Your webmaster was strolling in Park Slope one day, in not quite the month of May, when I happened upon one of the remaining non-“gentrified” storefronts at 5th Avenue between Baltic and Douglass. Now, I know next to nothing about religious articles, symbols of faith, or braucherei of any kind; I’m just going to show what’s in the window of the botanica besides the “spritual consultants, candles, saints and photos” advertised on the sign and let the reader sort it out. It’s a trip…
I’m stumped about this mix of Buddhism, Catholicism, Native Americans and creepy-looking iconography is all about, but if you know, let me know!
Forgotten Fan Vern Smith:
In regards to the window display, I recognize the white cat holding the gold coin with a raised left paw in the bottom left photo as a “maneki neko”. This is a traditional decoration in retail establishments, especially restaurants, in Japan. I have seen it all over Japan, especially in more traditional shops and eateries, less so in modern establishments. In english the words translate into “beckoning cat”, thus the left paw raised to beckon customers to come in and spend money. It is supposed to bring good fortune to the shop or restaurant owner by bringing in more customers, thus the ancient and no longer in use gold coin in the cats grasp as a symbol of potential prosperity.
Forgotten Fan Christopher Egan:
The shop is a Botanica that carries supplies for the religion called Santeria. It’s Afro-Cuban in origin combining indigenous beliefs with Catholicism.
Forgotten Fan Rosemarie Scott:
Botanicas are religious supply stores for Afro-Caribbean religions such as Santeria, Voodoo, Palo Mayombe. There tends to be some syncretism in these religions, which explains the mix of images from various religions. The robed skeleton in one picture is Santa Muerte, or Saint Death, a rather unsettling figure in Mexican folk religion.