Category: folk catholicism
St. Martha Altar Service Begins Tonight: Steady Work, Fair Pay, Balance of Power, Peaceful Home, Domination
This work begins the night of July 29th, the feast day of St. Martha, but there are several different modes of different lengths running concurrently here, so you absolutely can book late, as long as you see slots still available for the service you’re interested in.
St. Martha in the Bible
Famously depicted in the Bible as getting stuck with all the cooking and cleaning while her sister Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to him teach, St. Martha is the patron saint of servers, cooks, domestic workers, housewives, and those in the hospitality industry – those who are behind the scenes making important things go even when nobody notices.
Her devotees will call on her for intercession when they need steady work, especially in these fields, or when they are having difficulty with their work, for instance if pay is slow in coming or a boss or manager is being unfair. She’s often called on to help with peace in the home, as well, as an extension of her association with the domestic sphere.
St. Martha the Dominator
Some legends have her leaving Bethany for France after Christ’s death and resurrection. William Caxton’s 1483 English translation of the Golden Legend tells how she tamed an infamous monster through her confidence in the power of God, her faith in the sign of the cross, and her skill in using the domestic tools with which she was familiar and comfortable.
And this was no garden variety baby dragon. It was really more of a sea monster, half beast and half fish, the offspring of the infamous Leviathan and some Galician beast. It was bigger than an ox and had the strength of a dozen lions (or bears, take your pick). It regularly sank ships and ate people.
Martha, being a badass, made short work of the beast by tying it up with her girdle (which can be understood in context as her belt). She didn’t need a sword or armor.
These extra-scriptural legends account for much of her fame and reputation as a patron saint. She is called on for assistance by those who need to get the upper hand in any kind of relationship in which they find themselves “at the bottom of the totem pole.” In conjure and in the folk traditions of Latin America, she’s earned the title of St. Martha the Dominator, and she’s often called on when women want to dominate a man.
But in this role as dominatrix, she is also petitioned to help employees get better treatment from their employers, for instance, especially if they are household employees like kitchen servants or nannies. So she is a great ally for all types of situations in which you are the underdog, or you might be taken for granted, or there’s a built-in power imbalance in a situation.
In orthodox Roman Catholicism, she is also the patron of dietitians, hemophiliacs, housewives, landlords, waitresses, servants, cooks, and women workers.
I’ve heard folks say she’s helped them with sibling issues in their family, like jealousy, or manipulative attention-grubbing, or rivalry. I’ve also heard her called on by people facing difficulties in managing their households because of strife or poverty; along with St. Joseph, she is a wonderful ally if you have a lot of mouths to feed and you are running short of money and resources to take care of them all.
My St. Martha formula is created from this sort of three-dimensional perspective of St. Martha rather than focusing only on her role as a dominator, and the same is true with this service I’m offering. While it’s suitable to use if you’re asking her help in getting the upper hand with a boss or returning a straying spouse, it’s also suitable to use if you’re setting lights to honor or thank her, if you want to invoke her aid for something specific, or if you’re seeking her help for something more general like patience or pragmatism.
Even when the difficulty is internal rather than interpersonal, St. Martha can help. If, for instance, you need help accepting the fact that right now in your life, you have to be waiting tables if you want to be able to stay in this town and have a shot at an acting career down the road; if you’re struggling with disappointment, envy, or resentment related to your current station in life; or if you need help accepting the things you cannot change while you’re figuring out how to change the things you can, then St. Martha can be a very strong ally for you.
Learn more about the service and the available options at the Seraphin Station shop.
Keys & Crossroads: St. Peter Community Road Opening Service Begins Tonight
Learn more or book now at Seraphin Station.
Saint of the Month: St. Martin of Tours / San Martin Caballero
November’s saint for the Saint of the Month Box is St. Martin of Tours, aka San Martin Caballero, whose feast day in the Roman Catholic calendar is November 11th.
