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La Santa Muerte

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posted on Aug, 14 2009 @ 02:24 AM
Lately I have been running across so much good, interesting (to-me-at-least) material about Santa Muerte (name= Saint Death, or, Holy Death) that I have decided to start this here Santa Muerte thread, to share from this pile of stuff, of course to discuss it, and but then particularly to hear from anybody who has had any actual personal interaction with or experience of this devotion or its devotees. Small random anecdotes, that's good eating. (I figure I'll be posting five or six of these references at a time (plus there's new accounts popping up every week) till the backlog's all pitchforked out.)

Yeah, so, what is Santa Muerte, what the heck are we talking about? Let's do a visual before a definition, so you will be less precontaminated by words. (In this video, the images of Santa Muerte are the statues, reminiscent of the Virgin Mary in robes, but instead of a person inside of the robes is a skeleton.)

The following definition is from a report written by one Kevin Freese for the U.S. Army's Foreign Military Studies Office , (which I will be referring back to again and again, matching up other articles with the relevant pieces of his report, as it is the best overall introduction to Santa Muerte I've seen so far), calledThe Death Cult Of The Drug Lords - Mexico's Patron Saint Of Crime, Criminals And The Dispossessed.

The Santa Muerte cult could probably best be described as a set of ritual practices offered on behalf of a supernatural personification of death.

There are several schools of thought/interpretations regarding Santa Muerte, and examples/references of each will be brought in as we go along.

The only thing generally agreed on is that is Santa Muerte is a rapidly growing Mexican grassroots folk devotion or religion that originated among Mexico's most poor, miserable, humble and downtrodden populations. Beyond that point, agreement breaks up.

Some say it is a true religion, and that La Santa Muerte is a real spiritual being, who grants miracles.

Some say that La Santa Muerte is consistent with/part of the Catholic Church, and some say not.

Some say the Santa Muerte belief is of recent origin; others trace it back centuries to medieval Europe, or identify her with similar figures in Aztec religion.

Some take a sympathetic approach and say that the belief is benign, harmless, sweet and beautiful, and that it is natural for the long-suffering to love and pray to death, very much congruent with the sentiments expressed in Baudelaire's poem "Death And The Poor" like (freely translated): "Death is the angel that makes the bed for the poor naked people to lie in."

Some say that the cult has been taken up by narcotraffickers to such an extent that it is sinister and a social danger, and that its focus on death leads the already-dangerous and the confused to commit extra murders and other bad acts.
An example of which point-of-view (let's show some more visuals) seems to inform the following video.

[Mod Edit - all caps in title]

[edit on 14/8/2009 by Sauron]

posted on Aug, 14 2009 @ 02:34 AM
reply to post by nine-eyed-eel

Man, I screwed up that link. Here it is.

posted on Aug, 14 2009 @ 03:06 AM
Heard regrettedly alot about this.

Quite a few mexican drug smugglers shipping in drugs to our youth here in the US, have a statue along with a tattoo of this Deity, or just a tattoo of this deity.

It is a quite nicely put Satanic god.

It is despicable, it's vengeful hateful, preaches hurting those who hurt you, may you safely carry drugs to children in another country. May you rape those who have raped, or rape those you want.

May you get the gold you want.

People will believe anything, if they think it will accomplish this.

If you want money get a job, don't pray to some statue and devote your life to it.

C'mon, this is the worst thing i've ever seen in my life, a worse religion than satanism.

If I could, kill one person. It would of been whoever spread the idea of the god of the dead. And call it a saint at that.

Edit to add: Sorry I didn't read your thread at all, I saw the name of the thread and immediately posted if it's off topic let me know.

[edit on 14-8-2009 by Republican08]

posted on Aug, 14 2009 @ 03:39 AM
The article that started me wanting to do a thread about Santa Muerte was written three days ago, in the El Paso Times... any connection to Santa Muerte has not yet been proven, and there have been other beheadings (some said to be Santa-Muerte-linked, some not)...but this article does contain one good sentence.

Chihuahua state attorney general's office spokesman Julio Castaneda said the latest mutilated person was found Saturday with the body in the trunk of a car, both arms amputated in the back seat, the genitals on the street and the severed head on the hood of the Dodge Intrepid.

Mutilated body found at Juarez monument

posted on Aug, 14 2009 @ 04:25 AM
reply to post by nine-eyed-eel

This here reference is from the site of a devotee, who also has products to sell.
He brings up several interesting points.

He does identify Santa Muerte with Mictecacihuatl, the female in the Aztec land-of-the-dead pair of gods. But despite all of that worship, stretching back thousands of years, he also says the current worship didn't really get going until circa 1965, although his aunt and grandma were practicing it some years earlier.

Besides all of the names given above by Kevin Freese (Santisima Muerte, Sagrada Muerte, Querida Muerte, Poderosa Sen~ora(I don't know how to do the tilde on this), La Comadre, La Madrina, La Hermana, Santa Marta, Martita, La Santa Nin~a Blanca, La Nin~a, La Bonita, La Flaca, La Flaquita, and La Negrita), he has another name for her, La Huesuda = the bony lady, from hueso=bone.

And he quotes a saying I never heard before (but I like it) EL DIABLO Y LA MUERTE SON HERMANO Y HERMANA = the devil and death are brother and sister.


posted on Aug, 14 2009 @ 08:04 AM
reply to post by nine-eyed-eel

Another Santa-Muerte-related incident featuring beheadings...
(Note: I actually had another thread about this case, back when it was breaking news, but now the site it was linked to won't show the article. So it was necessary to find it reprinted at the Religion News Blog site, fortunately, and repost about the same thing twice because the other thread no longer contains the information).

The heads of 11 decapitated bodies discovered in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula last week may have been burned in a ritual, investigators said.

Police said they found an altar to the skeletal figure of the "Santa Muerte," an unofficial patron saint of death, in the home of two men arrested in connection with the slayings, while several scorched spots were discovered in a nearby clearing.

Police suspect the heads were burned in the clearing...

Decapitations have become more frequent in battles between Mexico's powerful drug cartels.

