May 30, 2011

Santa Muerte of Catemaco

The holy death phenomena hit home yesterday, when four ghostly "Santa Muerte" statues showed up on the shores of Laguna Catemaco.

That Mexican culture appears to be infused with death worships is evident in the "Dia de los Muertos" festival mostly in southern Mexico, and the many macabre sculptures found among Mexican civilizations dating as far back as the Olmecs.

So it seems fairly natural that the national intelligencia evokes assorted Aztec gods as forerunners of the religion. More skeptical cogniscenti, including Wikipedia in Spanish, claim the cult was founded in the early 1960's in Catemaco. Others of course denigrate the idea.

The cult of Santa Muerte gets regularly trounced by the Catholic Church. So it was curious, that the Mexican government registered the cult as an official church in 2003, providing its followers with oodles of publicity.

Meanwhile it is said that the cult draws followers largely from those who daily put their lives at risk, which of course has prompted the accusation that Santa Muerte is the saint of the narcos.

The few locals with whom I have discussed the cult, deny that it originated in Catemaco. I neither know nor care. But it sure is good for business. The central market has several stalls featuring Santa Muerte, and of course, most brujos use the imagery to entertain or frighten their clients.

For a fairly comprehensive discussion read Wikipedia English: