Dummy's Guide to Botanicas

As we mentioned in our previous post, "Inside Miami's Botanicas: Santeros, the Devil's Intestines, and Steep Prices," the items being sold inside a botanica can seem confusing or even intimidating to the uninitiated. That's why we decided to grab our santero friend and have him explain some of the basic items essential to the practice of Lukumi. After all, he owed us for sacrificing a rooster in our bedroom one night while we were passed out. Let's just say we never went to another rave with him. Without further ado, we present our Dummy's Guide to Botanicas.


This little cup of ground-up and compacted egg shells is one of the more common items found in a botanica and is used for a variety of purposes. Cascarilla has the consistency of chalk and is used to mark doorways, entryways, and bedrooms for the purpose of blessing the area. A person can also be blessed by marking the soles of his or her feet. It is not edible nor should it be used for hopscotch.

Perfumes or Scented Waters
These potions in a bottle are also commonly used by believers for everything from attracting money to breaking up couples. You use them as you would a regular perfume--dab it behind the ears, sprinkle it on your sheets, spray it into the eyes of your enemies--Okay, don't. They might retaliate with some non-magical tactics.
Human Candles
We know that the subhead sounds like we mean that the candles are made from human body fat or something, but they aren't (at least no one will admit to it). We call them human candles, because they are shaped like men, women, and hetero couples. Maybe in San Francisco or P-town you can get a male/male or female/female couple candle, but we doubt it. The color of the candle dictates its use. Green is for money, red is for domination, pink is for love, white is for healing, and black is for--well, nothing nice. That's for sure.

Voodoo Dolls
Yep. These are used for exactly what you think they're used for.

The many different types of incense can be used to clean a home of unwanted energies or to hide the smell of marijuana from your neighbors or roommate.

Ritual Candles
If you don't dig the idea of having Kim Kardashian's "voluptuous" new fragrance mix with the scent of eau de botanica, skip the perfumes and go for the ritual candles. Just like the perfumes, ritual candles are available to help in a multitude if areas: attracting love, succeeding at work, and keeping away the evil eye. We don't remember seeing any ritual candles for warding off a zombie apocalypse, but it's probably a good idea to start stockpiling those.

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Ily Goyanes
Contact: Ily Goyanes