Drove by Sunset + Coronado in Silverlake/Echo Park borderlands maybe a week ago and saw an elderly Latino man tending to an altar-like structure, and finally made it back today. Turns out it's not an altar, shrine, or memorial, but "Don Pedro's Jardin", a small, well-kept garden with a wooden house-shaped structure as its centerpiece. The house had two signs, two TY Beanie Babies, a lot of Christmas ornaments, and many plants growing up its frame. At the base of the house there was a dish of water as a reflecting pool, as well as a molcajete. Among the flora I recognized was corn, poinsettias, sunflowers, nasturtiums, aloe vera, and roses.
This altar is a "working", in-home altar generously shared by Hayley, self-identified "history major and baby-witch." Hayley says she's indifferent to whether the magic is "real" or not, "whether the red candle actually brings power and the green actually brings money, or if they're just symbols of a concept I want to invite more of into my life. There is something comforting in the ancient-ness of the practice, connecting me with history...Also I like a good arts and crafts project." She explains many of the altar's elements, and her descriptions follow here.
On the left are two incense stations, right now burning a palo santo stick for clearing and dragon's blood incense used as a "booster" for the green candle in the center. The green candle is carved to appeal for "a gig, if not a job" for a boost of money this month. She burns this candle on Sunday, "success day", but notes that this type of candle would also do well on a Friday.
In the front of the altar is a hunk of tourmaline, for "protection both from outside forces and from myself if there is anything in the working that might not be in my best interest." There is a small piece of green calcite as well, also acting as a "booster" for the green candle. She explains, "Green is mostly a healing rock, but also green for money - money heals when we ain't got any."
The bottle is a "traditional DIY witch bottle" that has its origins in the 16th century, and is used for protection and deflating negativity. It doesn't cause harm, but is meant to mirror negative intent back on the ill-wisher.
The orange is "a month gratitude working." Everyday, she puts in a clove and states "I'm grateful for everything I have and I'm ready to move forward."
The red candle is a "dragon" candle. This candle is again another booster "to give the money candle more power." Hayley explains, "The idea is I'll get out what I put in, so I put a lot of 'power' into this altar."
Found this at the Coolin' Castle house in Echo Park, in the window of the downstairs living room. A drawing of the Virgen de Guadalupe by Christian, and a vase of flowers flanked by two cats from Chinese couch surfers. Aerienne reports that one is supposed to bring fortune, and the other love. As I'm taking pictures, Aerienne adds a small bird window decal, which she says is the only thing she took while cleaning out her great grandmother's house, her childhood home.
Driving around Echo Park, Aerienne asks me, "Do you know about Randyland?" My answer is a definitive "NO," and then, "What is that?" She tells me she found Randyland walking around the neighborhood one day, and we feel out directions since she's not sure exactly where it is.
Randyland is at 1646 Lemoyne St. We park below the towering glass structure, in front of a street mural with "LA", rolling waves, and beams of light radiating from the sun on the horizon. I don't notice at first that the bottles form a Virgen de Guadalupe, but I get there. As I'm taking pictures, Randy comes out to greet me and Aerienne, and is very happy to have visitors.
Randy explains to us that each bottle in the sculpture, named Phantasma Gloria, is actually a lens - the water inside refracts the sunlight passing through. He picks out a yellow bottle near the Virgen's heart, and points out that you can see a tree in it, only backwards and upside down. The Virgen herself is 24 feet tall, and the entire sculpture is 50 feet tall from the street. Randy tells us that the best time of day to visit is around 10am, when the bottles shine sunlight the most brilliantly. Before we leave, he generously gives us each 2 postcards and 2 magnets - one to keep, and one to pass on to someone else.
Randy began building in 2001, and has been working on Phantasma Gloria and Randyland since - you can read more about him and his work in this LA Times article.
Sunset Boulevard memorial to a “resident beauty queen” in Echo Park.
October is a big month for altars - last night I attended El Centro del Pueblo’s Dia de los Muertos festival, and next week is the Hollywood Forever extravaganza with elaborate altars up to the sky - so I’ll be posting in installments…
The altars in this post are from El Centro del Pueblo’s celebration, a great event put on by Echo Park’s El Centro del Pueblo community center and Erik Garcetti and the L.A. City Council. There were 16 official altars built by community members, and additional altars and altar-inspired works in the evening’s art showcase. Community and artist altars were freely available to interested participants and the festival itself was free and open to the public. Neighborhood restaurants donated food, proceeds of which will help purchase holiday gifts for local children.
I thought the unlocked church was a thing of the past, but when exploring La Iglesia Catolica Hispana de San Judas Tadeo Apostol, the gate of the compound was left open and the grounds unattended for me to wander through and take photographs. Initially attracted by the front bell-altar to San Judas Tadeo, upon entering I found smaller quasi-altars and iconography.
San Judas Tadeo, Saint Jude, was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. In the Roman Catholic Church, he is the patron saint of desperate cases and lost causes. His attribute is a club, and he is often shown with a flame around his head representing his presence at Pentecost, where the apostles received the Holy Spirit. San Judas is also often depicted holding an image of Jesus.