Witchy Women: Brujeria


The Spanish word for witchcraft is brujeria. Throughout Latin America people practice many forms of witchcraft. For the most part, it’s done pretty openly. In Mexico, you can find witches selling their craft right out of their homes or from stalls in the town marketplaces. Seeing a witch for some people is like seeing any other spiritual adviser or health provider. She helps you find love, land a job, or change your luck. You can consult a witch for any social or medical concern you can think of. And in the case of a dark witch, you can ask them to bring harm to your enemies.

Of course this wasn’t always the case, and there are many documented historical accounts of both men and woman being persecuted for witchcraft.

One documented account includes an Afro-Mexican healer by the name of Ana de Vega in 1647. Ana was well-known for her medical skill and used by many of the upper class families. She landed herself in trouble by treating a wealthy Spanish woman named MariaWitchy Sambrano. The woman’s condition had already stumped a traditional doctor when Ana stepped in. Ana diagnosed the woman as being under the influence of witchcraft. She also pointed the finger of guilt at the woman’s own daughter-in-law. When the woman’s son, Francisco Sambrano heard about the charges against his wife, he turned the tables on Ana. With his superior social standing, Francisco Sambrano was able to get the Holy Office of the Inquisitor in Mexico City to charge Ana. One of the charges against Ana was curing without a license. She was also accused of employing witchcraft with the intention of dividing the Sambrano family. It took six months to try Ana. She remained in prison during the process and eventually she was convicted of being a witch.ย  She received two hundred lashes, administered in public and was exiled from her village. Ana was not alone, hundreds of people were charged with witchcraft by the Mexico City Inquisitor. Ana was one of the lucky witches. Many Latin American witches faced a much harsher end.

Source: The Human Tradition in Colonial Latin America, Kenneth J. Andrien editor & Christians, Blasphemers, and Witches: Afro-Mexican Ritual Practice, by Joan Cameron Bristol.

*This post is a part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge.


Leave a Comment

    1. If you were alive in this era and looking for work, the Spanish were the ones could really afford to pay for your services. That would have been male or female workers. Remember it was a caste based society, and as a mixed race person Ana was limited in what she could hope to attain. Being a healer would have been a great way to make a living. If you could avoided being accused of witchcraft of course. : (


    1. The Spanish Inquisition officially lasted from about 1478โ€“1834. This woman’s trial was in 1647, so almost dead center of that zone. This is just one case, there were witch trials all over Latin America. Some the ones held in Colombia were even more heartbreaking.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Sad state of affairs in a world where this is how we treat/treated people we don’t understand, for whatever reason. If only we’d learn from history. Great, detailed post. Thank you.


  2. Well said, Dearie ๐ŸŒน
    It is unfortunate that Society fears what it does not understand, by labelling those fears with dark and negative terms — some, even now, still derogatory.
    But, as you have written, there are glimmers of Hope: the selling of their wares casually from their homes and in the streets.
    The Future is looking brighter!
    And I look forward to more ๐Ÿ€๐Ÿฐ

    Sir Leprechaunrabbit


    1. Thank you! It’s important to understand these women have knowledge, many of them are skilled herb healers. I want to believe most of them are happy to be making a living while helping people.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I think stories similar to this one has happened all aroudn the world and in many places. Always easy to accuse of witchcraft. And normally, if you dig a bit, you can find very different motivation for the accusation.

    The Old Shelter – Jazz Age Jazz


    1. It’s hard to know what really happened in this case. What we know was written not by the woman accused, but by her accusers. I have to believe race, gender and social rank all had a hand in the creation of this situation.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m ashamed to be a man when I read about this stuff in the same way I’m ashamed to be white when I read about slavery. I think that black religious book has caused more trouble than it’s helped sometimes but I won’t get into that here. Thanks for this episode ๐Ÿ™‚ Looking forward to more facts and tidbits. Very interesting.


    1. Thank you, Damien. I know what you mean. Even I feel awful reading these accounts. I have no way of knowing where my ancestors might have fallen in these situations. Some of them were from Spain and of the upper class. They might have been just as horrible.

      Liked by 1 person

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