Yvette Montoya, 35, has been making "concoctions" since she was a little girl, grinding up berries and making "soups" with leaves, petals, and water. There were no recipes or spellbooks; it was something that she'd been drawn to, as though something otherworldly was guiding her towards her destiny as a practicing bruja, or witch.
"I've always seen and felt things I couldn’t explain. Brujería is a calling," says Montoya. "Personally, I don't believe that it's something you should get into because of curiosity. If your ancestors and guides call you to it, then it's for you and you'll feel it."
Brujería is used as an umbrella term for witchcraft based in indigenous Latin American and Afro Caribbean cultures, and describes anything from open practices like tarot and limpias (spiritual cleansings) to closed practices with faith-based traditions like Vodun, Santería, and Palo. The latter, which are often rooted in indigenous faiths, are not open to people outside of that particular culture to practice; you must have been born into or formally initiated into a closed practice in order to participate. (White sage smudging and the use of palo santo are two practices that are often appropriated.) Many brujxs typically use their magic as a form of healing and connection to their ancestors, often relying on spirit guides to assist in their practice.