La Flaca (The Skinny One), Nina Santa (Holy Girl), La Calaca (The Skeleton) are just some of the names given to the skeleton saint La Santisima Muerte (The Most Holy Death).
Although she is not recognized by the Catholic Church, her followers consider her a saint. Some believe that she is the Virgin Mary (specifically Our Lady of Guadalupe) representing the way she would look in death. Others believe her to be a representation of the Aztec ruler of death.
It’s believed that Santa Muerte is rooted as far back as to the Aztecs, particularly to the goddess Mictlancihuatl (the Aztec goddess of death) and the wife of Mictlantecuhtli (the Aztec god of death) who together ruled over the underworld and the world of the dead.
Interestingly, the spider, the owl and the bat are associated with Mictlantecuhtli (the Aztec god of death) as they are with Santa Muerte. Because she is known as the Lady of the Dead, and for other similarities, she and Santa Muerte are considered one in the same.
Mictlantecuhtli has been described as a bloody skeleton figure. He wore necklaces made of human bones and his clothing oftentimes was adorned with bones, teeth and eyeballs. Mictlancihuatl was viewed in much the same way. In the ancient Aztec culture skeletons and bones were viewed differently than they are today. The Aztecs saw them as symbols of fertility, health, and abundance.
Death was an important part of life to the Aztecs, an extension into another world. Life went on even after death. The dead were never forgotten. Instead they were honored and invoked. They held special rituals in honor of the deceased which is where, in my opinion, the feast of Day of The Dead started. They believed that forty days after a persons death the spirit would return.
The beauty of working with Santa Muerte is that she is a complete and total magical system in herself. This means that she can be called upon for every single need a person may have. Unlike the Saints and other deities who can only be called upon for issues that are within their particular workings or patronage, Santa Muerte has no limits or restrictions.
Santa Muerte does not separate good and evil. There is no distinction between the two in her eyes. Petitions are just petitions, cries for help in time of need. She will respond to requests of any nature and will never cast judgment upon a person for what they ask or who they are. Santa Muerte will grant many requests that are shunned by other Saints.
Whether Santa Muerte began as the symbol of the Aztec goddess of death or the representation of Our Lady of Guadalupe will never be resolved. Today, she represents a strong influence for many followers of the Catholic Church and beyond. She can be used with or without other spirits and Saints by anyone willing to follow her. Santa Muerte accepts everyone alike. There are no rules.
Please see my online course on Santa Muerte for more information.