Love is one of the most coveted universal feelings for human beings; especially the romantic and passionate.
Every February 14, this unique bond is commemorated in many countries, which as it matures, takes the form of sincere affection, loyalty and admiration.
On Valentine’s Day, millions of couples celebrate their love with poems, songs, chocolates or flowers. However, around this innocent holiday, they have also proliferated shady traditions: witchcraft spells and rites invoked by people who seek to attract their loved one and trap him forever. False practices that have no power, but they do carry a very high cost.
In an interview with Globe Live Media Mexico, Juan Jorge Avilés Ortega, president of the Mexican Institute of Fauna, Flora and Social Sustainability (IMFFSS), he explained that many of these love rituals require animal sacrifice. And among the abused species, one of the most worrisome is The hummingbird, which performs an invaluable function as pollinator, and every year, around this time, he is massacred in masses.
“The hummingbird for America and Mexico is an animal that requires a lot of care, since they are pollinators, they are animals responsible for giving current biological biodiversity. Without them, like bees, the large amount of fauna and flora that currently exists in our region would not exist ”, explained the scientific communicator.
To obtain nectar, this endemic bird from America must introduce its long beak to the bottom of the flower, with this it helps the sexual reproduction of the plants.
This little bird allows the sexual reproduction of plants. An essential role that begins when it injects its long beak almost to the bottom of the flower to feed on the nectar. When absorbing the substance, pollen remains remain around your mouth, where the male gametes of the plant – or sex cells – are found. The bird then travels to a new flower to repeat the process, and unintentionally drops the powder from its beak on it. At that moment, the gametes of the first plant slide towards the ovary of the second flower, and fertilization occurs.
Hummingbirds perform this operation hundreds of times a day. And with this, they promote the continuous birth of new flowers and fruits. Partly because of this function, they are traditionally associated with love and fertility.
Despite its importance for biodiversity, and being an animal protected by Mexican law, every February thousands of hummingbirds are captured in national territory destined for “Moorings”, a magical-religious ritual that is invoked to conquer the heart of the loved one.
“The person has to acquire a hummingbird, either dead or alive. This ritual is regularly done on February 14. They are asked to do it at night and with candles, with the figure of a crucified Jesus and the photograph of the loved one. What many of them say is that you have to tie the hummingbird to a photograph, with a thread, and bring it carrying, that is if it is a man. If it is a woman, the hummingbird is placed with the photograph tied in the same way and is simply placed on the altar” explained Avilés Ortega.
Furthermore, for the spell supposedly to take effect, tradition says that you have to say a prayer, known as La Chuparrosa.
“You have to give a sentence where it is explained that it is recognized the importance of the hummingbird in biodiversity, because it is responsible for feeding on nectar, and it is requested that this same nectar has the ability to reach the loved one, touch their soul, and draw the attention of the person to whom it is being linked ”.
When a sorcerer is asked if some other bird can be used in the ritual, the answer is always negative. And it is that since pre-Hispanic times, the hummingbird is considered a sacred animal, linked to the gods and a symbol of eternal love.
Aztec legend says that long ago there were two children who, growing up, fell madly in love with each other. His name was Huitzilin, and she was Xóchitl.
One day, the young man had to go to war, and shortly after, he lost his life in battle. Xóchitl, broken with pain, begged the God of the Sun, Tonatiuh, to allow her to meet the warrior, and he, moved, transformed her into a flower. However, the cocoon remained closed until a small bird approached it. It was Huitzilin who had turned into a hummingbird to return to his beloved. Recognizing it, she opened its petals and showed its precious orange color. It was a beautiful cempasuchil.
Since then, it is said that whenever the flower of the Day of the Dead grows in Mexico and there are hummingbirds hovering around it, the love of Hutzilin and Xóchitl will endure.
This beautiful Aztec belief, led some people to consider the species as an amulet for love, and to create meaningless sadistic rites in which the animal is sacrificed or mistreated with the intention of manipulating the feelings of the desired person. However, Juan Jorge Avilés clarified that these rites were not performed by pre-Hispanic civilizations, since they felt great respect for these birds.