He was a 4th century bishop in Tours but had once been a soldier, and this is how he’s almost always pictured in the art of Western Christendom – a soldier on horseback cutting his cloak in half to clothe a beggar. He had a reputation for miracles even while he was still living, and he was one of the first non-martyred saints to be venerated so widely.
Officially, he’s the patron saint of beggars, the cavalry (and equestrians generally), innkeepers, soldiers, and geese, and he is invoked against poverty and alcoholism.
In popular practice, however, especially in the Latin American tradition, you’ll find his image in restaurants, hotels, bars, shops, and anywhere else where the proprietors rely at least in part on strangers/passing travelers for their income. You’ll also find his image — and especially his horse’s horseshoe — serving as a fairly broad-based good luck token in all kinds of contexts. Folks call on him when they need a job, pray for his intercession to protect them from evil and change their bad luck, carry his package amulet or bundle when they’re gambling, hang his image in their homes for general luck and prosperity, even build a shrine with his horseshoe when they need a better place to live (and they are sure to give the shrine pride of place when they move into the new digs!)
You can get your very own cool box of San Martin Caballero stuff in the Saint of the Month box for November at Seraphin Station. They usually contain something you don’t already have because I’ve collected a ton of cool stuff over the course of my lifetime working with saints and spirits, and they will usually contain some item or product that you can’t get elsewhere or otherwise.
Learn more or order your Saint of the Month box now at Seraphin Station.
A 16th Century Catalan Prayer of St. Cyprian
This is direct quotation of a small portion of a larger published work which the author has released under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license (see Smid 309). This prayer, recorded in the Catalan language and transcribed and translated by Smid in the cited article, comes from the Inquisition records housed in the Barcelona City Archives, from the 17th century trial of a hermit named Jacinto Garcia (Smid 291). Garcia had it from a small book published in Barcelona in 1557 (Smid 291). I applaud the generosity of Bernadett Smid in making this work freely available to non-academics via open-source publishing.
I hope nobody will abuse her generosity by reprinting the fruit of her intellectual labor without proper attribution. That would be pretty shitty.
From Smid, Bernadett. “Piety, Practices of Reading, and Inquisition: A Catalan Saint Cyprian Prayer from 1557 and Its Context.” Acta Ethnographica Hungarica 64(2), 279–310 (2019), pp. 295-297. DOI: 10.1556/022.2019.64.2.2.
The Prayer of St. Cyprian, and the Gospel of St. John, and the Seventy-two Names of Virgin Mary, and the Seven Verses of Saint Bernard, and the Psalm Quicunque Vult.
As Cyprian was converted to our Lord God and became well instructed and informed in holy Catholic faith and knowledgeable in the holy scriptures as well as in holy theology, burning in holy fire with love and benevolence towards our Lord God Jesus Christ and towards his brothers in Christ: and since Cyprian was aware of the malice and envy of the devil, and the great malefices put on others by bad men and women who are fellows of the devil and with evil deeds torment and pester the servants of God in different ways; Saint Cyprian, knowing the great malefices that are used today, orders this prayer to be said through three Sundays, and three times each Sunday.
And it has such a virtue that all the people who carry it with good devotion, or read it or have it read, will never be defeated by the devil, nor the enemies can harm them. And if a pregnant woman takes it with her, with the help of these holy words she can be sure that she will not miscarry, and if she goes into labour, and has this read to her or has it in her possession, as soon as she delivers her child, the creature will not be deaf, dumb, paralytic, lunatic, or possessed; the prayer is also effective against all poisons and sorcery, malefices and enchantments.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen. I, Cyprian, servant of our Lord Jesus Christ, put my sense and my humble self in front of the high and sovereign and praiseworthy God Almighty, (who), seeing my malice, as well as the evil deeds that I used to do, sent the power of the devil upon me but with his name defended me; and because of my great sin, it did not rain, nor did the earth bear fruit; and pregnant women miscarried, and fish and swimming beings and thus, all the beings of my malice were bound, and that is why now, my God, I beg you for your holy love that you break the clouds and all the bonds and send rain on the earth, so that all the trees bear fruit and the fish of the sea are liberated together with all the beings that are placed in the sea, and that no evil spirit can dwell in them, nor in those men or women who carry this writing with them or read it or have (somebody) read it[.]
