Tag Archives: belief

Asabache Amulets

Higa, Figa and Ásabache Amulets

Spanish seamen, being very superstitious, thought it brought bad luck to pass by some of the “cursed islands”. To deflect this bad luck some thought that by passing a cursed islands on the north side would bring better luck while others thought that passing by on the south side was better.

It was the perception that the devil brought storms and that many places were cursed. This is why the crew had to use something to protect themselves against this evil. Especially the evil eye.

The higa or
figa, it is thought, was first used as a good luck charm, worn around the neck for protection. It seems that some were also quite large and they were also used to protect the animals such as horses or dogs. There have been many found in shipwrecks and along the beaches many of which are on display the Museo de las Cases Reales de Santo Domingo.

Asabache charms made from amber and black coral
Asabache charms made from amber and black coral

Ásabache or Figa

are small hand shaped luck amulets. The hand is clenched into a fist with the thumb sticking up between the index and second fingers.

These amulets have can be made from many different substances including coral, wood, ivory, natural crystal, jet and gold. They can be made from any material that could be formed into this fist shape.

There have been other items found, such as spoons and boxes, that are embellished with the
figa.

In some countries the figa is considered to be obscene because of the hand gesture it represents.

Women, Children & Pregnancy

Women, Children and Pregnancy

1. Luck | 2. Parenting | 3. Cures | 4. Menstruation | 5. New Mother | 6. Sex

Bad Luck / Good Luck

*When a baby is just born you say “God Bless You” to prevent the child from getting the evil eye

*Mal de ojo/ The evil eye is especially thought to cause illness in babies. It happens when somebody looks at a child with envy and makes compliments without without saying “God bless you”. If children become sick suddenly and without any physical reason and a doctor has no explanation is is for sure caused by mal de ojo.

*The “Ásabache” is a black hand or fist, sometimes a red and black bean that is used to ward off the mal ojo/ evil eye. Usually worn around the neck, even on a gold chain. Always a good baby shower gift.

*Never remove the ‘asabache’ until someone says it’s nonsense

*Put a small bracelet of beads on the child’s ankle or wrist to ward off evil and to bring prosperity.

*Be aware of brujas/ witches who try and eat babies (the Legend of the Bruja)

*The name is an important part of the person and can be used to bring evil to the person if it is known. Because of this a persons real name is usually kept secret. If your real name is known then you could be bewitched or sold to the devil by a Vendegete, or cursed by a brujo/ witch.This is why nick names, known here as Apodo, are given to children by their parents. These names usually are nothing like their given name but usually has something to do with their appearance. This way, by using the fake name it conceals their true identities from anyone trying to curse them.

*A small bag worn around the neck of little children is filled with garlic to ward off evil spirits, evil eyes and sickness.

*A small piece of black fabric must be tied around the right arm of a new born This fabric draws in and collects negative energy keeping it from the baby.

*In some areas of Dominican Republic prior to baptism they are given a baño/ bath to ward of the evil eye. This bath contains a mashed clove of garlic and three grains of salt added to the Agua Bendita/ Holy Water. This mix is sprinkled on the child.

*If a child dies without being baptized they pass the time playing tricks on humans. For example, when you can’t find your eyeglasses or sewing scissors, even though sure you left them in a particular spot, it is probably because they were hidden by the Duendes.(more on Duendes)

Parenting

*Some parents in Dominican Republic hang a baseball glove on the crib of a newborn baby boy as a good luck charm because they wish him to become a great baseball player.

*If you let a child see his or her reflection before they’re two years old they won’t talk.

*Do not get your baby’s haircut before he is one. If you do he won’t talk!

*If the hammock of the boy is rocked without him in it, this will cause the boy to become crazy.

*When a child bends over and looks at you from between their legs, it is said that they want another little brother or sister.

*Permitting a dog or cat, depending on who is telling the tale, to sleep on a child’s bed will make them not be able to have children.

*Throwing a child’s milk or baby tooth on the rooftop when they lose it will make the new tooth come in strong and straight. (more information on this and the Ratoncito Pérez)

Cures

*If a baby is getting sick or congested take a hair off a menstruating woman’s head and tie it around the babies wrist for 24 hours and the child will not get sick.

*When a baby has hiccups, put a hair from the mother’s head on the baby’s head until the hiccups go away.

*To prevent hiccups when feeding a baby place a string from it’s blanket on the forehead.

*Whenever you say something nice about a newborn you must say que “Dios lo bendiga”/ God Bless. Not doing so may cause the baby to become ill or cause some other catastrophe.

Menstruation

*Do not eat guineos / bananas if you are menstruating.

*Do not squeeze limons / lemons when you are having mensuration.

*Girls during the time of their development cannot eat green fruit or fruta agria / sour fruit.