Mexican police suspect that heads burned in ritual

posted on Aug, 14 2009 @ 10:26 AM
In this video, the team from the Extra Normal show visit La Noria, a ghost town in Zacatecas (formerly gold and silver mining, back in the day), which is now a place for Santa Muerte worship. She is also referred to in this piece as La Nin~a Blanca and La Madrina. (If you don't speak Spanish and you're impatient, you might want to skip to the 2:50 point, where the first pictures of Santa Muerte are shown). Evidently there was an old image/statue of Santa Muerte, which had been damaged by fire, that has been restored by the believers. The man Primitivo who gets interviewed claims to have seen Santa Muerte "in various forms". She is referred to as "jealous" a couple times in this piece, in the sense of "she is good at granting wishes/miracles, but then bad things will happen to you if you fail to keep a promise made to her, or else then slack off in your devotion to her somehow."

posted on Aug, 14 2009 @ 03:00 PM
These first three USTREAM items make me really wish I were not so computer-stupid, because I do not know the ATS BBCode for how to embed one of these USTREAM videos.
If anyone knows how to do that and/or would tell me the code, I would be happy. In the meantime, I'll just link to the pages where the videos are found. For example...

Misa Santa Muerte - 8.16.2008
Misa Santa Muerte - 08.02.2009

And then the home page, which just as I write this is showing live streaming of a carpentry/tile type of dude, apparently building maybe an altar I guess against the wall...all the statues of Santa Muerte, candleholders and other recondite paraphernalia have been moved out of view of the camera but probably I bet just to remove them from harm and indignity while the building is going on...a radio somewhere is playing snappy adult contemporary music in Spanish...but I bet fer sure all the Santa Muerte stuff will soon return to the camera view, once the construction is over Misa Santa Muerte on USTREAM

OK the first two links are examples of what this stuff is, literally DOZENS of recorded instances of the "misas"= masses, but I would not call them masses, no, more like prayer services. I think this stuff is fascinating (although I am easily amused, and I do sometimes enjoy long boring things just because I'm naturally pretentious, some might find this long, repetitive and agonizing - Hey, if you like CSPAN, you would like this too). You have all the believers, different moods on different days, the petitions, the sermons - just looking at all this makes me want to deconstruct it and write a book about it. Check it out. And here's the note from their home page, verbatim...


And on the other hand as it were, here is an extract from a Wall Street Journal article, written by John Lyons...For Sale: One Leopard-Skin Rolex and Maybe Some Frozen Sharks

When a Mexican drug lord gets busted, what happens to his emerald-encrusted pistols?

The answer lies at a little-known branch of the Finance Ministry that manages the over-the-top mansions, armor-plated Hummers and other assets seized in the Mexican government's escalating war on drug cartels. The agency is called the Asset Administration and Disposal Service, or SAE as it's known for short in Spanish. ...

Ricardo Hernandez, a 36-year-old SAE agent, says he is still unnerved by what he saw at a house in one of Mexico's roughest neighborhoods, where kidnappers held the sister of a famous Mexican singer.

The dingy house was decorated as a monument to evil. A painting of the Last Supper hung on the wall, the faces of Jesus and his disciples distorted in horrifying ways, he said. One room appeared to be a shrine to Santa Muerte, a grim reaper figure worshipped as a saint by Mexican criminals. Bizarre elf figurines were placed about.

"I don't like seeing kidnappers' houses," Mr. Hernandez says. "That really affected me."

posted on Aug, 14 2009 @ 10:07 PM
This WSJ account of a Santa Muerte shrine in a house of kidnappers recalls to mind this statement from Kevin Freese's FMSO report (cited above):

If Santa Muerte is associated with one crime in particular, it seems to be kidnapping.

Here is another recent newspaper account involving a Santa Muerte shrine in a home (written by Jared Taylor, with contributions from Martha L. Hernandez).

Police detained six people in connection with a shooting that involved an off-duty U.S. Border Patrol agent and his daughter Wednesday morning in Mission (Texas).
Police believe the two men were immediately involved in the shooting, which occurred about 1 a.m. Wednesday ... said Sgt. Jody Tittle, a Mission police spokesman.
The off-duty agent told police he noticed a vehicle had followed him late Tuesday night from northern Hidalgo County to Mission, Tittle said.
The men following the Border Patrol agent confronted him and displayed a gun near the parking lot of IHOP ... police said.
The agent displayed his weapon and one of the men fired one round from a pistol into the agent's dashboard, police said. The suspects then fled the area.
No one was injured in the shooting ...
Further investigation into the case led police to detain three men and three women Wednesday afternoon ...
Information that investigators gathered led them Wednesday morning to a house on Lindberg Avenue in McAllen, where police seized three pickup trucks, according to authorities.
Inside the house's garage were several Santa Muerte, or Saint Death, statues and candles - objects often affiliated with drug or immigrant stash houses. No drugs were seized from the McAllen house late Wednesday morning, police said.

Six in custody after off-duty agent fired upon at IHOP

And here is another article involving a Santa Muerte shrine in the home.

A former female wrestler, accused of killing 11 elderly women in the Mexican capital, had an altar to the skeletal, scythe-wielding Santa Muerte death cult figure in her home, newspapers said.
Police searching the home of Juana Barraza, 48, after her arrest this week found a statue of Santa Muerte, or Saint Death, who is popular with thieves and drug smugglers, Reforma newspaper said.
She has confessed to several murders, police said.
Barraza, accused of being the feared "Mataviejitas," or "Little Old Lady Killer," sought by police for years, left offerings for the figure and also had a dead snake preserved in a jar in her home, papers said.
Barraza was arrested on Wednesday after she was spotted fleeing the home of an 82-year-old woman who had been strangled with a stethoscope. Barraza has been charged in the woman's death.
Police say fingerprints link her to the murders of 10 other old women in the capital since 2000 and say she may have murdered another 30 people, most of them elderly women.
Santa Muerte is a centuries-old pagan cult which has seen a resurgence in recent years and now claims some two million faithful in Mexico. Followers range from elite politicians to kidnappers.
The Catholic Church frowns on the cult.
A muscular woman with short ginger hair, Barraza once fought professionally as a wrestler under the name The Silent Lady.
She had recently worked as a popcorn vendor at the wrestling shows.

