Prayer for Healing to La Santa Muerte Azul

I’m so excited I can’t stand it! Tonight at 7 at Alchemy Arts Bookstore in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood, I’ll be presenting a workshop and leading a prayer ceremony in honor of La Santa Muerte. Based on the online registration plus what the store’s proprietor said to me on the phone last night, it’s going to be a packed house, which has me giddy as I’m very much looking forward to sharing my love for La Santísima with so many people eager to learn about how they can cultivate a devotional relationship with Her. Continue reading

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Devotionals to Death: An Evening with La Santa Muerte

Mark thy calendars, fellow Chicagoans! I’m going to be giving a La Santa Muerte workshop at Alchemy Arts Bookstore on Wednesday, January 10, 2018, from 7 to 9:30 pm! Behold, my wondrous marketing copy:

Ever since Her humble public debut on All Saints’ Day, 2001, in Mexico City’s barrio of Tepito, the skeletal grin and bony stature of the beloved folk saint known as La Santa Muerte (“the Holy Death”) has been gaining devotees by the millions across the Americas. Who is this feminine face of Death? What are Her different aspects? Which forces are culpable for launching Her cult into what has been called the fastest-growing religious movement in the world? How does one cultivate a relationship with La Dama Poderosa (“the Powerful Lady”)?

my statue of la santa muerte verde

This fantastic, Mexican-made green lucite statue of La Santa Muerte Verde, the Lady of Justice, is one of my favorite devotional touchstones. I am looking forward to sharing my love of La Flaquita with Chicago’s occult/metaphysical communities at Alchemy Arts! 

Join Fellowship of Isis Priestess and devout Muertista Rev. Anna Applegate for a lively two-and-a-half hour workshop that covers both theory and practice: a historical overview and discussion of La Santa Muerte and the rise of Her cult will be followed by a devotional religious service to Her for spiritual protection and empowerment. If you feel so inclined, you may bring an offering of a red apple for Her altar.

People of all spiritual backgrounds are welcome!

A donation of $10 per person is requested to help with printing costs for the booklet that participants will receive, though no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Viva La Santísima!

Virgin Death Goddesses: Hel, La Santa Muerte, and Yewa

Editorial Note: This is the transcript of a talk I gave at the 24th Annual Fellowship of Isis Chicago Goddess Convention, October 28, 2017, at the North Shore Holiday Inn in Skokie, Illinois.

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Introduction

Good morning and thank you all for coming to our 24th Annual FOI Chicago Goddess Convention! For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Anna and I’ve been proudly serving as legally ordained FOI clergy since 2012, though I have been active in Chicago’s Pagan community for 18 years and counting. I’m the executive editor of Isis-Seshat, a quarterly publication of the Fellowship of Isis, and I’m the founder of the chartered Iseum of the Rekhet Akhu, whose mission is to highlight the interrelatedness of the communities of the living and the dead and to cultivate transfigured spirits (akhu in ancient Egyptian) in human form.

So why did I choose this topic? We’re in the season of Samhain, the Celtic reckoning of the end of summer and the liminal time between one year and the next, and during this time our thoughts often turn to ones of our own mortality, as well as to remembrances of those who have gone before us. More than any other time of year, the honoring of the Deities and Spirits of Death is top of mind for most of us.

As a show of hands, who here honors a Death God or Goddess in their personal devotional practices? (Pause.)

I’m a Polytheist devoted to such Holy Powers, and I’d like to spend some time with you discussing three in particular: the Norse Goddess Hel, Mexico’s La Santa Muerte (the Holy Death), and the Nigerian Orisha, Yewa—Who They are, Why They matter, and how you can cultivate a devotional relationship with Them if you feel Their bony hands laying claim on you. What’s striking about these Death Deities of various cultures—northern European, North American, and West African—that I’m going to talk about is that They’re gendered female and They’re regarded as virgins, so we have a lot of intersectionality to examine when we focus on what we know about each Goddess historically and what we know about Them in contemporary worship.

But before we start discussing each of these three Cosmic Femmes Fatales, I’ve got a few thoughts I’d like to share on what significance gender bears as well as historical notions of the concept of “virginity” and how these impact the mythologies and the cultic practices surrounding the worship of Hel, La Santa Muerte, and Yewa.

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Hymn to Hekate

“Hymn to Hekate”

(c) A. Applegate 2017

 

We give greetings to fair Hekate,

Mighty monogenes--sole child of starry Asteria and the Son of Eurybia.

Titaness of the Threefold Realm of Earth, Sea, and Sky,

Revered above all the Ancient Powers by Olympos-dwelling Zeus Himself.

With pleasing eyes, accept our sacrifice

Hekate Khthonia,

Mistress of the Underworld surrounded by swarms of spirits,

And open the ways to the dreaded realm of Thy majesty,

O Brimo,

That we may claim our rightful power in service to Thee.

 

With pleasing eyes, accept our sacrifice

Hekate Krataiis,

Strong One of the Wine-Dark Sea,

Who birthed death-dealing Skylla,

And open the ways beneath the waves,

O She-Wolf, O Sea Wolf,

That we may draw into the depths of our being

Unending praise of Thee.

 

With pleasing eyes, accept our sacrifice

Hekate Soteira,

Queen of Angels, Savior of the World-Soul,

And open our ears to receive Thy counsel in the Music of the Spheres.

Hidden Hekate, fair of face,

Mighty Hekate, Lady of Power,

Lead us through the crossroads at the behest of Thy grace,

In our magical endeavors,

Help our workings to flower.

In heartfelt devotion,

We kneel before Thee,

Goddess Incomparable!

Io, Hekate!

Hekate altar

My Hekate altar is the heart of my temple space. Photo (c) A. Applegate 2017.

A Devotional Ritual for Nephthys to Bless and Protect the Dead

This past Saturday at World Tree Healing, I led a workshop on “Loving and Serving ‘Dark’ Deities.” It was a well-attended workshop and for the first hour, I engaged the participants in a series of discussions based on the following prompts:

  • How has staving off criticism from mainstream religions made Paganism afraid of its own shadows?
  • How do you help outsiders to your tradition distinguish between “darkness” and “evil”?
  • Has anyone ever had an experience of invoking Dark Deities in a group ritual context and then been castigated for invoking Them?
  • How is the function of the Trickster valuable to a society? Who is devoted to Trickster Gods?
  • In his Manifesto for his powerful Apocalyptic Witchcraft, Peter Grey has declared: “We call an end to the pretense of respectability.” What are your thoughts on this? What do Pagans lose by attempting to claw their way to the interfaith table, begging for scraps of acceptance from Abrahamic religions?

It was a great discussion that appeared to make two people with Abrahamic allegiances very uncomfortable, so they left after I had announced that we’d be taking a short break before our ritual to Nephthys would begin. Good riddance, I thought. I certainly didn’t want the miasma, or spiritual pollution, of their presences to spill over into my devotional ritual to my Patron Deity. The major risk of hosting a public Pagan ritual is that you never know what kind of people may show up, especially folks with overtly hostile ideologies (read: patriarchal monotheists) who attend solely to destabilize the gathering, which is why I absolutely favor doing private ceremonies in the company of fellow devotees I can vouch for.

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