In his book El libro milagroso, author Martin Pulido Vargas offers a set of spells and recipes to achieve different purposes and desires, all based on Santería, a religion that combines West African, Roman Catholic and Native American thoughts and customs.
The author addresses a wide range of goals, with recipes from “how to know if your partner is unfaithful” to “how to invoke Saint Death,” emphasizing the importance of spiritual “cleansings” of people, homes and businesses. Syncretism is apparent, as would be expected in a religion melding many different belief systems, and saints from the Catholic tradition and the Bible appear alongside Saint Death and other elements that don’t belong to Christian orthodoxy.
The author details the materials (candles, eggs, coffee, Catholic bible, rue, rosemary) needed to carry out the rituals, and how they should be utilized in each case to achieve what is desired. He also offers instructions in an easy and educational fashion about the placement of the materials and their use (and information about where to obtain these items).
From the beginning, Pulido Vargas highlights the importance of faith for his instructions to work and underscores his 40 years of experience on which the book is based. He also explains the symbolic meaning of the votive candles (common in the rituals) and their colors. Readers should keep in mind that many of the terms used belong to Mexican Spanish, such as sábila (aloe vera), la charola (tray), o tallar (to rub).
As to weak points, there is almost a complete lack of accents, as well as typographic and spelling errors (which, unfortunately, are abundant). Additionally, there’s a lack of the letter ñ, and of an index to help find the recipes sought.
Even so, the book will be of interest for those who practice or believe in the Santería religion or for those who wish to learn about it and to begin with some simple rituals.