This is inspired by the proliferation of Santa Muerte iconography in my neighborhood. Though her origins are in Mexico, and she’s even older than the time that land become known as “Mexico” really, she seems to be gaining crossover into other Latin cultures, magazines and artifacts in stores and botanicas not necessarily Mexican run. Anyway:
I see them more and more not just in the traditional black, white, red or green robes, but in hot pink, in rainbow robes, covered in glitter…so I see an army of them moving through the streets of Bushwick heralding…what? Who is this Goddess, debated as a protector or a cult icon, associated with outcasts from the criminal to simply lower classes, taking her timepiece to? Despite the syncretic “Santa” in her name, she, like anybody else I’d actually get along with, is condemned by the Catholic Church. But to the people who petition her for any need imaginable, she is a protectress and ally. For a more comprehensive history and information about her, here’s something written by a practitioner:
You can also find a shit-ton of stuff online about how it’s all just a big drug and gang related cult, including one about how it’s all just a big Anglo conspiracy (though I’ve only met two who have even heard of any of this), but I’m not posting those links. Google it. Or just read this rather telling paragraph, which can be found on Wikipedia, of all places:
For decades, thousands in some of Mexico’s poorest neighborhoods have prayed to Santa Muerte. A large following developed among Mexicans who are disillusioned with the dominant Church and, in particular, with the ability of established Catholic saints to deliver them from poverty. The phenomenon is based among people with scarce resources, excluded from the formal market economy, the judicial and educational system, primarily in the inner cities and the very rural areas. Devotion to Santa Muerte is what anthropologists call a “cult of crisis.” Devotion to the image peaks during economic and social hardships, which tend to affect the lower classes more. Most new religious beliefs start with the lower classes, as they offer a spiritual way out of hardship. Santa Muerte tends to attract those in extremely difficult or hopeless situations.