It has been a few weeks now working with Santa Muerte and I have come to realize some interesting things. Some of what I will say, others will disagree with, and that’s ok. I started in the form of what others were saying – but as the bond has been building and strengthening, my real information comes straight from Her.
I am strong in spirit communication, spirit walking, channeling and so forth – I spent years developing and honing those skills. It has been proven over and over to me that what I receive from them is true and solid information, so I trust it.
Also, not everyone has the same path, so our messages, lessons, and needs will be different. Even if we are connected to the same Deity, our interactions can be completely different. The core energy of the Deity or Guide is the same, it is Their core, but what we get from Them is tailored to us.
Now that we have completed the soap box portion of this, let’s get back to my story…
Death – The Guides Within
Death is a large pattern, our Guides are different faces and aspects of Death so we can learn from, interact with, and grow through the process.
My Reaper/ Psychopomp was The Morrigan. The journey between life and death. In my journey with Her I built foundations. Lessons and understanding of sovereignty, guardianship, judgment and justice in life, perspective, duality, boundaries, fate vs destiny, The Web, and so much more – everything I needed for a solid foundation to guide me and my actions forward.
My Keeper was the Goddess Hel. Teaching me about the soul, spirits, The Well, grief, healing, calling forth and using the energies – the uses of my foundations and deeper development of skills. Really focusing on the spirit side. Calling forth the spirits and partnerships with them.
Santa Muerte has two aspects to Her. On one side She is the Fates aspect of Death. Some of the Lessons I am going through with Her and how She interacts within my life is very much on the physical and mundane side. Using everything I learned with The Morrigan and with Hel – going deeper – and creating real, tangible shifts upon The Web, shifting and altering the fates to align with my personal destiny and goals.
Quick side note: Fate – are the moments/ events that are part of an unchangeable cycle, natures rhythm, the effects of choices made. Destiny – the choices you make in those fated moments. This is what decides what happens next – your choice chooses the direction you head. Destiny is shaped by us and is the path we walk, our goals and what we work towards.
The second aspect of Santa Muerte that I am working through is that She is the full personification of the Death and Rebirth Pattern. The closest thing to working with the abstract pattern of Death/ Rebirth, while still being able to have clear communication. Dealing with a pattern itself, just the form of it is extremely difficult and perhaps even an impossible task on certain levels– which is why it has “faces” or “Guides” that we can interact with and learn from.
The Santa Muerte at Her core is the full pattern itself. I think it being a feminine form is crucial to link the Death aspect to the Rebirth aspect. The end and beginning in one. The one who holds the power of both within Herself – and She does.
I wasn’t going to reveal this part of my interaction and Her condition until Winter Solstice. Mainly because I do not think many will understand the reasoning behind it or understand what it really means.
No matter how hard people work and try to deconstruct christian views from pagan/ alternative spirituality, it is seeped into the very fabrics of our society. Thus I see so many of those concepts and perspectives replayed in many of the traditions people are reconstructing and creating. The outside looks different, but at the core, the perspective or concept remains – Not the beliefs, the religion, but the structure or mechanics of it.
I have traveled with many Deities but in my Death work specially The Morrigan, Hel, and now Santa Muerte have been primary within the role of guiding me. There comes a time though where we have learned all we need to, or are going to, from a specific teacher. The relationship changes in order to make way for the next teacher who can take you to the next level in your training.
My time with the others has come to that point of change. I am not losing anything they have taught me, the techniques and tools we have created together – I am building more on top of them, expanding them, adding to them. What I have lost is that particular face or Guide as my teacher. It took this condition from the Santa Muerte to really understand and process that in a way that actually freed me (we will get there in a minute).
Her condition: As far as a Guide or Deity, She was to be the only one. This had nothing to do with jealousy as others might say – it had to do with me. To get me to understand the concepts above, the roles my Guides take, why They do, and what it means within my life, practice, and path I am forging. There is a deep reason why She said if I wanted to walk this path, it was going to be only Her – and I agree.
What Her condition brought forth was Freedom. I know someone reading this right now can not fathom how those are connected, but let me share…
The Guide Herself
Santa Muerte is a nameless, faceless, divine energy. She is the closest that I can see to truly being the closest face of Death, the pattern itself, while still having an avatar to connect to. Although this version of that face arose from a specific culture, She herself is nothing but bone – no color, no heredity, no culture beyond Her personification of the Death/Rebirth pattern. Her name simply means “Holy Death” – Sacred Death. No other name to trap Her, simplify Her, contain Her, or make Her for just one people, because She is the Mother of all Souls.
As a Guide, She is the full representation of all of us, as one people. She belongs to no one, yet is connected to everyone. In my eyes, She represents the freedom beyond all the divisions we, as people, place upon this world – this society – each other.
The Culture Aspect
Santa Muerte, this particular skeletal figure we recognize, arose from a culture and the needs of a people. Death is not exclusive to one culture or people though, it is a part of all of us and an experience we will all share together. The way people connect to and infuse their own living cultural practices into the work with Santa Muerte is what is personal and sacred to that culture or that person. Santa Muerte Herself though is universal.
In Mexico they have specific traditions, ways of praying, and specific prayers themselves that are culturally specific to them. They may have certain herbs and incense that, for them, are specifically tied to their work and beliefs of the Santa Muerte. Even the colors can vary slightly depending on the person or region and have cultural significance for them.
