For our “Fear Issue,” we interviewed Langone student Chelsea Smith who just launched her own divination system based on La Loteria – a Mexican Bingo game existing for more than a hundred years. Every month on the full moon, a person is eligible to receive a new fortune, power number/color/energy word, and a dance based on tarot reading or by rolling dice and using his or her horoscope elements. Chelsea also made candles available for sale via Etsy
that are intended to be burned with intention and/or to manifest specific outcomes.
What first got you interested in fortune telling? Does anyone else in your family participate in any sort of divination?
I am a third generation Brujita on my mother’s side.
Can you explain how La Lotería is played and how you were introduced into the game?
La Lotería is a classic Mexican “bingo” game. Instead of numbers, players are given cards filled with images that are called using classic refrains. For example, calling “El sombrero de Los Reyes//The hat of kings” would trigger “La Corona/The Crown.
I bought my first Lotería deck on vacation in Tulum. #SorryNotSorry
Why the name Chiquita Brujita?
I’m tiny.and I’m a witch. …Chiquita Brujita.
N.B: There are all sorts of conversations I would love to have about reclaiming the term Bruja – particularly as it relates to self-making in a frequently hostile hegemonic and patriarchal public sphere, Afro-latinidad, empowerment, and feminism for a trans-cultural, post-colonial global community, but that may be a bit too much for folks. So let’s just say it was just a good fit.
How exactly does your divination system vary from other established systems such as tarot cards?
My divination system, “Numbers/ Numeros” is infused with elements of astrology and numerology, but has little to no connection to traditional tarot.
Other than offering a reading that involves a deck of cards.
And a fortune.
And a powerful Brujita conduit, of course.
So maybe it’s exactly the same as traditional tarot? Pretty sure no other tarot reading ends with 15 seconds of full moon twirling and twerking. So I suppose there’s that.
Why is it that people are only eligible for a new fortune on the full moon?
A monthly moon cycle is the standard unit of mystic measurement.
In your system, customers receive a fortune, a power number, color, energy word, and a dance. Can you explain what each of these represents (minus fortune, obviously) and give an example of each?
Nope! Fortunes must be experienced to be understood. I’ve already said too much.
Has anyone ever walked in on you while you were recording one of your dances posted on your Instagram, and if so, how awkward was it?
Sure, but life is a performance. I’m always ready for an audience.
When did you notice that Chiquita Brujita was a viable business pursuit, as opposed to singularly a personal passion? When did you start bringing it to parties around New York? How do you plan to continue growing your business?
When I was asked to give this interview!
Chiquita Brujita was born in April 2015 and the project has grown beyond anything I could have imagined. After a series of fortunate circumstances, but really just having many friends who are way cooler than me, I have done readings everywhere from a bar stool during a post-class happy hour, to a booth at Que Bajo, one of the longest running (and best!) dance parties in the NYC.
In the immediate future, I will be expanding into wholesale candle sales and growing the line to include complementary products for today’s modern brujita. An app may be on the way in 2016 – stay tuned!
What inspired you to start making your candles? Do you make all of the designs yourself?
I design the candles and work with my partner to bring them to life. Teamwork makes the dream work.
If I burn a “BAE” candle, and I am still single, do I get a refund or am I just unlovable?
a) No refunds.
b) Very few of us are really unloveable. If your candle didn’t “work” there are likely some other things you need to focus on.
I’m around if you want to get a fortune and see what might be holding you back.
Do you believe that you, or people pursuing similar interests, are more in tune with a spiritual energy that is otherwise intangible to other individuals?
Spirit is ever present. Some of us – Mystics, Psychics, Brujitas, etc – are just more in tune with the power it can afford and so tune in more deeply and channel it. Fortunately, positive energy is limitless and transferable- anyone getting a fortune can benefit from the warmth of my glow, and me from theirs. For $5 and up. #MBA.
In providing fortunes to other people, do you believe everything you tell them to be true? How often do people come back to you saying you were correct? What do you say to the nonbelievers?
I believe that my fortunes are worth telling. Everyone who has had a reading has enjoyed it – including many who find their reading to be shocking “accurate,” “exactly what they needed to hear,” or in one case “the best tarot ever!”
Everything doesn’t always come up roses though. But hey, that’s not really my fault, is it?
Why do you think people want to be told their future? How much of it do you think is because people would rather have things laid out for them rather than face the unknown, how much of it is because people want to use your fortunes as a guide for how to better their lives, and how much of it is because people just think it is a fun thing to try out?
We are stardust. Humans are connected both to each other and to an entire universe of energy that science is still only beginning to understand.
Astrology, Tarot, my fortune system, and the many many forms of divination in play globally seek to bridge the gap between the lived experience of human beings and the guidance and insight available from higher powers (spirit guides, tarot cards, nature, god, or otherwise), to help us live more joyful lives. Whether seeking, love, fortune, or fame, many people want to believe its not all in their hands. Then there are the dudes who don’t care about their fortune and are just trying to holler. I’ve seen a range.
Do you believe Halloween to be a special time for divination?
Halloween on Oct 31st? Maybe.
Dia de los Murtos on Nov 1? For sure.
Do you have special plans for Halloween this year? What will be your costume(s) this year?
Like any other weekend, I will likely be telling fortunes and dancing at a warehouse party at a secret location in Brooklyn. Costume is TBD.