And besides, I ask you, Lord Jesus Christ, who created Adam in the earthly paradise at the beginning of the world, and created the great flow (of water) on Earth from which the four rivers Pishon, Gihon, Tigris, and Euphrates were born, from which the whole world gains water: save me from the malevolent devil and that no evil spirit or bad thing can harm this servant of yours or any of his things, nor visible or invisible enemies can harm him or do harm to him, and you Lord, veritable God, defend him and keep him from all evil, and by your holy virtue, the highest God, may all his things be saved and his person be good, and may all parts of this servant, from the upper part of the head to the feet, inside and outside, be holy and right and without injury; and all the good holy angels of the nine orders named Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Principalities, Dominions, Powers, Virtues, and Archangels help, guard and defend him[.]
[M]ay they be free from all evil and may their persons, their thoughts and their deeds and firmness benefit from all good, and you, Lord, free them from the power of the devil and its ambushes; and this, by your holy name praised in heaven and on earth, this prayer was taught by you, Immanuel that is God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, may you be with me, your servant, all the time. And if it pleases you, place your Holy Mother over that man or that woman who carries it with them or reads it or has (somebody) read it, or keeps it in their house or within their goods.
[A]nd if it pleases you, Lord, to liberate and release your servant and his belongings by the prayers of the angels mille millia millium, which are the verses said in order that all the ambushes and temptations of the devil which are on earth cannot harm him in any place where they are used used to be some bond or machination, nor any blasphemy made can harm him, by means of the prayer of our Lord God Jesus Christ and the prayer of all saints; and by the prayer of all the saints, and by the humility of the pilgrims and by the goodness of Adam, and by your angel of Abel’s sacrifice and by the chastity of Joseph, and by the goodness of Rachel, and by the faith of Adam and by Isaac’s bonds that you, Lord, restored, and by Melchisedech’s obedience, by the affection and humility of Moses, and by the prayer and glorification of the prophet Zechariah, and by the persistence of Jeremiah, and by the prophets who do not sleep but praise you, Lord, continually, and by the height of the heavens and the humility of the seabed and by the bases of the abysses and by the holy revelations and by the tongues of the four holy evangelists, may they help me, and by the voice of the angels, and by the sermons of the holy apostles, and by those seen by the prophet Moses, and by the brightness of the lights, and by all the servants of your saints, and by your Holy nativity, and by your holy baptism, and by the most holy voice that sang above you saying “This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased, whom all people fear”, and I beg you for those five thousand men that you satiated in the desert, and for you, Lord Jesus Christ, who turned water into wine, and raised Lazarus from the dead.
And you crossed the sea and stopped the wind, and walked with your friends on the water, you were crucified and buried and resurrected on the third day, and by your miraculous ascension, by the sending of the Holy Spirit, by the consolation of the pilgrims, and by all those who love you, Lord, may all the machinations which are or will be done against this servant of yours or in his goods or to his belongings, and may all the bonds be destroyed.
And you, Lord, defend them by the present holy prayer and by the virtues that have been written here by me, Cyprian, by the commandment of Jesus Christ who created all things, and by the holy words that you, Lord, said on the cross when you died in a cruel way to save the human genealogy. I beg you if it pleases you that if any machination or bond is made of gold or silver or something else, it cannot harm the person of this servant of yours, and if any woman reads this prayer or has it read or keeps it in her house, or takes it with her to the field or home, wherever this prayer could be, may all the bonds that were made by some Christian or lay or Saharan or another person be destroyed by the holy virtues said above, neither visible nor invisible enemies can harm him or do harm to him, they will be saved in every way, and said bonds will be released by you, omnipotent Lord.
