Tuesday, May 03, 2011
The Botanicas of New York: San Miguel & Anaisa
"I Am With You Always" says a poster of Jesus as twin figures of Santa Muerte, "Saint Death," loom above Him. San Judas — St. Jude — patron Saint of lost causes towers above them all, while a mere three-leafed not-so-lucky clover promises...something. Chinese prosperity gods, Haitian goddesses and Indian spirit guides line the shelves behind: It's multicultural cosmic order at the Botanica San Miguel & Anaisa in Brooklyn. It's all about skulls and scythes and scepters; crowns and halos.
Is that the Holy Infant — El Divino Niño — or Elegba, African God of the crossroads? Is that Our Lady of Guadelupe, patron Saint of Mexico, or the Earth Mother Tonantzin?
San Miguel & Anaisa are syncretic Saints revered in the Dominican "21 Divisiones" tradition, though my exceeding ignorance on such matters presents me from explaining what blessings they might offer. Though their storefront would look at home on any tropical street, it's the heart of Sunset Park, Brooklyn, once home to Scandinavian immigrants and now a melting pot of Latin American and Asian newcomers as well as more established communities of folks with roots in the Spanish Caribbean.
(These windows are a reflection of something I love about New York. From time to time I'll be posting pictures from the various botanicas I stumble across. This is the second in a series. These photos were taken by me in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Click on the images to see them larger.)