Feature photo by megleo

Enter any Mexican home and you will likely see saints, candles and altar. If you live in a barrio, you have to have a botanica. We all have one, and in Pilsen we have three. It is just part of us to dabble in the unknown, to open ourselves to other ways of experiencing life, our spirituality and our beliefs. We aren’t afraid of saying, “Oh, that sounds negative. Go get a limpia,” or “Pray to this saint,” or “Here is this candle, burn it.” We take our spiritual openness seriously. We are so on the notion that everything carries energy and that we need to protect ourselves and get a “limpia” every once in a while or a tarot reading to see if we are going to be okay.

My first experience watching such ritualistic gypsy phenomena was when I was six years old. I had the chance to see this beautiful curandera speak with such faith and sweetness. She did tarot readings for my family, and I just happen to be there along for the ride. I was a very curious little girl with a yearning for spirituality. To me, women like her were special and different. I didn’t know what she was, but she didn’t have to explain anything to me–just watching her and smelling the alluring incense was all I needed to understand a little of what she was about. She used las cartas espanolas. They looked more like playing cards. I loved watching her lay them out so fast and seeing all the images and symbols on them. The cups, las copas, were always my favorite. I stopped seeing her after she passed away. She had a very big heart, and I always saw that in her since day one.

Years later, I was still around tarot readers and curanderos. Even though I experienced my own mysteries and connections to the spiritual world I never thought I could be one of them, maybe because I didn’t trust enough in my own gifts and abilities. I just tried to follow the normal path that was expected of me. Then when I was eighteen years old, I received my first deck of Tarot Cards. I remember feeling as if I was uncovering gold and feeling as if the tarot lit up everything. I did my first reading that night. I was blown away. It was making clear connections to my current situation. After that, I kept going doing readings on myself, family and even strangers. I was just so into the symbolism and connections. After studying each card I began to make even more different connections. There are just so many ways to read the tarot. The Tarot also helped me with my own natural abilities. I began to have more confidence in the messages I was receiving. It made me more open to the unknown as well as more tolerable to other spiritual beliefs. The key word is spirit, espiritu. Our gente acknowledges it and understands there can be many connections to it and El Tarot is one way of making that connection.

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