Gruber Bernardo

Legends about the famous New Orleans Vodun queen MARIE Laveau tell that her gris-gris contained bits of bone, colored stones, graveyard dust (also called goofer dust), salt and red pepper. More elaborate gris-gris might have been made of tiny birds nests or horsehair weavings.

A red-flannel bag containing a lodestone, or magnet, was a favorite gris-gris for gamblers, guaranteed to bring them good luck. Another gambler's gris-gris was made from a piece of chamois, a piece of red flannel, a shark's tooth, pine-tree sap and a dove's blood. The blood and sap were mixed together, then used to write the amount the gambler wanted to win on the chamois. The chamois was covered with the red flannel, with the shark's tooth placed between the layers, and the whole thing was sewn together with cat's hair. The gris-gris was to be worn in the left shoe for best, if uncomfortable, results.

Gris-gris also can be used to cause someone else bad luck, known as "putting a gris-gris" on a person. Throwing a gris-gris bag filled with gunpowder and red pepper in someone's path or on their doorstep supposedly makes that person get into a fight. To get rid of someone, Marie Laveau would write that person's name on a small balloon, tie the balloon to a statue of St. Expedite, then release the balloon. The victim would depart in whichever direction the balloon flew. Just leaving a gris-gris, usually a powder, at someone's front door tells the person he is out of favor with "the voodoos" and should watch his step.

One of Marie Laveau's more horrible wangas, or bad-luck charms, reputedly was a bag made from the shroud of a person who had been dead nine days. Into the bag went a dried, one-eyed toad, the little finger of a black person who had committed suicide, a dried lizard, bat's wings, a cat's eyes, an owl's liver and a rooster's heart. If such a gris-gris were hidden in a victim's pillow, the unfortunate would surely die. Many white masters in old New Orleans who mistreated their black slaves found some kind of gris-gris in their handbags or pillows, such as a little sack of black paper containing saffron, salt, gunpowder and pulverized dog manure.

In santería gris-gris bags are called resguardos, or "protectors." A typical resguardo under the protection of the thunder-god Chango might contain herbs, spices, brown sugar, garlic, aloes, stones or other small sacred relics, tied up in red velvet and stitched with red thread. Finally, the Santero attaches a tiny gold sword, the symbol of St. Barbara (Changó's image as a Catholic saint), and if the sword breaks, Changó has interceded on the owner's behalf.

Gurunfindas are talismans prepared by Santería's black witches, the mayomberos, to ward off evil from themselves and direct it magically to others. To make a gu-runfinda, first the mayombero hollows out a guiro, a hard, inedible fruit found in the tropics, and fills it with the heads, hearts and legs of a turtle and various species of parrots; the tongue and eyes of a rooster; and seven live ants. Next, the mayombero adds seven teeth, the jawbone and some hair from a cadaver, along with the cadaver's name on a piece of paper, and seven coins to pay the dead spirit for his services. Then, the mayombero pours rum over the mixture and buries the guiro beneath a sacred ceiba tree for 21 days. When he disinters the guiro, the mayombero marks the outside of the fruit with chalk and then hangs the charm from a tree near his home.

Gruber, Bernardo (17th century) German trader accused of soRCERY by Pueblo Indians in northern New Mexico. Bernardo Gruber was imprisoned. He escaped but died a strange death.

In 1668, Gruber arrived in New Mexico with a pack train of mules bearing fine goods. It was said that he was fearless and traveled through the lands of the fierce Apache without harm. Perhaps it was his ability to avoid Apache attacks that led to his downfall. Soon after coming to New Mexico, several Pueblo Indians betrayed him to a priest for possessing sorcery skills that would make him invulnerable. According to the Indians, Gruber had given them instructions in sorcery that he had learned in his native Germany. They said that if certain spells were written on the first day of the feast of the Nativity when the Gospel was being spoken and the person ate the writings they would become invulnerable for 24 hours and could not be harmed or killed by any weapon. Gruber reportedly claimed that this spell was undertaken whenever Germany went to war. Supposedly it was tried out on an Indian boy and an Indian adult from Las Salinas, both of whom could not be wounded with knives.

An investigation by the Franciscan prelate revealed that many Pueblo said they had been taught the magical formula by Gruber. Summoned to appear before church authorities, Gruber readily admitted that he did indeed possess such a spell, and he wrote it down:

Upon this confession and evidence, the church arrested Gruber, and he was put in irons in the Pueblo mission at Abo. While in jail, he talked freely of other magical things he had learned in Germany, evidently unaware of how folk magic was regarded by the Catholic Church authorities in New Mexico. His admissions only solidified the case against him as a sorcerer.

The authorities intended to transfer Gruber to the Inquisition in Mexico City. Before this could happen, Gr-uber's servants sneaked into the mission and pried open the bars of his cell so that he could escape.

Gruber remained at large for several weeks. Then one day, Captain Andrés de Peralta made an odd discovery on a desert road in southern New Mexico. A dead roan horse was tied to a tree. Near the carcass were a blue cloth coat lined with otter skin and a pair of blue breeches, both severely decayed. The captain recognized the distinctive clothing as items worn by Gruber. He searched the

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