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"Devoted To Death" -- in "books"

Even though this is my "books" tag, Santa Muerte gets the userpic because this review is all about her!

"Devoted to Death: Santa Muerte, the Skeleton Saint" is the book I wanted to write, but R. Andrew Chestnut, professor of Religious Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, beat me to it. Darn people who don't have to spend years away in central Asia! Chestnut was going to write a Guadalupe book (his wife is Mexican) but he got sidetracked when he saw a glass-encased candle with La Flaca on the side. This took him and his family on many journeys, some of which I'm glad he took, and not me. Tepito in Mexico City is as dangerous as they say, and I'm a little too cautious to go to isolated shrines on the border.

This book came out this year, so it mentions the very good Santa Muerte documentary (Netflix has it), as well as all the most recent pop culture mentions. There is, for instance, a movie by an Evangelical Christian that is meant to warn against Santa Muerte but instead is P.R. for her. (Must find.) He also got lengthy interviews with both Santa Muerte priest David Romo (now incarcerated for kidnaping) and Dona Queta, owner of the original Tepito shrine.

Chestnut arranges the book in chapters named after the colours of the Santa Muerte candle, white for belief, red for love, green for justice, etc.

While it's inevitable that narcotraficantes and other thugs appear in his book, he neither minimizes their presence among the more law-abiding faithful nor makes it appear that Santa Muerte is primarily a saint for the drug trade. She comes across instead as a love goddess gone generalist, to whom anyone may pray for anything because she treats everyone equally. Interestingly, many of the things the believers Chestnut interviewed repeated things that I'd come to believe through my own unverified personal gnosis (UPG), such as that Santa Muerte doesn't like coming for the soul of someone bound for damnation.

There is also a very nice bibliography.

Santa Muerte gives this one five tequila bottles out of five.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 16th, 2012 06:10 pm (UTC)
Huh, cool. Worth checking out?
Jan. 16th, 2012 06:34 pm (UTC)
Five tequila bottles out of five!
Jan. 16th, 2012 06:45 pm (UTC)
I misread it as one out of five. Oops. :)
Mar. 18th, 2012 03:20 am (UTC)
I've been meaning to say, thanks for posting this! I haven't heard of this book through any other source, and I'm looking forward to reading it when I have the time.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


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