And by your holy name praised and glorified: either in stones, or in water or in the river or in the sea, or in the choir of birds, or of animals, or of fish or in the hairs, above or below, in the countryside, in the vineyard or on a tree, or in a lamp or on the road or outside the road or elsewhere. Whether should them be made of metal or glass or any other thing from which these bonds or spells are made, may them be dissolved and undone, so that they cannot harm this servant of yours, nor to his property, goods and belongings, neither bad spirits nor bad men, nor bad women, nor visible or invisible enemies, nor any bad thing can harm him, nor harm him in the soul, neither in the body, nor in his goods, nor in the house of this servant of yours; and they may be freed and acquitted of evil deeds by virtue of this holy prayer, and by your holy glorified names of God Abraham, of God Isaac, of God Jacob, and you, Lord, give them your holy love and keep them in it by the names of Saint Michael, Saint Gabriel, and Saint Raphael.
And by all nine orders of the angels. And by all the prophets, Jeremiah, David, Isaiah, Daniel, Micah, Ezekiel. And by all the patriarch saints, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And by the twelve Apostles, Saint Peter, Saint Paul, Saint Andrew, Saint Thomas, Saint James, Saint Philip, Saint Bartholomew, Saint James, Saint John, Saint Simon. And by the four evangelists, Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John, and by the prayers of the blessed angels and by all the holy martyrs, Saint Stephen, Saint Lawrence, Saint Vincent, and by the saint Confessors, Saint Sylvester, Saint Dionysius and all his companions, by Saint Martin, and by the doctors and saints, Saint Augustine, Saint Ambrose, Saint Jerome, and by the crown of the virgins, Saint Mary, Saint Thecla, Saint Eulalia, Saint Catherine, and all the virgins that sound the glory of Paradise before You, Lord.
And by the sacrifice that you, Lord, made to save humanity, and by the holy names, by the holy prayers that are in the book of the Mass, this servant of yours and all his goods will be acquitted and released from all evil eyes and bonds, from all the ambushes and temptations of the evil spirit, and from all their visible and invisible enemies, and by your holy name, Lord God, Father and Son and Holy Spirit. I, Cyprian, on behalf of our Lord God Jesus Christ and by virtue that will not start or end, and by your virtuous majesty I expel the evil spirit, and no bad people will have power in any way wherever this prayer is placed, and [they shall] be acquitted, that no one can harm them, and be saved from that, like the three infants, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who cannot suffer any harm in the house, nor any evil enemy can harm them, and you, Lord, defend them by the prayers said above, and so many maledictions will come upon the evil spirit that may you, Lord, destroy it and put it in the darkness and from now on it will be there so that it does not do any evil; by the voice that was heard in the Mount Sinai that was enlightened by your holy clarity and by the holy host that the priest consecrates in the Holy Church and by your precious blood that you, Lord, shed for all those who have this holy prayer, may they be saved from all dangers forever and ever, Amen.
Saints Clare and Philomena Candle Services and Novenas Begin Tonight
*While I normally ask that clients book one service per order and check out for separate services separately, in this case, since Saints Clare and Philomena are so closely associated in some traditions, I’m offering a bundled discount if you book both services together. To get the discount, you have to check out with both services at the same time.
Saint Clare Candle Service & Novena – Clarity, Wisdom, Insight, Clairvoyance
Have lights set and worked on my St. Clare altar in a nine-day community altar work service beginning the night of August 11th, the feast day of St. Clare of Assisi. There is some wiggle room and you can join up after the work starts as long as you see that there are still spots left and it doesn’t say “sold out.”
I will begin a nine-day novena and chaplet recitation to St. Clare on this same day, focused on petitioning her intercession for your stated intention, which will be included daily in my novena and chaplet work for the duration of the nine days along with appropriate offerings.
