Images, video and text by Joanna Ebenstein, founder of Morbid Anatomy
This Halloween, the tourist center of the Mexican city Mérida hosted its popular Paseo de Animas, Parade of Souls. At the very same time, far out of town on the border of Cementerio Xoclán another very special parade was going on: the 6th annual procession in honor of La Santa Muerte, literally saint or holy death, a folk saint popular in Mexico and the Mexican diaspora taking the form of a female grim reaper.
The event attracted proud representatives from shrines and temples devoted to "la flacita"--or "The skinny one," as she is sometimes affectionately known-- from all around Mexico. They shut down the traffic of the busy road for a paraded lovingly hand crafted life-sized statues of Santa Muerte dressed in her finest gowns, wigs and crowns. The procession included hundreds of people carrying their own Santa Muerte statues by hand or, on occasion, in the flatbed of their pickup truck or affixed to their motorcycles. It was accompanied by fireworks and an ardent mass in her honor, as October 31 is one of her feast days. A few blocks away, a local esoteric shop set up a stage and a large collection of multi-colored Santa Muerte statues to oversee a series of weddings. Later in the evening, they serenaded by a mariachi band.
Video above and mages below tell the story far better than words; all were captured on from our recent trip to Mexico a few weeks ago for Morbid Anatomy and Borderline Project's Day of the Dead trip.
Hope you enjoy!
Joanna Ebenstein is a Brooklyn-based writer, curator, photographer and graphic designer. She is the creator of the Morbid Anatomy blog, library and event series, and was cofounder and creative director of the recently shuttered Morbid Anatomy Museum in Brooklyn. Her books include Death: A Graveside Companion, The Anatomical Venus and The Morbid Anatomy Anthology (with Colin Dickey). Her work explores the intersections of art and medicine, death and culture, and the objective and subjective.