Potions, lotions and lucky llama foetuses at La Paz`s Witches` Market

Witches` market

Lucky llama foetus, anyone?

Last Saturday I took a stroll around La Paz`s Mercado de las Brujas (Witches` Market), marvelling at the unusual array of items on offer.  Nestled at the end of a narrow, cobbled street where tourist shops stock colourful alpaca hats, woollen jumpers and hand-woven bags, a cluster of small shops overflow with ingredients for Aymará rituals and witchcraft.  A pungent, unfamiliar smell greeted me upon entering, a musty mix of animal corpses and herbal remedies.

Here you can find potions, perfumes, incense, candles and powders for a whole host of afflictions and conditions.  Whether you`re battling to quit smoking, suffering from anxiety, in need of financial luck, looking for an aphrodisiac, seeking marital bliss or perhaps beyond that point and hoping to expedite separation…rest assured, a remedy awaits!  I even noticed a `love, sex and money` perfume, for those who prefer an Aymará all-in-one approach.

Most intriguing of all are the dried llama foetuses, reminiscent of the kind of extraterrestial creature about to burst forth from Sigourney Weaver`s stomach in the opening sequence of Aliens.  These poor critters sucuumbed to natural deaths in the womb and are traditionally buried under the foundations of new houses to bring about good luck and prosperity, as sacrificial offerings to the much venerated Pachamama (Mother Earth).  Baby llama corpses are also on display, strung up unceremoniously on hooks in every spare inch of ceiling space.  These perished at birth from the cold or other natural causes.

Brimming bowls of clay amuletos and talismans promote amongst others: health, love, intelligence, protection, happiness, wealth and longevity.  Pachamama charms and statues are available in all shapes and sizes.

7 year old Yessica, whose aunt owned the shop I ventured into, was a well-informed host, helpfully bringing me items and enthusiastically pointing out photo opportunities.  I took a shine to her after she asked my age and expressed disbelief upon hearing 32, announcing I looked jovencita and no more than 15.  (Exemplary customer service skills, I concluded.)

I bought a fridge magnet as a gesture of goodwill, too overwhelmed by the odours and options to make a more adventurous or authentic purchase (this time…).

La Paz`s Witches` Market

La Paz`s Witches` Market

Witches` market

Remedies for all manner of ailments & conditions

Remedies for all manner of ailments & conditions

`Separador` powder promises to help you ditch your partner

`Separadora` powder, a creative alternative to the abundant aphrodisiacs on offer

Witches` market

Dried llama foetus, anyone?

Dried llama foetuses

Llama corpses for luck

Llama corpses



(clockwise from top left) Tortoise amulet for `long life`, owl for `intelligence`, fist for `money`, couple for `love`, face for `happiness`

(clockwise from top left)                                   Amulets: Tortoise for longevity, owl for intelligence, fist for wealth, couple for love, face for happiness.

Pachamama / Mother Earth

Pachamama / Mother Earth statues

7 yr old Yessica

7 yr old Yessica, customer service extraordinaire

13 thoughts on “Potions, lotions and lucky llama foetuses at La Paz`s Witches` Market

  1. An ‘All-in-one’ gift shop, a bit like 10,000 villages, and you only bought a fridge magnet… Best to play safe and not offend anyone with the wrong amulet or remedy! Anything for back pain?

    • Hey, don`t be comparing to Villages. If it were my shop, I`d merchandise the corpses much differently. I`ll have a look for you, and send you a foetus if they`re out of painkillers.x

  2. Who knew dead baby animals were good luck? Who knew.

    Nice packaging on the aphrodisiac. Is that a lightning bolt of passion crashing down between their separate beds?

    • I know, right? Actually, that`s the anti-aphrodisiac…for when you need a helping hand to ditch your partner. What with the divorce rate where it is in North America, I sense a potential career opportunity. I should stock up. x

  3. An excellent read but I bet that elusive cure for stuttering remains elusive. Nevertheless keep your eyes peeled for the right corpse.

  4. I deffo want a baby llama foetus. They look like pterodactyls. And would like to place an order for a face amulet and those two Pachamama statues. They are fantastic.

  5. Joantah! I am now caught up on your adventures. Fantastic! Who would have thought baby llama corpses would be so cute? The foetuses, not so much. Hope you have found a remedy for those stomach troubles you were having upon arrival. Best to you.xxoo

  6. I think the name Yessica is under-used and under-rated in Europe! I brought a few of these lovely gifty things home – I’m a sucker for this kind of stuff (not the dead llamas). Maybe skype Saturday? x

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