queer brujas and brujos talk about the magic of the lgbtq+ community
“People who are queer have always been more spiritually connected.”
Image courtesy of Emilia Ortiz.
One of Emilia Ortiz’s spirit mentors once said to her “don't you feel that the LGBTQ+ community is just more tapped in somehow?” The Brooklyn-based bruja (Spanish for witch) had, in fact, always felt that queer people are more spiritually connected. Something she got backlash for saying in an interview with Salty magazine.
“Because people in the LGBTQ+ community live life on a spectrum already, it makes them more inclined to be tapped into spirituality,” she says. “But this doesn’t mean that straight people can’t.”
Ortiz explains that, because queer people are living “outside the norm,” they are already not bound by the thoughts of “well, this is the way things are done.” “We already live in in a way that things are not done for so much of the world, which it then applies to spirituality,” she says.
While this has attributed to her own spiritual connection and gifts, she also explains that tapping into intuition is often not a choice for the LGBTQ+ community.
“People in the LGBTQ+ have come to learn to use their intuition when it comes to safety,” she says. As a bi-sexual woman, who identified as lesbian in high school, Ortiz says she had to use her intuition more than the straight kids in her school in order to navigate certain dangers that came from her sexuality.
“I was going to places that I shouldn't have been but needed to because that was how I found my community,” she says. Ortiz would often use her intuition to figure out when to leave a situation, who to trust, and when to “shrink herself” for her safety.
She also used to worry that her sexuality would mean people wouldn’t take her brujería work as seriously, something that had been passed down in her family for generations, and instead view her as “just that cookie intuitive.” Now, she considers it her power, as it makes her more open to all walks of life in her private sessions, where she aims to make spiritual advice accessible to all.
Ortiz hopes more spiritually-gifted LGBTQ+ people will have the right allies to enable them to explore their spirituality. “Sometimes, if they’re not accepted by Christianity, they think they won’t be accepted anywhere,” she says. “But they are more connected.”
Valeria Ruelas, aka “The Mexican Witch”, also used magic to help navigate growing up as a queer woman. "Magic helps queer people survive,” she says. “Especially mental health wise.”
She first explored witchcraft in the midst of her depression and, while only around six years into the practice, feels that her intuition has always led her through life and was passed down to her through her great grandmother and Mexican lineage.
“A lot of times people get drawn to spirituality because they want to find something bigger because they want to feel better. And that's exactly what this stuff is doing,” she explains.
The main principle she puts into her witchcraft is “personal freedom,” something she also associates with her concept of what it means to “live a queer life."
Ruelas is a big fan of “magic hitting the masses,” and uses social media to encourage others to tap into their power. “It’s really hard now to meet a Latina isn't slightly tapped into her ancestral power,” she says. “Latin America is one of the most magical places on earth, and all of our ancestors used to do this.”
Before practicing witchcraft she felt her power was mostly expressed through words, being “the first person to stand up for justice.” “That bravery and fearlessness I attribute to being a witch, I attribute that to being divinely connected,” she says.
“I want people to know that witches are definitely responsible or going to be responsible for destroying really crazy homophobia in the general public,” Ruelas explains. “Queer witches are here to absolutely smash the patriarchy and destroy it to smithereens because we are the two worst things you can be from a Christian perspective.”
Curly Velasquez, a self-described “Queer Brujo Salvadoreño” based in Los Angeles, feels closer to the “divine source” because he feels “representative of so many different people in one.”
A featured face on Buzzfeed, with his own mini online series called “Struggles Of” on Buzzfeed’s Latinx channel called Pero Like and a large personal Youtube following, Velasquez represents the queer Latinx community by being unapologetically himself.
“Our communities are often about playing hyper-versions of what is expected of masculinity and femininity — so what do you do when you fit neither but are somehow both at the same time?” he asks. “You just live your own truth.”
Velasquez too describes magic as a way of survival when navigating life as a queer person.
“I think queer people have a hard time in life, so we look to all that is ethereal to help us get through it,” he says. “We connect much sooner out of survival, because maybe just maybe through our magic we can survive this hard ass life.”
He then references the value queer people had and have in Native cultures because of the connection to the masculine and the feminine. Velasquez himself “comes from a community of Indigenous folk” who lived at the bottom of a volcano in El Salvador, according to his abuelita.
Velasquez started to claim his magic when he realised it was “more about tradition than horror related” but before, “like other Latinx folk”, he practiced magic without even knowing it. His family has always felt a connection to nature and animals are often drawn to his Father, the person Velasquez believes his gifts come from.
“It’s just a part of who I am based largely on family tradition,” he says. “I do walk around and feel my connection though. I can feel it in my own apartment as I close my bedroom door behind me before I go to bed and say goodnight to my spirit team.”
This connection goes hand-in-hand with him being queer, as he believes the LGBTQ+ community have a “unique purpose.” “In Genesis, it says ‘now let us create them in our image’ — I like to think that is a special shoutout to women and queer folk,” he explains.
“Simply by existing we agitate people, we bring happiness, we heal, we frighten, we love deeper. We haven’t even opened our mouths yet when we walk into a room but you’ve already noticed and felt us walk in.”
“Of course we are magical,” he adds.
This article originally appeared on i-D US.