Feb 17, 2010

Brujos of Catemaco

Every year in February I am inundated for requests about the Brujo (witches) Convention, Congress, Festival or whatever in beautiful downtown Catemaco.

I am posting some answers here so I can refer them to the next dozen peoples that ask the same question over and over every year.

What is the Brujo Festival?
Originally the event was sponsored by the actual brujos of Catemaco as a social get together and who invited  the local population to participate and be entertained. In the last decade, the politicians of Catemaco supplanted the brujos and converted the congress into a political event hoping to draw the governor of Veracruz to visit them, and since then, most real brujos have ignored the public event.

When is the Brujo Festival?
The event is always on the first Friday of March. Technically it begins with a black mass on top of volcano Mono Blanco at midnight on Thursday. One minute later is the first Friday of March.

The ride to and climb up the volcano may be fruitless because most brujos nowadays are too lazy or too rich to make the effort.

So if you come to visit on the first Friday, you obviously missed it. Nevertheless several municipal administrations have unsuccessfully tried to turn the event into a 5 day affair beginning on the Tuesday before the first Friday.

Which brujos participate in the event?
Originally most of the brujos participated. In the last years it is usually only the brujo that bribed the Catemaco municipio with 100 thousand pesos or more to obtain the title of "Brujo Mayor" who is entitled to slaughter black chickens in front of burning pentagrams, have a photo opportunity with the Veracruz governor and get quoted by numerous journalists.

What events are scheduled for the Festival?
That totally depends on the municipal government. Events range from mass black masses, mass limpias (spiritual cleanings) in the laguna, booming disco concerts, political parades, supposed natives dancing to bongo drums, getting drunk in front of burning pentagrams, inspection by dozens of journalists, occasional lectures by brujophiles, and being swamped by itinerant Mexican hippies selling handcrafted charms.

Most of the major brujos hold their own private midnight black masses complete with dead chickens and expect gringos to pay  500 pesos or more to participate.

Usually the only functional event is a spring rite ceremony at the Nanciyaga park, 4 miles outside of Catemaco, on Friday night, which is usually fully booked at 150 pesos or so.

Where can I find information about this year's event?
Technically the current  incompetent secretary of tourism of Catemaco handles the event. My experience over the last 8 years, is that the secretariat does not know what they are doing until one week before the event, when they print up a zillion posters and glue them to every lamp post to alert the population of Catemaco which cares less. Specific state or national publicity is usually absent.
Here are phone number of the Catemaco government. Please call them to verify the above information.  (294) 943-0016, or (294) 943 0258. Good luck, and don't call me!