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Santa Muerte

I recently noticed a small backyard shrine in my neighborhood.

Backyard Shrine

I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it at first. I thought maybe it was related to Vodou or Santeria. Then, last weekend, I noticed the owner had put up a sign (English and Spanish) saying “Welcome to the Shrine of Santa Muerte.” The gate was open and you could go into the yard and visit the shrine.

The sign rang a bell. I seemed to remember reading about the Mexican government suppressing this religious expression sometime in the last year.

Sure enough, this Wikipedia article explains Santa Muerte is (maybe) a syncretism between Catholic Christianity and some indigenous Mesoamerican beliefs. Santa Muerte has been underground for a long time. Fascinating stuff.

Her day is November 1st, which is of course the Day of the Dead. If you care to pay your respects, perhaps you can visit the shrine in Mid-City and leave some cigarettes or fruit. I haven’t spoken to the owner and I really have no clue what’s appropriate beyond what I’ve inferred from reading online.

I’m not sure of the propriety of disclosing the exact location publicly. I’m thinking it’s probably alright, but I’ll err on the side of caution for now. If you really wanna know, contact me privately.

Published inNeighborsPixTheology


  1. There is probably a good reason Catholicism has suppressed any syncretism of Catholic Christianity and Meso-american beliefs. Catholicism, in my experience, is able to wisely co-opt many beliefs, and there were many Mayan decendents in Guatemala some 30 years ago, practicing some sort of hybrid of Catholicism and Meso-american beliefs. But the first revulsion, knee jerk in my case, but I trust my distrust… is the level of the bloodiness of the Meso-american religions and the human sacrifice involved.

    The common method for human sacrifice seems to have been for the “ah nacom” (a functionary) to extract the heart quickly, while 4 people associated with Chac, the rain/lightning god, held the struggling victim’s limbs. Human sacrifices seem to have been made, as well, with arrows, by flaying, decapitation, hurling from a precipice, and throwing the victim into a limestone sinkhole.

    Warfare was one source of human sacrificial victims. It is thought that losers in the ballgames may also have sometimes been victims, and sacrifice appears to have been connected mainly with ballgames, festivals, and the assumption of power by a new king.

    I don’t recall whether Aztec or Mayan sacrifices were large numbers hundreds or thousands of people slaughtered to the gods.

    Found this in wkipedia “For the re-consecration of Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan in 1487, the Aztecs reported that they sacrificed about 80,400 prisoners over the course of four days, though there were probably far fewer sacrifices”

    On a “theology lite” level, Christianity affirms the sanctity of human life, so a “Saint Death” would be an anathama.

  2. Jack Schick Jack Schick

    Taking New Mexico History a few years ago, I encountered a Lady professor
    who taught that most historical mentions of Spanish conquistadors abusing, and particularly, ENSLAVING “Indians” are an “unfair Black Legend”.
    Uh, really?
    When confronting this “Professor” with actual Mexican Government and academic
    information confirming the actual history, she dismissed it as “political correctness” from a Mexican-Indian point of view.
    It is wonderful.
    She wanted to continue to put forth a Baby-ass Mama’s-boy Spanish classic
    excuse for any responsibility for any behavior!!
    Queen Isabella
    (Jezebel-la, anyone?)
    finally gave written permission for Spaniards to “Employ” the Indians.
    This Professor is an example of what is DESTROYING our country.
    The so-called Virgin of Guadalupe is the major example of a cultural co-opt
    as Deloye alludes above.
    THE CATHOLICS Burned, Hacked tortured Raped Stole and ENSLAVED people.
    Jesus Christ is no respecter of your Scarlet and Purple.
    Idolatry is rampant, and the demons will try to always mislead you.
    Please don’t follow along with quaint, interesting, demonic rituals.
    He said,
    Feed My Sheep, Love thy neighbor as thyself. Take your Robes of Office and
    burn them, or sell them and give to the Poor.
    Sell the Vatican, and Feed the Poor.

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