figureposted on 01.09.2010, 00:00 by Deirdre Guthrie
This woman is a bruja (witch) in a Dominican village that has experienced a recent surge in tourist development. Her husband cut her recently to let her blood so she would “stop flying at night,” an act that reveals her threatening status as a woman with magical powers. Along with curing through herbs, she was viewed as able to work “both hands” and use witchcraft to fly and shape-shift. But she says (with a wink) that she doesn’t fly anymore and points to a picture of the Virgin Mary over her door. The brujo’s role is to interpret the cause of illness or misfortune through divination and appealing to the misterios (spirits which have both Catholic and African names). Often it is discovered that someone has hired another brujo to send the spirit of a muerto, or dead person, to involuntarily possess the victim, inciting psychological or medical harm. As social life becomes increasingly competitive the function of the brujo, in interpreting spells caused by “bad influences” such as envy or vengeance, has increased. Their diagnoses highlight what breached rules or behavioral offences are threatening this community’s coherence and solidarity, and how these anxieties are deepening or being resolved.