La Santa Muerte: Unearthing the Magic & Mysticism of Death

June 4, 2016 - Comment

This is the first book written by a practitioner that presents the history, culture, and practical magic of La Santa Muerte to the English-speaking world. As the patron saint of lost causes, the LGBT community, addicts, and anyone who has been marginalized by society, La Santa Muerte has a following of millions—and she’s only becoming

This is the first book written by a practitioner that presents the history, culture, and practical magic of La Santa Muerte to the English-speaking world. As the patron saint of lost causes, the LGBT community, addicts, and anyone who has been marginalized by society, La Santa Muerte has a following of millions—and she’s only becoming more popular. Join author Tomás Prower as he gives step-by-step instructions for spells, magic, and prayers for practical results and long-term goals, including money, love, sex, healing, legal issues, protection, and more. La Santa Muerte also includes detailed information on:

Her Names • Tools • Altars • Offerings • Spells • Prayers • Rituals • History • Myths • Symbols • Meditations • Ethics • Colors • Correspondences

Praise:
“Tomás Prower takes those curious to know more about the spirit of death taking shape as La Santa Muerte on a deep ride through history, tradition, folklore and first hand experience. He deftly balances the aspects of practical folk magick . . . with the deeper mystery tradition of her cult involved in facing the reality of death directly. A wonderful education in a figure that is fairly unknown and misunderstood.”—Christopher Penczak, co-founder of the Temple of Witchcraft

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Comments

Karen Shaw says:

This book has its good points. I liked reading the philosophy of Death …

Cearan McGrath says:

Pure appropriation and a lack of research. “La Santa Muerte: Unearthing the Magic & Mysticism of Death” is a disappointment, to say the least. Santa Muerte is a Mexican folk saint who is the personification of Death. That is the most basic definition- and the author, Tomas Prower, doesn’t even get that right. What is presented in the pages of this book are a web of white-washed New Age appropriation, untruths, and nonsense- without basic knowledge or respect for history or origins, a do-it-yourself daydream for the crystal wizard and young goth crowd.Prower makes early reference to “her dark philosophy,” and makes the quasi-racist statement of, “until now, the history and magic of La Santa Muerte have been kept buried underground, shrouded in a black veil of esoteric Latino mysticism.” That’s quite melodramatic, not to mention a bit of a stretch. Moving forward, the title of chapter 1 is, “The Patron Saint of Sinners;” here is a tired, stereotypical statement echoed on misguided and sensationalized news stories about her. La Santa Muerte is referred to as a “deity,” this is not so- she is a folk saint, as in Catholic. Prower boasts his knowledge of faiths and philosophies “while staying away from anything that smelled of Christianity.” This is under the sub-chapter “Santa Muerte Philosophy 101.” It’s just silly. He tries to connect an idea of “karma” to Santa Muerte devotion through an ideal of connecting other religious tenets that aren’t relevant to this study. It then says here that “she interacts with humanity without a set agenda;” her “supreme nuetrality,” she’s called “nonjudgmental” a couple of times- is this not entirely at odds with her stated “dark philosophy?”Then we move on to “Mystery Schools of the Classical Age” and how they are “early equivalents to our modern mystery school of La Santa Muerte.” Santa Muerte devotion is an outgrowth of curanderismo- the term “mystery school” is both inaccurate and inappropriate. this stuff is just mind-boggling; on pages 27-28, “The reason why much of the modern devotion to the magic of La Santa Muerte is associated with Christianity and Roman Catholicism in particular is that the majority of devotees come from and live in a Catholic landscape.” Absurd! It is because she is a Catholic folk saint- she is not a “deity” existing outside of this tradition, nor is it a “foundational faith system” as stated on page 30. Chapter 3, “Her Story,” is little more than a summary of the history section of R. Andrew Chesnut’s book, “Devoted to Death.” Though credit where credit is due, he does address that NAFTA was disastrous for Mexican society, and the chart showing the differences in ideology between the Roman Catholic Church and the Iglesia Santa Catolica Apostolica Tradicional Mex-USA Church was a nice touch.Then there’s more New Age jargon that has nothing to do with Santa Muerte- “the Hermetic Law of Correspondence; as above, so below.” You could take this stuff to somebody who learned and grew up with Santa Muerte devotion from their grandparents, who got it from their grandparents, and they wouldn’t know what he’s talking about- they wouldn’t have a clue. On page 80, Prower states, “For those who are serious in becoming professional level experts in Santa Muerte magic, I highly suggest doing individual research into Hermeticism.”A couple of things are wrong with this statement. First of all “Hermeticism” is a Western tradition and has nothing to do with Santa Muerte devotion. Secondly, most devotees of Santa Muerte do not see themselves as magicians. The only ones that could be considered “professional level experts in Santa Muerte magic” would be curanderos (folk healers), hechiceros (sorcerers), or brujos (witches). Any of these would be adhering to traditional Mexican techniques that have been handed down, though the author seems unknowledgeable and/or dismissive of this.So much in this book is unnecessary. There are sixteen different “Deities of Death” listed here, with a paragraph for each. At least one paragraph for each nickname, symbol, and herb. Five pages for the different colored robes. He states that the traditional devotees only regard three robes: the white, the red, and the black; though the reason why (Nahuatl ontology) is not explored. Neither is the reason why there is now a statue for sale of every color of the rainbow, including a rainbow-robed figure (capitalism).More on material culture, there are about three pages on candles, about five pages on incense. Prower gets into plants and herbs and lays down this quasi-racist gem on page 109, “In the Latino community in particular, pseudo-scientific herbalism is accepted by the general public to be valid.” As if only a white man’s herbalism is valid, and these savage innocents couldn’t possibly have…

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