Being A Bruja In Texas

The Texas Story Project.

It all began decades ago. A long line of brujas. My mom, my aunt, grandma, and great grandmother passed their rules, and knowledge down to me, and hopefully my sister. I am a descendant of intuitive, powerful, hard willed, don’t and won’t live by no man's rules women. They have made me what I am.

I learned “bruja”, from my mama, panzon (my grandpa) and aunt calling me “brujita.” Which led me to put the first piece of the puzzle that is my life together. My first realization of being a bruja, was being told the story of my powers. I was six or seven in my old adobe style ranch next to the mountains of sunny, dry El Paso, Texas. The sun was starting to go down, and I start telling my mom, “Dile a el que me deje de ver!” “Tell him to stop looking at me!” Nervous she looks where I am pointing and sees nothing, so she asks curiously, wondering if I am growing, learning the brujeria that I was born with. I explain to her in a haughty sassy voice, that no he is not scary, he is beautiful, but I don’t want someone looking at me while I sleep. I tell her that I can’t make out his face, but I can see his wings, and his dress that is blue green, but not really. It’s a multitude of colors that I chose out. An angel. He leaves, and that’s when I would later learn that I am bruja. I do not see ghosts but spirits. The meaning of a bruja is not something you learn by just words. You learn by imagining, and seeing beyond the mind and the eyes. In truly seeing, you use your heart and your breath.

You can’t just say you’re a bruja because you’re latina. You can’t learn to be a bruja either, and you definitely don’t learn what a true bruja is without being one. I’ve learned to try to explain what the most surface layer of us is. Being connected to the earth and spiritual worlds, therefore being connected deeper to human beings, understanding more of each other, and knowing how to feel something that you’ve never experienced before. Being a bruja is knowing to know. Knowing to step away, and ask questions, not giving up. It’s knowing remedies you’ve made up that work, and learning to love and understand deeper. Being a bruja is more than understanding. It's knowing to use tomato slices on the feet for a fever, using Caldito con Pollo, and Vaporub, for any sickness, knowing I want chilaquiles for breakfast without having to ask, and sadly most people will never understand how it is to be connected by one look.

Living in Houston, Texas, is not the same as El Paso. The air is different, and the people, too. The first time feeling the magic in the air, was in El Paso in my old 1947 white adobe ranch style house. Big backyard, yellow, dry sacate with dead but vibrant green trees. The air, whispering enchantments, feeling the safe spirits protecting you at every angle. The air chilling, internally providing warmth. It’s like feeling at ultimate control of your feelings. You begin to act like you know who you are because you are learning to step into your shoes, and be who you are.

My curiosity and suspicion was confirmed of me being a bruja, when my friend claimed he saw a ghost. An old lady living in our house, but I knew. Not a ghost, a spirit. Protecting us from evil of the outside. Protecting us from the same wind that's beautiful, the same evil that people's minds seem to love. This woman spirit was our angel over the time and this angel looked out for us in every way. Sadly, the power is mostly gone, and now I can’t see them, but I can sense them. The air being a supplement to my “Power.” The air adding an element of culture wherever the spirits go. The air different with every breath.

The air in Houston is different, just as it is in El Paso, and in Juarez. El Paso is where I will be forever connected with my roots. It will be the place that beauty will forever stay, and where my story began. El Paso is where my heart belongs, but my mind needs to move, constantly thinking. It can’t be still. Houston provides this movement. Here, you don’t notice the stillness of El Paso, because you can feel yourself moving, expanding, knowing more and more, your brain can’t get enough, and your eyes are struggling to keep up. Houston provides the knowledge to succeed everywhere else, and Houston shows you the culture stored deep and secretly in everyone else, which gives me, a glimpse of what the future could be.

Luisa Villalobos is a 8th grade student in Houston, but was born and (mostly) raised in El Paso. Growing up being called a "bruja" was something super special, and writing this essay helped her relive a lot of memories. She hopes other people can feel the love as she did.

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