Basic Devotional Service for Santisima Muerte
By Steven Bragg
I know there are many ways to honor Santisima Muerte, but the following is the way I was taught, and Santisima Muerte has shown me this is how she wishes to always be served by me and the way she wants me to teach other people. If this is the right way for you, Santisima will let you know; all you can do is try it for yourself. Once the connection is made with her, she will guide you along the path or bring you to a teacher for further guidance. Best of luck!
The following is a list of basic supplies needed for Santisima Muerte devotion:
- A Statue of La Santisima Muerte and a rosary of matching color,
- 7 day or prayer candles, with or without her image, and the color of the candle should match the color of her robe,
- Catholic Holy Water,
- Cigars, cigarettes, and an ashtray,
- Siete Machos, a cologne from Mexico found at many botanicas or occult supply shops,
- Clear glass for holding water,
- White copal incense (the best is the resin form, for which you’ll need incense charcoal and a charcoal burner),
- A vase for flowers,
- A plate for food offerings, and
- Prayer cards, pictures, or smaller statues of Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Michael the Archangel.
The single most import part of devotion for La Flaka is her statue. This gives her a body, a physical object through which her presence and power can enter into your life and assist you. Although Death is everywhere allthe time, Santisima Muerte as an active force in your life (other than for reaping your soul at your appointed time) needs a little more in order to come through. The statue can be any size, from 6 inches to life-size, however, I suggest beginning with a manageable statue anywhere between 9 to 16 inches tall. If you’re just beginning with Santisima, I strongly suggest that you begin with a white statue for La Blanca.
The statue needs to be baptized and dedicated to her. If you’re lucky enough to find a Catholic priest willing to bless the statue, that would be nice, however, most priests won’t. First, clean the statue of any dust or dirt, then pass it through some incense smoke, white copal being the best for her. Next, take a bowl of water, add some Holy Water and a few drops of Siete Machos, and after saying the opening prayers and asking God’s permission to invoke Santisima Muerte, lean the statue backwards over the bowl and baptize it, pouring the water over the statue’s forehead, “In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” Take the rosary and dip it into the bowl of water, and then wrap it around the statue in any way you’d like. Then blow cigar smoke all over the statue to bless it. After that talk to Santisima and ask her to come into the statue to receive her devotion from you. Finally, place the newly baptized statue on her altar.
Santisima Muerte needs her own space, as she doesn’t mix well with other saints, spirits, or deities. It doesn’t have to be large, just a clean space that’s just for her and the two other saints who she allows near her. She prefers to be placed a little high up; do not place her on the floor. Do everything possible to make sure this altar is not in your bedroom or anywhere that she might see you naked. If you simply don’t have space anywhere else, and it has to be in your bedroom, make sure it doesn’t face your bed (and the various activities that may take place there). At the very least, cover her altar or make a curtain for her that you can close when you go to bed.
On the altar, you can place an altar cloth of your choice, and on this place her statue, the clear glass of water, the candle, plate, ashtray, and flower vase. Guadalupe and St. Michael can be placed to the very extreme sides of Santisima, or if you only have the prayer cards or pictures, they can be mounted on the wall behind her. Arrange the altar so that Santisima is in the center and place everything else as you see fit or as she guides you.
Keep the altar clean. You can make cleaning her altar a weekly or monthly act of devotion. If you use an altar cloth, wash it along with this cleaning routine. Wipe down the surface with a mixture of water, Holy Water, and Siete Machos. Food offerings should be removed as soon as they appear to go bad; do not let anything rot. Flowers should be taken off as soon as they begin to wilt. It’s very important that fresh water always be present on her altar, so change it no less than once a week. If the water gets cloudy or murky sooner than one week, refresh it then, as Santisima may be removing negativity from your life and placing it in the water. Therefore, never drink the water on her altar, and you can either pour it out outside or down a drain.
Once you have these fundamentals in place, you can begin regular devotional service to La Huesuda. I suggest praying to her at least once a week, as this keeps things going and doesn’t let too much time pass in between services. However, I do know some people who prayer to her once every 14 days or as little as once a month. This should really be worked out between you and Santisima, but in the beginning you want to establish a good connection, so spend as much time with her as you can for the first few months.
To start a service, light the candle and the incense. Next come the opening prayers, saying one “Our Father," three “Hail Mary(s),” one “Glory be”, and a prayer to St. Michael the Archangel. After that, ask God’s permission to invoke the Santisima Muerte. Light a cigar or a cigarette, and blow some smoke directly onto her statue. (If you are a smoker, then feel free to smoke with her throughout the service.) Then talk with her, thanking her for her presence and asking for her assistance in your life. Spend time with her and get to where you can feel her presence and receive messages from her. It may take some time before you receive clear messages, depending on your personal level of openness to the spiritual realm. In the meantime, be mindful of your dreams and watch for any unusual signs that may appear or events that may happen around you.
Always be mindful of the following guidelines. Never speak ill of the dead, as they are now with Santisima. Take care not to use too much profanity with Santisima, but speak with her as you would a respected elder in your family. Never threaten people with Santisima, even in jest, as she is the one who decides when and how she will do something. Try not to be too intoxicated when you pray to her. As mentioned earlier, never be naked in front of her, and if you’ve engaged in sexual activities before praying to her, try to clean yourself beforehand. Be faithful to your partner.
A good set of prayers for Santisima can be found in the book, Prayers to the Santisima Muerte, by Dr. Lazarus Corbeaux, available through Lulu.com.
There is, of course, much more information and workings for Santisima Muerte; however, the above information is enough for anyone to begin to build a good relationship with her.
Items of devotion for the La Roja altar in the New Orleans Chapel. Photo by Mary D'Alba.