By Anthropologist, Dr. Kate Kingsbury, D.Phil Oxford University. Yuri Mendez is a self-identified witch (bruja) and shaman (curandera) who ten years ago following a dream of Santa Muerte established the largest shrine dedicated to death in Cancun. She describes herself as `bruja de las tres virtudes` or `witch of the three virtues` and works with … Continue reading At Death`s Door in Cancun: Meeting Santa Muerte Witch Yuri Mendez
Dreams and visions are powerful portals through which many devotees report communicating with Santa Muerte. Though not a devotee themself, our guest contributor, who prefers to remain anonymous, had a recent vision in which Saint Death, along with the Virgin Mary, rushed to the aid of the dying. - Dr. Andrew Chesnut I saw Holy … Continue reading My Vision of Santa Muerte and the Virgin Mary as Psychopomps
By Guest Contributor Walter M. C. Walgraeve* Devotion to Santa Muerte has been spreading like wildfire across Latin America and parts of North America so it’s not surprising that it also has made the leap over the ocean and has reached Europe. While probably most devotees here will be of Latin American descent, it is … Continue reading Why Would a Belgian Follow Mexican Folk Saint Santa Muerte?
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 … Continue reading Santa Muerte – The Mother Who Heals
In a bizarre turn of events, sometime in the 1950s, a town priest stormed into the Cruz home and abducted the skeletal effigy. Alleging that devotees prayed to the statue for evil purposes, such as murder, the cleric...
As an adjunct professor of anthropology Dr. Kate Kingsbury is not eligible for most research funding that is available to permanent and tenured professors so she has launched a Go Fund Me campaign to raise funds from individual contributors. Many readers of Skeleton Saint are already familiar with her incisive work that focuses on the … Continue reading Emerging Scholar Seeks Funding Support for Cutting-Edge Research on Santa Muerte as Agent of Female Empowerment
As the sole female folk saint of death in the Americas, Santa Muerte has a special appeal to women, especially disprivileged Mexican mothers . In the piece below anthropologist Dr. Kate Kingsbury* considers the contours of devotion among rural women in coastal Oaxaca. -Rural Oaxaca, the outskirts of Pochutla, Mexico When we got home one … Continue reading Mighty Mexican Mothers: Santa Muerte as Female Empowerment in Oaxaca
La Casa de la Santa Muerte in the tiny Michoacan town of Santa Ana Chapitiro, just a 15-minute drive from Day of the Dead Mecca, Patzcuaro, is one of the most elaborate shrines to the Skeleton Saint in Mexico. Since I have family in Michoacan, the colorful temple was one of my first research sites … Continue reading Mexican Indigenous Death Goddesses Xaratanga and Mictecacihuatl Reimagined as Santa Muerte in Michoacan – Photoset
La Madrina Enriqueta Vargas Ortiz (b. 1959 - d. 2018), the charismatic leader of Santa Muerte Internacional, has died after a prolonged battle with cancer. The SMI temple in Tultitlan will hold a viewing on December 19th at noon, beneath the feet of the largest statue of Santa Muerte in the world. On December … Continue reading Top Santa Muerte Leader Enriqueta Vargas is in the Bony Lady’s Embrace
Text and photos by Heather Buckley* The taxi pulled up to a blocked off street in Tepito. Today was October 31, Halloween, and I was drawn to see Her. This was my second full day in Mexico City. I do not speak the language—I went by myself. I might have looked out-of-place dressed as I … Continue reading A Gringa in Tepito – American Devotee Documents the 17th Anniversary of Famous Santa Muerte Shrine