You won’t find the history of La Santa Muerte in any textbook. Being a predominantly clandestine mystery school, the devotees of La Santa Muerte have preferred to keep this particular avatar of Death a secret known only to them and other initiates.
With that that enticingly fascinating comment regarding the worship of one of the great mysteries of human existence, Tomas Prower reveals the essential context that surrounds his book ‘La Santa Meurte: Unearthing the Magic & Mysticism of Death’.
The highly evocative cover image of his book, a skeleton wielding a scythe captures the essence of the deity La Santa Meurte and offers the reader a reminder of the legend of the Grim Reaper acting as a presage to the impeding termination of life.
History of La Santa Muerte
Tomas Prower is a devotee and long-time initiate into the esoteric mysteries of this secret religion and in his book he has stepped forward to reveal some of its mysteries to the world.
La Santa Muerte opens with a detailed look at death itself – both figuratively and literally. He traces the history of ritual burial and the part it has played throughout religion and mythology.
He describes the development of various religious ideas regarding death through the Spanish Catholics of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries – a time when no real deity of death existed, through to its later personification in medieval and Renaissance Spain where the concept of death became to be personified as a woman..
The result was the feminized version of the masculine word ‘san’ or ‘santo’ meaning ‘saint’. For this reason the title La Santa Muerte translates to mean ‘Holy Death’.
It is believed to have been the Spanish missionaries who then imported the term into the New World; at which point La Santa Muerte developed into a school of magic.
La Santa Muerte has a few unique aspects to it. Unlike many religions it calls upon the initiate to work directly with the deity in very personal terms but more importantly its somewhat dark and socially incompatible nature has always resulted in it being forced underground of the mainstream.
In fact, as Prower explains, more open veneration of La Santa Muerte did not actually begin until some time between the 1940s and 1960s – and then it was only to be found within the urban poor and those on those who occupy the fringes of society.
In the 1990s, La Sante Muerte became officially recognized as a religion in Mexico.
Tools of the Trade
Prower divides the greater part of his book into three parts. The first explores the historical roots of the religion whilst the second, titled ‘Tools of the Trade’ investigates the symbology of the deity and offers practical advice on connecting with her essential energy.
He explains how each devotee of La Santa Muerte tends to perceive, and connect to, a slightly different aspect of her nature.
Consequently several different names or titles are used when referencing the deity. These include such names as ‘The Powerful Lady’, ‘The Skinny’ or ‘Boney Lady’, ‘The White Girl’ and ‘The Lady of the Shadows’.
Prower also provides the reader with a few of the symbols or illustrative representations of the goddess. These include, rather naturally, the skeleton, the cloak, the halo, the hourglass and the lamp.
Armed with an understanding regarding the occult and magical correspondences of La Santa Muerte, Prower introduces a number of tool sets that an initiate can employ in their magical working with her.
These include the use of candles – which is one of the most popular methods employed, the use of incense, plants – of which Prower offers a breakdown of their magickal properties; as well as the use of minerals.
Other aspects of devotional practice recommended by the author includes the use of altars, votive offerings, communal prayers and even a meditation to meet death itself.
Anatomy of Spellwork
Part three of the book ‘La Santa Muerte’ deals specifically with spellwork. In true saturnian style this takes on the objective not so much upon the creation of what is required but upon the destruction of that which is not.
In another way of looking at it the spells used in ‘La Santa Muerte’ focus upon the removal of those old, out-moded things that get in the way of manifesting the new.
After breaking down the fundamentals of spellwork into four specific stages, Prower takes a specific look at money magic, love magic, lust magic, healing magic and protection magic.
He concludes his book by explaining that the essence to La Santa Meurte is change – without which we would ossify and stagnate.
As the author himself states
Those of us who are hard, inflexible, unbending, prideful, and unwilling to grow, learn or change might as well already be dead.
The greatest pleasure offered by reviewing books on spirituality, for me, is that sometimes a publication comes along that completely and utterly throws you off your guard.
La Santa Muerte, a religion about which I had no previous knowledge, turned out to be one of those rare books on magic that really made me sit up at take notice.
As a publication it is remarkable in many ways. Firstly it charts the progress of a rapidly growing ground-swell of interest in the religion.
Secondly it openly embraces aspects to magical philosophy that rarely ever get to see the light of day.
Considering that the subject matter within ‘La Santa Muerte’ is somewhat off the radar I have to say that the author has done a tremendous job presenting the fundamentals of the religion in a way that is practical and easy to understand – from its history, early development through to its growing popularity throughout the world today.
By all accounts, what is offered here within the pages of ‘La Santa Muerte’ is a simple, unambiguous philosophy – one that focuses upon that single most fundamental quality of death to which we can all relate. This makes it an ideal magical system for the beginner for it is one that does not require years of prior esoteric study to make it work.
With the excellent practical guidance of Prower and the clear, practical – yet rich vein of spiritual practice that he offers, his book ‘La Santa Muerte’ could be the only manual of magical instruction that makes any real sense!
It sure had me hooked!
La Santa Muerte is a book, as well as a spiritual philosophy, aimed at those who are fascinated by magic and who are not afraid to challenge or overturn some deeply-held, fundamental, social conventions. Definitely recommended to all those looking to break out of their comfort zones!