Prayer To Santa Muerte

Prayer is the act of addressing an entity (supposed to have some form of power, might or authority) that is conceived, often subconsciously and outside science, as capable of influencing the course of events.

Dearest Santa Muerte, I come to you with open arms and an open heart.

Prayer To Santa Muerte

Who is Santa Muerte, and how do you pray to a saint who’s not really a saint? Nuestra Señora de la Santa Muerte (Our Lady of the Holy Death)—Santa Muerte or the Bony Lady for short—has been growing in popularity over the past few decades, as have prayers and rituals dedicated to her. For the spiritually curious, we’ve put together a guide to everything you need to know to effectively pray to Santa Muerte, including how to create an altar to aid with rituals and strengthen your spiritual connection to her. Keep scrolling to discover how to include the power of Santa Muerte in your life.

Santa Muerte is a beloved, mystical figure representing death in Mexico.She’s not a Catholic saint, but a folk figure with ties to Indigenous spiritualism and the Aztec goddess of death, Mictecacihuatl. She appears as a skeletal figure wearing colorful, historic Spanish clothes holding a scythe, a globe, or a set of scales.

  • Santa Muerte is often considered a comforting guide to the afterlife, as well as a mystical figure who can save people from death with her healing powers.
  • Officially, the Vatican doesn’t support the worship of Santa Muerte since she’s not a canonized saint in the Catholic church.

Prayer To Santa Muerte

Most Americans and Western Europeans would immediately recognize Santa Muerte as a sort of female Grim Reaper with origins in medieval Catholicism. Spaniards would not even have to make allowances for her gender since their own personification of death, known as ‘la Parca’ (the parched one), is a female skeleton. Mexicans devotees, however, are more likely to regard the skeleton saint as an adapted version of an Indigenous goddess of death, whether Aztec, Mayan or Purépecha. As odd as this may seem to foreign observers, for many Mexicans the realities of Indigenous history and the myths of nationalism converge to give the folk saint a local birthplace in pre-Columbian Mexico.

In the capital city, the most common version of the story of the saint’s Indigenous identity highlights her purported Aztec origins. More specifically, Santa Muerte is thought to have originated as Mictecacihuatl, the Aztec goddess of death who along with her husband, Mictlantecuhtli, ruled over the underworld, Mictlan. Like Santa Muerte, the deathly couple was typically represented as skeletons or human bodies with skulls for heads. Aztecs not only believed that those who died of natural causes ended up in Mictlan but also invoked the gods’ supernatural powers for earthly causes, such as healing. With its persecution of Indigenous religion, the Spanish Conquest drove devotion underground and into syncretism with Catholicism. Thus, according to this version, her Spanish style tunics and dresses, and her European accoutrements, the scythe and scales of justice, are but a façade thinly veiling her true Aztec identity (Chesnut 2017, p. 22).

Both the few Mexican academics who have studied her and the former cult godfather, David Romo, trace the folk saint’s origins to medieval Western Europe (Lomnitz 2005, Malvido 2005). The Mexican anthropologist Katia Perdigón Castañeda, for instance, writes, ‘The history of the present concept of death and its iconography, reflected in the contemporary Santa Muerte, are more related to Judeo-Christian religion (Catholicism in this particular case) than the forgotten and unknown voices of the vanquished, in other words, the pre-Hispanic peoples’ (Perdigón Castañeda 2008). David Romo and others specifically locate the genesis of the saint in the figure of the Grim Reaper of medieval European Catholicism.

The Grim Reaper originated during a pandemic not entirely dissimilar to the one we are now experiencing, albeit with today’s advanced medical care and knowledge of how diseases spread we are better equipped to deal with the latest epidemic. The Black Death, also known as the bubonic plague and the Pestilence, was a deadly disease that attacked the lymphatic system causing buboes, swollen lymph nodes (Cohn and Cohn 2003). Caused by the bacterium Yersinia Pestis, it eventually attacked the lungs leading to a gruesome death. It devastated Europe and Asia in the mid-1300s (Horrox 2013).

The bubonic plague, akin to COVID-19, spread to Europe via people travelling from infected towns and cities abroad (ibid.). Much like today, when cruise ships were believed to be one of the first and worst hit places due to the nature of enclosed crowded spaces which allowed COVID-19 to spread to passengers who then infected others upon their return home, back in the fourteenth century ships were believed to be the key vector of infection (Sonne 2016). In the early 1340s, the disease struck China, India, Syria, Persia and Egypt. In 1347, contagious travellers arrived in Europe from Caffa, Crimea. Twelve ships entered the Sicilian port of Messina. Those waiting on the docks were shocked to find that many aboard the ships were dead. Others were severely ill and covered in black boils which exuded pus and blood. Local authorities demanded the fleet of so-called death ships leave the harbour, but it was too late, the pestilence had already begun to spread. From Italy, the disease gradually propagated across the rest of Europe (Cohn and Cohn 2003).

Over the next five years, the Black Death would claim more than 20 million lives in Europe (Cohn 2008). The bubonic plague thus made death and the dying a familiar presence for fourteenth-century Europeans. During this time, when at least one-third of the populace died from the plague, death became ubiquitously personified in Europe as the skeletal figure we know today (Guthke 1999, p. 48, Van Marle 1971, p. 361–363). According to Bramley, ‘terrifying figures’ with scythes were observed in European communities at people’s doors, the inhabitants of which fell ill (Bramley 1990, p. 210). It is from such reports combined with the imagination of painters and sculptors that the skeletal figure of the Grim Reaper emerged. For some, this figure was synonymous with the Devil.

The robe is believed to represent the vestments that religious figures at that time wore when conducting funerary rites. The scythe is symbolic. It derives from mythological traditions of Ancient Greece in which life is imagined to be a thread that can be cut short (Dietrich 1965). The Greeks envisaged three sisters, the Fates, who meted out life and death to each individual, Clotho (the Spinner), Lachesis (the Apportioner) and Atropos (the Inflexible). Clotho held the distaff of the thread of life, intertwining dark and light strands. Lachesis, the second sister, twisted out the cord, and beneath her fingers, it vacillated strong and weak with life’s vicissitudes. Atropos, the oldest, armed with a large pair of shears, cut the thread of life (ibid.).

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