Candles for Santeria

August 15, 2000

Source: Los Angeles Times

On August 15, 2000, the Los Angeles Times reported on Marty Mayer, president of Indio Products. Mayer "oversees the transformation of several tanker-cars full of wax into candles...every week at his Long Beach factory." He also boasts an "inventory of nearly 7,000 magic candles, oils, essences, soaps, aerosols, and floor washes flowing to distributors throughout the Americas, Europe, Australia, and Japan." While Mayer himself does not believe in magic, many of his customers do; most of his "customers are wholesalers running botanicas--stores frequented by, among others, devotees of Santeria, a Cuban cousin to Haitian Voodoo. Santeria is a synthesis of West African religion and Catholicism, attracting a broad spectrum of practitioners ranging from those rigorously involved in worship of African deities to Catholics looking to supplement their faith...Other practitioners may be more casual, interested primarily in resolving a problem through magic or mixing and matching Santeria with herbal remedies and devotions to non-canonical, folk saints of Latin America." Mayer does not practice Santeria himself, but feels he is providing a service to others. "When people go to a psychiatrist week after week after week, they're dependent on that. It's the same thing here--they're dependent on burning candles. You can't take that away from them."