Serial killer a death cultist

This video shows Juana Barraza, La Mataviejitas (prior to her capture, obviously), with a ringside seat, enjoying the wrestling she loved.

This video shows Juana Barraza, La Mataviejitas, at the time of her sentencing.

posted on Aug, 14 2009 @ 10:30 PM
reply to post by nine-eyed-eel

Santa Muerte is a rapidly growing Mexican grassroots folk devotion or religion that originated among Mexico's most poor, miserable, humble and downtrodden populations. Beyond that point, agreement breaks up

I've read your posts but haven't watched the videos

A big, wealthy neighbour just across the border.

American movies showing those big, wealthy neighbours enjoying their wealth (because I guess not too many poor, miserable, downtrodden Mexicans would want to watch 'Grapes of Wrath' or old newsreels of the US in the Great Depression or the sufferings of Americans during the Dust Bowl era).

Wealthy Americans holidaying in luxurious Mexican resorts, just over the walls.

So, poor, downtrodden, miserable Mexicans are turning to a death-cult and worshipping horror, in the hope it will provide them some of that awesome American wealth and comfort.

After all, worshipping the Christian god didn't put some of that American wealth and comfort into their lives.

So, one God fails to deliver -- let's try his polar opposite ?

Interesting. In Western culture, it's generally the already powerful and wealthy who turn to satanism. And in Western culture, the downtrodden and poor place their hope in Christ .. they try to arrange for their after-life to be better than their earthly lives.

In Mexico, it appears to be the non-powerful and poor who worship satanism. They want that 'stuff' NOW .. here in their earthly lives. So, do they figure satanism will continue to provide the good-life after death ? Or don't they think that far ahead ?

posted on Aug, 14 2009 @ 10:43 PM


posted on Aug, 19 2009 @ 10:13 AM
I want to show a few (seemingly) individually-operated altars, from these next few videos.

The prayer in this one, near as I can make out (and feel free to correct me, my Spanish is kinda street/sloppy/quick), runs as follows:

Which I would translate as:
" A prayer to our patroness
Saint Holy Death
In the name of everything that is high
O immaculate being of light
I implore you to grant me the favor that I ask of you
Until that last day, final hour, ultimate moment
when your divine majesty
ordains that I be brought into your presence
O death, beloved of my heart,
Do not abandon your protection over me."

This next video is simply described in the notes as "my altar".

This next altar is said to be from Monterrey, in the border state of Nuevo Leon.

This altar, again, referred to as "this is the altar that I have in my house for Santa Muerte "...

And then one more, for now, described as an "altar to Santa Muerte for the Day of the Dead."

posted on Aug, 19 2009 @ 01:00 PM
It seems generally agreed that (again quoting from Kevin Freese,The Death Cult Of The Drug Lords) the Santa Muerte belief is relatively well-established in Mexico City, and particularly in the Tepito district/neighborhood there.

Mexico City appears to be the hub of the Santa Muerte cult, with ten shrines. These include one shrine at 12 Alfareria Street (between Mineros Street and Panaderos Street), a shrine at the corner of Matamoros and Peralvillo Streets, another at Villa de Guadalupe in the Plaza de Peregrino, a fourth at 16 Canarias Street, another shrine at 352 Retrograbados Street in Colonia 20 de Noviembre, and a sixth at the Parish of the Suffering and Sanctuary of Santa Muerte at 35 Bravo Street, Colonia Morelos. There are reportedly at least four shrines at other locations in the city and 120 altars where her figure is venerated.
Within Mexico City itself, these shrines are concentrated within one particular neighborhood: Tepito. Tepito is not just any neighborhood, however. Also known as Tepis, Tepiscoloya, and Tepistock, Tepito is without doubt the most infamous barrio in Mexico. Its tough reputation dates back to pre-Hispanic times. The neighborhood market is the black market - knockoff goods, drugs, and weapons are sold openly on the street. The police are seen as unable to control the crime. Indeed, it is in the poverty and desperation that her cult seems to thrive. Thus, the very heart of the cult is a place associated with poverty, crime, and defiance.

Here is a video of a celebration from one of the shrines in Tepito - the little music, it has a certain interesting feel to it, the birthday cakes with the scythe-bearing figure depicted on them in frosting, several good views of Santa Muerte images/effigies/ statues.

This next video shows the folks gathered expectantly in the street in front of the shrine 12 Alfareria Street (in Tepito). A little chanting, a lot of waiting-for-the-event mood, worshippers appearing entirely ordinary, the banner hung across the street like for any ordinary restaurant or furniture store.

These next two videos (UNFORTUNATELY BOTH ARE SIDEWAYS) show a night-time"rosary" for/ under Santa Muerte, said to have occurred for the Day of the Dead on November 2, 2008.
I feel the suspicion that these are shot at the same spot as the one just above, 12 Alfareria Street, but I do not know, it just seems like the same banner and buildings at one point.
I'm also curious to determine the words of the service, when and if I transcribe it I'll post that, maybe, later.

This here video is another one from 12 Alfareria Street, in which a line of devotees has been formed, so as to take turns... they approach an image of Santa Muerte, and pray, some touch it, and most are holding their own, some maybe new-bought, Santa Muerte images+candles in their arms, presumably to get their own items spiritually-charged-up by proximity to the revered Santa Muerte object-of-devotion that they as a group are revering together... (A bunch of other people nearby are waiting for something else, they got good seats and they ain't gonna budge, nope...).

posted on Aug, 19 2009 @ 04:50 PM
Here's an article from today's, 08/19/09, Latin American Herald Tribune, titled Mexico's Holy Death Sect Marks Anniversary.