*If you pass over top of your husband when you are pregnant he will get all the morning sickness.

*A woman having her menstruation cannot enter a freshly seeded field because it will damage the crop

*Pregnant women are prohibited from eat cherries, lemons, codfish, and herring with fried eggs (typical breakfast)

*When a woman has her menstruation she cannot touch any cleaning products because she will get very sick.

Pregnancy

*Have as many babies as you can since they are all born with a loaf of bread under their arms.

*If your are pregnant and you hold a girl, and the baby kicks you will have a girl, and vice versa.

*You must never say no if a pregnant woman asks you for something that you are eating, if you do you’ll get a sty. To be on the safe side ALWAYS ask pregnant women if they would like some want of what you’re eating.

*A pregnant woman should not walk underneath a guanabana tree or eat guanabana as she may lose her child.

A very large Pineapple – Piña

*Pregnant women cannot eat piña / pineapple.

*Do not look at anyone that is deformed while pregnant of the baby will come out looking that way.

*Pregnant women should not go into the ocean.

*If you see a dead lizard in your house a woman will come out pregnant.

*If your face looks rounder, the baby will be a girl, and if you gain weight on your rear end, the baby will be a boy

New Mother

*A new mother cannot have citrus fruits.

*A women after having a child cannot wash her hair hair for 41 days or remove her socks for 41 days after giving birth.

*You must give a woman who just had birth sopa de gallina vieja / old hen soup.

*If you drop a spoon and the bowl of the spoon is up (it looks like a pregnant women) a new family member will be arriving soon.

Sex

*Having sex on a Good Friday (Easter Friday) is a bad thing. People who do, supposedly, will be stuck the rest of the day.

Las Mercedes

Our Lady of Mercy/ Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes. Patrona de la República Dominicana

According to the legend on March 1495, Christopher Columbus, accompanied by a few Spanish men had to face the Chief and a large number of Indians in a battle for gold. They built a trench from which to do battle and planted a large wooden cross next to this trench. It is said that the Virgin appeared on the cross.

The Indians made the Spanish run from their trench, retreating to a hill. The Indians tried to destroy the cross and even tried to burn it but they could not destroy it. Because of the aggressiveness of the Indians Columbus and most of the troops decided to leave. Fray Juan Infante, who carried a statue of Our Lady of Mercy, urged the Spanish to continue fighting and promised them victory on behalf of the Virgin.

The next day the forces of Columbus had victory over the native peoples of the island, taking what belonged to these original peoples of the island.

Columbus told his son Diego that he wanted to build a church in this spot in the Virgins honor. In 1527 atop the hill was established in the first convent of the Order of Mercy. After this incident, there was a shrine built to honor Our Lady of Mercy at the very top of the hill where Columbus planted the miraculous cross.

Iglesia Santo Cerro, La Vega
Iglesia Santo Cerro, La Vega

Holy Hill/ Santo Cerro

The church that sits on this spot now was built in 1880. This shrine of Holy Hill/ Santo Cerro is atop a hill that is about 8 miles from the town of La Vega. Every year on September 24 thousands of the faithful makes a procession there to honor this patron saint. There is a museum here and from the veranda, atop the holy hill El Santo Cerro, there is a spectacular view of Valle De La Vega Real in the Cordillera Septentrional.

The Virgen de la Mercedes is well known and loved in many countries including Peru, Argentina and many other countries.

Our Lady de Altagracia/ Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia watching over Ciudad Colonial
Our Lady de Altagracia/ Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia watching over Ciudad Colonial

Mercedarios

Since 1259 padres Mercedarios begin to spread devotion to Our Lady of Mercy (or Mercedes) that extends around the world. San Pedro Nolasco, inspired by the Blessed Virgin/ Santísima Virgen, founded an order dedicated to the mercy/ la merced (which means works of mercy/ obras de misericordia). San Pedro Nolasco and his friars were very devoted to the Virgin Mary. They took her as their patron saint and guide. Los mercedarios were knights of the Virgin Mary/ caballeros de la Virgen María in the service of his redeeming work and honor as Mother of Mercy or Virgin Redeemer/ Madre de la Merced o Virgen Redentora.

Iglesia y Convento de las Mercedes

The Iglesia Las Mercedes in the Zona Colonial
The Iglesia Las Mercedes in the Zona Colonial

The Iglesia y Convento de las Mercedes/ The Church and Convent of Our Lady of Mercy located on Calle Mercedes in Colonial Zone has services for the Virgin every year on September 24 is Día de Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes when there is a procession in her honor.

A video if the procession going up Calles 19 de Marzo crossing Arzobispo Nouel in Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic on September 24, 2008

See the dates of all the Patron Saint celebrations throughout Dominican Republic