Sunday, January 26, 2014

The New Orleans Chapel has a new website! Currently most of the information here has been transferred over to get the site up and  going. Whether I continue to post here or not remains to be seen, but be sure to visit for the latest updates.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

La Negra Pose, 3 of 3

In the three-robed system I was taught and practice, there is a very specific set of guidelines on how to arrange the three statues of La Blanca (the white), La Roja (the red), and La Negra (the black). These guidelines reflect the lore I received about her and the hierarchy within the paradigm of the three-robed system. First, it should be noted that not everyone is called to work with all three robes, and most people work more with La Blanca and La Roja, La Negra being reserved for those who have been trained to handle her dangerous power. Some people only work with one robe, some two, and some all three. However, which ever way it works out, there will always be one robe that becomes the dominant robe for that person. It may have something to do with a person's personality, the spirits a person has around him/her, or any number of variables that only Sanstisima herself can see. In any case, she is the one who chooses, not the other way around. She will always be the one who chooses who she'll work with, which robe is the dominant robe for a person, and which work she'll pick up and do. The devotee merely has to look for the signs.

In the case that someone is chosen to work with all three robes and La Negra is the dominant robe, she is placed in the middle, with La Blanca on the right and La Roja on the left (these refer to YOUR right and left as you face the altar). If someone only works with La Negra and one of the other two, La Negra is always going to be on the Left.

La Blanca, being the purist of the three, must be covered with a white cloth anytime a person works with La Negra.

A strong word of caution: La Negra is very hot, ferocious, wild, and dangerous. She brings with her disease, tragedy, and the spirits of those who have died in horrible ways. Working with her requires regular cleansing baths and periodic blessing of the Amparo. It's best not to try to work with her unless you've received training from an experienced teacher.

See the attached photo for an example of the arrangement with all three robes.

Photo by Steven Bragg

La Roja Pose, 2 of 3

In the three-robed system I was taught and practice, there is a very specific set of guidelines on how to arrange the three statues of La Blanca (the white), La Roja (the red), and La Negra (the black). These guidelines reflect the lore I received about her and the hierarchy within the paradigm of the three-robed system. First, it should be noted that not everyone is called to work with all three robes, and most people work more with La Blanca and La Roja, La Negra being reserved for those who have been trained to handle her dangerous power. Some people only work with one robe, some two, and some all three. However, which ever way it works out, there will always be one robe that becomes the dominant robe for that person. It may have something to do with a person's personality, the spirits a person has around him/her, or any number of variables that only Sanstisima herself can see. In any case, she is the one who chooses, not the other way around. She will always be the one who chooses who she'll work with, which robe is the dominant robe for a person, and which work she'll pick up and do. The devotee merely has to look for the signs.

In the case that someone is chosen to work with all three robes and La Roja is the dominant robe, she is placed in the middle, with La Blanca on the right and La Negra on the left (these refer to YOUR right and left as you face the altar). If someone only works with La Roja and one of the other two, La Roja will be to the left of La Blanca, but to the right of La Negra.

See the attached photo for an example of the arrangement with all three robes.

Photo by Steven Bragg

La Blanca Pose, 1 of 3

In the three-robed system I was taught and practice, there is a very specific set of guidelines on how to arrange the three statues of La Blanca (the white), La Roja (the red), and La Negra (the black). These guidelines reflect the lore I received about her and the hierarchy within the paradigm of the three-robed system. First, it should be noted that not everyone is called to work with all three robes, and most people work more with La Blanca and La Roja, La Negra being reserved for those who have been trained to handle her dangerous power. Some people only work with one robe, some two, and some all three. However, which ever way it works out, there will always be one robe that becomes the dominant robe for that person. It may have something to do with a person's personality, the spirits a person has around him/her, or any number of variables that only Sanstisima herself can see. In any case, she is the one who chooses, not the other way around. She will always be the one who chooses who she'll work with, which robe is the dominant robe for a person, and which work she'll pick up and do. The devotee merely has to look for the signs.