Shunned by the Vatican and the Mexican government, the Holy Death sect, which claims to have 5 million faithful in the world, celebrated its seventh anniversary with Masses, baptisms, confirmations, first communions and weddings.
Scores of believers gathered Sunday at the Mexico City mother church of this Christian sect that worships the "Santa Muerte," or Holy Death, represented by the figure of a woman with white skin, fine features and long hair.
Throughout the day, the self-proclaimed archbishop and primate of the Mexico-U.S. Traditional Catholic Church, David Romo, called on his followers to strengthen their faith against all the criticism ...
Candles and apples, the faithful tattooed with images of Holy Death, floral offerings and mariachis ... enlivened the afternoon ...
The sect, a product of poor neighborhoods, is not approved of by the Vatican nor by the Mexican government, which cancelled its registration as a religious organization in 2005.

(The above organization, also known as I.S.C.A.T. Mex-USA, also operates a website (though I have frequent trouble connecting with it, seems like) Unico Santuario Nacional De La Santa Muerte. The leader, David Romo, is also (in the Mexican naming schema) called David Romo Guillen. Additionally, as for example in the Wikipedia account Wikipedia on Traditionalist Mexican-American Catholic Church the Mexico-US Traditional Catholic Church is subject to being referred to under different-seeming names as a side-effect of translation.)

Here is one example, emanating from the Catholic News Agency, of the Catholic church officially deploring the Santa Muerte cult/worship, as per the above Herald Tribune piece.

posted on Aug, 20 2009 @ 11:28 PM
This here next article, El culto a la Santa Muerte: un estudio descriptivo, (written by Araujo Pen~a, Sandra Alejandra, Barbosa Ramirez Marisela, Galvan Falcon Susana, Garcia Ortiz Aurea, and Uribe Ordaz Carlos), is like an academic flyover of Santa-Muerte-Land, as it were, combining a brief descriptive review of the material with an easy, authoritative tone. I'm not going to reproduce much of the text verbatim, (and then translate), right now in this post...I'm just going to synopsize, and cherry-pick certain parts that seem at this juncture to be of particular interest. (I figure later I will source blocks of text from this article, side-by-side with other sources for comparison where both deal with the same points)...

The authors are inclined to accept the Aztec/Mexica/Mayan/Mixtec/et-cetera theory of the origins of Santa Muerte, identifying her with pre-Hispanic gods of death and/or "el dios descarnado" = the god with the meat stripped off. cree que la santa muerte nacio' en la era prehispanica, hay creencias donde era llamado el dios de la muerte o el dios descarnado, se le adoraba en dias dedicados a ella dandole ofrendas sacrificando desde animales hasta personas pensado que con esto iban a poder descansar en paz...

The authors approvingly quote the ethnologist Jesus Chamorro Cortes, to the effect that various peoples of Meso-America shared the custom of worshipping skulls, made from sacred objects or substances, that were placed in household family altar+temple space together with the bony remains of the (family's) ancestors, and which were equally consecrated, that is, considered to be just as holy, as the depictions of the big shared public gods in the main temples and statues. The authors state that some form of death-god worship has existed in Mexico for more than three thousand years. (Myself I don't think that means necessarily that Santa Muerte is part of the same continuous living tradition, however.) In this context the authors mention the Mexicas, and two of their gods, Mictlantehcuhtli and Mictecacihuatl, the lord and the mistress, god and goddess, respectively, of Mictlan, the land of the dead. Mictlan evidently was where those who died of natural causes went, after many vicissitudes (such as self-moving rocks that could crush the dead person, deserts, hills, a crocodile named Xochitonal, a sharp obsidian wind and a strong-running river that the dead person could only cross by means of the assistance of the dog that (hopefully) had been sacrificed for just this purpose on the day of the dead person's funeral). Finally, then , the dead person arrives in the presence of Mictlantecuhtli and Mictecacihuatl, and then hands these two death-gods some offerings or gifts. The authors emphasize this delivery of gifts to Mictlantecuhtli + Mictecacihuatl, identifying it with the present-day devotees of Santa Muerte gifting her with cigarettes, candles, cigars.

(One particular question I have about this theory is...if Santa Muerte is Mictecacihuatl, then, what happened to Mictlantecuhtli? If the worship of the female member of the god-pair carried on, how come the male god fell off the shelf, so to speak? Particularly because, in the new Spanish culture post-Conquest, the Grim Reaper is male, the angel of death is (usually) depicted as male (I think the Islamic angel of death is also male, as I recall) why would the female half of the god-pair get all syncretized with these male-meme-figures, instead of the male death-god Mictlantecuhtli, who just vanishes from the scene. - That is something that does not yet make sense to me.)

Mictlantecuhtli y Mictecacihuatl fueron sin lugar a dudas las deidades a quienes se encomendaban a los muertos pero tambien eran invocados por todo aquel que deseaba el poder de la muerte. Su templo se encontraba en el centro ceremonial de la antigua ciudad de Mexico Tenochtitlan, su nombre era Tlalxico que significa "ombligo de la tierra", hileras de craneos.

(I would translate as) = Mictlantecuhtli and Mictecacihuatl were beyond a doubt the deities who were in charge of the dead, but they were also invoked for all those matters in which the power of death was desired. Their temple was located in the ceremonial center of that ancient city of Mexico, Tenochtitlan (the name was a Tlalxico word meaning "navel of the world") - amid rows of skulls.

(There's a lot more relevant material in this piece, I will continue this post about it later)...

posted on Aug, 21 2009 @ 02:59 PM
( Back to gleanings from El culto a la Santa Muerte : un estudio descriptivo.)

The authors mention "other representations of death among the Mexicas", specifically the Tzompantli, basically a lattice/rack of skulls, although there was a variant type of Tzompantli (more usually found in a Mayan context) where the skulls were just skewered on a sharp post, one atop another, like the chicken morsels on a tasty kebab.
Wikipedia on Tzompantli

The authors further maintain that these Tzompantlis were an important part of the local religion, not only for the priests but for the common folk, and that in addition there were other personified religious portrayals of death floating around in the pre-Conquest meme-space of Mexico, almost always in the form of a skull, whether carved in stone, formed from clay, or illustrated in the various codices. Plus, actual human skulls have been found, augmented/adorned with flint and shell for eyes (some in association not only with the lords of death, M+M, but also with the goddess Coatlicue).
Wikipedia on Coatlicue

Concluding their historical recap the authors assert that the Spanish colonization diminished but did not completely eradicate the "culto a la muerte", such that in the 1800s there was a resurgence in the popularity of this devotion. This resurgence led to a backlash, with orders at that time being given to burn or otherwise destroy every extant image of Santa Muerte, in order to extirpate the cult. (They mention one image in Chiapas that survived the conflagration, (perhaps still visible in its temple?), as being a skeleton carved out of wood which the local believers won a pass for by claiming it was not Santa Muerte but a representation of San Pascualito instead.)
The authors flatly state that the current cult appeared in Hidalgo in 1965, and that it is rooted in the states of Mexico, Guerrero, Veracruz (always a witchy one), Tamaulipas, Campeche, Morelos, and the Federal District (=Mexico City), with a subsequent spread to the additional states of Nuevo Leon, Chihuahua and Tamaulipas.

