I have friends from all over the political spectrum, and it’s hard for me to respect anyone who doesn’t.
But it means that I also have to listen to all their theories about who runs the world and how we’re only pawns in their evil schemes. The left often think there’s a secret cabal of capitalists in charge of the world, the right often think there’s a secret cabal of socialists in charge of the world. Both sides, when taken to extremes, blame the Jews.
Then you have the Illuminati, ZOG, the Patriarchy, The White Man, and so on, and so on.
They might be right, they might be wrong, they might be idiots.
Me, I am pretty much apolitical and happy with it. The left/right dichotomy doesn’t appeal to me. It’s too easy. Too unrealistic.
But I envy you partisan morons of that feeling of bonding through a common enemy. After all, humans are meant to be constantly on alert from predators, and once we lose that paranoia, some of us become restless, useless, and easy prey for assholes like saber-toothed tigers or ninjas. So I’ve decided to get myself an invisible enemy, too.
I’ve chosen the Brujería.
In 1974, English writer Bruce Chatwin spent six months in Patagonia interviewing locals and probably having a whale of a time. One of the stories he encountered was that of the Brujería, a sect of male witches, or brujos, who exist solely for “the purpose of hurting ordinary people.” To become a brujo, one must go through six years of gruesome initiation rituals, one of which is to kill your best friend. Once a brujo, you can now start doing mischief on a grand scale. They’re pretty cool.
The local Brujería chapter Chatwin heard about was called The Council of the Cave due to their dwelling in a subterranean cave on the island of Chiloé.
The most frightening party trick the Brujería in Chiloé has up its sleeve might be the Invunche, also known as The Guardian of the Cave. The Invunche eats human flesh, but the most horrid thing about it is how this vile creature is made, something Chatwin describes:
When the Sect needs a new Invunche, the Council of the Cave orders a Member to steal a boy child from six months to a year old. The Deformer, a permanent resident of the Cave, starts work at once. He disjoints the arms and legs and the hands and feet. Then begins the delicate task of altering the position of the head. Day after day, and for hours at a stretch, he twists the head with a tourniquet until it has rotated through an angle of 180°, that is, until the child can look straight down the line of its own vertebrae. There remains one last operation, for which another specialist is needed. At full moon, the child is laid on a workbench, lashed down with its head covered in a bag. The specialist cuts a deep incision under the right shoulder blade. Into the hole he inserts the right arm and sews up the wound with thread taken from the neck of a ewe. When it has healed the Invunche is complete.
There are other descriptions of how the Invunche is deformed, but they all involve extreme pain and improbable limb-twisting.
What sets Chatwin’s tales apart from ordinary witchcraft myths is that the Brujería supposedly exists today as an organization and has several chapters. It is governed by the Central Committee which has two branches: one in Buenos Aires and one in Santiago. Scattered throughout Patagonia, there are several regional committees. It’s almost Masonic.
But unlike the Masons, with their philanthropy, their funny handshakes, and their dusty old rituals, the Brujería is simply dedicated to create misery and chaos through black magic. They’re how everyone wants the Freemasons to be.
How real is the Brujería? Well, they most definitely exist in the strange mythology of the people who live in the Chiloé archipelago, a mythology that, like voodoo, mixes several indigenous religions, as well as superstitions that arrived with the Spanish Conquistadores.
The whole thing about Committees was something Chatwin supposedly heard from the natives, but Chatwin might not be that trustworthy, either.
What’s funny, though, is that, according to Chatwin, one of the tricks the Brujería often used was to give someone an incurable disease. Chatwin died of AIDS in 1989.
In the end, it doesn’t matter. I’ve found my enemy, and I’m gonna stick to it.
Bruce Chatwin’s book In Patagonia can be bought here.
—LASSE HOLMBERG JOSEPHSEN