There’s something spooky going on in Mexico this Friday, when the festival of Noche de Brujas – Night of the Witches – descends on the pretty little town of Catemaco. In this celebration of all things mystical and medieval, a host of shamen, witches, sorcerers and fortune tellers join together in their annual convention, which sees tarot readings, palmistry, and other the opportunity to purchase a ‘limpia’ (cleansing).
The town is generally quite a magical place on regular days, being the hub of Mexico’s witchcraft and witch-doctor collective. This spiritualism goes back to include Spanish medieval traditions, and is also a mix of indigenous beliefs, folklore, and voodoo practises from West Africa. Catemaco in Veracruz is located between mountain peaks and the shore of Laguna Catemaco in Southern Mexico, and year-round the streets are crowded with vendors selling charms, trinkets, potions and healings. If you’re looking for a spell then this is certainly the place to come, and in 1970 a local brujo (shaman) decided it was the ideal place to host a witchcraft convention.
But the festival of Noche de Brujas isn’t an occasion to fear, since the all-night event is in fact an opportunity for mass cleansing, intended to rid the soul of any negative energy from the previous year. Taking place at midnight on the hill of Cerro Mono Blanco, just outside of town, there is a definite air of carnival to the proceedings. So, if you’ve been thinking you need a lucky rabbit’s foot or a shamanic consultation, now you know for the future the best place to head!