The cult of Santa Muerte, or Holy Death in French, is a religious practice that emerged in Mexico and is gaining popularity in other parts of the world. Representing a unique fusion of indigenous beliefs, Catholicism and popular culture, Santa Muerte is often venerated as a benevolent, protective and compassionate figure, but also fearsome in her reaper aspect. Santa Muerte devotees come from diverse social backgrounds and find in this deity a source of spiritual comfort, as well as intercession in life's difficult moments, such as illness, crime or poverty. However, due to its association with marginal and criminal practices, the cult of Santa Muerte also generates controversy and concern within certain religious and governmental institutions. Despite this, Santa Muerte continues to exert a significant influence as a complex expression of popular faith, reflecting contemporary social and cultural dynamics.
The Santa Muerte, also known as Santisima Muerte, is the beloved goddess of death whose origins date back to the pre-Hispanic period of Mexico. The Mexicans knew her under another name: MICTECACIHUATL "Lady of the Land of the Dead"; another spelling could be MICTLANTECIHUATL, it was believed to protect souls residing in the dark underground world. Mistress of MICTLANTECAHTLI Lord of the Land of Mictlan of the Dark Lord died.
The Santa Muerte is depicted as a women in traditional Mexican female attire, adorned or decorated with flags that were placed on the corpses prepared for cremation. She wears a cranial mask with a beak protruding from the nasal cavity of the cranial mask, or maybe it is a knife or a blade of it. Mictecacihuatl is the goddess who is linked to the sacred day of the dead in Mexico: Dia de los Muertos, originally the festival fell at the end of July and at the beginning of August, dedicated to children and the dead.
The holiday was moved by the Spanish priests to coincide with Halloween, a vain attempt by the church to convert this sacred day into a Christian holiday. The Day of the Dead nevertheless retains its ancient roots by honoring the Lady of the Land of the Dead. It is said that the ancient gods are not dead but that they are sleeping and can wake up by faith and prayer. Mictecacihuatl and his lord Mictlantecahtli both received blood offerings from the Mexican who asked them in exchange for a favorable or peaceful death when the time came to die. Tradition has it that to receive a favorable fate by making an offering, one must have the right hand covered with blood to ensure the favor of Lord Mictlantecahtli. As the blood offerings were considered to be of utmost importance, the color red became intimately associated with the Lord of the Land of the Dead and, by extension, the color is assigned to his mistress because of his connection to his Lord. It is important to note that Mictlantecahtli and his mistress Mictecacihuatl both lived in total darkness.
Although there is no specific reason why the goddess of death gained so much popularity, one theory is that she survived the post-conquest times thanks to her protective role and her very important role in celebration of the dia de los muertos.
A celebration dear to the heart and soul of any Mexican who loves his ancestors and who worships his ancient ancestors and the deities they once venerated.
It is said that the ancient gods did not die simply forgotten but that they are waiting to be awakened by the fire of the faithful, I believe that this is true for Mictecacihuatl. The Lady of the Dead did not suffer the same fate as the Virgin of Guadalupe who was originally a Mexican goddess known as Tonantzin (Goddess of the Moon & softer aspect of Coatlicue) anger of the missionaries who tried to Christianize Tonantzin by declaring that she was the Virgin Mary in their idigene image who came to lead the pagans to Christ. Mictecacihutal has retained its true appearance, although its image has changed out of syncretism as in its current form, the Santa Muerte.
Santa Muerte and its different forms
It is believed that the veneration of Santa Muerte in its current form really imposed itself in Hidalgo Mexico around 1965, in its modern form, the Santa Muerte is a syncretic image retaining its powers and attributes like Mictecacihuatl the lady of the dead; a protector of souls and children. Today it bears the image of an almost sinister grim reaper, borrowed from the European necromantic traditions which influenced Mexico. In addition, she carries images or icons that designate or identify her as Mictecacihuatl, like the owl that is often depicted in the statues of the Santa Muerte. The owl is one of the animals associated with Mictlantecahtli, the Lord of the Dead, of which Mictecacihuatl was the mistress, a very strong image until today in Mexican culture. Some statues represent the Santa Muerte as a reaper with the scythe holding a balance and a crystal ball, others it only carries the balance and a crystal ball. Another interesting remark, she is sometimes represented in art as holding a terrestrial globe representing her power in other representations: she holds a skull, then of course there is the hourglass.
Another name that people use for her is "La Catrina", which is her classic image in the art Dia de los Muertos by José Guadalupe Posada, which represents her as a skeleton women of high society.
This is why some of his death stories include syncretic themes such as a link between the Devil and Death; both are syncretic forms of old Mexican deities: the Devil is the black Tezcatlipoca and Death is Mictecacihuatl the Lady of the Dead.
The magic of the goddess of death
As in Antiquity, Mexico made sacrifices to the Lord and the Lady of the Dead in order to receive a peaceful death, this tradition has been transmitted from generation to generation and has turned into a myriad of requests. The basic demand always remains that of a peaceful death, but the Santa Muerte can be requested for almost all human needs. There are rituals for prosperity, success in business, justice (trial), protection from evil, protection from enemies, purification / spiritual healing, attraction of a lover, return of a lost love, domination, even curses against enemies, the reversal of curses to name a few. There are herbal baths made in his name for spiritual cleansing, spiritual healing, good fortune, baths to open his paths to success. Amulets are made in his name for various needs and oils are also made in his name. The Santa Muerte has a complete system of magic, which is rare because many traditions attribute special requests to different saints that the Santa Muerte can grant to all. There are very few popular saints who have this power; the sacred lady is one of those rare deities.
It seems that efforts are made to identify Santa Muerte as being mainly venerated by drug traffickers, smugglers, prostitutes and gangsters. This image is widely promoted by Catholic officials in Mexico who want to give it a bad image, although it is true that these people revere it; these people do not form the majority. Remember that the faithful come in all shapes and sizes and come from all walks of life.