“Relax and Concentrate. Visualize Santa Muerte in your mind and visualize the problem each of you has. We call on Santa Muerte to resolve it.”
– instructions given during the Santa Muerte Mass held at Dona Queta’s shrine in Tepito
When I read the caption on North Carolina-based artist and educator Tim Botta’s illustration of popular inspirationalist Norman Vincent Peale(1) it hit me as a perfect compliment to the intense digital images produced by la Santa Muerte’s ardent devotees:
‘Prayerize! Picturize! Actualize!‘
Peale’s maxim for manifesting prosperous living hits at one of the most prevalent sentiments surrounding the sanctified grim repress. Irresponsibly pigeonholed in the media as a premier narco-saint, the popular movement orbiting around Santa Muerte’s iconography actually paints her as a polar axis for positive thinking. Within the continuous stream of digital devotional images dedicated to her, La Santisima Muerte emerges for her devout as a powerful patroness of prosperity (prosperidad), abundance (abundancia), health (salud), peace (paz), good luck (buena suerte) and blessings (bendiciones). One could easily say that she’s becoming a self-help guru as she moves fully into the public sphere.
Take a quick look at a few of these devotional images and you’ll see that la Nina Blanca may end up being a better representative for ‘positive thinking’ than a number of the controversial figures who populate the contemporary self-help milieu:
Dr. R. Andrew Chesnut has identified this, in part, as a development of the dynamic spiritual marketplace where Santa Muerte emerges as a counter point and alternative to the growing strength of Charismatic and Pentecostal movements around the globe. As la Patrona Milagrosa – the Miraculous Patroness – Saint Death provides devotees with a powerful advocate for their spiritual experiences and her cultural narrative has become one of a miracle worker that goes above and beyond to help those who are sincere in their prayers.
To enjoy more of Tim Botta’s illustrations visit him at:
(1) – Peale authored The Power of Positive Thinking, a major touchstone in the popularization of the positive thinking movement. As a pastor his philosophy also influenced the integration of positive thinking into evangelical circles.