Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Re: Santa Muerte, and Folk Saints

I recently came across a blog entry written by another magician written in response to a practitioner of the Cult of Santa Muerte. Unfortunately, he mistook the “Saint” part as being part of Santeria. I suppose it's easy to do; I've read reports by journalists reporting on her where they scoff at “those Catholics and their Saints” in which the same issue occurs, but for different reasons. Most notably, the magician responding wasn't an asshole.

“Saint Death” (Santa Muerte) is not a Catholic saint, nor a part of Santeria. She's an indigenous Folk Saint. Along with Jesus Malverde, she's got one of the fastest growing cults in North America and Central America primarily because they both respond to requests made by individuals regardless of their social status or the status of their soul.

You'll find both of them in botanicas all across America, and these days it sounds like some botanicas sell nothing but Santa Muerte related items. I've yet to come across one doing so, but I recall Jason Miller stumbling on to one.

There are a number of small paperback “spellbooks” to her, in particular, being sold in many botanicas in both English and Spanish. They're all pretty interesting in my opinion, even the ones that I suspect were written largely for the author to make a quick buck.

Incidentally, both Santa Muerte and Jesus Malverde have both become “Narco Cultura” icons. The whole “Narco Cultura” shtick seems to be the Mexican equivalent of gangster rap, and having a dead latino Robin Hood or a skeletal woman looks totally hardcore, so you'll see folks wearing t-shirts with Santa Muerte or Jesus Malverde or jewelry all across the West Coast and maybe even in the East Coast.

Icons of both Santa Muerte, along with the other aforementioned Folk Saint, can be found all across the back roads of Ca, largely due to the use of the disenfranchised by the drug trade. Cops call the disenfranchised folks I'm referring “Mopes,” and they're normally individuals who had initially come to Ca to find work in our fields picking fruit and veggies. As the Federal Government has amped up its fight on illegal immigration, they found themselves out of a job and were either threatened into helping drug traffickers with “super-meth labs” or simply had no where else to turn. The icons themselves often have prayers in them like this one:
“You that dwell in heaven near God, hear the sufferings of this humble sinner. Oh Miraculous Malverde, Oh Malverde my Savior, grant me this favor and fill my heart with joy. Grant me good health, Lord, give me peace, give me comfort, and I will rejoice.”
I imagine that the prayers to Santa Muerte are roughly the same, and they lay across the backroads of California, Oregon, Washington and beyond, whispering of silent and secret prayers written by those who have had most of their hope smashed right out of their lives. It was those very same “mopes” that brought both Folk Saints into the US, following a path from the Golden Triangle of Mexico to Mexico City, then in through Tijuana, through Washington and Oregon and up into the Midwest and on to the East Coast.

The inability of traditional religion to help those without hope has lead to new cults emerging all across the Americas, complete with spirits willing to listen to or hear anyone who is willing to smoke a cigarette in their name and pray. I consider this a truly astonishing fact.

So astonishing, I may sit down and write some more about it when I have more time.


Scylla said...

In Fort Worth there's actually a Botanica La Santisima Muerte - it's one of the ones on my list to visit next time I'm in town. It might be one of those "Exclusive" shops.

When I lived in Mesquite, there was a high population of the disenfranchised, and a botanica which catered to them. This included a prominent section of 'Muerte' products, and a lot of vengeance supplies.

It was there that I "met" her, and grew very fond of her.

Justin Patrick Moore said...

I bought a Santa Muerte candle at Krogers -the local grocery store chain here in Cincinnati, Ohio. It sits on my ancestral altar. They have a bunch of nice candles with other Mexican folk saints on them, and some plain colored candles -red, green, etc. At two bucks a pop they are just the ticket for this midwestern mage.

Brother Christopher said...

One of these days I will go to the Templo Santa Muerte on Melrose in Los Angeles. I have driven by it a number of times, but just haven't found the huitzpah to actually go in and check it out. I have found a little article and I think a youtube video describing the place once. fascinating.

Having visiting the Indio products warehouse/store they have a whole section dedicated to Santa Muerte with items in every conceivable color and size. I also bought a book about her there, to use as a guide for my own devotions. I have surprised a few friends when I recognize thier Holy Death medallions and stuff, cause what would "The Man" know about that.

Rose Weaver said...

Nicely done post. As you know, I've recently grown very fond of Santa Muerte. I love the fact I live in an area where finding anything devoted to Her is relatively easy.

Anonymous said...

Found the image of santisima muerte on candles for sale at food for less in signal hill, ca, for $1.28! vanilla scented, too. I intend to use it in an atavistic sort of higher power shrine to aid me in my recovery. In the graphic, holy death is enrobed like the reaper but holding a skull instead of a scythe. nice prayer for forgiveness and favor on the reverse in spanish and english.