Saturday, September 5, 2009

Say Hello to Santa Muerte.............

There is a fast growing religion in Mexico City which is beginning to be seen by some as a preferable alternative to official Catholicism, and it is not, as the Government would like to believe solely the domaine of drugdealers, prostitutes and lowlifes. Decent working class Df residents, intellectuals, and many others are turning to the cult of Santa Muerte (Saint Death).....

My Mexican guides here, Paco an artist and Gaby a Masters teacher are both firm believers. Altars are sprinkled throughout the Centro Historico with fresh offerings of flowers, cigarettes, apples and water. Figures of Santa Muerte adorn the altars dressed in symbolic coloured robes and holding either the globe or the scythe....

All the accessories for the Santa Muerte altars can be bought at the nearby Sonora Market, a veritable labyrinth which has whole sections devoted to Santa Muerte, Cuban Santeria, witchcraft, and then the more mundane. You can buy Santa Muerte perfumes, lotions, soaps, and candles as well as the figurines, rosaries, and all kinds of images of Death......

There is also a church in the Centro Historico where Santa Muerte and the Angel of Death can be worshipped. Further altars and churches have been established in the very rough neighbourhood of Tepito. Needless to say the Catholic Church has denounced this as a Satanist Cult, but in Mexico right now, it is a fast growing phenomenon..

The major ceremonies occur at the altars and churches on the first day of the month, but obviously the biggest day in the calendar coincides with "el dia de los muertos" on All Souls Day November 2nd.


The cult of Death is highly visible in Mexican culture and society; something which is often very shocking and taboo for us outsiders. For more windows on the world check out the other My World Tuesday postings by clicking here.

14 comments:

Hey Harriet said...

Interesting post indeed! I enjoyed the photos. As scary as they were!

Crafty Green Poet said...

very interesting, i knew about the Day of the Day but not about this cult...

Fly Girl said...

This is fascinating. So much of Catholicism borrows from ancient rituals and cults, whether it's admitted or not. I've never heard of this religion but it sounds similar to santeria, candomble, ifa and voudou. Is there just one deity?

A Cuban In London said...

Excellent post. You're right that death is a vital component of religion in Latin America, I would say mainly in central America. I was a bit surprised to see Cuban santeria there, too. But then again I met many Mexicans in the 90s coming to Cuba to 'hacerse santo'.

Many thanks for such a brilliant article.

Greetings from London.

Sylvia K said...

That is amazing! It must have started after I moved or it was kept more hidden then. Whatever, it is interesting to learn about! A terrific post! And your shots are marvelous!

Have a great week!

Sylvia

Catherine said...

Hi Fly Girl....yes just the one deity...always the female figure of death dressed in different coloured robes that signify different things eg white for purity, yellow for harmony etc. It has some of its roots in Aztec mythology but is really getting a strong hold here at present...

SandyCarlson said...

Interesting, disturbing, challenging. Thank you for making me think.

Janie said...

Fascinating. I'd never heard of this. Thanks for the great photos and info about this phenomenon.

Catherine said...

Hi Cuban - yes I was surprised by how extensive Cuban Santeria paraphenalia was here too...but check out el mercado Sonora...it has an entire section devoted to it...

Marites said...

really interesting post and i wonder why they prefer this belief.

My World is here.

ewok1993 said...

Interesting post. Eerie looking santa muerte, but the photos are fabulous.

Rajesh said...

Very interesting. Never seen anything like this before.

J said...

Very interesting indeed! I find it quite interesting how more 'organic' (hmm not sure if thats the right word, hope you get my meaning!) religious practices are springing up as organised religion loosens its hold.

Your EG Tour Guide said...

Sounds spooky to me but of course I'm bringing my North American life experiences to this. Santa Muerte must have totally different meaning to people with Aztec heritage, something our culture cannot easily comprehend.