The New Orleans Chapel of the Santisima Muerte

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The Three Poses for la Santisima Muerte

In the three-robed system I was taught and practice, there is a very specific set of guidelines on how to arrange the three statues of La Blanca (the white), La Roja (the red), and La Negra (the black). These guidelines reflect the lore I received about her and the hierarchy within the paradigm of the three-robed system. First, it should be noted that not everyone is called to work with all three robes, and most people work more with La Blanca and La Roja, La Negra being reserved for those who have been trained to handle her dangerous power. Some people only work with one robe, some two, and some all three. However, which ever way it works out, there will always be one robe that becomes the dominant robe for that person. It may have something to do with a person's personality, the spirits a person has around him/her, or any number of variables that only Sanstisima herself can see. In any case, she is the one who chooses, not the other way around. She will always be the one who chooses who she'll work with, which robe is the dominant robe for a person, and which work she'll pick up and do. The devotee merely has to look for the signs.


In the case that someone is chosen to work with all three robes and La Blanca is the dominant robe, she is placed in the middle, with La Roja on the right and La Negra on the left (these refer to YOUR right and left as you face the altar). If someone only works with La Blanca and one of the other two, La Blanca is always going to be on the right.


La Blanca, being the purist of the three, must be covered with a white cloth anytime a person works with La Negra.


See the photo below for an example of the arrangement with all three robes. This is also considered the "natural pose" for when the dominant robe has not yet revealed itself.

La Blanca pose, photo by Steven Bragg

In the case that someone is chosen to work with all three robes and La Roja is the dominant robe, she is placed in the middle, with La Blanca on the right and La Negra on the left (these refer to YOUR right and left as you face the altar). If someone only works with La Roja and one of the other two, La Roja will be to the left of La Blanca, but to the right of La Negra.


See the photo below for an example of the arrangement with all three robes.

La Roja pose, photo by Steven Bragg

In the case that someone is chosen to work with all three robes and La Negra is the dominant robe, she is placed in the middle, with La Blanca on the right and La Roja on the left (these refer to YOUR right and left as you face the altar). If someone only works with La Negra and one of the other two, La Negra is always going to be on the Left.


La Blanca, being the purist of the three, must be covered with a white cloth anytime a person works with La Negra.


A strong word of caution: La Negra is very hot, ferocious, wild, and dangerous. She brings with her disease, tragedy, and the spirits of those who have died in horrible ways. Working with her requires regular cleansing baths and periodic blessing of the Amparo. It's best not to try to work with her unless you've received training from an experienced teacher.


See the photo below for an example of the arrangement with all three robes.

La Negra pose, photo by Steven Bragg