20 August 2014

Shadow Magick Correspondence Course

Due to popular demand I'm developing a correspondence course in Shadow Magick.  The plan is for it to be available starting Samhain (October 31st) of this year.  I've got a pretty decent start on it, but I need your help in deciding what should be included in the course.

The course will start of with the basics of shadow work and the psychology of it, then move on to how the shadow can be used in magick.  There will be a lot of work on identifying your own shadow and figuring out how to work with it, as well as what to do once you've gotten a handle on it.  What I need to know is what specific concepts and practices folks want to learn about.

What do you folks find most interesting about shadow magick?  Is it the personal exploration and psychic strengthening?  Is it the application of shadow work in magickal practice?  The dark side of more traditional works?  Something else entirely?  I want to know.

You can let me know either by commenting on this entry or via email: emily [@] e-carlin.com

I really, really want to hear from you!

14 August 2014

Santisima Muerte

If you go into any well stocked grocery store in the Western US you've probably seen the 7-day saint candles that are always in the Mexican foods aisle.  If you've gone into a store that carries Hoodoo supplies or a Latin grocery store you've probably seen a lot more of them.  One of the saint's whose candles you may find is Santisima Muerte - Holy Death.  This saint is a controversial figure that is rather frowned upon by the Catholic Church but is ever increasing in popularity amongst the people. As a Latina who worships death, I figured it was high time I investigated the Mexican folk saint Santisima Muerte. 

Santa Muerte altar

Santisima Muerte seems to have originated as the personification of the darker side of the divine feminine.  As such she's often seen as the photo negative of the Virgin Mary.  She may also have her origins in the Aztec goddess of the Underworld, Mictecacihuatl.  Traditionally Santisima Muerte is the patron saint of a "good death" and has the ability to provide protection and justice.  These days her area of expertise seems to have grown to include bringing back wayward lovers, healing, protection from violence, revenge/cursing, and even bringing good fortune.  It seems like whenever any spirit/saint/deity/etc. gets popular enough that figure slowly becomes the one you petition when you want anything at all.  This seems a little odd to me.  I, personally, wouldn't call on a death figure for luck or healing, and would stick to calling on her for protection and justice.

The practices around petitioning her are pretty much the same as working with any other saint.  It's the typical build the right altar, give the correct offerings, say the right prayers type of thing.  The main difference with working with Santisima Muerte and working with other saints is the general caution of working with any death figure: they mean business so don't petition them casually and be sure to keep your promises - they are rarely flexible or forgiving.

I always have reservations with working with any figure that's steeped in a culture and religion that isn't mine.  Santisima Muerte is definitely a Catholic flavored figure and that's particularly clear in her established orisons and novenas.  Yes, I could re-write these traditional prayers to have a more Pagan flavor and thus be more natural to me but it seems disrespectful.  She's also very Mexican, originating in Southern Mexico and being popular primarily amongst Mexicans and Mexican Americans.  This makes me pretty hesitant  to bring her into my very eclectic and multicultural practice.  However, she is a figure of growing popularity that is spreading throughout Latin America and is already bending and flexing to fit different local cultures.  I think that perhaps if I were to petition her in Spanish using religiously neutral language, using traditional tributa (an offering of an unglazed clay pot filled with water containing 7 coins and 7 white flowers left at the gates of a cemetary), she might be amenable to working with me.  I'll have to do some divination to see whether that's a good idea or not before I give it a try.

If you're interested in Santisima Muerete I'd highly recommend Santisima Muerte: How to Call and Work with Holy Death by ConjureMan Ali.  It's a concise little chapbook that nicely summarizes the current legends and practices surrounding Santisima Muerte.  It's also super cheap if you get the ebook version.