There are said to be between 2,000 and 10,000 saints worldwide (according to the Catholic Church, a « saint » is a person who lives in heaven). Of these saints, however, only a few are remembered and celebrated, while others have been forgotten throughout history. Santa Muerte, or the Saint of Death, is a Mexican saint who represents death, agony . ☠️ She also serves as a similar figure to Hades in ancient Greece, the god of the underworld. This figure of Mexican folklore has a long and rich history as a religious being, dating back well before the Spanish conquests of North and Central America. By the way, you can find our best Santa Muerte T-shirt here!
View our Santa Muerte T-Shirt .
Different cultures have attempted to personify death in different ways, from the Dance of Death in the Middle Ages to the Day of the Dead in Mexico and others in different parts of the Americas. Death has been given many faces, in many different ways.
Here are ten facts about Santa Muerte, the Saint of Death, one of the most fascinating symbols of death mankind has ever believed in.
10) Similarities between Santa Muerte & the Great Grim Reaper
While technically a goddess, Santa Muerte bears a striking resemblance to the Great Grim Reaper we all know . Usually depicted as a large skeleton covered in black, this figure often carries a scythe and sometimes a pocket watch or scales. The figure is also associated with all the characteristics of the art of death:
- the danse macabre who was the embodiment and personification of death in medieval Europe.
- the music 🎶🎶.
- the dance, then different areas over time
9) Everyone meets the Angel of Death
In concrete terms, those who believe in Santa Muerte as a figure in their lives, as a saint or goddess to be followed, agree with the idea that death is the ultimate leveler. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, good or bad, kind or downright evil. One day, at a certain point, death will come for you ! ⚰️
This great egalitarianism has brought Santa Muerte a large number of supporters of all kinds, in a wide range of people, from the most conservative to the very progressive masses who feel rejected by the Catholic Church or the governments of the states in which they live , and across almost all social classes.
8) Goddess of Death: Pre-Hispanic Origin (Aztec Culture)
Santa Muerte’s cultural roots are rich, long, convoluted and complex. It is a fusion of European traditions, including the Grim Reaper and the Dance of Death, with Native American traditions. Although not officially recognized by the Catholic Church, this dark and sinister figure has roots that go back to the personification of death and the cult of death in Aztec culture .
The Aztecs were obsessed with mortality, death and the afterlife. Therefore, it is not surprising that when the Spanish conquistadors arrived, these two cultures merged to create something very interesting: Santa Muerte .
These words are some of the roots of the modern version and the amalgamation that would later become Santa Muerte . They go back to a very long time ago, to reflections on death and mortality long before the dawn of our time. But long before these words were carved, the Aztecs worshiped a death goddess named Mictecacihuatl .
They celebrated it during an occasion very similar to today’s Mexican holiday, Dia de los Muertos, literally » Day of the Dead . » After the arrival of the Spaniards in Mexico and the beginning of the conversion of the locals to Catholicism, the date of the festival was shifted in the calendar to coincide with All Saints’ Day and the Day of the Dead, November 1st and 2nd. Then the two festivals were merged forever in Latin American culture.
7) Celebration of the Day of the Dead
Santa Muerte celebrations take different forms depending on the region and are quite widespread. As originally celebrated by the Aztecs , Santa Muerte and Dia de los Muertos are celebrated today
- the food
- the dance
- the singing
- Wine and other alcoholic beverages 🍾.
A somber and morbid theme, practitioners embrace the nature of death not as an ending but as a transition from one life form to another . Those who celebrate this festival not only mourn by missing their departed loved ones, but also look forward to their loved ones’ journey into what they believe to be a different existence. It is also a time for them to meditate on their own death and the nature of existence itself.
what happens when we die Mankind has been confronted with this question since time immemorial. Those who believe in Santa Muerte as a leader prefer to face such issues head-on rather than fleeing or averting them.
6) A Revered Holy Lady
During these Day of the Dead celebrations, as well as at other times of the year, the devotees of Santa Muerte build places of worship and shrines dedicated to the « Lady ». There they seek and find comfort in order to strengthen their faith. Unlike the European Grim Reaper, this goddess is loved and revered, as is Hades. 🔱 She is seen as the one who opens the doors to a better spiritual world for us.
Alcohol, incense, sweets and other tasty foods are consumed in the worship of Santa Muerte, Our Lady of the Holy Death. The figure of Santa Muerte wears different colored robes during prayer for various reasons. It is believed that this goddess can grant favor and achieve anything a practitioner can see in their dreams. White robes are a symbol to signify or request purity, red robes stand for either passion or love, and green robes for justice. There are also amber robes for health and black robes for protection .
5) Goddess of Love & Success
There is a deep and ancient connection that traces Santa Muerte’s descent to the ancestors of the Colombians, connecting the goddess not to death but to love . It has been noted that Santa Muerte started her career as a goddess and practitioner of love magic. In this way, a devotee can gain the affection of the person he loves so desperately.
This is how this death goddess, this saint of the dead, began as a character who terrified a target into loving the being who felt unrequited love. A love so great that the being would do anything to possess the beloved. There were many, many other prayers said to increase the chances of finding success in love through this lady. One can imagine that over time they became even more lavish.
4) Santa Muerte: In the heart of the Mexican cartels
Unfortunately, good things cannot last long before people abuse them and pervert their intentions. It’s the same with Santa Muerte, which has also become a hit with Latin American criminals as well as street and prison gangs, for better or for worse. It doesn’t take a genius to understand why. Narrating darkness and death, the image of Santa Muerte lends itself almost perfectly to intimidation and terror, even if that was not the original religious meaning intended. Thus, the Santa Muerte found themselves on the front lines of the drug cartel wars.
3) Mexican folk cult Not very Catholic
This character’s name is further smeared by the West’s conspiracy and scaremongering campaigns. The warnings about the « dangers » of Santa Muerte as a cult that threatens the Church, ✝️ the State or society in general are multiplied tenfold. Fortunately, journalists as well as sane and moderate individuals see this practice for what it is. Namely a tradition, an expression of human existence with a rich cultural heritage spanning thousands of years, and certainly not a manifestation of Satanism.
Some sources have even begun to trace the history of Santa Muerte back to death rituals 100,000 years ago, clearly indicating that people are doing what they have always done: honoring their departed through mass graves and burial practices, while also reflecting on their own deaths meditate
2) Modernity & Manifestation Symbol
For those marginalized, discriminated against or marginalized in modern times, Santa Muerte has also been a support for minorities, feminists, the LGBT community 🌈 and other groups who have been victims of hatred or violence . This saint—or goddess, depending on how you look at her—was a guide, a help to many people to overcome adversity in times of conflict and personal challenge.
People deprived of their rights often find comfort and refuge in faith in this saint. She is endowed with the ability to guide them, help them make decisions to improve their lives, and ward off those who wish them harm. It’s interesting that a character who has been revered for so long has become such a progressive icon for so many people today.
1) From Mexico to Los Angeles
Despite attempts to make this saint and the festivals associated with it disappear, there has been a huge surge in popularity for the Santa Muerte and Dia de los Muertos events . These events began in Mexico, spread to Los Angeles, and then to the rest of the United States. However, this dark side of human expression is not to be feared.
For many it is just pleasant entertainment, for others it is a source of inspiration and healing. In fact, Santa Muerte is one of the fastest growing religious figures in the United States. There are many festivals in her honor as individuals and families not only seek fun but also want to reflect on the definition of death. If you want your own Day of the Dead symbol, get the Mexican Skull Ring .