An army of witches, rituals, jobs and cabals, the mystical phenomenon that spawned the national team at the World Cup and reached The New York Times

Magalí Martínez knew something was wrong: Lionel Messi, the seemingly invincible star, was struggling on the football pitch. It seemed to him that he was affected by a supernatural curse that has roots in different cultures throughout history, the evil eye”.

So Martínez, self-proclaimed part time witch and nanny, put to work. Focusing intensely on Messi, he started repeating a prayer and sprayed oil into a bowl of water. If the oil was dispersed, he was safe. If it accumulated in the center, it was cursed.

“It came together like a magnet,” he said. “I knew I couldn’t cure it on my own.”

enter in Twitter and summoned other witches from all over Argentina. “Evil eye healer sisters, Messi is very affected,” he said. “I need his help”.

A thousand people shared her tweet, many saying they too were witches and would work for protect argentina’s spoiled brat.

Argentina have not lost since.

Accountants calculated the odds, players placed their bets and experts gave their predictions for Sunday’s World Cup final between Argentina Yes Francebut his analysis of the match – focused only on the 22 players who will be on the pitch – might not take a joker into account: argentina army of witches.

In recent weeks, hundreds, if not thousands, of Argentines who call themselves “witches” have taken up arms – in the form of prayers, altars, candles, amulets and burning sage – to protect the country’s beloved football team as they bid for a Developing Nations Cup title, their first in 36 years.

“We see ourselves as agents who, out of love, can heal, protect and sow happiness,” says Rocío Cabral Menna, 27, witch and high school teacher from Rosario, the hometown of Messi, who burns a laurel leaf on which his score prediction is written during a ceremony before each match. Players compete on the pitch, he says, and at home, “the witches take care of them”.

The orient oneself skyrocketed after Argentina’s shock defeat to Saudi Arabia in the opening game, which left the Argentines looking for a way to help the team in which this nation of 47 million people has invested his hope.

After this party, several witches created a group of WhatsApp to instruct other witches on how to help with selection. They called it the Argentine Association of Witches, or La Brujineta, a pun on “witch” and “La Scaloneta”, the nickname Argentina gives to the national team.

“I thought there would be a maximum of 10 people,” said the group’s founder, Antonella Spadafora, a 23-year-old witch who owns a store in a town in northwestern Argentina. Within days, more than 300 people had joined the group. Last week there was such demand that they opened a Twitter account. In seven days, he reached 25,000 subscribers.

“We were tired of being witches in secret,” said Andrea Maciel, 28, a witch and graphic designer from Buenos Aires who helps lead the group.

The witches said their main goal was to use rituals to absorb negative energy from Argentine players and exchange it for good energy. However, this leaves them exhausted.

“Headache, dizziness, vomiting, muscle aches,” Spadafora said. “We absorb all the bad vibes,” he added. “It drains you a lot because they’re very public figures who get a lot of negative energy from other people.”

Therefore, to distribute the chargeparty leaders now split witches into groups before each match, each focusing on protecting a certain player.

While many witches said they work to take care of Messi and his teammates, others try to cast spells on opposing players, especially goalkeepers. A ritual involves freezing a piece of paper with a player’s name on it, uttering a curse, and burning the frozen paper just before the game.

But the group little witch warned that trying to curse France could backfire, not least because of the team’s star striker, kylian mbappe.

“We don’t recommend freezing France as their players are protected by dark entities and the energy can bounce back!!” the group announced on Twitter on Wednesday. “We saw very dark things in the France team and especially in Mbappé. Thank you for sharing!!!” The witches concentrated in the World Cup represent a wide variety of occult disciplines, more New Age than ancestral and native. Practices include black magic, white magic, wicca, reiki, tarot, astrology, and healers of the evil eye and other ailments.

Some women said they were born with special abilities, while others said they developed their skills through study. Several said they began practicing witchcraft as part of a growing feminist movement in Argentina that began in 2018 with the fight for legal abortion.

“I think we all have magic inside,” Cabral Menna said.

But the witches aren’t the only Argentines trying to help their team in the supernatural realm. On match days, many more Argentines practice some kind of cabal or superstition to avoid bringing bad luck to the team. Cabals are usually about following the exact same routine if the team wins: where to watch the game, with whom, in what clothes, at what volume and on what channel.

The practice is so widespread that million Argentines they probably use some sort of kabbalah, a word derived from Hebrew kabbalah, a Jewish mystical tradition. Cabals have been particularly common this year following Argentina’s defeat in the opening game.

Adrián Coria, Messi’s coach as a child in Rosario and later in the national team, said he saw the first defeat with his family in his living room. Then his wife and daughter sent him to a shed in the garden to watch Game 2. “I just said. Since then, he has watched the rest of the World Cup there.

Cabral Menna, the witch of Rosario, said she and her mother watched Argentina’s first victory from the latter’s room. “It’s the only part of the house that doesn’t have air conditioning.. “It is very hot. But we are not moving.”

And Sergio Duri, owner of a Rosario restaurant which has Messi’s signature on the wall, said he now watches games in the kitchen with a dachshund, Omar, while his wife watches them in the bedroom with another. dachshund, Dulce. . “If this spreads, the whole world will know that we are completely insane,” he said. “But they are cabals, you know? Players also practice cabals. Alejandro Gómez, Leandro Paredes y Rodrigo de Paul, very centrocampistas, se han acostumbrado a caminar por la cancha una hora antes del puntapié inicial mientras commen caramelos, tradición que iniciaron el año pasado cuando Argentina ganó la Copa América, el principal torneo de fútbol de South America.

So now the question for witches is: what will happen on Sunday?

“We don’t want to give information as if we have the last word,” Spadafora said. “But obviously we started working and obviously we checked most of the means we have – esoteric means, for example, pendulums, tarot, all the methods of divination – and they indicate that Argentina are going to win. “

Azucena Agüero Blanch, a 72-year-old professional fortune teller who was consulted at one point by former president Carlos Menem, also explained that she works with magic stones to secure victory for Argentina. “A lot of people who are pushing for Argentina to win called me to work there,” he told an Argentinian newspaper.

In her candlelit home in Buenos Aires on Friday night, Martinez was dressed in a tiger-covered dress and lit candles on an altar displaying burnt sandalwood; Ganesha, the Hindu elephant-headed god; and a picture of Diego Maradonathe late Argentinian soccer star who is like a deity to many in this country.

Martínez said he has a series of methods to protect the team, including a practice that involves swinging a pendulum, or a wooden cylinder attached to a string, over a player’s shirt number and then burn a piece of cotton sprinkled with a dye. of mistletoe. He said he follows the news to learn about players’ ailments and then uses the pendulum to relieve them. “The pendulum is the most powerful tool I have,” he explained..

He also had moments of clairvoyance during matches. During Argentina’s game against Australia on December 3, he had a vision of Argentina striker Julián Álvarez scoring a goal.

At 5:13 p.m. he tweeted: “Julián Álvarez, I want your goal (vela ojo vela ojo vela).”

Four minutes later, Álvarez scored a goal.

Translation: Elisa Carnelli

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