Cultural Appropriation and the Witchcraft Market

To quote Charlie Brown, good grief!

There are some really good reasons not to visit the infamous Sonora Witchcraft Market of Mexico City. For one thing, it’s in Mexico City.

That was a joke, designed to have the overly PC wankers already x-ing out before we proceed. In reality I’m sure there are many parts of Mexico City that are lovely. There are also parts that are high in crime. And the Witchcraft Market is located in one of the latter areas. Safety should be a concern for those who might wish to visit. Not just physical safety, either. The Witchcraft Market is said by some believers to attract lots of bad juju, unfriendly spirits and the like. But to avoid it because to go there would constitute “spiritual appropriation”? Really?

The writer of the linked article does make some good points with which I agree. Anyone who visits the Witchcraft Market should do so respectfully. I absolutely agree with that. But I don’t think it is necessary to become an expert on Santeria or Mexican folk belief to simply visit the Market. You can be respectful of the beliefs of the people there without having a PhD in the subject, or even if you aren’t fluent in Spanish. Respectfulness is an attitude. Granted I am writing for the traveler with a passion for the exotic, interested in learning about other cultures, and not for practitioners of magic, but I believe the same basic rules are applicable. Be nice. Be respectful. Be careful what you purchase. (Remember that those who profess a knowledge concerning magic caution against doing anything with a negative intent.) And it’s never a bad idea to pray for your spiritual well-being before and after visiting any such place, or at any time.

Says the author of the article: “A good rule of thumb for distinguishing cultural appreciation from appropriation, is that appreciation typically includes an invitation to participate.” Okay, sure. But does she honestly, for one minute, think that the vendors there at the Sonoran Market DON’T want the tourists to come there and spend their money? And by refusing to patronize the market, does she believe she is doing those vendors any good? They want respect, yes. They also want to make money. The two need not be mutually exclusive.

By The Evil Cheezman

WAYNE MILLER is the owner and creative director of EVIL CHEEZ PRODUCTIONS (,, specializing in theatrical performances and haunted attractions. He has written, produced and directed (and occasionally acted in) over a dozen plays, most of them in the Horror and Crime genres. His first novel, THE CONFESSIONS OF SAINT CHRISTOPHER: WEREWOLF, is available for purchase at


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