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#FridayThe13th: Dominican Superstitions, Rituals & Spells

Salt? Elephants? Money? Take notes.

Magic, superstition, and religious beliefs are woven into the very fabric of Dominican culture and it’s hard to see where one ends and the other begins. It was so normalized, that in my household, no one batted an eye whenever anyone mentioned spirits or witches. Not in a puritanical, fearful way or dripping in skepticism, but with the matter-of-fact tone of someone who had been raised to see magic, wonder, and God everywhere.

Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Friday the 13th (and as it turns out Tuesday the 13th) would hold some special significance for those of us who believe in magic. It is a day where spells, potions, and prayers increase in potency—even more if the day coincides with a full moon.

So on this day, while a lot of folks will be seeking out local brujos and brujas to read their futures at the bottom of a coffee cup, make love spells, and curse their enemies, I thought I would take the time to talk about 13 of my favourite Dominican superstitions, rituals, and spells!

Coffee is a big deal for most Dominicans. It’s the first thing we brew in the morning and a visit to a Dominican home will most likely prompt offerings of a cafecito. Some cultures read your future from tea leaves, but Dominican brujas do so with the coffee grinds scattered on the bottom of your cup. One of my favourite superstitions also involves coffee: if you drink your coffee standing up, your plans for the day won’t come to fruition. It’s a daily reminder to take a moment, relax, and be present in the moment.

When I was a child I longed for the kinds of rainy days where the sun shined through the rain drops. I lived for the moment my mother would pause, look up at the sky and say “se está casando una bruja”—or a witch is getting married. It never failed to give me goosebumps. Now, whenever this happens, I too, look up at the sky, say the words and send a little prayer into the sky wishing a lifetime of happiness for the brujita who has found her media naranja. Another superstition around rain is based off of a Spanish language rhyme: “Si te cae el primer aguacero de mayo tendrás buena suerte por todo el año.” Which means if you get caught in the first rain of May you’ll have good luck for all of the year.

Aloe vera plants abound in Dominican gardens, aside from being great medicinally it also has magical properties. Folks say that hanging an aloe vera plant over or behind your door wards away bad energies. Some say that if the plant flourishes, good things will come to you, while others say that if it withers there is a lot of negativity afoot. A variation of this is to hang bread over the door which will ensure that food will never be scarce.

Though many of the spells and rituals mentioned in this post are meant to repel evil, here’s one that is meant to usher in good fortune. If you place elephant figurines or statues facing away from the front door in odd numbers, it will bring good luck for all of the inhabitants of the house.

Bad energy or the evil eye is something a lot of us worry about. And besides hanging aloe over your door, some folks go to a brujo to make them a resguardo which is a protection against the evil eye and any spells someone might try to cast over you. Sometimes its a small package usually wrapped in red paper or cloth which contains ingredients known only to the brujo and which the carrier is instructed to never open and always keep on them either in their wallets or on a string around their neck. A simple resguardo, usually for newborns, is a necklace or bracelet with a polished jet stone.

If you’re in need of a spiritual cleansing to get rid of any bad vibes you can do at home or have a bruja do it for you with an egg. Holding the egg carefully—so you don’t drop it or accidentally break it—you pass it over your entire body. The egg absorbs all of the negative energies. If you’re doing it at home, dispose of the egg without breaking it. If you’re with a skilled brujo, they might crack the egg open to read the yolk. And if a long life is what you’re looking for, then eat the first egg laid by a black hen.

Many cultures have superstitions around broken mirrors—from seven years of bad luck to seven years of bad sex. But what I didn’t know until I started asking around was that there’s a counter-spell. If you break a mirror, simply collect all of the pieces in a bucket of water for seven days and seven nights and this should prevent any bad luck from ever coming to you.

One of my favourite superstitions has to do with roosters and which I have since learned is common in other Caribbean nations as well. The superstition goes that if you’re crossing your eyes or flipping up your eyelids and a rooster crows your eyes will remain stuck in that position forever. My mother used to shout this one to me all the time, without a hint of irony in her voice (in Santo Domingo it made sense, but how we were going to hear a rooster crow in a New York City apartment on the seventh floor seemed not to crossed her mind. Had we lived on the ground floor it also would have made sense since a few blocks away I know of at least a few neighbours who kept roosters in their basements. I don’t know why).

Broom superstitions and spells are pretty common in the Dominican Republic. From the belief that if someone accidentally sweeps your feet you’ll never get married to the famed witch’s nightly flights. But my favourite broom related spell is one for pesky visitors that have overstayed their welcome. If ever you get undesired guests, simply place a broom behind a door, throw some salt at it and soon the visitors will suddenly remember they have other things to do that don’t involve bothering you.

Salt is another powerful spell ingredient. It has the capacity to ward away bad luck, unwanted visitors and to absorb sickness. If someone in your household is sick or has a fever that isn’t breaking, simply put a bowl of salt under their bed overnight and the salt will absorb any negative or illness-inducing energies which you can promptly dispose of outside!

