By Christopher Nyerges
When my wife needed candles and incense for meditation and for the remembrance of her ancestors and beloved departed, she asked me if I could obtain those supplies for her.
Naturally, I went to Botanica Nueva Era in Highland Park, a mysterious little shop operated by Jose and Ireri Luna, located just north of Figueroa Street on Avenue 58 for the last 23 years. Until last June, that is, when a fire apparently caused by old electrical wiring led them to move their shop to York Boulevard.
The location has changed, but the vibe of the original store remains. When I enter the shop, I am stunned by the array of religious artifacts and pleasant fragrance. The artifacts hail from around the world, from Christianity, Judaism, ancient Egypt, the Maya and Aztecs, India, and more. The counters are full of incense, candles, stones, wood, crystals, replicas of ancient sites and posters appealing to those who observe indigenous religious ceremonies.
On each of my visits to Botanica Nueva Era, Jose and Ireri always had the wisdom to help me select the candle and incense for my wife’s specific purpose. I know other customers receive the same thoughtful attention because every time I’ve been in the store, I’ve found Jose and Ireri deep in conversation with customers about their specific needs for their spiritual practices.
“People come and ask about candles, and we always try to have an answer for their questions,” says Jose.
For instance, when someone has a death in the family, or a celebration, or just needs to take time to think about their future, they want not just any candle, but a candle and incense of a specific color, with specific symbols, designed for a specific purpose.
The Lunas, who also do spiritual readings for customers, have gained much of their experience and knowledge through extensive travel to ceremonial and archaeological sites in Mexico. “We’ve been to Mayan places, and every year we go there to make ceremonies and to meet shamans, curanderos, and do lots of ceremonies in jungle, river, mountains,” says Jose. “We’ve gone to Chitzen Itza, Uzmal, and have been to nearly all the pyramids.”
Visit their new shop and support this family-run business which has provided service to the community for all these years. Regardless of one’s religious faith and background, the Lunas can help you to keep your faith during these challenging times.
Botanica Nueva Era: 6138 York Boulevard, Highland Park. Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. Open Saturdays by appointment; call 323-349-0563.
All photos by Christopher Nyerges
Christopher Nyerges is the author of many books and teaches self-reliance classes; see the class schedule at www.SchoolofSelf-Reliance.com
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