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  • Ignacio J. Ceja

Santa Muerte Devotional Series - La Bonita

Updated: Apr 21, 2022

The Pretty Girl? Sure she's loving and giving, but she's not opposed to waylaying a straying partner, either.

We’ve now come to the fifth line in the Santa Muerte devotion:

Ave La Bonita, She who loves me.

La Bonita means the Pretty Girl. This is a nickname of affection for Santa Muerte. There is a strong, reciprocal relationship between the Pretty Girl and her followers. We experience her giving nature as loving, knowing full well that everything returns to her in time. We do not fool ourselves about this; rather, having a special relationship with her helps us to come to terms with what Dr. Wayne Dyer called “our appointment with destiny.”

When I wrote this line, I specifically had La Roja in mind. On my altar, La Roja takes center stage.

I’ve referenced the three-robe tradition a few times during this journey through the devotion. This refers to Santísima Muerte as she wears either her white, red, or black robe. I have also mentioned that Santa Muerte is a singular entity; however, this is an apparent dichotomy to her nature. While in each robe, she has different areas of focus, different perspectives, different behaviors. She can sometimes appear to be a completely different being altogether. Remembering that she is one, singular being while acknowledging all her different robes is the nature of this dichotomy. She is a multiplicity, and she is one. Bear in mind that we are also composed of different beings all at the same time. You and I are spiritual beings and physical beings all at once, dichotomies in our own right.

While Santa Muerte’s three-robe system is traditional, a separate system based on candle colors exists. This system is well illustrated in Andrew Chesnut’s book Devoted to Death, where it serves to organize the book’s chapters. In this system, gold is used for money, silver is used for success, green is for legal matters, purple is for healing, etc. My first Santa Muerte encounter, on that fateful San Antonio trip, was with a silver Santa Muerte. I find both robe systems useful, and so I work with each of them.

However, in terms of the three-robe system, La Roja has everything well in hand. The Red Robe handles everything to do with the human condition, the physical nature of life. She was originally called on for love, to bring new love, or to bring back wayward love, particularly straying husbands or boyfriends. Eventually, her influence spread to other areas.

It is La Roja who heals, who brings money, and who helps people get along with each other. She does not deal out justice; however, that falls to the Black Robe. She is will deal out discipline out of love, like a mother reining in a disobedient child. But even in this regard, she limits herself. The Saturnine influence of discipline again, largely falls under the domain of the La Negra, the Black Robe. In her chastising, the La Bonita goes after the wayward out of love to bring them home.

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