Safeguards with La Muerte
One of the several reasons I strongly suggest people approach la Santisima Muerte within her Catholic context is the issue of safeguards that have evolved over time within that spiritual context. La Santisima Muerte, being a manifestation of Death, is not a fluffy, all-loving being. She has just as much, if not more, of a rough side to her as she has a compassionate one. Never forget that dealing with her is dealing with the antithesis of what we currently are, which are living beings, and her primary role is to reap the souls of those who die and guide them to where ever they need to go. Her home in the physical realm is the cemetery, and the only permanent denizens of that queendom are those who no longer have living, breathing bodies. We living folks cannot spend all our time in the cemetery or in the presence of death, or we run the risk of making that leap of no return sooner than we’re supposed to. And if a person spends a great deal of time dealing with La Negra, the blackrobe, it’s highly recommended that regular cleansing baths be administered, as hers is the most corrosive robe of the traditional three.
Within her traditional Catholic system, there have come about a few safeguards that help keep her devotees and workers safe from her energy and the host of dead that accompany her. First is petitioning her and treating her like a Catholic saint. Doing this calls on her more benevolent side, and she’s more likely to be forgiving and understanding of those who have no formal training with her. For those who step into the realm of spiritual work with Santisima, included but not limited to cleansings, lamp work, and brujeria, there’s the amparo that I’ve written about before, usually employing St. Michael the Archangel. The amparo is never a bad idea for devotees, however, it is essential in safely working with her for oneself or clients. Then there’s service to her sister, the Virgin of Guadalupe, who can be petitioned anytime La Muerte becomes upset or too hot for someone.
Those who choose to remove Santisima from her traditional Catholic setting do so at their own risk. Already I’ve seen where some have tried and failed, abandoning their supposed service to her and getting rid of her statues after an unfortunate incident or not getting any results at all. This is one tough lady who will only tolerate so much. She can be fickle and unpredictable, and no one, not even her most favorite of devotees or workers, are spared her wrath when she becomes agitated. It’s times like those when these safeguards are the most important. Service to la Santisima Muerte comes with an “at your own risk” caveat. Tread carefully.
Altar for St. Michael the Archangel in the Chapel. Photo by Mary D'Alba