Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Lady Death.

The religion of Santa Muerte is understood by many to be 'a strange mixture of religion and crime'.

Santa Muerte herself, a Virgin Mary who smokes, who loves prostitutes and murderers.

Her worship takes place at a shrine.They can be found throughout Mexico and also in parts of the United States and Central America.

As a penitent you may crawl to her.

As a visitor you must cross yourself to show respect.

The gestures feel right..

The woman who created the first shrine Enriqueta Romero Romero, had been worshiping Santa Muerte for many years before finally creating the shrine. People come to make offerings to a goddess who, just as a Sumerian Goddess, will not promise you anything, but will, if she feels inclined, watch over you, take care of you, create miracles for you.

The religion of Santa Muerte is older, and in many ways more grown up than anything offered by the church.

The people worshiping Santa Muerte have faith in her because she represents a truth -we all die.

The Priests say: the people are confused, Jesus alone promises life eternal but the church closes its eyes to the inconvenient record of its own history; to so many it feels as if heaven has already closed its gates to those of the wrong religion, wrong sexuality, to the criminals and the insane; to anyone already outside the beauty and order of heaven.

Santa Muerte, like Ereshkigal before her, offers cognition. It feels better to know her, to be friends with her, rather than to turn away and agree with society that one is already damned.

In Britain, sometimes you may find a shrine, but they are not so vibrant and 'living' as the one to Santa Muerte.

I particularly like the image of Santa Muerte dressed in black, a wide brimmed hat and a cigarette hanging loosely at the corner of her mouth. (a shrine in Iglesia de la Piedad, Tepito)

In Britain we have shrines dedicated to The Virgin Mary.

The Chalice well at Glastonbury (Glastonbury itself) is a shrine too.

There are remains of Romano-British shrines.

People visit Stonehenge as if it is a shrine, and likewise the various circles and standing stones.

But there is nothing there except what you bring to it and the reconstruction and the bronze plaque.

The processions that once took place at Avebury and Stonehenge and remain as part of the Catholic religion, became after the Reformation the Lord Mayer's show.

Street theater may at times capture something, transport people to the space between the mundane and the sacred.

Death is almost a sin now, people die of cancer because they didn't take care of themselves and didn't have the will to fight.

In our, very Plato-esque culture we we are forced to be rational. Death cannot have his or her shrine, instead Terry Pratchett has become death's scribe and to speak as Death's friend, for Death has no priest.

Terry Pratchett has become the keeper of a sort of shrine to DEATH by personifying death in his Disc World books, as a figure not so different to Santa Muerte -an entity that isn't loving or malicious, just is...