By learning and understanding the culture, and these perspectives because of it, allows you to see the beyond the culture itself and see the reasoning behind the actions. This is their way, because it is linked to their daily and cultural perspectives of these things – yet the reasoning behind the action is more universal and humanistic. Through this process we are learning about, and showing respect for, the culture and people, while discovering the reasoning behind the actions which will be the driving force behind our own practices with Santa Muerte.
We are not taking from them, cloning or replicating what they are doing – but through the understanding of the “whys” we are able to see how our own culture, practices, and associations apply. To be able to see the “whys” requires you to study, interact with, and understand the culture. I think this is the process people do not talk about but instead shout just “cultural appropriation” based on assumptions and generally a racist viewpoint imo of what the person’s skin tone is. – I say this last bit in conjunction with the culture around social media. So many assumptions based on a tiny snapshot of a person that they share with you in that space. I have not encountered that type of sentiment in the physical world when interacting with a variety of magical practitioners – it actually has been quite the opposite and done in a way of sharing and educating in productive ways.
Not Replacing but Expanding
None of my work is being replaced. None of my tools, lessons, or growth is being thrown to the way side just because my journey with those particular aspects and Guides has been completed. They will be carried with me because they are a part of me.
I developed my own Wheel of the Year/ Time, through the work with my previous Guides. It has shifted and grown over the years in the aspect of what I name them and how different points are celebrated in practice – but the meaning of each season, the core energy of each one, and the full cycle it represents, never changes. The skin of my Wheel shifts and changes, the meaning underneath does not. There is a freedom here. The freedom of growth and transformation in personal practices.
Just because I am not working with my past Guides anymore does not mean that the sacred text we created together, for my own path, is still not my sacred text. I will build upon it and expand upon the concepts within it with Santa Muerte, but I am not losing it. For example: Each one of my Guides holds Their own perspectives on what Judgment means and the lessons of it – and together They have given me a deeper understanding of this concept that I have not seen or experienced through anything else.
By seeing through all the various lenses we can see the true pattern they are all sitting upon, its core. There is freedom there – because without the various perspectives, understanding the various cultural contexts and the “whys” behind them, and doing the deep work within myself to discover the core, I would be trapped in someone else’s dogma.
It is easy to get caught in that – to follow a tradition designed by someone else – to see and work with a Deity like someone else – to perform magic like someone else – to hold their associations of colors and what they mean – and on and on. We have been trained to follow, it is ingrained in at least western society on a subconscious level. It is reinforced when people “give rules” instead of “sharing our own way, to inspire others to find theirs.”
These are not new concepts for me, but something happened when I reflected deeply on Santa Muerte’s condition. What I was understanding was the Freedom in it. Freedom from having to put disclaimers and pre-explanations onto my words and work. Freedom to stop trying to defend myself to people who want to attack my practice without knowing anything about it. It is almost like going from a place of knowing a concept, to embodying the concept.
The colors of Santa Muerte is important and a core aspect of the way people work with Her. Depending on the color you are calling on, depends on the needs or lessons you are focusing on. The type of energy you are summoning from within Her.
I think the aspect of the colors themselves is important – just as Runes were to Hell, Ogham was for The Morrigan – I feel colors are a tool of Santa Muerte. Depending on who you listen to or talk to, will depend on the specific associations of that color. Books and mainstream sources seem to repeat each other, but individual people I have interacted with have variations.
For me, I took the same approach as I have with all these other type of tools – I asked Her. I gave Her the opportunity to tell me about each color, the energy of them, the use of them. As before, I could see the core energy resonating with other’s perspectives, but the way to use them, the mix of energies in each was personal. It resonated with how I feel and see those colors, yet with the depth only a Guide can really reveal.
Most work with these colors in the sense of Her cloak color and candles. I do you the candle aspect, but the cloaks for me are different. I have two cloaks for Her that have two colors combined (black/red and white/gold) that embody a dualistic view of Her core energy. All the other colors, when working with them, is dependent of the cloth placed beneath Her on my altar. For example: If I am working on healing/ interpersonal relationships, family relationships, etc – the blue cloth will be placed beneath Her feet. This is not the typical way others work, but it is how She is guiding me to work – so for me, it is the right way.
Again, Freedom. Not feeling like I need to be constrained by how others work or the dogma others have placed onto things or Guides– but being completely free to work my way and through what They give me for me. I have done this for a long time with my Guides/ Deities, but this just feels different. Again, like the difference of knowing something and being something.
It is hard to put into words the feeling of the freedom. Before, there was always this worry of people “not getting it” or a need to try to head off any misconceptions before they start – to not step on toes and avoid the crazy arguments of “right or wrong” when it came to my own connections, practices, and experiences because others have a need for confirmatory. Not that any of this changed how I worked, but more about how I interacted with others. The freedom I am feeling at this moment is the freedom from all of that. To stand in all I have created, all I have transformed, all I have developed with my greatest teachers, and the person I have grown into because of it all– without apology or need for explanation.
It goes deeper than all of this – there is more – but the beginning of all of this, my bond with Her, begins with Freedom. Breaking all the chains, all the outside information, and just focus on my own, and what we are doing together. Expanding and growing on my path, my work, and the lessons ahead.
I am a Death Worker and She the personification of Death itself.