“From there all this type of magical-religious ritual derives, but before, our ancestors the Mexica enjoyed these animals a lot, and appreciated having them alive”, He said.
In the Republic, hummingbird traffickers capture them in wild areas and then, they distribute it to traditional markets, where they sell them for a price between 10 and 15 dollars.
“In Mexico, mainly in Mexico City, they are sold in traditional markets, such as the Sonora market, where different magic-religious rituals are practiced, and many religions converge ”, said the expert.
Catching a specimen is completely prohibited, since many species of hummingbirds are threatened or in danger of extinction.
“Currently in America we have 330 species. In Mexico City there are about four species of hummingbirds. And here, these populations are in danger of extinction. And because? The urbanization of the habitat and the lack of pollinating plants are the most serious problems. Also the use of agrochemicals is affecting hummingbirds, as well as climate change and the illegal capture of these animals ”.
The NOM-059-SEMARNAT-2010 protects 12 types of hummingbirds, considering them at risk. And in Mexico City, Article 13.B.1 of the capital’s constitution prohibits mistreating any animal, which it considers “sentient beings”.
“It is completely illegal to capture these animals. They are in the rule 059/2010 of the Semarnat, and in Mexico City article 13 of the Constitution establishes that they are sentient beings and that any person who causes the death of an animal must pay a punitive penalty. In this case, of course, food animals, farm animals, are out of the norm. But the hummingbird does not fall into that category so it is protected by Semarnat, by the CDMX Constitution and the CDMX Animal Protection Law ”, said Juan Jorge Avilés.
Plants that we can place in our window, terrace or garden to help biodiversity and pollinators (Photo: Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources)
Due to its metabolism, the hummingbird cannot live in captivity.
The authorities insist that these sadistic rites must be eradicated, and for this they have launched awareness campaigns near traditional markets, in order to make the population understand that the hummingbird is a bird with a vital function for biodiversity, and it is much better to appreciate it alive.
“This is a crime to do and encourages more violence. The best thing is to have live hummingbirds, and they can do it from your balcony, from your window, it is not necessary to have a garden, with which we have pots with plants we can enjoy them, appreciate the hummingbird hovering alive instead of having it as a dead amulet, “said the science communicator.
Because of its metabolism, the hummingbird cannot survive in captivity. It flutters 80 to 200 times per second, and its heart beats at about 200 beats per minute. But if we want, we can see them prowling close to home if we place the right pollinating plants, such as the sabita, the azalea, the bougainvillea or the giant. To this end, the Mexican Institute of Fauna, Flora and Social Sustainability organize free workshops to teach citizens how to create these special gardens, which also help the ecosystem.
“How nice it would be if the loved one arrived and instead of finding a dead amulet found a garden with flowers”added Juan Jorge Avilés.
Turtle, pigeon and rooster eggs
Turtle eggs are sold on the black market, in areas like Tepito
Hummingbirds are not the only species affected by insane superstitions and depraved Valentine’s rituals. As explained by the president of IMFFSS, sea turtle eggs are also consumed at this time.
“They are considered the best aphrodisiacs, that’s what they say, we know that it is not like that, but unfortunately there is a belief that turtle eggs are the best aphrodisiacs and are also widely consumed in our country “, he revealed.
According to the scientific disseminator, in Mexico City they are sold on the black market, mainly in Tepito.
“In Tepito these eggs are sold illegally, unfortunately the authorities have not been able to enter. They have turned a blind eye because practically this black market is joined by the big drug trafficking mafias. It is a very serious issue but what we are also doing is creating awareness among people that turtle eggs are not aphrodisiacs and that you can also get salmonella and a very serious gastrointestinal problem can happen to you ”.
In addition, on February 14 doves and roosters are also used in Santeria rituals. But since they are considered farm animals, explains Juan Jorge Avilés, they are not protected by any regulation.
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