La Santa en Mexico ha tomado vuela y se encumbra a las alturas de la Virgen sagrada de Guadalupe.

= Saint Death has really taken off in Mexico and is rising to the level of the Holy Virgin of Guadalupe.

Along which lines, these next two videos document the spread of la Santa Muerte devotion to another state where it was not previously endemic, in the city of Saltillo, capital of the northern border state of Coahuila. Part one shows a store with beaucoup Santa Muerte merchandise, name-checks Coatlicue, shows a Santa Muerte tattoo in process (+related tattoo flash - I do tattoos, so that overly interests me, no doubt) and visits with/interviews various local believers, including a wrestler (he shows us his altar, denying firmly that Santa Muerte is satanic), the "patriarch" of a local ranch (he saw Santa Muerte in a dream, and now his ranch is named "La Santisima", pictures of Santa Muerte all over the place, numerous of his family show their Santa Muerte tattoos, "now there's peace in the house"), and a municipal policeman who's been a devotee for five years. A good statement is made (relating again, to my mind, to how Santa Muerte is "jealous") about how you should only make a promise to her to do something if it is something you will actually complete..."to promise for the sake of's not good" more or less.

Part two starts off outside of town where we find a roadside little chapel to Santa Muerte, then a truckdriver devotee sings a song he has written about how Santa Muerte protects him as he drives "from Texas to Nevada" among other places, then we meet a woman called "Azul" who maintains that Santa Muerte enters into her body (check out the Snickers bar on her altar), after which order is restored as we interview a priest who is worried about the souls of the Santa Muerte followers, to which finally a succession of believers respond that their faith is good and deserving of respect...

posted on Aug, 23 2009 @ 07:54 PM
(This next article, another Santa-Muerte-in-Texas instance, is redacted severely in my précis, since I'm only wanting to dig out the relevant Santa Muerte part, but the article as a whole (written by James C. McKinley Jr., originally evidently for the New York Times, but the link here is to a reprint in is worth reading and contains several good sentences.)
Mexican Cartels Lure American Teens as Killers

When he was finally caught, Rosalio Reta told detectives here that he had felt a thrill each time he killed ...

Mr. Reta was 13 when he was recruited by the Zetas, the infamous assassins of the Gulf Cartel, law enforcement officials say. He was one of a group of American teenagers from the impoverished streets of Laredo who was lured into the drug wars across the Rio Grande in Mexico with promises of high pay, fancy cars and sexy women.

After a short apprenticeship, the young men lived in an expensive house in Texas, available to kill whenever called on. The Gulf Cartel was engaged in a turf war with the Sinaloa Cartel over the Interstate 35 corridor ...

The young men all paid a heavy price. Jesus Gonzalez III was beaten and knifed to death in a Mexican jail at 23. Mr. Reta, now 19, and his boyhood friend, Gabriel Cardona, 22, are serving what amounts to life sentences in prisons in the United States ...

While working as hired guns in 2005 and 2006, the three Americans lived in a house rented by their employers on Hibiscus Street in Laredo, according to testimony at Mr. Reta's trial. Another crew of three assassins, all from Mexico, were also camped out there, awaiting orders, law enforcement officials said ...

The two teams of assasssins took direction from Lucio Quintero, or El Viejon, a capo in the Zetas across the river, trial records show. They received $500 a week as a retainer and $10,000 to $50,000 for each assassination, and the triggerman was given two kilos of coc aine.

Detective Roberto A. Garcia Jr. of the Laredo Police Department said they all worked for Miguel Treviño, the leader of the Zetas in Nuevo Laredo, the Mexican city across the river from Laredo, who goes by the name El Cuarenta, which means Forty. (Many Zetas identify themselves by a number.)

In addition to their retainers, the assassins received perks. At one point, Mr. Reta was given a new $70,000 Mercedes, for a job well done. Family members described how the young men would go to parties hosted by cartel capos. To keep up morale, the drug leaders would raffle off automobiles, firearms and even dates with attractive women, the family members said, speaking on condition of anonymity ...

Detective Garcia descibed Mr. Cardona as the ringleader of the American cell of assassins, a savvy, brash young man who orchestrated at least five murders in Laredo of people connected to the Sinaloa Cartel.

In a deal with prosecutors, Mr. Cardona eventually pleaded guilty to kidnapping two American teenagers - one of whom had drug-gang connections - in March 2006 at a Mexican nightclub, taking them to a cartel safe house and stabbing them to death with a broken bottle. Investigators say he had collected the victims' blood in a glass and toasted La Santa Muerte, a personification of death worshipped by some Mexicans. A federal judge sentenced Mr. Cardona to life in prison in March ...

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

These two videos here (IN ENGLISH) comprise a two part informational piece on Santa Muerte. The video never says so, but the shrine this was filmed at definitely appears to be 12 Alfareria Street again.

Parts that I liked included the chants that were like a cheerleader's routine, the massed candles, the pilgrims walking on their knees to approach the shrine (and/or carrying their own three-foot-high Santa Muerte effigies in their arms), the smoking through an apple turned into a pipe and passed around, the girl who kept her promise about the tattoo, numerous good shots of them interesting-looking, also big, Santa Muerte figurines, and the information about how (ostensibly) the woman founder merely put a shrine in her window where it could be seen from the street, and then all the rest of the pilgrimage and worship and commerce just happened by itself, and that the one (as-if) priest-guy was her son.

