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A song of the narco-miraculous

Friday, May 15th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — on dark spirituality, magic and apocalyptic ]

I’ve received a review copy of Tony Kail’s Narco-Cults, and by chance when I first opened it, my eye fell on a miracle story.


Here, in a clip from a narcocorrido video, is an officer of the US Border Patrol vanishing into thin air as the result of a Santeria invocation:

narco miracle

Here’s the book’s narrative description of that event:

Consider the following story. A Cuban Santería priest speaks into a twoway radio as three Hispanic men cross over the border into Arizona. One of the men, who is transporting drugs under his clothes, wears several multicolored Santería necklaces (elekes). The man responds to the priest on the radio as a U.S. Border Patrol agent begins to follow him. As the “coyotes” begin to run from the agent, the agent draws his weapon and aims it at the smugglers. As the priest whispers an incantation into the radio, the agent mysteriously disappears into thin air. The men jump into the agent’s truck and drive away as the priest kneels before the image of Elegua, a Santería deity who is believed to be the owner of fate and the crossroads. mages of drug smugglers bowing in front of statues of saints and figures like Santa Muerte are seen as music begins to play away in the background.

This is a scene from a popular narco music video called La Clika Del Elegua from Mexican musician El Pelon Avile. The video is a perfect depiction of how spiritual traditions are used by modern-day drug smugglers for protection in the drug war.

Here’s the video of the narcocorrido in which the miracle is depicted:


Turning the page, we find:

The heavy scent of spirituality among the cartels is so prevalent that some members of law enforcement have sought shelter in magical religions for protection. Members of the Mexican police have been documented in the media as undergoing various rituals for protection from the cartels. Some officers have even had tattoos of sacred religious symbols placed on their bodies to give them magical protection. One officer in Tijuana shared that his tattoos gave him protection from bullets that killed his comrades during a gunfight.

How far is that from, say, this:

Christian group brushes aside death threat from kidnappers

Death threats against 13 Christian preachers from their Muslim extremist captors are not a concern as the evangelists are confident God will protect them, a member of the Christian ministry said Thursday.

The kidnapped head of the Jesus Miracle Crusade, fiery televangelist Wilde Almeda, particularly has special powers that will protect him from bullets, said Robert Chua, a member of the group.

Or for that matter:

The Second Battle Of Adobe Walls

A charismatic medicine man, named Ish-Ta-Ma, claimed he could make the warriors bullet proof and that his bowel movements would provide rifle cartridges. ..

Emboldened by Ish-Ta-Ma’s prophesies, the combined tribes of Southern Cheyenne, Comanche and Kiowa, near one thousand strong, advanced towards Adobe Walls before daylight in what should have been an easy route. Fate was not in their favor.


Thomas Muentzer

When the final showdown comes in 1525, the peasants are arrayed against the German princes and their army, and Thomas Muentzer continues to assure them, even at the last moment, that Christ will intervene on their side. This is the apocalyptic moment foretold in the Revelation. They’re singing hymns. They literally are awaiting a glorious triumph. Muentzer assures them that he will catch the cannonballs in his shirthsleeves. Of course, it turned into a slaughter. Five thousand ill-equipped peasants were slaughtered. The Peasants’ Revolt was utterly destroyed. It was one of those incredible explosions of apocalypticism that arise in history.

McCarthy at the border?

Saturday, May 9th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — questions that come too close for comfort ]

As usual, I’m about the business of comparing and contrasting — this time comparing a question asked of visitors to the US at the Canadian border with the key question asked in the McCarthy era.

SPEC DQ McCarthy & border

The similarity is close enough to serve as food for thought, no?

Buddha, Shiva, and the elements

Saturday, May 2nd, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — Buddha against the earthquake, Shiva against the floods ]

SPEC DQ buddha quake shiva floods

Images are from Nepal (upper panel) and India (lower panel).

Quake in Nepal as Act of God

Monday, April 27th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — before the Pat Robertsons get a word in.. ]

DoubleTweeting Indian responses to the quake:



Note: Rushdie Explains is a parody account, but the newspaper is genuine.

Religious aspects of the conflict in Yemen – no easy answers

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — an attempt to make it clear how complex the various religious affiliations in the Yemeni conflict are ]

My latest piece for LapidoMedia, briefing journalists on religious aspects of contemporary news, is now posted there under a slightly modified title:

BRIEFING: The roots of conflict in Yemen – no easy answers

by Charles Cameron – 22nd April 2015

Credit: screencap from PBS Frontline, The Fight for Yemen

Credit: screencap from PBS Frontline, The Fight for Yemen

THE prophet Muhammad is recorded as saying: ‘When disaster threatens, seek refuge in Yemen.’

He spoke those words after he and his small band of followers had been driven out of Mecca, and before it was clear that their emigration – the Hijra – to Medina would prove the success that turned the tide in favor of the new religion. Not surprisingly, then, religion means much to the Yemeni people and Yemen much to pious Muslims.

Indeed, less than a minute into the April 2015 PBS Frontline special on Yemen, reporter Safa Al Ahmad is told by a Houthi informant ‘Our borders are the Holy Quran and the Islamic and Arab world’.

In an article titled The Middle East’s Franz Ferdinand Moment: Why the Islamic State’s claimed attack in Yemen could spark an Arab World War, JM Berger of Brookings gives us context:

‘The crisis in Yemen is one of the more complicated stories to emerge from a complicated region. It involves a cyclone of explosive elements: religious extremism, proxy war, sectarian tension, tribal rivalries, terrorist rivalries and US counterterrorism policies. There is little consensus on which element matters most, although each has its fierce partisans.’

Berger offers the bombing of two Sanaa mosques on March 20 as his candidate for the spark that ignited the current situation in Yemen – just as the bombing of the Shiite al-Askari Mosque in Samarra was a turning point leading to all-out sectarian civil war in Iraq.


Since Lapido commissioned this piece, they deserve your clicks: please read the rest of the article on the Lapido site.

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