In the Roman Catholic Church, November is the traditional month for praying the Novena–a nine-day prayer devoted to the Holy Mother or to a saint. Given that the majority of La Santa Muerte’s devotees consider themselves practicing Catholics, it’s not surprising in the least that the Novena format has been adapted for Her worship.
On Sunday I commemorated the two-year anniversary of the commencement of my devotional relationship with La Santa Muerte. Praying to Her and furnishing Her shrines with goodies each week for my Monday devotionals gives me a tremendous sense of peace and joy. (As an aside, as with other Virgin Death Goddesses I am devoted to, such as the Norse Hel or the Yoruban Yewa, I find that La Santa Muerte exudes an unbridled child-like sense of joy at receiving offerings. Her purity and innocence moves me deeply.) I feel Her presence in the room with me when I pray: the air feels very charged with a sense of Presence and even slightly scented with roses. Wearing La Santísima’s rosaries and special beaded talismans (procured from my favorite Chicago botanica) has the same effect on me as when I wear my elekes (necklaces) for the Orisha in Ifá: I know I am protected against all physical danger and spiritual malevolence. She most assuredly walks with me, scythe clutched in Her bony fingers.
I wanted to share for the benefit of English-speaking devotees what a Mexican-born curandera friend taught me for performing the Novena for La Santa Muerte.
The First Day
A Novena should always begin on a Tuesday. Adorn your shrine to La Santa Muerte with fresh flowers and a glass of clear water. A shot glass with tequila, rum, or sugar cane alcohol (don’t be cheap; She likes the good stuff!) is always a good idea as well, as are sweets, apples, and the type of bread roll known as a bolilo. The Novena will additionally require three white three-day glass candles (commonly available at a botanica or even the Hispanic/Latino foods section of grocery stores). Burn incense–copal is traditional.
When you are ready, make the Sign of the Cross and say the Prayer of the Holy Death:
Lord, before Your Divine Presence,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
I ask for Your permission to invoke the Holy Death.
Oh, Pretty Girl! Hermosa Niña Blanca!
I want to humbly ask that You break and destroy all spells and darkness that may present themselves
before my person, in my home, and on my path.
Holy Death, please relieve me of all oppression, poverty, and despair.
I ask that You please grant me_________.
Enlighten, with Your Holy Presence, my home, my workplace, and the environments of my loved ones.
Award us health, love, prosperity, and well-being.
Blessed and praised be Your charity, Holy Death.
Lord, I give you infinite thanks because I see Your charity.
The challenges I face every day are perfecting my spirit.
La Santísima, I give You thanks because in the midst of these challenges
I always have Your Holy Blessing.
Now light the white candle to last for the next three days and pray the Novena prayer for the first day:
Oh, Holy Death!
The favors that I ask of You will help me overcome any difficulty.
With Your aid, nothing is impossible.
No obstacles will block my path,
And I will not fall into the snares laid for me by my enemies.
You safeguard me from all harm, my Protector!
Let only true friends with my best interests at heart cross my path.
Let my career, and everything I do, flourish.
May abundance overflow in my household,
Wrapped under Your protective mantle.
[Now pray “The Lord’s Prayer” three times.]
In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
Immaculate Being of Light,
I implore that You grant me these favors that I ask of You.
Until the last day, hour, and second when Your Divine Majesty orders me to be at Your feet,
Dear Death of my heart,
Do not ever leave me unprotected.