The Earth and the Matrix in which we live are a product of chaos and have been formed as a seemingly perfect living space for the human race. However, through the work of the chaotic Master Trickster, it has become the home to the Fallen Ones — a host of haunting figures that seem to manifest from dark archetypes. One particular character that plagues men in their dreams is the Dark Lady — Lady In Black or Lady Death. The Latinos call her Santa Muerte – a female folk saint whose popularity in Mexico and the United States is spreading rapidly; from being practically unheard of at the end of the 20th century to being worshiped by several million people today. Why is this occult-based subset of Catholicism, also known as Holy Death, so popular? Tonight on Ground Zero, Clyde Lewis talks with podcast host and occult researcher, Laura Lavender about NEVERMORE.
I have often been told that I talk about things that most people haven’t even heard of before. Needless to say, this is something that I am very proud of. I am also the type of person who believes that a lot of people have never really taken the time to realize the world is bigger than what a compartmentalized media can report.
The Earth and the matrix in which we live are very much a product of chaos and have been formed as a perfect living space for man. However, through the work of the chaotic Master trickster, has become the home to the fallen ones — a host of haunting figures that seem to manifest from the Dark archetypes Carl Jung often talked about.
One particular character that plagues men in their dreams is the Dark Lady — Lady In Black or Lady Death. The Latinos call her Santa Muerte.
Last week I just finished watching the Netflix series called Fall of the House of Usher. It is so terrifying and disturbing — I wanted to watch it again as it modernizes the stories of Edgar Allen Poe. There are many stand-out episodes, but one in particular is Masque of the Red Death where a mysterious woman, who we realize is a shapeshifter shows up at an elitest orgy and warns everyone that something bad is about to happen.
I thought it was clever to have a woman be the harbinger because this is an example of a constant terrifying character that has been seen by many men and women.
The shapeshifting hag, the woman with the charred face of death. The entire vision of Lady Death is often veiled or hooded to hide a hideous death mask. Some say that her face is gaunt and gray like that of a corpse while others see her as a demon with a face that has been charred in the fires of hell.
In Fall of the House of Usher, Lady Death is a shapeshifter that is named Verna — an anagram “Raven” that we learn is a dark symbol that represents a minion of Satan. There have been many literary depictions of the Lady in Black or Lady Death where she is accompanied by a raven. She is a shapeshifter and can appear in different ways to different people.
In 1903 In Southwest Virginia — a Lady in Black was haunting the streets for 9 days in Roanoke.
All of the reports were almost identical, an apparition of a woman dressed totally in black, a long black dress, black coat, black veil, covering the lower part of her face, and a black turban-like headdress.
Her face was haggard and pale. looking as if it had been burned or was decaying.
The ghostly figure would follow men home late at night and of course, the men would try shooting at her but the bullets would do no harm.
According to legend, the Woman in Black typically appeared to men who had misbehaved, cheated on their wives, or committed some moral transgression.
Sometimes a Woman in Black was said to hit, pummel, or knock a man down to the ground or “slap him to the earth with a swish of her phantom garments” as retribution for his sins. If continued, the man would be killed at the location where he committed his act.
It was said that her alleged appearances in Roanoke had the salutary effect of keeping married men home with their wives and families rather than going out each night. One account claims she appeared suddenly to four men of the Disciples of Christ church in Tazewell, Virginia, and scared them so badly they all ran home.
Prominent politicians and businessmen were sometimes rumored to have been visited by a Woman in Black. In March 1902, it was claimed that H. S. Wetherald, editor of the Alma Journal; Frank Griggsby, the area’s leading carriage dealer; and Ashton C. Shallenberger, then the congressman of Nebraska’s Fifth District, and later governor of Nebraska, had been “spooked” by a Woman in Black in Alma, Nebraska.
Apart from the legends of the woman in black is another story of the “Hamburger Lady” — which inspired what is believed to be a cursed song performed by the 80’s band Throbbing Gristle.
Blaster Al Ackerman, a well-known subversive writer — wrote a letter about the Hamburger Lady, a woman who had been burned in a car accident.
Blaster Al Ackerman who was from Portland, Oregon wrote In 1978, a very horrifying tale concerning a woman he looked after who was so horribly burned that she was little more than a quivering charred lump of flesh kept alive by tubes and various “medical advances.”
