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Fiorito: Light Candle, or Curse the Darkness, or Both (Santeria)
Toronto Star ^ | Sunday September 09, 2012 | Joe Fiorito

Posted on 09/13/2012 10:52:31 AM PDT by nickcarraway

On patrol the other day, along Eglinton Ave. just east of Dufferin, I passed St. Simon’s Religious Supply Store. I am not fond of religion, but I do like the supplies.

I have a relic in the form of a shred of cotton from a garment of Brother André, late of Montreal. I also keep a medal of St. Catherine of Siena with my car keys, a logical place if you think, like she did and I do, that the way to heaven is heaven.

St. Simon’s is not about those kind of supplies. It is, however, a place for candles and oils, powders and incense designed to aid one in the journey towards the heart’s desire.

Elena Torres was behind the counter. She was happy to chat. Her knowledge of candlepower is derived from her mother, who came to Canada from Cuba by way of Central America and Mexico.

She said, “We have had the store for 16 years. The candles are for different things. The most popular one is the Seven African Powers.”

I expressed some unfamiliarity with these. She said, “They are Obatala, Yemalla, Ochun, Chango, Olofi, Ogum, Oruma and Elegma.” They are, variously, the gatekeeper; the mother of the seven seas; the lord of blood, war, iron and blood; etc.

I said that was eight.

She said Olofi represented all the powers in one, a concept not unlike the trinity, with a few others tossed in for good measure.

She sells a hundred candles in a month.

The least popular candle — or rather the one she sells the fewest of — is the candle of Our Lady of Ransom. What is its purpose, when lit?

“If you have a court case you want to be delivered from,” is what Elena said. Mayor Ford, perhaps it’s not too late.

Elena said, “Most people buy candles when they want to get their lover back, or if they are going to the casinos.”

I noticed a Del Retiro candle. She said it was just the sort of thing to keep an unwanted suitor, or the police, away from one’s door. I suppose you might want two if your suitor is a cop.

But right away, you sense a potential dilemma: you want to keep him away, so you get a Del Retiro; but he wants you near, so he lights a Love-Drawing candle.

Don’t they cancel each other out?

“Yes, that’s possible.”

In which case, a person might want trumps, in the form of a High John The Conqueror candle; High John seems to be Olofi by another name. Elena said, “Some people buy candles by the case.” Why, if you believe, would you not?

The candles are made in New Orleans, a city where some people are familiar with voodoo. Elena said santeria, an indigenous religion of Cuba, is similar: “It is somewhere in between the saints and the Bible; we use the Bible because we need the psalms.”

She also said it was possible to increase the power of a candle with the addition of the proper oil, the proper powder, the proper aerosol spray, and the recitation of the proper psalms.

Santeria belt, and voodoo suspenders.

Elena said, “I don’t use the spray; it’s more a freshener in the air.” Okay so who buys candles?

“African-Americans.”

“African-Canadians?”

“Yes.”

She also noted that some candle dealers have been winding down their businesses, or closing up shop in advance of something bad that may or may not happen on the 12th of November this year — 12/11/12, a binary threat of the Mayan persuasion — and so they, prudently, were getting out of the way.

You’d think they’d light a candle instead.


TOPICS: Religion
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1 posted on 09/13/2012 10:52:33 AM PDT by nickcarraway
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To: nickcarraway

I don’t practice Santeria.


2 posted on 09/13/2012 10:56:10 AM PDT by skeeter
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To: nickcarraway
Hmm...
3 posted on 09/13/2012 11:02:17 AM PDT by MRadtke (Light a candle or curse the darkness?)
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To: skeeter

But you do have a chrystal ball?


4 posted on 09/13/2012 11:28:25 AM PDT by nickcarraway
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To: nickcarraway
No.

But I had a million dollars & I spent it all.

5 posted on 09/13/2012 11:31:20 AM PDT by skeeter
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