"My blood is a miracle that from my veins crosses the air from my heart to yours" (Frida Kahlo)
Today we will explore the fantastic world of Mexican Milagros and we will find out what they are, what their history is and what they represent.
First, I would like to focus on the literal meaning of the word Milagros, the Spanish word for miracle. From the religious point of view, a Milagros is any extraordinary event, not dictated by natural laws, but performed by God or through one of his creatures. Its secular meaning is "wonderful, unexpected and magnificent event".
But what are Milagros in Mexican culture? They are small charms (the largest are called ex- voto), with different personal meanings that are used in Mexican religious culture as sacrificial offerings when the miracle required of a Saint or a Virgin is fulfilled or as symbols of good luck. They come in different shapes (flat or three-dimensional) and build with different materials (gold, silver, tin, wood, lead, wax and bone). They can have the appearance of parts of the body, of animals, hearts, and nowadays also computers and televisions. Later we will explore the differences between the various types of Milagros. First, we'll understand their history.
The offering of an object as a gift to the Gods dates back to ancient times, when the Roman Empire conquered the Greek world and adopted the tradition of bringing symbols of clay, wood or metal as an offering to the Gods for the victories obtained. When Christianity raged throughout the Roman Empire, the tradition expanded its borders and from Spain, Italy, Portugal and France, it also invaded the Americas thanks to the Spanish sailors who landed there to bring the word of God.
Milagros are now widespread, of course in Mexico, and in the Southern United States, in other parts of South America and in some areas of Spain and southern Italy.
The traditional use of Milagros dates back to many centuries ago and here is a brief history to better understand how it was implemented.
A religious person with a lot of faith could find himself/herself in a moment of his life, having to face a difficult problem and the only possible solution was to ask for help, praying to a higher entity. Thus, this person made a pact with a Saint or a Virgin, to whom he was devoted. If the problem was solved and the miracle was realized, the person made a real pilgrimage to the sanctuary of reference, to leave a gift of thanks to the Saint. If the man of faith was wealthy, he often had a painting commissioned (ex-voto), describing the miracle that took place, if instead the faithful did not have sufficient amounts of money available, he bought for a few pesos, or built a pendant symbolically depicting the miracle performed (Milagros). Both the paintings and the Milagros, placed in special areas of the Church, were then resold by the Church itself to raise money to donate to the poor. Often these objects are then found on stalls or in antique markets and were thus reused several times, increasing their power. Even today, Milagros are sold outside the churches, especially in rural communities.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF MILAGROS AND MEANINGS:
Milagros can represent everything except money; in fact, praying to achieve material wealth is not well seen by the Catholic Church and for this reason there are no Milagros in the shape of coins or banknotes. The interpretation of a symbol is individual and could have different meanings, translated to a visual representation of what is the required protection, or the miracle obtained. For example, if our dog is sick and we want to pray for a miracle, we can buy a dog-shaped Milagros, if our arm is broken, we'll go for an arm-shaped Milagros, if we want to go on a journey or we suffer from some ailments in the lower limbs, we will acquire a leg or foot shaped Milagros. I hope I get the idea with these simple examples.
Let's take a closer look at other representations:
Newborn: the newborn form can mean the demand for a child's good health or protection during pregnancy and childbirth.
Eyes: an eye-shaped Milagros can mean many things; it can be an offer to Saint Lucia (Patroness of sight) for good eye health or a request for intuition and creativity.
Animals: the animal-shaped Milagros can mean a healing prayer for our animal or it can represent a quality of the animal that we would like or seek or a defect from which we want to protect ourselves.
Hen: maternal sense.
Taurus: strength and endurance or a spell against anger.
Sheep: group solidarity or spell not to succumb to the pressure of others with negative results.
Mule: Resistance to work or travel or spell against stubbornness.
Pig: concept of taking food home as a source of nutrition or a spell towards wrong eating habits.
Hearts: hearts can mean a healing request from a heart disease, the desire for a new love or it can represent the Sacred Heart of Mary and Jesus.
Body parts: concerning an illness, or they can have a symbolic meaning.
Arms: ability to work forcefully.
Foot: possibility to take new paths.
Leg: can represent a journey, both for pleasure and for work.
Ears: ability to listen.
These are just some of the many Milagros that can be found, but I assure you, that on the market, you might find all types, shapes and materials you desire.
NEW FRONTIERS FOR MILAGROS
Although Milagros were born as religious objects, more and more jewelry brands are inserting these cult charms in their collections, transforming them into real fashion accessories. The religious world and the secular and innovative world of fashion merge more and more and the jewels take inspiration from these symbols, making them real personal and precious lucky charms without necessarily having a religious connotation.
Nowadays, Milagros can be worn as jewelry, placed in the home as attractors of positive energies, used as a lucky charm or as an ornament for a room.
I hope I have been useful to you and have explained a little more in detail the magical world of the Milagros.
"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle". (Albert Einstein)