[edit on 24-8-2009 by nine-eyed-eel]

[edit on 24-8-2009 by nine-eyed-eel]

posted on Aug, 24 2009 @ 11:59 PM
Here's another Santa Muerte Tattoo, from tattooland's account on Fotolog.

Here is a (fan) video of the song " Santa Muerte " by the band Cartel de Santa.

Here are the lyrics to the song "Santa Muerte" by Cartel de Santa (obtained here from lyricsmode (quoted verbatim, mistakes left in):

Especial dedicacion a mi santa muerte
Por protegerme y proteger a toda mi gente
Por ser justa entre las cosas
Por dejarme seguir vivo
Por darme la fuerza para castigar al enemigo
Por la vendicion a mi fiero pulso sertero
Y por poner a mi lado una jauria de fieles perros
No tengo miedo a brincarme ya de aqui
Cuando usted me invite nos vamos por ahi
No tengo miedo a brincarme ya de aqui
Cuando usted me invite nos vamos por ahi
Estoy listo para cuando usted guste y mande
Santa Madre no quiero molestarle
Yo llegue para quedarme
En el recuerdo de mis dos familias
La de sangre
Y la que se le conoce en las esquinas
Mi jauria
Banda que crece en soledad
Que muchas veces aunque tienen a su jefes
No saben lo que es una familia de verdad
Usted abre nuestros ojos a la realidad
Dicen que morir es despertar
Yo no se si hay un cielo o un infierno
Pero lo unico seguro en esta vida es usted es solo entiendo
No tengo miedo a brincarme ya de aqui
Cuando usted me invite nos vamos por ahi
No tengo miedo a brincarme ya de aqui
Cuando usted me invite nos vamos por ahi
No tengo miedo a brincarme ya de aqui
Cuando usted me invite nos vamos por ahi
No tengo miedo a brincarme ya de aqui
Cuando usted me invite nos vamos por ahi
Santa muerte cumplo con mi ofrenda
Y solo la inspiracion cumple con el favor
Por que eso va hacer que mi disco venda
Que mis perros entiendan
Que usted es la puerta la nueva aventura
No se si lo que creo es producto de mi locura
Pero si me voy yo primero alla los espero
Para seguir quemandonos la pastura
Rompan las ataduras y todos los prejuicios
Si les preocupa su cuerpo midanse con los vicios
Despertar debe ser como ir callendo a un precipicio
Donde al llegar al suelo te das cuenta de que estas en el inicio
No tengo miedo a brincarme ya de aqui
Cuando usted me invite nos vamos por ahi
No tengo miedo a brincarme ya de aqui
Cuando usted me invite nos vamos por ahi
No tengo miedo a brincarme ya de aqui
Cuando usted me invite nos vamos por ahi
No tengo miedo a brincarme ya de aqui
Cuando usted me invite nos vamos por ahi
Especial dedicacion a mi santa muerte
Por protegerme y proteger a toda mi gente
Por ser justa entre las cosas
Por dejarme seguir vivo
Por darme la fuerza para castigar al enemigo
Por la bendicion a mi fiero pulso sertero
Y por poner a mi lado la jauria de fieles perros
Cuando usted me invite nos vamos por ahi.

Which I would translate as (and again, chime in and correct me, I am only a man, my Spanish is quick and dirty, plus in any language I tend to be a hot-blooded translator (like all poets and liars, in service of "a Higher Truth")):

This is a special dedication to my holy Saint Death
For protecting me, and protecting all my people
For treating every thing correctly, for being fair to all things
For letting me keep on living
For making me strong enough to punish the enemy
For the blessing on my fierce reckless heartbeat
And for putting at my side a pack of faithful dogs
I'm not afraid of already jumping myself out of here
When You invite me I'll go over there with You
I'm not afraid of skipping out of here already
When You invite me we will go away over there
I am ready for when it will please You to order that
Holy Mother I don't want to bother you
I arrived in order to remain
in the memory of my two families
the one of blood
and the one that came to recognize itself on the streetcorners
My pack
A gang that grew in loneliness
So many times even though they had their chiefs
They didn't know that they were a real family, they didn't know what true family is
You opened our eyes to the reality
They say that to die is to wake up
I don't know if there is a heaven or a hell
But the only sure thing in life is You You are alone I understand
I'm not scared if I already jump myself out of here
When You invite me let's go over there
I'm not scared of already popping myself out of here
When You invite me we will go over there together
I'm not afraid of jumping myself already out of here
When You invite me I will go over there with You
I'm not afraid to jump myself already out of here
When You invite me we will go away to over there
O Sacred Death I fulfill my promise to you with my offering
And only inspiration can complete the favor
Because that will make it be that my CDs sell
and that my dogs would understand
that You are the door, the new adventure
I don't know if what I believe is the product of my craziness
But if I go away first I await them there
in order to continue smoking ourselves the grass
breaking the knots and all the prejudices
If you preoccupy your bodies with the bad habits
the wake-up should be like falling off of a cliff
Where when you hit the ground you realize that you are at the beginning
I don't have fear of jumping myself already out of here
When You invite me, let's go to over there
I don't have fear of jumping myself already out of here
When You invite me, we will go over there together
I don't have fear of skipping out of here
When You invite me, we will escape over there
I'm not scared if I already jump out of here
When You invite me, let's go over there
This is a special gift to my holy Saint Death
For protecting me, and protecting all of my people,
For justly choosing between things, for treating everything the same
For letting me stay alive
For giving me the strength to punish my enemy
For the blessing of my fierce wild heartbeat
And for putting at my side the pack of faithful dogs
When You invite me we will go there

(Now, you will notice that I have translated the exact same sentence in different ways, as it struck me at the time...there's different ways to look at the same sentence, and I can permutate the implications via the repetitions (though it's inconsistent with the style of the original), and that's how I wound up doing that. A couple words I don't know, couldn't find, I worked around. If you know better, you're welcome to do it better - Lead me.)

