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Economic crisis, infidelity keep witchcraft practices alive in Mexico

The economic crisis and marital infidelity are keeping witchcraft practices such as Santeria, shamanism and spiritualism alive and well in Mexico, as shown by the sale of articles said to have infalible powers.

A good example is the Sonora Market in Mexico City, which has been a pioneer in the sale of mystical products for almost 60 years.

Dozens of stands here are full of amulets, incense and saintly candle holders whose scent and colors are sought daily by the lost and lonely who've lost faith in traditional religion. They are now willing to invest in magic items to fix problems that range from an empty bank account to a broken heart.

Wearing a choker decorated with a crocodile's head, the shamanic animal that protects him, Manuel Baladez has been a spiritual guide and store owner since 1977, when he immersed himself in the world of the esoterism driven by financial and personal reasons.

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Baladez offers his customers objects that protect them, as well as a cleansing with the use of herbs, which, he said, "provide baths with the energy for the shedding of evil and purification by cleansing."

The classic mixture of herbs for the shedding rite includes pirul, basil, rosemary, mugwort, red flowers for love and white flowers for health.

Bitter herbs like wormwood are employed to frustrate negative forces, while sweet herbs like basil, mint and spearmint are used to achieve stability.

The consultations and cleanings in any occult practice range between 50 and 250 Mexican pesos ($2.60 and $13.10), depending on the number of sessions and material required.

The Sonora Market also offers literature on sorcery: a vast majority of the books are about positive "white magic," while the rest are negative, dealing with such practices as exorcisms and curses.