Botanica San Expedito: A Multicultural Spiritual Experience

Leonard Wechsler 27.APR.07

Below is a review of Botanica San Expedito from the Town Crier Newspaper:

The Botanica San Expedito is a small island of spiritual relief on Okeechobee Blvd. in West Palm Beach. As residents pass back and forth, some duck into the botanica for a moment of spiritual healing, looking for advice and for ways to be more in touch with their body, mind and spirit.

The botanica's co-owner, who goes by the name Sarah Spiritual, greets all those interested in spiritual matters and also provides spiritual readings. “All of us, no matter what religion we belong to, walk along in our journey,” she said. “We have friends and family and all of the material goods we can buy. But many of us want to go beyond the tangible, we want to be in tune with who we want to be.”

Saint Expedito, Sarah said, is the patron saint of procrastinators. “He was a soldier in the Roman army who brought his slave to Jesus to be cured,” she explained. “When some of Jesus' followers asked why he cured the slave, Jesus said that he had gifts for all kinds of people. Expedito helps people get things done.”

Although named for a Catholic saint, Botanica San Expedito welcomes people of all faiths. “We have Catholic candles for worshippers, but also a lot of products for Buddhists, Hindus, followers of Kabbalah,” Sarah said. “Some people like to mix elements from different religions because it helps them meditate, to find themselves. I know some people who like to do Buddhist chants while lighting a Catholic prayer candle.”

Sarah grew up in New York's Westchester County and graduated from the State University of New York at Purchase with a major in vocal performance. She won the Miss Westchester competition in 1981 and again in 1985.

She began work managing a restaurant she owned with her father and then became a sales director for Mary Kay Cosmetics. “I found the idea of businesses who help people irresistible,” Sarah said. “But as I worked in corporate America, I wound up doing a lot of offshore outsourcing that cost people jobs, and I decided that this was not for me. I became interested in spiritual healing when I met someone who was an exceptional healer, and he taught me.”

Sarah's escape from the corporate world brought her to Royal Palm Beach, where she began selling religious articles when she found that certain candles she was seeking dedicated to certain saints were unavailable.

“I was trained in the business world to look for ways to fill people's needs,” Sarah said. “So I began to distribute religious candles, and then other religious items. I learned that it was necessary to keep costs down because many people who want to pray do not have enough money to get the specific items they need.”

She opened the botanica with Tony Merced, a Santería priest and practitioner who is a friend from her New York days.

Most of Sarah's spiritual reading clients come because of referrals from friends. “I look at cards, but they are only a starting point, symbolic pointers to people's problems. Once they begin to talk about issues, it becomes very easy to give good advice. I have a lot of clients who have been very pleased with the advice they get.”

Merced divides his time between New Jersey and Florida, which both have large Cuban populations. “He has many devoted followers,” Sarah said.

Merced has been a Santería priest for nine years. “I come from a long line of mediums on my mother's side,” he said, “but I am the only one now practicing Santería.”

Botanica San Expedito offers a wide variety of products for what Sarah calls “multicultural beliefs.” These include saint cards and a variety of spiritual oils for particular purposes. The botanica also offers a variety of herbs, some of them medicinal, others for setting moods. Some can be found in tonics and teas, and are also available on line at www.botanicasanexpedito.com, which also has links to other spiritual sites.

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4047 Okeechobee Blvd, Habitat Plaza #129, West Palm Beach, FL 33409.
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