This profile was last updated in 2005
Activities and Schedule
A woman performs spiritual consultations using Spanish Cards (cartas espirituales, Espiritismo) weekdays, Monday-Friday.
The botanica was founded in 1996 by La Division 21, a group of three individuals. Originally of Dominican descent, they lived in Spain for 8 years and then moved to the United States to sell their goods.
Physical Description of the Center
This is one of the larger botanicas in New York, with a very complete selection of flowers and plants as well as the usual medicinal herbs, statues of saints and other religious articles. An entire portion of the store is set aside for potted plants. The remainder of the store is filled with shelves of talismans, books, statues of saints, and other mystical supply needs.
Religious consultations are performed in a back room.
Botanicas as Religious Centers
Botanicas are stores that stock herbs, roots, beads, oils, scents, sprays, powders, potions, etc., used in Santería and other ritual practices such as Espiritismo. In communities with sizable Hispanic populations, such as Harlem and Washington Heights, NY, and Union City, NJ, botanicas can be found wedged between the busy grocery stores, barber shops and news stands. Botanicas vary widely in size; most are small storefronts, but some are multi-level emporiums. As Mary Ann Borello and Elizabeth Mathias (1977: 69) write, the botanica “functions as a folk pharmacy” which offers the consumer a myriad of choices. Some customers even come with “prescriptions” for plants and other ritual items written down for them by their spiritual leaders, and have them filled at the store counter.