Who Is Santa Muerte in Mexican Culture?
Santa Muerte originates from Mexican culture, but it’s a saint that’s famous beyond this country. Now, you might be wondering – who is Santa Muerte?
It’s a female deity whose name we can translate as “Saint Death.” Some call it the Lady of Holy Death, and this deity represents the underworld. We can trace the deity’s origins to the ancient Aztec empire stationed in today’s Mexico. They called her the Lady of the Dead or Mictecacihuatl. Her portrayals often included a skull for a head and a skeleton for the body.
Santa Muerte was present but didn’t attract much attention until the last several decades. The cartel wars in Mexico seem to be behind a major increase in those who worship the Lady of the Dead. Today, you can see tattoos featuring this saint worldwide. If you are thinking about getting a Santa Muerte tattoo, here’s what you should know about this cult!
Different Opinions around Santa Muerte’s Cult
In modern Mexico, Santa Muerte received the first place where followers could worship her in 2001. After that, the cult progressed quickly, and the estimation is it has over 10 million followers according to R. Andrew Chesnut, Ph.D. in Latin American history and professor of Religious studies. Of course, a vast majority is in Mexico, but believers in the United States and Central America can also be found.
You’ll often hear cartel wars led to this cult’s popularity. Christianity is strong in Mexican culture, and an increase in criminal activities caused gang members to call this saint for assistance. Although its public image could be better, Santa Muerte gathers followers from all groups and classes.
It’s true that some criminals worship this saint. But you’ll find the cult has followers among homosexuals, single mothers, and members of the poorest communities. Santa Muerte gathers those looking for hope.
Even if the cult has some aggressive members, the Mexican society sees Santa Muerte as a personification of death. Therefore, many Mexicans turn to her to celebrate passing from life to death. Instead of fearing or worrying about death, Santa Muerte helps people embrace it as inevitable. Mexican culture considers death as a passageway to another state of existence, which is why Santa Muerte plays an important role there. This saint doesn’t reject anyone for reasons like being poor, belonging to a minority group, etc. Instead, she gives comfort to those who need it and hope to those who didn’t get it from other sources.
Santa Muerte Tattoo Meanings and Designs
You’ll get different opinions on the Santa Muerte tattoo meaning depending on who you ask. Most agree that it’s a way of showing your dedication to the Lady of Holy Death and asking her for a favor. That favor is usually protection, as many go with these tattoos to seek protection from supernatural forces.
The person who gets this tattoo believes that powerful forces gather to protect them from unwanted actions. It could include preventing them from doing stupid things and stopping something stupid from happening to them. Some decide for these tattoos to get protection from incidents like being a part of the robbery and getting shot accidentally.
Here are some other opinions on what Mexican Santa Muerte tattoos mean:
- Getting or staying in touch with the dead. If you get this tattoo, you become a vessel for supernatural forces. But that doesn’t mean you’ll be possessed by a demon. It rather indicates that these forces will enter your body to advise you or assist with performing specific tasks. Alternatively, some believe these tattoos make it easier to communicate with those who passed away.
- Success and victory. It’s not only about protection, but also assistance in different activities. You’ll even find many members of the Mexican criminal culture believe that this tattoo helps be triumphant over the rival cartel members. The idea is that Santa Muerte will help you outsmart and defeat your enemies in any way possible.
- Courage and strength. Santa Muerte body art presents a strong woman who can transfer that strength to the tattoo wearer.
- Spiritual growth. If you went through a big transformation, you could use this tattoo to signify what you’ve become.
- Wealth and money. Apart from money, you could consider health or anything else your wealth. You go with this tattoo to ask for sheer abundance. Some even believe that this body art will grant you help from supernatural forces to win the lottery.
Santa Muerte Tattoo Designs
If you plan on getting a Santa Muerte tattoo, you can choose from different designs. Here are some interesting suggestions to consider and help you prepare for your next piece:
- A black and big sleeve tattoo. You’ll need an artist who’s an expert in black and gray tattoos. The stylist will take 2-3 sessions, but the result will be an impressive tattoo.
- Small forearm tattoos. It doesn’t have to be a big body art piece for Santa Muerte to leave a strong impression. A skeleton instead of the head is a must to ensure the tattoo looks scary.
- Butterfly approach. Some consider this the version for females. Santa Muerte is featured with a girl’s face instead of a skeleton. Butterflies can look playful and ensure the tattoo doesn’t look that scary.
- Colorful and sexy. Nobody said the Lady of the Holy Death couldn’t look sexy. You can ask the artist to use colors to portray the upper part of her body. Combining provocative clothes and strikingly long hair while ensuring she looks powerful can result in a beautiful and unique tattoo.
- Large back tattoos. If you are a true follower of the cult, you can make the tattoo look scary. Using a skull and skeleton hands to portray the Lady of the Holy Death praying is a great touch for a back tattoo. Adding some flowers like roses can make the entire motive more feminine.
Once you check the Santa Muerte tattoo designs and pick your favorite, it’s time to schedule a consultation. Pick an artist who has similar work in their portfolio, or go with someone whose style you appreciate. Make sure to discuss the details of the process and get all details straight. That will ensure the artist can focus on the body art piece and put in their best work to deliver a stunning tattoo!