The South Florida Sun-Sentinel profiles some local botanicas for yet another “psychics do well in bad times” sort of piece. While there are the usual claims of increased business and success, there is also some rather frank and honest advice from the owners and practitioners concerning expectations.
“Nelson Hernandez, who owns El Viejo Lazaro botanica in Miami, agrees. No one should expect orishas, or Santeria deities, to overturn something as vast as the economic crisis, he said. Hernandez, who is also a master of Santeria ceremonies, reads cowrie shells to see how the orishas can help his customers … “The orisha can help when a path exists, but not if there isn’t one,” he said.”
They also talk to a Santero who’s been giving away free readings due to the poverty of his clients. Words and deeds like this point to important distinctions concerning those who offer ritual and divinatory services for money. Sometimes the answer to a prayer, spell, offering, or ritual is “no”. Anyone who tells you differently, or who guarantees miraculous results, is most likely a lying scam-artist more concerned about their own income during this recession than yours. Even the most blessed, heroic, and well-connected people are sometimes bereft of divine or magical help.
If you’re in a difficult position, and seeking some sort of spiritual assistance through an intermediary, make sure the person you’re going to is involved with and accountable to their local community. A Santero, botanica owner, or local Pagan merchant who takes advantage of their community too often will find themselves saddled with a bad repuation and a shrinking client base, but the independent (and often stereotypical) psychics and card-readers you see with the lit windows and colorful signs are usually operating without such social pressures. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, and always trust your intution. If something feels “wrong” it probably is.