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

Reflections on the First Academic Conference on Santa Muerte

Despite the fact that over 90% of Santa Muerte devotees live in Mexico and the U.S., the first ever academic conference http://www.centroestudiosmexicanos.nl/2014.html  dedicated exclusively to the skeleton saint was held in Europe, at the University of Groningen, in the Netherlands, on 11/21/14. Europeans have taken a particular interest in the growth of devotion to Saint … Continue reading Reflections on the First Academic Conference on Santa Muerte

Santa Muerte Shrine in Michoacan

The Santa Muerte shrine in the tiny Michoacan town of Santa Ana Chapitiro is one of the most impressive in Mexico. Built by a devotee from Mexico City, it contains exclusively handcrafted images of the skeleton saint. Devotees come from all over Mexico and the United States to leave offerings of thanksgiving and also to … Continue reading Santa Muerte Shrine in Michoacan

La Pieta – The Compassion of Most Holy Death

Mercy, pity, and compassion are not words that you will see outsiders associating with Santa Muerte, the skeletal saint whose tradition is currently one of the fastest growing religious movements in the Americas and around the globe. Yet, La Pieta, 'The Mercy,' Michelangelo's masterpiece depicting Mary cradling the peaceful body of Christ after the Crucifixion, … Continue reading La Pieta – The Compassion of Most Holy Death

Sister Death and Brother Francis at Holy Week in Chimayo, New Mexico

Santa Muerte’s origins in the U.S. date much further back than her recent influx with Mexican immigrants over the past decade.  During the 19th century in the mountain towns of New Mexico and southern Colorado, Mexican-American Catholics personified death as a female figure known as Doña Sebastiana, a moniker still heard today for Santa Muerte. … Continue reading Sister Death and Brother Francis at Holy Week in Chimayo, New Mexico