An article about personal experience with Santa Muerte from Modern Mythology by M.G,
“Popular in Mexico, and sometimes linked to the illicit drug trade, the skeleton saint known as La Santa Muerte in recent years has found a robust and diverse following north of the border: immigrant small business owners, artists, gay activists and the poor, among others – many of them non-Latinos and not all involved with organized religion… The saint is especially popular among Mexican-American Catholics, rivaling that of St. Jude and La Virgen de Guadalupe as a favorite for miracle requests, even as the Catholic Church in Mexico denounces Santa Muerte as satanic, experts say.” – ‘La Santa Muerte gaining in popularity in the U.S.’ Associated Press
A friend of mine, (of dubious character but capable of remarkable scholarship), once told me that the more marginalized a people, the more powerful their magicks will be. If true, few figures must be more powerful than Santisma Muerte, the death saint of Mexico.
A grim but widely revered figure, the cult of Holy Death is increasingly popular in this impoverished land whose very notions of law and community are daily threatened by underworld gangs and entrenched government corruption. Slightly resembling the Hindu Goddess Kali in her attributes, the affectionately nicknamed ‘bony lady’ is alternately described as either a nun who committed suicide after being abandoned by her lover, the Virgin Mary’s shadow aspect, or an Aztec underworld goddess returned to the modern age.
Whatever her origin, this Grim Reapress is always depicted using European imagery of the skeletal and undead. Her chief icons, the owl and the human skull, underscore her nocturnal, necromantic nature, yet she manifests in peaceful white-robed forms as well as terrible aspects clothed in a darker hue. Her devotees claim that just as death comes to all humans rich and poor alike, so to will Santisima Muerte accept devotees from all walks of life, including persons whose lifestyles fall outside the auspices of the Roman Catholic Church’s approval, including gays, sex workers, and those in criminal trades as well as those who fight them.
Although woefully gringo in my ethnic background, I have had the opportunity to visit some of the better known botanicas in Brooklyn and my native Philadelphia. Latin Folk Catholicism is a colorful, incredible stew of African, European and indigenous spiritual influences, with saints and powers reputed to provide help with any worldy (or not-so-worldly) problem.