Her body from the waist up was severely burned and technicians and others had been busily inserting tubes into her body that he compared to a seared meatloaf.
Screwloose Lauritzen and I have been alternating nights with her, unrelievedly. If you put a 250-lb meatloaf in the oven and then burned it and then followed that by propping it up on a potty chair to greet you at 11 pm each night, you would have some description of these past two weeks.
Which is to say the worst I have seen since Viet napalms. When somebody tells you that there is a level of pain beyond which the human mind cannot retain consciousness, please tell them to write me. In point of fact, this lady has not slept more than 3-5 minutes at a stretch since she came to us – that was over two weeks ago and, thanks to medical advances, there is no end in sight; from the waist (waste?) up everything is burned off, ears, nose etc – lower half is untouched and that, I guess, is what keeps her alive.
I took one guy in to help me change tubes and he did alright, that is alright till he came out, then he spotted one of the burn nurses (pleasant smiling zombies) eating a can of chile-mac at the desk, and that did it: he flashed on the carpet. It is insane.
The Throbbing Gristle song “Hamberger Lady” can be found on their 1978 album D.O.A.
Saying the song is weird is an understatement and some people who upon hearing it for the first time have been known to have dreams about the Hamburger Lady or have seen her peering in their windows.
To call it a “song” in the traditional sense is perhaps a matter of opinion. The listener is hit by the slow thud of a bass drum, a guitar that churns out arcs of distorted noise, punctuation of guitar feedback and modular synths, a persistent, mournful whine that is hard to place but which turns out to be a sampling of the cry of a duck, and slow eerie tones and blurred voices swimming about in the background, and although the vocals are distorted to the point that they are hard to make out in the gloom, occasionally something like “burned from the waist up,” “the tubes,” or “she’s dying” will emerge from the murk.
Since the lyrics are very hard to make out other than those ghostly snippets popping from the noise and so fleeting it is hard to know if you really heard that or if your subconscious mind conjured it up from some dark place within yourself.
It stirs up images of a lady who is charred wearing tattered black clothing with tubes running in and out of her body — it certainly is a nightmarish experience — if the song actually triggers the subconscious that manifests the woman.
It gives you the sense that something really bad is about to happen but you are not sure what and have no power to stop it. It really is the sort of “song” that you can only really listen to once, and if the rumors are to be believed it actually has a spooky ability to worm its way into the minds of listeners make them anxious or at the very least cause a potent disorientation that is hard to explain. It is said that listening to the song invites it into your mind–and the Hamburger lady waits in your closet, under your bed, or standing in your window.
Eerie stuff, indeed, and it is hard to know what to make of it all.
Perhaps the Lady in Black is a very powerful darker archetype that is summoned under duress. Your mind can’t help but see the shadowy figure in front of them.
This perhaps is one of the reasons that Santa Muerte has become a popular figure and is a religious Icon in Latino countries.
In Christianity, there is a worldwide syncretism, which brings about a blending of Christian beliefs and darker ritualism that is found in Voodoo, Brujeria and Satanism.
Every religious philosophy has its fanatics and Satanism has always been seen as the extreme scapegoat when it needs to be demonstrated that many people who cannot handle a supernatural world will often lose their minds in the swarm of bad vibrations in an ethereal world already being destabilized by war and the threat of the end of the world.
If you ask most people what the fastest-growing religion in the world is, they’d probably say Islam. However, it could actually be a strange new subset of Christianity from Mexico called Santa Muerte, or Holy Death. Santa Muerte is a female folk saint whose popularity in Mexico and the United States is spreading rapidly; from being practically unheard of in the year 2000 to being worshiped by 10-12 million people in 2014.
Statues and visages of the saint, which appear as a skeleton clad in vibrant robes and carrying a scythe, have popped up all over the world. The religion is popular among a wide variety of people in Mexico, from narco gang members to impoverished farmers, who often pray to the saint for protection. Though Santa Muerte is venerated in the same way as most saints, the Catholic church has condemned the religion, which of course hasn’t had any effect on its popularity.
Before 2001, Santa Muerte was clandestine, with devotees building personal shrines hidden in their closets. But after a woman named Enriqueta Romero unveiled the first public shrine to the saint in the Mexico City barrio of Tepito, it has spread fiercely throughout Mexico, Central America, and Latino-heavy US cities like Los Angeles and Houston.