[edit on 25-8-2009 by nine-eyed-eel]

[edit on 25-8-2009 by nine-eyed-eel]

[edit on 25-8-2009 by nine-eyed-eel]

[edit on 25-8-2009 by nine-eyed-eel]

[edit on 25-8-2009 by nine-eyed-eel]

posted on Aug, 28 2009 @ 09:25 PM
Here's a good photo showing (presumably) a devotee holding an image/statue of Santa Muerte.

Here's an article published 04/16/2009 in the (Chicago)Daily Herald - (the Romero statue mentioned in the article = 12 Alfareria Street).
Mexico targets Death Saint popular with criminals

Mexican authorities are cracking down on an icon worshipped both by drug dealers and by the terrified people who live in drug-torn neighborhoods: the Santa Muerte, or Death Saint.
A skeletal figure of a cloaked woman with a scythe in her bony hand, the Santa Muerte has become more popular in Mexico even as its drug wars have become more violent. Mexican law enforcement won't say outright it is targeting Santa Muerte, but last month soldiers stood guard while government backhoes crushed more than 30 public shrines to the saint in Nuevo Laredo, across the Rio Grande from Laredo, Texas. In the two weeks before, several altars in Tijuana and an altar built on the highway between Reynosa and Rio Bravo were razed.
"The government's line is that it promotes narco-trafficking and is a symbol to which children in particular should not be exposed," said Mexico expert George Grayson at the College of William and Mary in Virginia. "This is a marginal step against traffickers. But no doubt the government wants to take a holistic approach."
The move has drawn anger from Santa Muerte followers who say their religion is under attack. Hundreds of Santa Muerte followers protested in Mexico City during Holy Week and on Easter Sunday marched to the Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the country's widely revered Roman Catholic patroness.
"There are a lot of legends about us, but none of them are true," said David Romo, founder of a Santa Muerte church, at a Mass on the first day of the month, when the Death Saint is celebrated. Romo, who calls himself an archbishop but was not appointed by the Catholic Church, urged the Santa Muerte's estimated 5 million followers to take to the streets to fight "religious intolerance."
Local authorities claim the shrines are in the way of building projects or are on public property. Rafael Luque, a spokesman for the city of Nuevo Laredo, said local, state and federal authorities destroyed the shrines after receiving dozens of complaints from people, and because they were built without permission on federal property.
"Citizens had been asking for years that they be removed because they dirtied Nuevo Laredo's image," Luque said.
Reynosa's Public Works Director Guillermo Acebo told local newspapers the shrine was destroyed because it "looked bad and obstructed public works in the area."...

In the border state of Tamaulipas, home to the powerful Gulf cartel, the Mexican Army found a room filled with images of the cloaked skeleton inside a sprawling pink house in the hamlet of Los Angeles. A mural on one wall showed the owner kneeling and kissing Santa Muerte's bony hand. A La-Z-Boy lounger, the only chair in the room, was pulled up to an altar with black candles.
Again during a raid in Reynosa on a house where 55 Central American migrants were tortured, soldiers found a sticker of the Santa Muerte inside a kitchen cabinet, along with a shot of tequila and two spent candles.
Two men arrested last fall in connection with 11 decapitated and burned bodies in the Yucatan Peninsula had an altar to the Santa Muerte in their home. And at the Tamaulipas house of an alleged hit man, a Santa Muerte and two empty wine glasses sat on the kitchen's breakfast nook.
"Here you always find a death saint," said Army Major Andres Murias, "and sometimes also Scarface or Pancho Villa."...

At a recent mass at the headquarters of the so-called Traditional Catholic Mex-USA Church, about 200 people sat on plastic chairs and wood benches. Two life-sized Santa Muerte statues stood near the altar, while the walls were papered with posters of the Virgin Mary and Jesus.
The church in the rough Mexico City neighborhood of Tepito, where the cult started, draws all kinds: families with small children, single mothers and men and women with tattoos of the Santa Muerte. The "USA" in the church's name reflects that many followers have emigrated to the United States.
Following Roman Catholic tradition, worshippers often place offerings of food, candy or flowers at the saint's altar. Most ask the Santa Muerte to keep them alive in crime-ridden neighborhoods.
"The main miracle is that with money or no money, we have life," said Yadira Rivera, a 26-year-old mother of two girls, who rides a bus an hour each way the first of each month to worship Santa Muerte at the Tepito church.
A few blocks from the church is one of the largest and best-known Santa Muerte statues, dressed in a black-and-purple velvet gown and sitting inside a glass case built into the facade of Enriqueta Romero's home. As followers mingled near the statue, some openly smoked marijuana or sniffed glue. Others wept or crawled on their knees to touch the glass as they asked for favors.
Romero said when she first built the altar in 2001, about 20 to 50 followers would gather to pray. Now, up to 5,000 come to her home every first of the month when the Santa Muerte is celebrated with mariachis and a rosary, and the street has to be blocked off to traffic...

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

(Forgive the following observation, but, if I was going to start a religion here in America and my followers were mostly all poor and downtrodden, I would be sure to schedule the big church service on the first of the month too (or anyways early) so that the flock would be sure to have some money still left from their welfare (+SSI, + other government etc.) checks , so that they would be able to make donations...but since this is a Mexico thing, I expect that was not the actual reason the first was selected.)

The line in the above piece about "one of the largest...Santa Muerte statues" makes me want to cut to this video...

This video shows the 22 meter tall statue of Santa Muerte that was constructed, from metal and resin, in downtown Tultitlan, in Mexico state. (This statue was actually already shown for just a few seconds, with people yelling, arms upraised, in that one video I posted earlier from the Catholic News Agency...but it would have perhaps not been obvious to a viewer what it was and all, in that brief flash). The video states that Santa Muerte has two million followers, that the statue was built on land given by a devotee in thanks for his recovery from cancer (the first guy being interviewed is telling the story of how the guy decided to donate the land, because he saw the light), and that the followers desired that this location might become a "spot", a sanctuary for worship...but the officials took a dim view, no permits and so on.

