Dia De Los Espooky Mujeres: A Travel Guide to Weed Witches and Curanderas in Mexico
Chicks vs Stigmas owner Brenda Hernandez on women and weed in Mexico, plus: where you eat, stay and play in CDMX
Happy Halloween! Ah, Halloween. The costumes! The candy! The annual resurfacing of those insufferable urban legends about spiked candy to spook children and terrorize families! As if anyone would waste drugs on children. Well, at least most people wouldn’t. Except this lady. Don’t be this lady.
Enough tricks, here’s a treat: tomorrow kicks off Dia De Los Muertos, an ethereal two-day Mexican holiday that reunites the living and dead during the hours when the veil between the natural and supernatural worlds is at its thinnest. Ooh, is that a chill or is it just me?
Elaborate altars known as ofrendas (offerings) are erected and filled with the deceased’s favorite food, beverage, and photos. Should any of you build me one of these to honor me after I pass, make sure it contains only the finest snacks and top-shelf beverage (and no uggo photos! Thank you very much!).
Also, a gift: an appropriately thematic playlist! Enjoy!
Obviously, being that this is peak weed witch season, let’s take a moment to acknowledge the multitudes of brujas abroad, including Louisiana weed witches, Samhain, The Friendly Grim Reaper of East Harlem, Nuyorican Curanderas, as well as anyone celebrating National Men Make Dinner Day and World Vegan Day (they might be witches, too. Who am I to judge?). Did I forget anyone? Sorry about that, if I did.
While the overall tone is little lighter this year, I’ve decided to eschew a predictable esoteric dip into the occult and instead take a quick stroll down memory lane through the nightmarish purgatory of reality: living through the COVID hellscape in New York City, a time that transcends the chills of fiction (though, arguably, a real modern Dickens story for the ages: “It was the best of times (because everyone left), it was the worst of times (because everyone died)” OK bye).
Like many others, I was traumatized and did not want to die of COVID, so traveling was not particularly front-of-mind. Of course, that didn’t stop other food and travel writers, and social media influencers—particularly those based in states fronted by politicians who thought it would be helpful to downplay the threat of COVID while also hoarding resources—from taking advantage of the incredibly handsomely desperate deals offered by empty airlines and hotels while gaslighting the rest of us trapped in lockdown in the process. A publicist confided in me that she trusted New York City journalists who were not traveling the most. You know, because it was reasonable to have nothing to write about during a raging pandemic.
Still, we could all dare to dream, and that dream was future travel. Given that I had just written a book about travel in Hudson Valley and the Catskills, obviously I wanted to go somewhere else, preferably very far away. So, I settled on Mexico City, with a stopover in Houston.
Even though I didn’t book my flight and accommodations until 2022, I was excited and terrified. After all, most information seemed anecdotal and untrustworthy on a basic level, and I had never been to this destination. Prior to the trip, I reached out to Mexico-based psychedelics journalist and author Michelle Janikian who connected me with Brenda Hernandez, owner and educator at feminist head shop and sex boutique, Chicks vs. Stigma. Coincidentally, while I was on hiatus this summer, the shop temporarily closed, but I am still posting my interview with Brenda because her insights on what’s happening in Mexico’s cannabis scene and how women are changing the conversation are incredibly valuable.
Witchcraft has a pretty storied history throughout Latin America, but one thing I think is interesting is that the practice is a bit of a creole based on personal rituals. I thought about this a lot given that I had started paying attention to this idea of “weed witchery” prior to the pandemic and the rise of self care while we were left to our own devices. Herbalism, magic, psychic arts and ancestral practices remain deeply embedded and prevalent cultural forces, and yet, cannabis—plant medicine—still struggles to break the mold in terms of public perception beyond stoner dude tropes and the War on Drugs.
In many ways, Brenda is an unconventional weed witch. She harnessed the power of plants to heal her mother, herself, and her community. She created a coven of likeminded women and gender non-conforming individuals who needed a safe space to develop their own practice and tap into their own inner strengths. And like the witches before her, she fights against cultural stigmas and stands up for what she believes in: a world free from judgment.
Listen here for the interview.
So, what does a dream weed witch trip to Mexico City look like? Read on to find out.
The Weed Witch Guide to Mexico City
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