1. Your new book, La Santa Muerte,
details the patron saint of lost causes, the LGBT community, addicts,
and anyone who has been marginalized by society. Who exactly is La
Death. The short and sweet answer is that La
Santa Muerte is Death. While she does have attributes that confuse her
with being a psychopomp, an angel of death, or even an Underworld
Queen, she is probably best described as the essence of Death itself.
But it's very hard for us humans to interact with such a nebulous and
intangible concept, so those who are devotees of La Santa Muerte
visualize her to be a female grim reaper figure. This iconic
pop-culture image works perfectly to aestheticize the concept of Death,
and I think that's why it has endured so long in our collective
subconscious. A shadowy figure who reaps souls and has the skeletal
physique of our own mortality, La Santa Muerte is both abhorrently
disturbing and alluringly mysterious all at the same time; she is a
wonderful visual metaphor for Death.
And like death, La Santa Muerte is
completely nonjudgmental, which is why she is so popular among the
world's outcasts, misfits, and those maligned by the judgmental
standards of "decent" society. Death takes everyone without bias. Men,
women, children, young, old, rich, poor, gay, straight, black, white,
good, bad. She has no preference for or against anyone. So, if you are,
let's say, a drug-addicted gay prostitute of color with a criminal
record, already most people don't want to help you, but then to whom
are you going to turn for divine aid? As a "sinner," you already know
that you're not in the good graces of the God of monotheistic
religions, the benevolent gods of polytheistic religions probably
wouldn't help you secure a john to help buy another bump of ketamine
since it's not for your "greater good," and you're too scared to make a
deal with any malevolent spirits. . . so to whom are you going to turn?
To Death, of course. Not in a suicidal sense, but in a mystical sense.
Death is not going to judge you, and she
couldn't care less as to your past history, present situation, or
motives for what you want. Because of this supreme neutrality, she has
become the de facto deity to whom people turn when no one is going to
help them. Thus people who are maligned by society and other religions
find solace in working with La Santa Muerte and integrating themselves
in her devotional community. In such a critical world, it is comforting
to know that she accepts you totally without judgement. Come as you
are, for what does Death care?
Santa Muerte has historically been a part of Spanish-speaking
communities, and your book is the first English-language book to bring
her magic and mysteries alive. Why is this important to you?
Click here to read
the full interview.
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