And last but not least, if you find yourself low on funds you can always keep a single dollar bill in your wallet, which according to us, will bring you more money. I’ve never tried this so if someone wants to volunteer a dollar, I will gladly do an experiment. Or you can tell me in the comments below if this or any of the spells above have worked for you! What are some of your favourite spells or superstitions? —Mechi Annaís Estévez Cruz

This article originally appeared on UnaVainaBienSpanish.com.

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5 Stories From Meek Mill's #CRWN Conversation That Flew Under The Radar

Meek Mill made his return to Elliot Wilson's #CRWN conversation on Sunday (Dec. 2) for an in-depth discussion of Championships, his behind-bars experience and prison reform.

Live from New York City’s Playstation Theatre, the stage was set with two throne-like chairs as Mill and Wilson's fans began to swarm through the packed house. Loaded with fans from Philly, Jersey and NYC alike, the crowd was buzzing in anticipation for Meek’s grand arrival. Introduced by Wilson, the veteran journalist briefed in-house and live-streamed listeners with his relationship with the Philly rapper, discussing the many times the two have linked “from the MMG days to now.”

“It’s just amazing to see how he’s continued to fight this adversity and continued to deliver great music,” says Wilson, engaging in a back and forth conversation with the crowd. “When you put out a title and say you’re going to name your album Championships, you better deliver,” Wilson continues. “And he delivered.”

Appearing on stage sporting a mid-length fur coat and glistening jewels, Meek and Wilson exchange a quick embrace as the live audience jumps to its feet to welcome their champion. Taking his experience to lean into activism, Meek engaged in a 90-minute conversation with the journalist, answers fan-questions and candidly tell his story as he sees fit.

But as tabloid fate would have it, one of the sole stories to come out of the meaningful conversation was his awkward date with then-girlfriend Nicki Minaj, Jay-Z and Beyonce. The memories Meek decided to share like adorable moments with his son, his newfound position in the battle for criminal justice reform and recording Championships fell to the wayside.

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1. Meek's Best Day in Jail Included a Visit From Kevin Hart

Meek's final day in jail was similar to the others. He woke up, successfully avoided jail food by making his morning oatmeal and knew his day was heading in a good direction when he won five consecutive ping pong games against his daily opponent– who want the smoke?

After heading back to his cell, Meek's day got a whole lot better when Kevin Hart and 76ers co-owner Michael Rubin had pulled up on him by surprise. "They come on the block and I was like, 'Man come in my cell and see how this sh*t look,'" Meek starts. "So Kevin Hart and Mike, they come in the cell and they like 'It's not that bad,' they tryna make me feel good, I'm like 'The hell you mean it's not that bad? I got my boxers hanging up on the f**king string'" the rapper jokingly recalls. After the much-needed hour-long visit, Meek returned to his daily jailhouse activities when he learned that he would be released from jail within hours. What a day.

2. Friends and Family Would Send Him IG Post Printouts Through Mail

When Meek packed his cell to go home, he had over 10,000 photos to sift through since his tribe brought the world of Instagram to him through the mail. "I used to tell everybody like, 'Yo, just send me everything that's going on on Instagram, I wanna see everything that's  going on in life.'"

The rapper separated his photos by importance, keeping the photos of his family in a separate pile with his other pile (filled with pictures of all the IG models and famous ladies) holding a different level of importance to those who stood behind bars with him. "It was valuable cause some guys in there they got 25 years in this s**t, they ain't never see the fake a**es yet and the girls with the new bodies, so you know, they all in my cell like, 'What's up with these pictures?'"

3. He Purposely Steered Away From Lending Tekashi 6ix9ine Advice

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On a more serious note, Meek speaks on the real issue he had with 6ix9ine, sharing his concern for the 22-year-old's habits in starting drama with some of hip-hop's most dangerous faces. "With my music, I wanted to reach all of 'em," he said, explaining how when the music speaks for itself, you don't need to ensue controversy to sell records.

4. His 7-Year-Old Son Already Has a Rapper Name

Give it 10 years and we might see Meek Mill's son on the Billboard charts. Answering a fan question about "Lil Drip," Meek clarifies that Lil Drip is actually his son Papi's, rapper name. "Sometimes I be in the studio I be like 'Yo, I give you $500 if you go in the booth and rap right now and he just go in the booth and lay it.'" Sampling a few adorable bars, Meek reveals that his son consistently shocks him with his material, bringing up some of the most trivial experiences he's shared with Meek.

"He be like, 'Private jet/ Who I met/ Ben Simmons/ That's a bet,'" spits Meek, referring to a previous birthday trip he's taken with Papi.

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"I represent the path that HOV created," Meek tells Wilson. "I always wanted that Jay-Z feature and he came through this time, shout out to HOV."

Stream the entire conversation here.

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