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
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”)?
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!
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.
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.
The ninth and final day of the Novena to La Santa Muerte should occur on a Wednesday. The third of the three-day white glass candles burned in Her honor should be close to burning itself out. Take time for quiet contemplation of the entire Novena experience: How did your devotional relationship with La Santísima deepen? In what ways have you changed–perhaps your attitude towards your own mortality? Or your understanding of the nature of prayer in general, or its contextualization in Mexican folk magic and religion in particular? Have any portents presented themselves at any time during the Novena, assuring you that La Flaquíta has in fact been listening to you? Did you feel Her bony fingers steering your ship of destiny in the past nine days in any way? Synchronicities often abound, in my experience. And it has always been my experience that my prayers manifested pretty quickly, especially if I was seeking payback against an enemy. And somewhere in the darkness, La Santa Muerte Negra grins Her skeletal grin broadly…
The eighth day of the Novena to La Santa Muerte should take place on a Tuesday. Check to see how the three-day candle you lit yesterday is faring. Is the flame burning steadily and cleanly? Is the glass clear? Or has a dark layer of soot, representing an obstacle to the fulfillment of your prayers, formed at the lip of the glass? Overall, what sort of vibration does your shrine to La Santísima exude? How content does She seem to be with your offerings?
The seventh day of the Novena to La Santa Muerte should occur on a Monday. Today is the day to light the third of the three white, three-day glass candles that were required for the perpetual flame. Again, if at all possible, transfer, using a stick of incense or the head of a match, the flame from the second candle before it expires to the third one. As you do so, say:
“Flame to flame, the purity of my intentions is ignited.”
If the second candle has already burned out, don’t worry about it. Dress the third candle with any essential oils or herbs that would correspond with your intentions. Light your incense first—again, copal is traditional.
Monday is the day traditionally assigned to offering La Santa Muerte Her offerings on a weekly basis, so go all out and splurge on delectable offerings for Her shrine(s), especially as this is the last third of the Novena. Procure pretty flowers. Offer fresh water in Her clear chalice. Give Her fine chocolates. Pour some primo tequila in a shot glass. Get a decent cigar, if you’re not adverse to offering tobacco, and blow some smoke in Her face before you begin your prayers. Continue reading
The sixth day of the Novena to La Santa Muerte should fall on a Sunday. As it’s the start of a new week, the emphasis is on purification and on cleanliness. On this day of the Novena, it’s best to approach La Santa Muerte after you’ve had a cleansing spiritual bath, which can be as simple as adding epsom salts and either dried jasmine flowers or drops of jasmine essential oil to your hot bath water. If you’re in need of healing, add hyssop as well. If you’re looking to bolster your spiritual protection/psychic hygiene, rue and bergamot are good choices. Continue reading