Who is Santa Muerte?

Many people approach the inevitability of death in many different ways.  In Mexico, thousands of people continue to worship a saint known as Santa Muerte, who is often depicted as a skeletal being said to be the personification of death itself.  To this end, she is often seen as something of a grim reaper.  While her position as an ‘official’ deity has been refuted by several religious groups, she is still followed and worshipped by many people across the world.

Santa Muerte is said to have up to 20 million followers in North America alone, making her one of the most increasingly popular deities of the past century.  She is traditionally depicted as being dressed in long, coloured robes, and, like the grim reaper, can often be seen wielding a scythe.

Santa Muerte is a saint of death who has roots in European culture, despite being largely worshipped across Mexico and Central America.  However, despite these European traditions helping to influence her legend and her followers, you are likely able to trace her story all the way back to Aztec legend.  Ultimately, Santa Muerte is a deity who is appealed to when people wish to embrace themes of death and to accept their fate.

As such, there are many different shrines, celebrations and sites of worship set up across Mexico and beyond.  The deity is appealed to often as part of Day of the Dead celebrations, and during worship, she may be appeased or approached through offerings of aromatic food, alcohol and more.  Depending on what you may wish to ask of this deity fo death, you may wish to wear a certain colour of robe during worship.

For example, if you wish to seek justice from Santa Muerte, you must appeal to her while wearing green.  If you instead demand protection and safety, you would wear robes in black.  White robes, too, symbolise purity.

Parades and events surrounding Santa Muerte have popped up more and more over the past decade.  Unfortunately, peaceful worship of the deity has been tarnished somewhat through gang violence reportedly taken out in her name.  There have also been concerns raised over a ‘cult’ supporting Santa Muerte over the years.  This has largely led to condemnation by the Catholic Church in particular.

However, Santa Muerte is a deity and being who can be appealed to with peace and good intention.  As stated, she can be appealed to through simple offerings, though at the same time, as a spectre of death, her power is not to be handled with any kind of frivolity.  Mortality is something we all have to come to terms with during our lifetime.  Santa Muerte has become a source of solace and peace for millions of people, regardless of the answers they may be looking for.

The case of Santa Muerte is one which is still quite complex.  If, while reading about the deity online, you come across stories regarding the deity and associated violence, do keep an open mind.  There are followers of her power who do not wish to bring harm to others.