An arrest Tuesday has put some light on the magical underground that is alive and well in Costa Rica.
The judicial case involves a presumed warlock who tricked a woman with the promise of winning the lottery.
Expats whose only flirtation with magic has been with Harry Potter movies might be surprised to know that a supposed warlock was working in Montelimar in Calle Blancos. Still, despite its Catholic traditions, the black arts thrive here and in other Latin cultures.
In fact, the Internet has made the dark arts an international business. Online classifieds in Costa Rica feature brujas and occult practitioners from Perú, Argentina and other points in the Latin World. The same can be found in the United States and Canada.
The 29-year-old woman who is the victim in the latest Judicial Investigating Organization case sought a solution to a relationship problem, agents said.
That seems to be a big area for witches and magicians. The usual heading features the Spanish work amarres, which means to tie someone to another. Those who consult the magician seek the return of a lover or perhaps the attentions of a prospective lover.
Of course, there are local witches and warlocks. One in the center of San José maintains a Web site and advertises heavily.
The promises are many: Rituals to increase the sex drive and passion. Black magic and voodoo to link someone to a partner. Cures for diseases. Cures for injuries. The breaking of spells and white magic to deliver someone from the mal de ojo, the evil eye. Many of the same practitioners will also put the evil eye on an enemy for a price.
There even are Google ads to break spells and also those promoting seers, as well as offers of courses to teach magic and spiritualism.
Online these classifieds are wedged in among some of the lawyer and real estate ads on Spanish-language Web sites There also is one person who brags at having a pact with the Devil and is ready to do all types of witch work long distance via email and, presumably, with some form of payment system.
One practitioner of the dark arts in San José who advertises in Encuentra24 offers a free initial consultation and promises that the lover will return in just 20 minutes.
The offers for tarot readings and horoscopes are many, too.
Brujas should be distinguished from curanderas. Many of the latter are simply in the business of providing medicinal plants. Of course, there is a curandero on the Caribbean coast who purportedly extracts tumors and heals major diseases. He also was said to hit on female patients.
The occult has a wide range from exorcists to even veneration of Santa Muerte, the saint of drug dealers. The day-to-day business mainly is in taking money from the gullible.
Such dabbling in dark forces is not limited to Latins. Every culture has its versions of witches and warlocks. Costa Rica is interesting because the practice, although frowned upon, draws heavily from organized religion. Catholic religious articles, like crucifixes and rosary beads are mixed with human skulls and strange statues. Somewhere in the spectrum is Santería, too.
The woman who was described as the victim by judicial agents got her lead on a brujo through the written press, and the woman assistant who made the initial contact asked for 600,000 colons, about $1,200, agents said. Later the woman had an appointment with the so-called maestro or brujo who said that in addition to her romance problems he could solve her financial woes, too.
The brujo sought money from her to purchase a full lottery ticket. He put the full ticket or entero into an envelope and later told the woman that she had won 100 million colons, about $200,000. But now, he said, she had to make sacrifices to the spirits who caused her to win. The spirits wanted 5 percent of the winnings. The sacrifice was in the form of cash, a wide-screen television, a dining set and other items, said investigators.
Of course, there was no lottery prize, and the woman eventually went to investigators. That resulted in a raid of the suspect’s home and a storefront where the witchcraft is carried out, agents said. The suspect is 22, according to the agency.