Nuestra Señora de la Santa Muerte is also referred to as Santa Muerte, a female deity or saint, worshiped by many. Folk saint Santa Muerte can most often be identified as a skeletal figure, dressed in a long robe, holding one or more objects. These objects are typically a scythe and a globe. She represents a comforting symbol of protection to all of her followers. Religious believers of Santa Muerte often pray to this saint with rosaries and place offerings of apples, cigars, and candles on their altars. There are a few parallels between the saint worship in Mexican folk catholicism and that of the cult of Santa Muerte.
History – Origins of Santa Muerte
Sometimes referred to as Our Lady of the Holy Death, this saint is associated with healing, protection, financial well-being, and assurance of a path to the afterlife. The origins of the Santa Muerte saint begin in Mexico, dating back to the pre-hispanic period. Santa Muerte is said to have been a fusion of Spanish Catholic mythology with that of indigenous Mexican paganism. The worship and depictions have evolved through the years and different cultures. It is typical to find the Santa Muerte statues in Latin American areas painted in various colors depicting specific powers. Some areas that are devoted to this saint include members of the Gulf, Sinaloa, and Juarez cartels.
Santa Muerte is the beloved goddess of death. She is a guide to the afterlife and a mystic who can deliver people from death using her healing capabilities. Although most followers of this religion consider themselves catholic, they do not pray to the original saints such as Saint Jude, patron of lost causes. You can say they have lost their faith in such saints spurring the creation, such as Santa Muerte. Many pray to this saint of death, including everyday people looking for assistance with good health and financial abundance. There have also been instances where this spiritual icon is favored and worshiped by those who may be considered unholy because she is a deity that accepts all of her followers. The Santa Muerte saint is quite similar to the European depiction of death as a collector of souls and deciding when people will die. But unlike the European version of death, she is not feared; she is revered and worshiped. With many shrines and altars have been built for this worship, the benevolent goddess is viewed as more than a loss of life. Her followers view her as a transitional period between this life and the next phase. She personifies death as a transitional period.
Practices: What does Santa Muerte Represent, and How is She Worshiped?
Like most religious figures, Santa Muerte requires dedicated devotion or some form of action to be done in their name before they will accept any requests pertaining to their goodwill. Since Santa Muerte is highly revered and beloved, the shrines to her always include flowers, fruits, incense, candles, coins, and alcoholic beverages. She is an extremely powerful saint granting her followers many favors and miracles. Many who often work at night or work dangerous jobs will invoke her spirit for protection against any evil forces or people. She is often seen as a protector of the outcasts of society, having her shrine present at hospitals, religious stores, and cathedrals, as well as present at gay marriages. In figure or statue form, her archetype is depicted with her different colored robes having a distinctive meaning or a specific invocation. Santa Muerte wears white robes to represent cleansing and purity, a time to start fresh or a new beginning. Robes that are red represent love and passion; her followers are looking to increase this in their current life. If gold robes are present, then money, success, and prosperity are the main goals of the bearer of this saint statute. Amber-colored robes represent health and praying for overall well-being. A green-robed statue correlates with justice, the worshiper seeking to balance an injustice whether it is legal or not. Finally, black robes are present when the follower is seeking protection from black magic.
Symbols: What Are Some of The Symbols Associated with Santa Muerte?
- Scythe - Scythes represent justice and death.
- Globe - symbolism of power, knowledge, and vanity.
- Scale Of Justice - scales symbolize balance, equality, justice, and harmony.
- Hourglass - a symbol that human existence is fleeting and that the sands will eventually run out for every human life
- Oil lamp - a symbol of light that lights the way for the wise and righteous. It can also represent the saint of the night and protection for those who must travel at night.
- Owl - represents her ability to navigate the darkness as well as a messenger from the afterlife. Also, owls can symbolize wisdom and feminine power.
- Candles- similar to her robes, each color represents a different meaning.
Santa Muerte, protector and goddess of death, is a highly renowned religious saint that has a large and loyal following of people from many backgrounds, cultures, and religions. She is a benevolent and well-meaning icon descending from catholic beginnings. This saint is viewed as a collector of souls at the time of death. She is, however, not feared but rather worshiped as she assists her followers on their path to the afterlife and is seen as a transitional spirit between life and death. Santa Muerte stands as an everlasting light that shines through the darkness, reminding us that there is space to honor death while you are still alive. The saint also tells us to not fear the transition that we must all face, and reminds us that there is life beyond death.