simple is beautiful
New York Daily Photo: Botánica
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Tuesday, 22 January 2008


I have been seeing Botánica shops as long as I have been in NYC but had never given them any serious attention or gone inside one. Many of them have closed due to the escalating rents so I took the opportunity to actually enter one for the first time - Botanica San Miguel & Anaisa at 399 5th Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn - and speak to the owner from the Dominican Republic.
There was a cloud of smoke in the shop and distinct odors emanating from the myriad of natural aromatic items. The place was an amalgam of products and literature of numerous disparate spiritual and folk practices - they also provide spiritual consultation and readings. These shops are typically found in Hispanic countries and neighborhoods and can be found throughout New York City. The word botánica means botany in Spanish - the stores are well supplied with medicinal herbs as well as oils, incense, perfumes, scented sprays and elixirs.
I was told by the owner that the core beliefs are Roman Catholic and implements of the religion could be found such as rosary beads, holy water, and statuary and images of saints (such as the popular Virgin of Guadalupe). However, many Botánica go far beyond Catholicism, as this shop did, and have products for a variety of spiritual practices such as candomblé, curanderismo, espiritismo, macumba and santeria. There are also supplies and books for alternative folk medicine and magical articles such as amulets. Candles dominated the shop with shelf upon shelf in a variety of colors and purposes. There were things for nearly every need - healing remedies for various conditions or products for love, money or warding off bad weather (such as hurricanes). I even saw Buddhist and Hindu candles ...


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