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  • Ignacio J. Ceja

Santa Muerte Devotional Series - La Flaquita

Updated: Apr 21, 2022

La Flaquita means The Skinny Lady, a nickname for Santa Muerte. Sure, she's skinny, but does it mean something else?

Santa Muerte, or Santísima Muerte as I first learned her name, is a popular folk saint in Mexico, whose veneration has spread far and wide. I won’t go into her history as it has been covered quite adequately in several splendid books, including the first English language book on the subject that I ever read, Devoted to Death: Santa Muerte, the Skeleton Saint by R. Andrew Chesnut.

I originally published this post on December 16, 2017, before the Winter Solstice. I have done some editing to the series, but I have allowed it to reflect the time period in which it was written.

The line between the old solar year and the new is like the line the separates the air outside your home from the air inside your home. And it takes a special deity to walk that line.

There are many different ways of calling on and working with Santa Muerte. When I began to seriously work with her, I wrote a devotion that I could say at her altar every day. I’m sharing that devotion with you.

Ave La Flaquita, She who walks between the Worlds.

Ave La Hermana Blanca, She who gives me peace of mind.

Ave La Huesuda, She who strengthens me.

Ave La Niña Santa, She who heals me and keeps me healthy.

Ave La Bonita, She who loves me.

Ave La Madrina, She who prospers me.

Ave La Negra, She who protects me.

Ave La Santísima Muerte, She who blesses me throughout life, and will greet me at life’s

end. Bendita sea.

Eight lines. Neither difficult, nor flowery, but very significant. The first seven lines each uses one of her nicknames. As with all things, it's best to start at the beginning.

Ave La Flaquita, She who walks between the Worlds.

With the winter solstice approaching, this seems to be the perfect time to begin this series. La Flaquita, also called La Flaca, means The Skinny Lady, and is one of the nicknames for Santísima Muerte/Santa Muerte. I’ll switch back and forth between these two names indiscriminately throughout this series. Since this is the first article in this series, I’ll briefly talk about nicknames here. In Mexico, Santa Muerte has numerous nicknames, and at first, one would think those to be merely a sign of affection or in this case, The Skinny Lady, a play on her appearance. However, there is more.

Some ancient cultures had a taboo when it came to powerful beings, and especially calling them by name. Speaking a being's name, even casually, summoned it. And when it comes to feared and powerful forces, death certainly makes the list, particularly when it starts with a capital ‘D.’ Using a nickname enabled communication without fear of summoning the force being discussed. But there’s another reason for some of Santa Muerte’s nicknames. The names allude to special qualities revealed in her nature.

Back to the winter solstice, and La Flaquita. The winter solstice represents the cycle of death and rebirth. The winter solstice is a liminal event, a between time, similar to Samhain. The old solar year ends, and the new solar year begins. The line between the old solar year and the new is like the line the separates the air outside your home from the air inside your home. And it takes a special deity to walk that line.

As a force who moves between life and death, being in between is something Santa

Muerte knows all too well. As such, she is the patron to all those who walk between

worlds, literally or figuratively. People who walk between life and death, justice and

criminal activity, public and private lives all fall under her patronage. These are our police officers and firefighters, security personnel and prison guards. These are the people who, unfortunately for the rest of us, make their living on the other side of the thin blue line. These are the celebrities and those members of the LGBT community who have to separate their lives between the public and the private.

La Flaquita, The Skinny Lady, She who walks between worlds.

I would like to conclude by saying it’s important to remember that when we talk about Santa Muerte's nicknames, we may be talking about different aspects of her character, but we are still addressing one Santa Muerte. As we explore the nicknames from the devotion, she will reveal different parts of herself. Some people may choose to work with one part more than others, and traditionally she is referred to by the different colors of her robe, but she is a singular being. Because, as the Universe, "Uni-verse, one song " as Dr. Wayne Dyer used to say, cannot be divided, neither can Death.

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