However, now there are followers of this death cult being found in Japan, Australia, and the Philippines. This death cult is a syncretism or blending of Spanish colonial Catholicism and Aztec beliefs. The beliefs are based in the worship of Mictecacihuatl, the queen of the underworld.
The link to Catholicism is easy to understand, seeing as Santa Muerte worship contains many of the same rituals used at the Vatican, and frankly, there are a number of cultures that worship the personification of death in some form. It can be said that the worship of a dying man on a cross can be seen as a form of cultic death worship—that is why it has been stressed by newly reformed religious sects that the resurrected Jesus should be worshipped and not the iconography associated with the death and bleeding of a savior.
This raises the question of what is the difference between worshipping a symbol of death and the worship of a dying god promising eternal life.
According to José Gil Olmos, a journalist for the Mexican magazine, El Proceso, “the cult of Santa Muerte is the most important popular devotion in the past half-century, with no other devotion growing so fast.”
Estimates of the current number of Santa Muerte devotees “range from 8 to 10 million,” Gil Olmos said.
Tied to violent movements and especially the drug trade, the Santa Muerte devotion has experienced prodigious growth in recent years, drawing a reaction from both political and religious leaders. Many of the latter believe that this new religious movement has added to Mexico’s rise in violent crimes as well as demonic possessions.
But while the roots are murky, the reason why a cult based around death sprouted up specifically in Mexico isn’t particularly hard to understand.
Mexico has suffered thousands of deaths, due to the drug trade. Newspapers splash pictures of headless corpses on the front pages.
Pope Francis denounced the devotion to Santa Muerte, telling the Mexican bishops that he was particularly concerned about “those many persons who, seduced by the empty power of the world, praise illusions and embrace their macabre symbols like the Lady in Black to commercialize death.”
Crows and ravens are traditionally associated with death in a lot of cultures. Owls too which is why you see these birds assayed a lot with Santa Muerte.
The Celtic Goddess Morrigan often travels with crows and ravens and of course, there are Odin’s two famous blackbirds.
Santa Muerte is also seen adorned by roses as well. Did you know that the dead and dead roses have the same smell? The Roses are used to stop the smell of decay, but when they die they give off the sweet pink smell of decay.
This is why during some ghost hunts many ghost hunters have smelled roses or they describe a smell of Cherry Tobacco — or pipe smoke. This is the smell of a decaying corpse.
We don’t talk about the body after death because we don’t like to be reminded of how vulnerable we really are.
But to think that the bleached skull of Santa Muerte, and the decaying face of the Lady in black could most certainly conjure your deepest nightmares.
Whether it be putrefying face, or the intestines eaten away by savage bacteria and bugs, or her eyelids drying out and peeling back like black and dead and withered rose petals The thoughts can embalm us into the most chilling of feat.
Embalming does not prevent decomposition, it only prolongs it.
A reminder of memento mori — everything dies — but does it really?
The Santa Muerte cult and the hostility of the Catholic Church towards its adherents are a clear example of the denouncing of what can be seen as a populist syncretism.
Research has shown that over time, there are populist religious rebellions against dogma that fail to satisfy the needs of those seeking confirmation within their spirituality. They either rebel with extremism or they can subvert established dogma and act as creative spiritual subjects despite the fact that practicing such spirituality can be seen as cult-like or satanic.
This is definitely applicable to Santa Muerte, as the lack of formal beliefs allows poor people, women, and LGBT persons who do not wield any particular power in the Catholic Church to create their own understandings of the supernatural.
Above all, the emergence of such a cult speaks volumes about how world culture is now seeking subversive forces for spiritual satiation and a justification for an increase in extremism and brutality.
Laura Lavender is new to the world of podcasting and relatively new to the world of magick and the occult, but nonetheless, she has a profound interest, respect, and passion for these topics. In addition, she has had interesting experiences involving manifestation, the paranormal, meditation, and lucid dreaming. She credits most of her experiences to switching her lifestyle to eating whole plant-based foods and practicing meditation. Laura will have her podcast, Mysteries Beyond, on the Ground Zero Radio Network on Fridays at 2pm, pacific time.