Milagros have been used for centuries throughout Latin America and represent the universality of humans acknowledging the presence of spirit in everyday life.
Milagros or “miracles” are miniature metal replicas of arms, legs, other body parts, animals, tools, praying figures, hearts etc. Such charms are used as votive offerings to enlist the aid of the divine, or express thanks to the deities and saints. In return for favours granted or blessings received, one makes a promise or vow—to go on a pilgrimage, or to repay a debt with devotion. This vow or promise is symbolized by the milagro, which is often worn for the duration of the vow’s fulfillment and then offered at an altar, icon, or sacred destination.
I wrote this poem during one of our Callanish writing groups.
How can I speak of milagros?
Oh that I could wear one
for every beautiful being that I have visited
And ask for a cure—
Yes, that is what I would do.
For lungs and legs and breasts and tongues
for bowels and skin and liver and brains.
Oh so much to be mended,
that I would wear a cloak
with charms fastened to every inch of cloth
like a dream-coloured jacket.
Oh, and don’t forget the charms
for insight, for love, for wisdom, for strength.
Those important charms,
they tell us that really nothing needs mending,
that we have it all—
it is just arranged differently in each of us.
That beneath the charms we wear
for wishes and promises and vows and blessings,
there lies a jacket worn with the trials of life.
Holding strong, keeping us warm,
reminding us that underneath
we are all whole.
Header photo by Genevieve Russell