House of Holy Death – The Santa Muerte Shrine of Michoacan

The Santa Muerte shrine in the tiny Michoacan town of Santa Ana Chapitiro is one of the most impressive in Mexico and a testament to the dynamism of the fastest growing new religious movement in the Americas. Built by a recently deceased devotee from Mexico City, it contains hundreds of exquisite handcrafted images of the … Continue reading House of Holy Death – The Santa Muerte Shrine of Michoacan

The Enigmatic Allure of the Beautiful Girl

A recent meet-up at a home temple in Dallas, Texas between top Mexican Santa Muerte leader Enriqueta Vargas of Santa Muerte Internacional and Padre Sisyphus Garcia, pioneering founder of the Los Angeles Templo Santa Muerte, provides a perfect portrait of increasing centralization in Santa Muerte's multifaceted public devotional tradition. Vargas' diplomacy has extended the presence of SMI from its base … Continue reading The Enigmatic Allure of the Beautiful Girl

Photography of Faith – Santa Muerte in Sulphur Springs, Texas

Digital imagery has become a central element of the growth and development of Santa Muerte's devotional tradition. Altar photographs are especially popular and provide devotees with a way to publicly express their appreciation for la Santisima's place in their life. Some of the most intimate altar photography that I've come across during my research is … Continue reading Photography of Faith – Santa Muerte in Sulphur Springs, Texas

Stash House Goddess: Media Portrayals of Santa Muerte

Certain media outlets, such as Breitbart continue the trend of inaccurate and fear mongering reporting on Santa Muerte (see: 37 Illegal Aliens Found in 'Goddess of Death' Shrine House).  As Dr. Andrew Chesnut points out in his Twitter post of this link, neither devotees nor scholars refer to Santa Muerte as a "goddess of death." This report … Continue reading Stash House Goddess: Media Portrayals of Santa Muerte

La Patrona de la Prosperidad – Santa Muerte, the Self-Help Guru

“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 … Continue reading La Patrona de la Prosperidad – Santa Muerte, the Self-Help Guru

Game Over: ‘Madrina’ Enriqueta Vargas Officiates the First Funeral at Santa Muerte Internacional

(VAYA AQUI  para el artículo en español) Weddings and baptisms performed by Santa Muerte leaders are increasingly common in Mexico and the U.S.. For example, Enriqueta Vargas, head of the Templo Santa Muerte Internacional on the outskirts of Mexico City, now performs both rites on a weekly basis. It had always struck me as odd that … Continue reading Game Over: ‘Madrina’ Enriqueta Vargas Officiates the First Funeral at Santa Muerte Internacional

The Occult Philosophy of the Pentagram & the Cult of St. Death

  The pentagram or pentangle is a widely used symbol in popular  spirituality. Commonly associated with Wicca and Neo-Paganism in the United States, in Latin America the availability and distribution of low cost reprints of grimoires, chapbooks on ritual magic and various anthologies focused on practical instruction in 'occult science' provide  interpretations based on the work … Continue reading The Occult Philosophy of the Pentagram & the Cult of St. Death

St. Death & the Elves – Curious clues to the origins, associations & correspondences of la Nina Blanca

“Cowardly defamers, here I stand. I walk with the elf. Let their courage fall, their hairs stand on end, and let terror and fear reign them.”   - from the Invocation of Don Diego Duende The Magical Powers of the Holy Death, published in English by Jaguar Books' Cali Casa imprint, and available in Spanish from … Continue reading St. Death & the Elves – Curious clues to the origins, associations & correspondences of la Nina Blanca

Magic Works in Its Own Way – San Benito’s Santa Muerte Statues in perspective

“There are no accidents or haphazard events in this world of U.S.-Mexico witchcraft (brujeria).” - Dr. Antonio N. Zavaleta During my undergraduate studies I was fortunate to spend a few semesters with Dr. Joann Scurlock, a professional member of University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute and an expert on folk magic practices around the world. She … Continue reading Magic Works in Its Own Way – San Benito’s Santa Muerte Statues in perspective

Marriage and la Madrina – Images from a wedding at El Templo de la Santa Muerte de Tultitlán

El Templo de la Santa Muerte de Tultitlan is quickly becoming one of the most stable and well developed devotional centers associated with Saint Death. The temple's proprietress, Enriqueta Vargas, recently traveled to New York City to meet with Queens shrine holder Arley Vazquez, marking one of the first cross country meetings of high profile … Continue reading Marriage and la Madrina – Images from a wedding at El Templo de la Santa Muerte de Tultitlán