It’s been more than a week since the last light of the Santa Muerte altar candles winked out, but we’re still feeling the warmth.
On Halloween night we had decided to devote the last few hours of the night, along with the first few hours of All Saints’ Day morning, to working an altar for Santa Muerte. We offered people a chance to have a candle lit for them and got busy with the planning.
I’ve been working on a Santa Muerte oil to be added to the permanent Candlesmoke store shelves. After combing through several versions of the recipe I had drawn up, I got all of the oils, roots, and herbs together. On the altar, that Sara and I set up on Halloween morning, I mixed up a finished version of the oil. That first bottle was to be used for each of the altar candles that needed to be lit that night.
Building on my recipe for the oil, we started chopping, grinding, and pulverizing solid resins, leafy flowers, roses, herbs, and roots. This was to be the basis for our incense offering, as well as a nice herb mix to roll each candle in before lighting them.
The entire house started to be fumigated with the scent of fresh roses, freshly ground up rose petals (almost a pound), and rose essential oil. After leaving the house for only a minute (to see what the altar room looked like from the street) and then coming back in, we were immediately greeted with the warm, rich scents that were starting to climb into every room.
We wrote out individual petitions for each of the people taking part in the altar lighting. After this we carved each person’s name and petition into their candle, before oiling them up and rolling them in our freshly made herb mix. Each petition was placed under a small glass candle holder and their candle was placed inside the holder.
We offered chocolate, tobacco cologne, Florida water, fresh cut roses, fresh water, tequila, tobacco, and incense made from what was left of our herb and resin mix. We lit special candles to honor Santa Muerte, as well.
At 11:35pm on Halloween night we lit each candle. We spent the next 40 minutes in silent meditation and prayer as the candles burned into the new day. The first three hours of All Saints’ Day (12:30am – 3:30am) were spend further tending to the altar.
The next day we examined the altar, all of the candle burns, and paid our further respects and attention. We headed into the backyard and started getting together wood for our All Saints’ Day fire. It became serendipitous in our planning that we were able to dispose of the previous day’s petitions in a very appropriate and spiritual way. We kept the fire going for a few hours, watching over it, talking, and letting the light of the day slowly disappear.
Just as the sky was indicating that All Saints’ Day was turning into All Saints’ Night we read each person’s name, saying “We wish this to pass for _______,” and then lay their petition in the fire. Each one curled up against the hot coals and we watched as the wisps of smoke wafted up through our giant oak’s branches and into the darkened night sky. After the last petition had been taken away we warmed ourselves by the fire for another hour. It was beautiful!
It was a really special Halloween/Samhain/Dia de los Muertos/All Saints’ Day for us both and we definitely plan on doing more of these shared altars in the future. The feedback was tremendous! It really made us feel like we’re woven into a tight knit family of truly great people. Our most sincere “thank you very much” goes out to everyone who participated in this night and made it the success that it turned out to be.