When I began my research on Santa Muerte in 2009 it didn’t occur to me at first to look for devotees in my hometown of Richmond, Virginia. The Latinx population is less than 10% and most are Central American immigrants, not Mexicans. After finding the Skeleton Saint easily in nearby Washington, DC, I decided to look for evidence of her here in the Virginia capital. On the very first day of scouting her out I found her at a local botanica, Botica el Angel, which has an ample supply of Bony Lady paraphernalia. Since then, I’ve come across numerous devotees, including a few students at VCU where I teach Religious Studies. Artist Deepti Lamba is the latest Richmonder to cross my path who looks to the saint of death for healing, comfort, protection, and much more. – Dr. Andrew Chesnut
By guest contributor Deepti Lamba*
I had known about Santa Muerte for a couple of years but didn’t gravitate towards her till a year back. I have a syncretic altar ranging from Egyptian deities, Angels, Mother Mary and some left-hand spirits and demons that I have gravitated towards as my occult practice built up. Santa Muerte did not reach out to me like others did. Even after listening to Tracey Rollin’s interview by Miguel Conner on Aeon Byte Radio, I was quite content working with Anubis as a patron of death who would help me in my after life.
The Bony lady made her appearance when I had a fall out with a fellow occultist. I didn’t believe in curses even though I had been practicing and having experiences with the astral side. Part of me wanted to keep a foot in materialism thinking that all this was just make-believe fantasy. I didn’t really have full faith in the other side and its manifestations.
I felt exhaustion and general malaise that I couldn’t explain. It might be a sign of a curse coming on. The curse began to take its toll on my health. Not understanding what was happening, I asked Archangel Raphael to show me what was going on. Well, the Archangel delivered that very night. I saw a djinn next to my bedside. I suddenly woke up in the middle of the night, sat up and I stared at it and its ugly face stared back at me.
I left my bed and went into the hallway to check on our kids. I came back to bed, envisioned a protective shield around our home with the Archangels and went to
sleep. When I was a kid I’d see things and my grandfather had told me to never give in to fear nor show fear when the other side made it self known. It’s a rule that I have always followed.
When I woke up the next morning I had a conversation with the entity I had caught in my bedroom. I threatened that I would have my astral family shred it into pieces if it didn’t go back to where it came from. In my mind I showed the entity each of my patrons. The feeling of exhaustion instantly lifted. I felt visibly lighter and thought the curse was broken.
My occult practice became stronger, but, since our children are atheists and don’t believe in the occult world I did not add them to my prayers. At the time I was of the opinion that I need consent from people before including their names in my magical workings. As time passed, our youngest began to have health issues and I began to have a feeling that the curse hadn’t been lifted. The feeling became more and more pronounced and my rational side that it was just a ‘superstition in my mind.’
I finally spoke to a known psychic (from Aquarian Bookstore in Richmond, VA) about the experiences. He described the person who had cursed me in detail without me having mentioned the individual. The physical description matched the person I had a fall out with. The psychic also looked at me in the eye and asked why I wasn’t working with Santa Muerte when I knew about her?
I felt very sheepish. She had been sitting on my altar with others. I paid her collective homage but never really worked with her. The psychic asked me to work with Santa Muerte till the curse lifted. I had to be the mama bear and protect my cub. It was my job to protect our family both psychically and on the energetic side. I decided to put
my doubts aside once and for all.
My husband and I went to the Botanica el Angel in Richmond, Virginia, one of the best stores for Santa Muerte supplies. I bought her statues and set up a separate altar for her with all kinds of decorations that would please her. I did daily prayers and offerings from Tracey Rollin’s book – Santa Muerte – The History , Rituals and Magic of Our Lady of the Holy Death, along with other healing work with my angels and other deities.
Our youngest suffered and I felt it was more a test of patience. The initial doctor didn’t give the right diagnosis. It had been more than three months and our kid was still in pain and could barely digest any food. Christmas came and went. I continued my morning and evening prayers to Santa Muerte and began to feel a change in air and the building of a bond between Santa Muerte and me.
We took our child to another doctor who was much better and after a battery of tests the doctor was very surprised to tell us that the tests had come back negative. Everything was fine within our child’s immune system. Our child couldn’t believe it, but I knew – Santa Muerte had not only healed her but removed the curse.
Today, our youngest is back to being a normal teenager. My bond with Santa Muerte is very strong. I call her my mother, someone I can pray to, talk to and even fight with. Because of her I do not fear death anymore. I still grieve when people close to me die but in my mind its mother who comes to help us transform to the other side.