As a child growing up in rural Ontario, Canada, my exposure to religion was Catholicism from my mama and atheist from my father. There was no middle ground, either you were graded and judged before being welcomed into God’s Kingdom or the idea that when we depart that’s it, our story is over. Neither of those paths seemed right with me – how can something so grand as the afterlife be so black and white?

I struggled with these concepts growing up as a young adult. I then learned how many people in any form of power abuse it, the church and government especially. I craved some sort of connection to the cosmos and defining the after life and who walks with us while we are in this physical realm.

I then turned to more occult and pagan practices as they allow for a grey space. In these adventures Santa Muerte presented Herself to me. Having no cultural and very limited religious background, I didn’t feel drawn to Santa Muerte in a religious sense but rather how She encompasses all that I hold value to. All the virtues and mannerisms of the church – praying, devotion, walking in Her image surrounded me with a sense of belonging to something larger than myself.

There is no judgment, no games, no fear of punishment for mistakes. Santa Muerte welcomes those who open their hearts to Her. She weighs justice from an unbiased perspective, a mother’s love is unconditional even in times of hardship and woes. To find a religious figure who not only is a well respected feminine energy but also understands the trials and tribulations of colonialism, seeks simplicity in Her devotion and does not require grand materialistic gestures felt like an answer to my prayers.

Between my grandfather’s Indigenous influence and my pagan practices I was able to seamlessly blend my ancestors and Santa Muerte into a core foundation of my day to day life. I have all the structure of a church without the hidden agenda and all the glory of our natural physical world. My geographical environment may not include people of similar faith-based backgrounds so I do feel a sense of loneliness being a devotee in the middle of a cornfield, but with the way the internet can bring people together I have found people from all over the world who follow Santa Muerte and that reminds me of Canada, a melting pot of people with various ethnicities and backgrounds coming together for a common goal. 

To know that I walk this life in honour of Santa Muerte and the purity She represents gives me grace and comfort when I join my ancestors in the next life. 

By guest contributor Carly Jordan

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