Knowing my affinity for spiritual iconography a few weeks ago longtime design buddy, Gail Anderson introduced me to Jorge Vargas, owner of the popular Justo Botancia a longtime fixture in East Harlem neighborhood. For over a year Gail has researched, interviewed and documented owner Vargas’ on the symbolic meaning of the package designs he’s created over the years for numerous religious Santeria products such as candles, oils, scents, and more sold in his shop.
A short excerpt from Justo Botánica Is Good for the Soul by Gail Anderson
The only connection most people have to Santería is Ricky Ricardo pounding on the conga drum in old I Love Lucy reruns. “Babalú, Babalú Ayé,” chants Cuban icon Desi Arnaz, bow tie loosened. Four decades after my first Lucy episode, I have learned that Babalu Aye is the name of the West African orisha, or intermediary between God and man, that translates to “Father, lord of the earth.” Ayé is renowned for the control he exercises over disease and healing, and he is among the most powerful deities in the African and Caribbean spiritual traditions. Babalú is not just a nostalgic TVLand reference. He is an essential figure in Santería. Read more: Justo Botánica Is Good for the Soul — Imprint-The Online Community for Graphic Designers,