Of Beliefs and Loves

You’ve probably heard of San Simon, or Maximon. This is the Saint that a lot of people will go to, asking for miracles in exchange for offerings of alcohol, money or tobacco. Ringed by candles and these 3 common types of offerings, Maximon is surrounded by those who believe in and venerate him, and who make requests to do with good luck, love, work or health.

His church (where you can go and visit him) can be found in Santiago Atitlan – although wooden effigies of him can be found on many altars across the country. People insist that this Saint (in himself, quite a complex deity) has magic powers and can change the destiny of his followers.

Maximon grants his followers’ requests for good….and for bad. Young, single girls go to his altar with tortillas, cigarettes, alcohol and candles to place an offering up close to the Saint and to ask him to help them find a boyfriend. Some will state their wishes out loud, some in a whisper…whilst some will stand in silence in front of the Saint – everyone with their own problems and desires.

In Guatemala, Maximon is not the only option for those looking for love – they can also turn to another Saint: Saint Antonio de Padua; the Saint who held the infant Jesus in his arms for a whole night. There are 2 options to get him to help find a partner for solitary souls. First, you can give him an offering of a red candle whilst saying a special prayer; or – and this is considered more effective – you can get hold of an image of Saint Antonio (regardless of the size or the material it is made from) and place it in a secret place, upside down.

Once you have done this, you must go to a church where you can find the Saint, taking with you as an offering 13 coins – each one representing the men or women that you are considering as your partner. These coins are hidden next to the Saint so that nobody can find them. You make 13 circles round the church’s fountain (or a nearby fountain) and – upon arriving home – you must light a white candle and recite the Lord’s Prayer 13 times, Ave Maria 13 times and ‘Glory be!’ 13 times. Once the Saint has finished his mission he must be returned to his original position.

Another way of finding love can be through an enchantment with candles, which is carried out on a Friday – this being the day of the Goddess Venus. You light 4 pink candles and – whilst they burn and until they put themselves out – you should repeat a special phrase with the name of the person you wish to have by your side.

If this isn’t your style, you can buy some ‘magic powder’ to attract love (our sources say that N’im Pot sells it), or you can make your own using different powdered ingredients such as cinnamon, sandalwood, shredded mint, rose oil and jasmine.

Once the mix is ready, it is split into 5 little bags and these are placed in places close to the person that you wish to fall in love with you. Once the bags of powder have worked their magic they must be collected and buried together next to your house or in a nearby garden.

If none of these have worked, you can also use an ‘amarre’ (literally…’tie’). This involves making an altar illuminated by a full moon and placing a photograph of who you want to fall in love with you, and a photograph of yourself – who you want to be their partner. You place pink candles, a vase with white carnations and a mirror in front of the altar, and recite a phrase declaring the existence of love between the two people. This must be repeated once every 10 days until the ‘amarre’ takes effect. Then the altar must be taken down and the photos must remain hidden.

All of these rituals and popular beliefs for how to get a partner are famous in Guatemala and many men and women will use them in the hope that they will have effect and the person of their dreams will come into their life.

Written by: Julissa Carrillo
Photos: Sofia Letona
Translated by: Jessica Hoult

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