It's very important that the tattoo shows the traditional image of Our Lady, so it must have the features characteristic for La Santa Muerte, which means a skull or a woman's face with makeup on Dia de los Muertos, with a hood and a long coat covering everything except the face and hands, holding a scythe and the globe in Her hands. We shouldn't confuse the portrait of the Most Holy Death with the currently popular drawings of women in South American make-up or with the Mexican depiction of a female skeleton in a long dress and hat with feathers - La Catrina, who has a rather satirical meaning. Of course, not everyone who has a La Santa Muerte tattoo is a devotee of the Angel of Death, but even then the Most Holy Death blesses and protects such a person, despite that the tattoo was made with no intention of faith.
Tattooing is an ancient art form that developed independently in many different parts of the world during prehistoric times and has developed over time into a huge industry, bringing in billions of dollars each year. The main difference between getting a tattoo in the old days and today is, first of all, the intention of the tattooed person and the meaning of the tattoo. In the past, the entire process of creating a tattoo was a ritual. This was done by specialized people who were initiated, often the shamans of a given tribe. The tattoo itself, its pattern, size, technique and ink were of great importance and symbolized devotion to the gods, rite of passage, maturation, killing enemies, profession or combat skills, belonging to a specific group, spiritual strength or royal status. The images were carved under the skin with primitive tools such as thorns and bones.
In ancient Rome, the first Christians tattooed inky images related to Jesus the Good Shepherd, the sign of the fish or chi ro (monogram composed of the letters of the word "Christ") on their bodies. The tattoos showed a deep faith and were supposed to show religious identification to others. They were a symbol of the social exclusion to which the believers of Christ were subjected, belonging to the so-called "other" - as well as slaves, gladiators and criminals. Christians were persecuted and killed for refusing to worship the Roman emperor. By tattooing symbols of Christ on their bodies, they thus contradicted imperial authority. With time, Christians abandoned tattooing and abandoned this practice completely at the beginning of the Middle Ages. However, tattooing has always been and should be the visual language of the skin in which religion, identity, culture or important events are preserved forever.
For the devotees of the Most Holy Death, engraving the image of Our Lady on the skin is entrusting themselves to Her protection. It's an act of worship towards La Santa Muerte in the heart of the devotee, of what the symbol is the sacrifice of his own blood.
Each devotee has one or more tattoos of Our Lady. Its size, artistic value, colors or lack thereof do not matter much - for the devotees the purpose of the La Santa Muerte tattoo is the most important. And the purpose is to dedicate ourselves to Our Holy Lady.
Making a tattoo is a sacrifice rely on giving your own body, skin and blood to Our Lady (your own, because La Santa Muerte doesn't accept human or animal sacrifices, or the blood of other people or animals).
Like other spirit beings, the White Lady sometimes wants sacrifices of the devotees' blood in the form of tattoos on their bodies. The blood flowing down the image of La Santa Muerte engraved in the skin is an offering of blood to the Holy Lady. The devotee's blood flowing over Her image during the tattooing is a blood sacrifice for La Santa Muerte. Traditionally, La Santa Muerte is considered to have accepted our sacrifice, accepted our gift, when bright red blood flows from the tattoo with Her image.
The entire process of tattooing allows the devotees to connect more perfectly with the Holy Death through the mystery of the blood ritual. Getting a La Santa Muerte tattoo is a ritual act just by the very fact of getting it. Forever engraving the image of La Santa Muerte in the skin is in each case a ritual dedication to the protection of the Most Holy Death.
However, there are also rituals for the consecration of the Holy Death tattoos. How many devotees, so many types of ritual, but traditionally, the consecration of the tattoo of the Most Holy Death consists of some basic elements.
First, you need to prepare your skin for a tattoo with the image of the Most Holy Lady. The day before the tattoo session, rose petals, lily petals, a few drops of good perfume, a little tequila or mezcal are traditionally added to a small amount of spring water. The vessel with water should be brought to Our Lady's altar (if there is no altar, then the vessel should be placed in front of the image of La Santa Muerte, it may even be printed on a piece of paper) and light three white candles for Her. Then a piece of material is wetted in water and the liquid is slowly rubbed into the tattoo.
When preparing the water and rubbing the body, turn to La Santa Muerte, describing your intention and asking Her for blessing. As the issue of making a tattoo, and even its appearance, are an individual choice of the devotee, it's best that the words addressed to White Lady flow straight from the heart. Likewise, before and during the tattoo session, you can pray to the Holy Death, talk to Her, or turn to Her, for example, like this:
"Most Holy Death, Archangel of Death, my Holy Patroness, I offer You my skin and my blood as a proof of my devotion, a symbol of our covenant. Your image on my body will show my faithfulness. I entrust myself to you, my Patroness Holy Death. Bless me on the paths of my life. Amen."
For many devotees, the La Santa Muerte tattoos serve as a portable altar when they are traveling or in a place where there aren't any. The image of the Most Holy Death on the skin will be always and everywhere with the devotee no matter what. Of course, you can worship the Angel of Death anywhere, but many appreciate the opportunity to turn to the image of Our Holy Lady during prayers.
A tattoo is also a public testimony of the glory of La Santa Muerte with your own skin.
Getting a La Santa Muerte tattoo on your skin can be a way to fulfill a promise given to La Rosa Blanca, to fulfill your part of la Promesa. Very popular among the devotees is the promise to make a tattoo with Her image, made to La Nina Blanca in return for fulfilling the request. The devotees turn to the Most Holy Death with intentions such as improving their material situation, healing, bringing a lover, the husband's return, success in business, giving birth to a child or finding a job. The creation of a tattoo can be the fulfillment of the promise given to La Santa Muerte.
Mateusz, La Santa Muerte Poland