I’ll Try Anything Once: I Went To A Brazilian Basement Shaman

Due to the fact that my job contract and long-term relationship recently “expired,” and my apartment lease is following suit, I am feeling particularly confused at the current state of my life. As such, I figured it may be time to seek some spiritual counsel.
Publish date:
October 3, 2011
healers, hoaxes, shamans, M

Due to the fact that my job contract and long-term relationship recently “expired,” and my apartment lease is following suit, I am feeling particularly confused at the current state of my life. As such, I figured it may be time to seek some spiritual counsel. I need help.

I’m usually one to call up my therapist like you would an ex-boyfriend at 2 am, drunk and crying and muttering about what went wrong in my life. I say stuff, they look at me with their head cocked, they ask how it makes me feel and then tell me in a hushed voice that I also owe them for last week’s session.

I need something else. I need a more alternative, financially manageable way to deal with the big questions, some of which include: Am I insane? Should I move to New York City in December? Should I have sent that email to my ex? Where did my dad go? Why do I always forget to shave the back of my ankles, resulting in perpetual ankle mullet?

Enter “Louis” (I put his name in quotes because I really could not tell you if anything about this person is legit), the Brazilian basement shaman. The ad reads:

Are You Suffering? Witch, Healer & Adviser I guaranteeed helping you with the following issues: attack, dominate and bring back your love one remove all witchcraft and evil influence Readings: tarot, aura, tobacco, palm, etc. Finding solutions for money problems, bad luck and health Show you the face of your enemy I only accept difficult cases.

Naturally, I had to call him. Sadly, Louis’s voicemail was full, but I called until a guy (who sounded like he had just been woken up from napping on the couch in between “Judge Judy” episodes) picked up.

I booked myself in for 4 pm the next day. Not wanting to be like one of those girls in horror movies who runs into the house where the murderer is, I brought along my friend Bill.

The address the man on the phone told us to go to was in a pretty sketchy neighborhood in Toronto, where the bearded dudes in plaid button-down shirts are not in an electro-folk band, nor do they know when the new iPhone comes out. We went to the correct address, knocked on the door, and a glassy-eyed woman answered.

We asked her if she could show us the face of our enemy and she said, “No! Massage only!” then slammed the door in our faces.

I called the number on the ad, and this time a woman answered the phone and told us to come around the back of the building. We walked down into a hot, dingy basement apartment and were told to wait in the “waiting room” as she scurried around ferociously spraying air freshener.

In the waiting area, we joined a very stoned Rasta gentleman in sunglasses chilling out on an old leather couch watching a VHS copy of a Robert Redford film. I wasn’t really sure if he lived here or was here to seek spiritual counsel.

He helpfully explained to me that he needed some good in his life and that the shaman, as he was now referred to, “told his friend some good things on the phone so he wanted to hear some good shit, too.” Can’t argue with that logic.

Trying to fill the dead air, I asked the room-spray-addicted woman if the shaman was her father (I had gotten a brief glimpse of him as he took a bathroom break) and she told me, “No, husband.”

Cricket. Cricket.

“Cool,” I said. I then asked her what I could expect when I got into the room.

“I don’t know,” she said, slightly annoyed. “He doesn’t tell me these things. It is very private.”

Well at least these two lovebirds don’t bring their baggage from the office into the bedroom.

After two hours of waiting, the shaman appeared at the door. He was a rotund, middle-aged Brazilian man with an immaculately manicured chinstrap beard, wearing a purple business casual button-down shirt punctuated by enormous sweat stains and tucked into his belted jeans. He looked more like a predatory tequila-shot-offering local I met while 17 and drunk in Mexico at Señor Frogs than a shaman.

Louis, as he introduced himself to me, led me into a steaming hot, dark room that was lit solely by skull candles that he may or not have bought on sale in July at a Halloween store bargain bin. He asked me what I had come for and I told him I was particularly curious to find out what the face of my evil spirit looks like.

He gave me a wry smile then told me that I have never had black magic performed on me, so I have no demons to be removed.

I was slightly disappointed, but we moved on to tarot cards. Shaman Louis didn't speak English very well, so it was rather difficult to understand his reading. His main points seemed to be:

  • I need to finish a degree (I have two, but he clearly senses my genius).
  • Moving to NYC seems like a good idea and people will say they will be my friend, but then they won’t. It will not be easy.
  • My love life “has no harmony and is sad,” but I will get back with my ex-boyfriend in 4-6 weeks. (Everything is on some sort of mail order timeline with matters of the heart, apparently).
  • I give too much of myself to people (Can he see how many people I’ve slept with? Sh*t).
  • Women are envious of me because I have “very beautiful eyes and it is impossible as a man to not love me” (Not helping him distinguish himself from Mr. Señor Frog).
  • My dad and I, who have a very strained and difficult relationship, are both rebels and have opposite personalities. We will have one big fight and “be friends” again. If only it was that easy. Dad, do you ever Google me? Wanna have it out and make up? I really hope Louis is right on this one.
  • I have to be careful of my bones because I may have arthritis. This one just straight up freaked me out. Excuse me while I OD on Vitamin D.
  • Oh, and my deceased mother is some sort of insect or bird. I should talk to her (I actually already do. I believe she is a butterfly. No, I am not Mariah Carey circa 1997, deal with it).

While I was ready to delve into some deeper questions, Louis abruptly said, “OK, Kelly, your time is up, but I like you so you get a 54 percent discount.” Despite my name not being Kelly, I do enjoy a discount. I left my $20 on the table, wiped some beads of sweat off my face and went back into the sweat free Canadian air.

I rolled my eyes when I recounted the experience to my very anxious pal in the waiting room, but secretly I was bummed that Louis said moving to NYC was not going to be a good idea. While I admit my appointment with the shaman was initially just for a bit of fun, part of me kind of secretly hoped he could tell me what I do not know with the conviction I do not possess at this moment in my life.

I really wanted him tell me that I made the right decision with my relationship, I should do everything I can to be a professional writer, I don’t need to move to New York next month if I don’t want to and perhaps also that Javier Bardem will leave Penelope Cruz for me and we will live happily ever after in southern Spain.

My mother had this paperweight rock on her desk that I read as a kid that read, “What you do not have, you find everywhere.” I didn’t know what that meant as a kid, but I think I understand now. I cannot look for stability and certainty in the eyes of a stranger, one night stand, or the back of a free daily newspaper.

So the whole experience wasn't a massive revelation, but Church, God and episodes of Oprah haven’t exactly been either. Louis didn’t say to not go to NYC, just that it would just be difficult. Too bad Louis forgot to remind me that I’m one bold SOB. One who takes massive, massive quantities of Vitamin D and sometimes talks to butterflies.

The journey to reveal your own truths is a solitary, courageous and necessary one. Excuse me while I take the first steps. Please don’t laugh if I fall on my face a few times while I figure it out. I’m new on this road.