Juan Pablo Contreras Rios
As people cry out for love, money, health or happiness, sorcery promises to help them. In Bogotá, witchcraft is more alive than ever, and witches and shamans promise to achieve the impossible.
“I attract the loved one, humiliated at his feet. I recover engagements, marriages and lovers. I destroy all kinds of witchcraft and I have a unique technique on the power to flirt sexually,” promises the so-called maestro de la brujería when you enter his white magic office. “I give chance numbers and lotteries, but I also make deals for luck and love.”
Nothing is out of reach for the maestro, a man of short stature, slim build and black hair who is slightly cross-eyed. He says the clairvoyance of his third eye helps him perform treatments without causing pain or harm. He begins by lighting incense and asking for his patient’s date of birth, with a picture of Jesus Christ behind him. He scatters a series of cards with images of the zodiac and starts his astral reading. He meditates a little and proclaims a series of prayers and incantations. He then tells his client what steps to follow and asks them to pay his receptionist and schedule their next appointment. He then invites the next person to come in. He performs the same procedure about five times a day.
However, the maestro de la brujería is not the only one who promises to help you keep an impossible or lost love, nor is his technique the only one on the market. Many people in the capital believe in sorcery, and there are plenty of people to provide that for them. In the vicinity of Caracas with Calle 58 we found Luis, a young Venezuelan man. He covers up his real work by handing out fliers for prostitutes, but those in the know can ask him to do magic – specifically, Luis makes voodoo dolls. Away from the bustle of the street, Luis explains what’s needed in more detail.
“You should bring me some thongs or boxers from the person to whom we will tie the voodoo doll,” he says. “It’s also necessary to get some fluid such as semen, urine, blood and several hairs. The doll is stuffed with herbs and pieces of underwear so that the work stays as you desire.”
For Luis, the most important thing when making a voodoo doll is to communicate with the fifth dimension. He says he can understand mystical concepts when in this state of consciousness and spirituality. He uses tobacco and charts to make contact with spirits and entities not present on earth.
A man who claims Satan is his father
Moving to the south of the city, we meet Ramiro López, known in the world of black magic and satanism as el chamán llanero (the shaman from the Llanos). The 53-year-old claims he works with his father: Satan. He is dedicated to doing evil, and his small office space has a strong musty smell. It’s loaded with satanic images, haunted dolls, beheaded heads and statues of Satan. A pair of coffins hang from the ceiling in homage to Lucifer, who he claims has given him everything in life.
“The devil and I are not two, we are one,” he says. “He is me and I am he. He lives in me and I live in him. I am the devil himself; I am Satan and I am Lucifer. I am proof that the devil exists. And to me, Jehovah is a son of a bitch, Yahve is a bastard, and Jesus Christ is a fool.”
El chamán llanero clearly loves luxury and extravagance, on his desk lie two latest model iPhones and the keys to his Jeep. He also loves philosophy and says he bases his beliefs and doctrines on thinkers such as Heidegger, Hegel, Jean-Paul Sartre and Arthur Schopenhauer. He tells me that he hates people and fears nothing except human brutality. Indeed, the only living things he loves are animals – he has a dog named Shakira.
We move to a room at the back of his office where there are several statues of naked demons, a red and opaque light, and another pair of coffins. This is where he performs satanic rituals that require more space and harmony with the impressive figures and statues of bloody bodies.
He has a very good memory for poems and literary fragments, but he also remembers the first time he claims the devil appeared to him when he was only four years old and under a fruit tree. He promised he’d be king if he did evil and destroyed the world.
“The one who is against me goes badly, the pestilence comes, and they die, misery and disease comes to them. If she is a woman, she will prostitute herself, and if she has daughters, they will prostitute themselves too. Death comes with me.”
The hundreds of people who come to his office are willing to pay more than ten million pesos for his services. He says many women desire beauty, while men desire money or sex. The latter is not a problem in Ramiro’s life. Although he has a wife, he says that fornicating is one of the sins that satisfies him the most and even recruits women who make love in front of him to satisfy his sexual desires.
Whether they practice black or white magic, there are basic beliefs that unite el chamán llanero, el maestro de la brujería and Luis. It’s an unknown world where love ties, voodoo dolls and tarot cards are tools to heal the spirit, attract fortune, and in some cases, do evil. Magic is a universe full of colours and nuances – and it’s also a popular money-making business.