readings done and toyed with the idea previously, but upon moving to Los Angeles I was blessed with a roommate who read as a hobby. She brought them out one day and I quickly became immersed. At first, it felt like reading stereo instructions. You are essentially learning a new language. It takes effort, patience, dedication and most importantly, the ability to put your ego aside (which is arguably the hardest part for people.)

I eventually bought my own deck because I felt such a strong call to it. It was a whole new depth of theology and my curiosity was insatiable. I studied them every day, pulling cards, researching meanings and spreads, until eventually I heard about a course offering through a local spiritual shop. By that time, I had learned so much I didn’t need to look up meanings or spreads anymore, but in any craft you must realize apprenticeship is lifelong.

This course was my cherry on top and completely exceeded my expectations. I learned a whole new point-of-view in tarot and began reading professionally as a direct result. Reading for people had always been a bit nerve-racking because it seemed like such a big responsibility in my mind. Usually, when someone asks for a reading, it’s because they feel lost in some area of their life. I wanted to always be sure my skills were par excellence. My mission is to give guidance that is only in the receivers’ best possible interest and by completing this course, I had fulfilled that personal standard.

Photo: Courtesy of Jaqueline Fardella

Spirituality has become a daily practice for me. I try to do a meditation every day to help ground myself and assist in separating my empathy for others from my own personal feelings. I practice tarot every day, whether it be pulling my Card of the Day, Card of The Week for my tarotscopes, or learning something new. In the interest of full transparency, I still hold my traditional values close. I don’t see any reason, nor do I have any desire, to give them up. I have a small Holy Bible from my abuelos on my nightstand and multiple rosaries adorn my apartment. I collect them and love to visit historical churches while traveling, as well.

My mother is very religious, and I know it makes her happy to see I am still connected to the values and belief system that she brought me up in, and that her parents raised her in. I do still feel a connection to my roots in Catholicism, and although I have found an alternative path that works for me, I don’t feel that means I need to abandon tradition. So, I will continue to attend masses, celebrate Christmas and give up something for Lent every year, all the while practicing tarot, burning sage, wearing crystals and learning about the Akashic Records.

Because I don’t exclusively practice one religion, people like to ask me how I define myself. If I had to choose a label, I might say an Omnist. Websters Dictionary defines an Omnist as, “One that believes in all religions.” Some people say Omnism and Universalism are one in the same. I disagree. If I respect others’ religions and beliefs, I think there has to be an understanding that life is a grey area.

You will not always understand other peoples’ point of views. You know the old saying about walking a mile in someone else’s shoes. I personally, don’t believe there is a universal right and wrong. In my opinion, to say that would be the equivalent of saying, “Killing is wrong.” Therefore, killing for any purpose is wrong. Therefore, killing for food is wrong. Therefore, everyone who eats meat is bad or “evil.” Therefore all carnivores—this includes animals—are bad or “evil.” This theory doesn’t resonate with me particularly, but if that is what my peer believes, I wouldn’t chastise them for it. We all have our own ideals and I believe those ideas should be respected.

Although I don’t practice Catholicism exclusively, I do believe that being brought up in a religion, regardless of which it is, is very important. It lays down a foundation for you, and instills a basic understanding of what having faith is. Having faith in something is one of the most significant factors in your life, whether you recognize it or not.

My theory is, WHO CARES if the story is true, false, altered, etc.? If you are stuck on the literal aspects of a religion, you are completely missing the point and missing out on the immense value of having faith in your life. Life is a journey of moments. There will be infinite beautiful, wonderful moments of elation and there will be countless ugly, difficult, and painful moments. This is universal. No one leaves unscathed in their lifetime. The trick to being able to fully appreciate and feel gratefulness and fulfillment in those good times, and to trudging through the mud and rising from the ashes through those hard times is very much about having faith. Your perception in any situation equals your reality. Having faith is programming your mindset. Are you going to let this take you down? Hell no! Having faith means having a choice. It means you can and will do it. You can and will come out the other side, and you will be better for it.

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