[edit on 28-8-2009 by nine-eyed-eel]

[edit on 28-8-2009 by nine-eyed-eel]

posted on Sep, 1 2009 @ 02:28 PM
reply to post by nine-eyed-eel

This article, originally written by Bryan Finlayson in The Southampton Press, combines in one chunk La Santa Muerte, the Hamptons, and moderately-priced (indoor) prostitution...three things that you don't normally expect to find together all rolled-up-in-a-ball...not even at the late date of 08/31/2009.
Police raid two suspected brothels

Police arrested five people during evening raids on alleged brothels in Westhampton and Southampton on Saturday.

Both homes had "anti-police" shrines in their living rooms where patrons would pray to Santa Muerte, or Saint Death, to ward off law enforcement, police said.

First, Luis Fernando Torres Altimaro, 25, of Westhampton, who police said worked as a promoter for the brothels, and Carol Maria Lopez, 51, of Queens were arrested by Southampton Town Police at a two-room cottage on Glendale Street in Westhampton at 9:43 p.m. Mr. Altimaro was charged with promoting prostitution in the fourth degree and Ms. Lopez was charged with prostitution.

Then, Daniela Zuniga, 18, of New Brunswick, New Jersey, Delcin Omar Contreras, 30, and Juan Trujillo, 22, both of Southampton were arrested by police at a three-bedroom home on North Magee Street in Southampton Town at 11 p.m. Ms. Zuniga was charged with prostitution in the third degree, Mr. Contreras, who police said fled the scene, was charged with obstructing governmental administration in the second degree and Mr. Trujillo was charged with patronizing a prostitute in the third degree and possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree.

All the charges are misdemeanors.

All five people were arraigned in Southampton Town Justice Court on Sunday and released on cash bail ranging from $200 to $500. According to police, the men and women were all in the country illegally and were reported to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Police said that both homes were frequented by up to 40 men each night in the past month and that the women earned $15 per customer while promoters received up to $40 per customer. Police were tipped off about the homes by neighbors who complained about vehicle traffic, Southampton Street Crime Unit Sergeant James Kiernan said.

The Saturday raids follow the May 16 arrests of four people by Southampton Town Police in connection to a brothel on Longview Road in Southampton Town.

Sgt. Kiernan said the three houses are believed to be operated by the same ring of offenders.

"There have been similarities," Sgt. Kiernan said, noting that at all three homes there were anti-police shrines with lit candles, and similar fees for clientele.

"They had saints that they prayed to that protect them from the police," the sergeant said. "It hasn't worked in these three cases anyway."

At least one neighbor complained of disturbances at the Southampton cabin ... he noticed loud rap music and numerous cars parked on the road in front of the cabin "at all hours of the night" ...

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

The "Ciudad Victoria" mentioned here is the capital of the northern border state of Tamaulipas. This video contains a simplified rundown key to the candle color symbolism "red is for love, white is for protection, black is for problems, blue is for education, green is for good luck, and the one with seven colors is for everything" 2:55 there is a small altar set-up found in a drug stash house in Starr County, ex-devotee comes across with some choice bits about how you start off with incense and candles, before progressing to "undescribable things from the cemetery... human remains, so you can get what you want." There's a Santa Muerte statue with an actual heavy-metal-homesick pentagram drawn on the wall over her head, a cigarette stuck where the mouth would be on a Santa Muerte picture-in-a-frame, a LAW STAY AWAY candle, and a mention of Santa Muerte with prostitution rings again. Plus a bunch of nice altars and all.

Let me quote again from Kevin Freese and give his version of the Santa Muerte color and accessories symbolism at this point.The Death Cult Of The Drug Lords (This link is to a PDF on a different site (el enemigo comun = the common enemy, hmm), not the FMSO one I used in earlier posts...I did this because I tried the URL from my earlier link and it wouldn't work today, for some reason...this is why I have to quote extensively from the sources on this thread so the information will be centralized when or if the links go away, yes.)

Color itself seems to be very important in the Santa Muerte cult. Statues dressed in particular colors represent certain powers or attributes. Similarly, when a devotee lights a candle, or a combination of candles, to Santa Muerte, the color of the candle used corresponds to the desired result. Gold represents economic power, success, and money. Devotees maintain that this color is suited for businessmen and merchants. The natural bone color is believed to promote peace and harmony, particularly among neighbors, and is intended for homes and businesses. The color red is associated with love and passion, as well as emotional stability; it is recommended for couples. White represents purification and defense against negative energy, particularly in situations where there is envy among relatives. Blue is used to help improve mental concentration. Green is the color used to help people with legal problems or matters of justice; it is the color used most often by lawyers. Yellow is the color used for healing from diseases. It is frequently used by alcoholics and drug addicts who are undergoing rehabilitation. The color purple is also purported to bring health. Black represents complete protection, particularly against black magic and hostile spirits assorted with Santeria, Palo Mayombe, or voodoo. Black is also the color used by sorcerers to cause harm to their enemies.
The color symbolism in the Santa Muerte is distinct from other esoteric practices. Although other religious/occult traditions use candles in ceremonies, especially in Afro-Caribbean traditions, the association of a particular color of candle with a particular intention seems more akin to the practices of European occultists, especially Wiccans. There is even some direct correspondence in certain colors. However, this is not consistent, suggesting possible influence but not direct heritage. Furthermore, the parallel is limited specifically to the color of candles, not the vestments of the statuary. Finally, the functions of the colors themselves consistently although not without exception, have applications for crime: lust, power, help with legal power, cursing enemies, defending against curses from enemies, and help with drug addiction. Although these benefits may have applications for any follower, they would particularly appeal to those who live in a world of drugs and crime.
Other aspects of Santa Muerte iconography have significance as well. Devotees of the saint interpret the sickle, often carried in the right hand, to represent justice, while the globe, often in the left hand, represents dominion over the world. Sometimes, an image of Santa Muerte is holding an ear of corn, which apparently represents generosity. Such symbols are very useful for identifying cult iconography. Whereas the image of the Grim Reaper is a relatively common image and in and of itself does not signify any cult association, when the Death figure is displayed with an ear of corn, a crown, or possibly a globe or scale, it does indicate a Santa Muerte association.

[edit on 1-9-2009 by nine-eyed-eel]

[edit on 1-9-2009 by nine-eyed-eel]

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