In the case that someone is chosen to work with all three robes and La Blanca is the dominant robe, she is placed in the middle, with La Roja on the right and La Negra on the left (these refer to YOUR right and left as you face the altar). If someone only works with La Blanca and one of the other two, La Blanca is always going to be on the right.

La Blanca, being the purist of the three, must be covered with a white cloth anytime a person works with La Negra.

See the attached photo for an example of the arrangement with all three robes. This is also considered the "natural pose" for when the dominant robe has not yet revealed itself.

Photo by Steven Bragg

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

“Punishing” La Muerte?

Steven Bragg

I’ve had more than a few people ask me about this lately, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on a particular matter. Some people say, and this was even included in my original teachings from my teacher, Nick, that if you ask Santisima to do something for you and either she doesn’t do it or she’s being really slow in acting, you can take away her things (scythe, hands, offerings, etc.) and hide them until she comes through with what you ask. Then you give her things back to her and keep on going as normal. I’ve heard of several variations on this, including making her face the wall, turning her upside-down, putting her in a dark closet, and so on.

Now, I understand that this is an old practice, and similar actions can be found all throughout the world, including folk Catholicism and the African Diasporic Religions. I’ve seen people do it, and I’ve even done it myself. Twice. Once with a Lwa of Haitian Vodou, and once with Santisima Muerte. Both times ended disastrously for me. It took two times of being punished by the spiritual beings I thought I was punishing to realize what a stupid practice it is, especially when you try to do it with very old and very powerful beings.


Practice however you wish, but my experience has been that although you might get what you ask for (or not!), you might also get something you didn’t ask for and don’t want. Choose with care.

The Chapel makes it to Univision

The New Orleans Chapel of the Santisima Muerte was recently featured in a story by Univision. Check out the link below:

http://noticias.univision.com/primer-impacto/reportajes-de-impacto/video/2013-11-19/conoce-mas-sobre-la-santa-muerte

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Safeguards with La Muerte

One of the several reasons I strongly suggest people approach la Santisima Muerte within her Catholic context is the issue of safeguards that have evolved over time within that spiritual context. La Santisima Muerte, being a manifestation of Death, is not a fluffy, all-loving being. She has just as much, if not more, of a rough side to her as she has a compassionate one. Never forget that dealing with her is dealing with the antithesis of what we currently are, which is living beings, and her primary role is to reap the souls of those who die and guide them to where ever they need to go. Her home in the physical realm is the cemetery, and the only permanent denizens of that queendom are those who no longer have living, breathing bodies. We living folks cannot spend all our time in the cemetery or in the presence of death, or we run the risk of making that leap of no return sooner than we’re supposed to. And if a person spends a great deal of time dealing with La Negra, the black robe, it’s highly recommended that regular cleansing baths be administered, as hers is the most corrosive robe of the traditional three.

Within her traditional Catholic system, there have come about a few safeguards that help keep her devotees and workers safe from her energy and the host of dead that accompany her. First is petitioning her and treating her like a Catholic saint. Doing this calls on her more benevolent side, and she’s more likely to be forgiving and understanding of those who have no formal training with her. For those who step into the realm of spiritual work with Santisima, included but not limited to cleansings, lamp work, and brujeria, there’s the amparo that I’ve written about before, usually employing St. Michael the Archangel. The amparo is never a bad idea for devotees, however, it is essential in safely working with her for oneself or clients. Then there’s service to her sister, the Virgin of Guadalupe, who can be petitioned anytime La Muerte becomes upset or too hot for someone.


Those who choose to remove Santisima from her traditional Catholic setting do so at their own risk. Already I’ve seen where some have tried and failed, abandoning their supposed service to her and getting rid of her statues after an unfortunate incident or not getting any results at all. This is one tough lady who will only tolerate so much. She can be fickle and unpredictable, and no one, not even her most favorite of devotees or workers, are spared her wrath when she becomes agitated. It’s times like those when these safeguards are the most important. Service to la Santisima Muerte comes with an “at your own risk” caveat. Tread carefully.