Community Visions: A Weekend with the Brujas of Brooklyn

The power of community is the guiding force behind everything Griselda Rodriguez-Solomon and Miguelina Rodriguez do. The Afro-Dominican identical twin sisters, known as the Brujas of Brooklyn, are professors, scholars and true brujas who have dedicated their lives to collective healing — specifically the healing of generational trauma that’s been passed down to women of color. 

Born and raised in Brooklyn, with a few childhood years spent in the Dominican Republic, the twins have embraced and shared their Afro-Indigenous spirituality fully and unabashedly — long before healing spaces became mainstream, long before the word “bruja” had been reclaimed from the oppressive colonial narrative and long before women of color were being publicly acknowledged and credited for their work within the healing world. The sisters manifested what would eventually become Brujas of Brooklyn in 2012 after both had experienced challenging Saturn Returns — the astrological period that usually lands between your 28th and 30th birthday and is said to drag you spiritually and emotionally. 

Griselda and Miguelina came out of that period realizing that their community, specifically women of color, desperately needed access to methods of healing. Yoga centers and the wellness world as a whole were white-dominated spaces that failed to serve Black and Brown communities. As a result, they decided to combine their academic expertises — Griselda holds a PhD in Sociology with an emphasis on Gender Studies and Miguelina holds a PhD in Public Policy and teaches about the effects of gentrification as an Urban Studies professor — with their knowledge of yoga, breathwork and ancestral wisdom to create intimate healing retreats. What started off as small gatherings of close friends became an official Instagram @brujasofbrooklyn in 2016 and has since grown into a beautiful community of over 27,000 people. 

Here at SLX, we’re so grateful to be in community with Griselda and Miguelina and we’re honored to have them lead the first event in our Collective Breath series: Coming Home to Self on Wednesday, June 30th. As a lead up to the event, we sent Griselda and Miguelina one disposable camera and asked them to shoot whatever they felt compelled to capture — anything and everything that spoke to them and felt worth remembering. When we developed the photos, it came as no surprise that almost every image captured the spirit, joy and magic of community. We caught up with Griselda and Miguelina to talk about the meaning of community, the story behind the photos and the ways in which they keep their energy clear, focused and grounded.

What does community mean to you?

Griselda: Community means so much to me. Community means survival, protection and well-being. Community is what we make it. Your family can be community as much as an IG collective can be community.

Miguelina: Community means support, it means helping one another feel seen, heard, held and respected. Community, to me, provides the ability to be my authentic, whole self, so that I can then step out into the world and feel grounded and courageous.

Community means mirrors and magnifying glasses: it equally mirrors back to me the amazing, strong qualities I possess, yet simultaneously shedding light and highlighting my blind spots that need more TLC.

When do you fee most beautiful and most authentically you?

Griselda: I feel most beautiful when I can look at myself and embrace all of my perfect imperfections. And, in most cases, that seems to happen right after my period. What is considered the maiden stage of a woman’s menstrual cycle. It’s like no matter what, I am in a state of divine acceptance of what is. 

Miguelina: I feel most beautiful when I feel healthy wholitistcally: inside and out. Effortless beauty and well-being is key to me; I sometimes feel the most beautiful and sexy when I wake up in the morning with my pajon (my messy hair) and my bata lol, and I am happy…that last part is key.

I also love a simple, minimal makeup, curls popping, skin hydrated look. Lastly, I feel most authentic when I am in clothes, in a space and with people that are for me…’cause everything ain’t for everybody.

What grounds you when your energy is feeling off or depleted?

Griselda: Rest and yoga. If I am feeling scattered, I know that doing a quick breathing exercise or some simple yoga movements can help shift my mood. But, at the end of the day, rest is my ultimate re-charger. There’s nothing that a good night’s sleep, or a nap, cannot cure. 

Miguelina: Breath grounds me. You would be surprised what three, deep, full belly breaths can do for your overall health; from nervous system, to blood pressure.

Music is also grounding; I don’t watch that much television, yet I have music around me all the time. There is nothing like a good ‘dance in front of my mirror’ session to shake the load off to help bring me back to center.

Lastly, a good cry. I am a crier, like legit I cry when I am happy, sad, confused, pissed, annoyed, afraid…lol. So a good, cleansing cry, to me, provides the clarity that I need to make room and create ways to replenish my energy.

Can you tell me a bit about the photos you shot — where they were taken, what do they mean to you and what feeling do you get when looking at them?

Griselda: The images were captured during an eventful weekend for the Brujas. Miguelina was moving, we attended a college reunion bbq, and then hosted an outdoor event all in that weekend. The images capture essential parts of our well-being: home, family (which include friends), and our commitment to creating safe healing spaces for our communities. The images warm my heart as they reflect the many moving parts of the Brujas’ lives. 

Miguelina: That was an eventful weekend and one that was very important to me. I lived with our mom for the last 6 years, and I officially moved out the weekend that we were taking those photos. It was important for me to document the move because it has been a long time coming, and also because living at home is fraught with so many misconceptions and ‘should haves’. Being in my late 30s and living at home with my mother was not my 5 year me…and it’s also something that is not accepted in the ‘mainstream’ individualistic society. Yet, Griselda and I inadvertently buck so many trends, so it’s no coincidence that I was still living at home. Our mom is almost 80 years old and the last few years our living arrangements went from one that felt more like roommates to one where I was a caretaker of sorts.

Can you share one simple ritual the community can active in the morning?

Griselda: Two simple morning rituals I practice religiously include…

1. Drinking three sips of water as soon as I wake up and, with each sip affirming:

“I can” (sip some water)
“I will” (sip some water)
“I am” (sips one water)

I actually learned this watching a segment on spiritual well-being on Cristina’s show on channel 41 when I was a teenager 🙂

2. Affirming in the mirror: “Everyday, in a very true way, I co-create my reality.”

Miguelina: I wake up and the first thing I try to say is THANK YOU…those two words are such a powerful prayer. Yes, you can wake up during the ambrosial/witching hours of 4-6am and wear your whites and wrap your head and complete a 40-minute ritual, that’s cool, yet it’s not sustainable for some, mainly those who are just recently embarking on this path of remembering.

So here is a simple ritual I do almost every morning:

I am big on stretching, lord knows I need that now more than ever. I get up out of bed, always get on my knees, bow and say THANK YOU, then get up and slowly fold over and touch my toes…every single morning. That simple act of touching your toes keeps your spine nice and supple, and as they say in all Yoga practices: you are as young as your spine.

Lastly: water! Drinking one glass of water — NOT COLD — but room temperature or warm, to start your day.

What are your five favorite picks from the SLX Marketplace?

RSVP to our “Coming Home to Self” pranayama and meditation workshop led by Griselda and Miguelina here. Follow @brujasofbrooklyn on Instagram (and @shoplatinx if you aren’t already!) and read more about their collective healing work here. ✨

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