St. Clare is the patron saint of television, goldsmiths, and eye diseases. In folk Catholic practice, she is also petitioned for clear vision, literally and figuratively. Her devotees call on her when they need insight into a situation affecting their lives or guidance on how to make a difficult decision. Spiritual workers and diviners also call on her for aid in developing their clairvoyance.
In some houses and temples of vodou, St. Clare is served as the lwa Klemezin Klemay, who aids her devotees by helping clear away bad luck and negativity, and who is known to grant clear insight and the gift of dreaming true. I do serve Klemezin and have for many years, so I will accept petitions related to service of this lwa.
Learn more or book your spot at Seraphin Station.
Saint Philomena Candle Service & Novena – Lost Causes, Mental Illness, Health, Committed Love, Better Business
Have lights set and worked on my St. Philomena altar in a nine-day community altar work service beginning the night of August 11th, her feast day. There is some wiggle room and you can join up after the work starts as long as you see that there are still spots left and it doesn’t say “sold out.”
I will begin a nine-day novena and chaplet recitation to St. Philomena on this same day, focused on petitioning her intercession for your stated intention, which will be included daily in my novena and chaplet work for the duration of the nine days along with appropriate offerings.
Known as the Wonder Worker, she’s invoked by devotees for all kinds of things when other measures have failed and it seems pretty much hopeless. Some call her the patron saint of the impossible. In that respect she’s become something of a companion saint to St. Jude in contemporary folk practice.
Those who have formed a relationship with her have sought and received her help with everything from the conversion of unbelievers to fertility problems, healthy pregnancy and delivery, cure of mental illness, attraction of a spouse, and the sale of real estate. She’s said to have effected miraculous cures of injuries and illnesses ranging from heart defects to cancer. But officially, she’s the patron of babies and children and is considered the patroness of the living rosary. Padre Pio called her the Princess of Heaven.
In some houses and temples of vodou, St. Philomena is served as the helpful and pleasant lwa Filomez. She helps those who make their livings as market sellers, removes negativity and evil from the surroundings, grants the ability to have prophetic dreams, and aids her devotees seeking love. Some consider her related to Erzulie Freda, while others do not, but while the two lwa might appear to have a good bit in common, Filomez is not as demanding or haughty as Freda and doesn’t have to be handled quite as “carefully.” I do serve Filomez and have for many years, so I will accept petitions related to service of this lwa.
Learn more or book your spot at Seraphin Station.
Sacred Heart with Thorns Nicho Altar Ornament
Hand-cut, hammered, and shaped ornament is made with reclaimed tinplate framing this tiny print reproduction of an antique holy card featuring the Sacred Heart.
After filing and sanding sharp corners and edges, I embellished it from my stash of vintage, antique, and/or reclaimed fabrics, metals, beads, and trims, including resin rhinestones, vintage lace, a satin rose, a vintage plastic faceted heart charm in a brass frame, and a tiny little curl of dried vine for the crown of thorns.
This piece and others available at Seraphin Station.
How Folk Saints are Born
Santo Niño Huachicolero emerges as part of modern-day “folk bandit spirituality” in the state of Puebla in Mexico as the patron of huachicoleros – those who steal gasoline. His iconography is adapted from that of Santo Niño de Atocha, the Infant of Atocha, as shown here in this Instagram post if I can get the embed thingie to work:
The Catholic Church is obviously not happy about this, but this is vernacular religion in action, in direct response to social and economic realities when the official modes of religious observation and praxis do not meet the needs of the people. Thus Santo Niño Huachicolero joins the ranks of figures like Jesús Malverde and Santa Muerte who serve to fill those gaps.
Jesus Malverde Community Altar Service starts tonight
Have a vigil light set and worked on my Jesus Malverde altar in community altar work servicebeginning on Monday, May 3rd,which serves as the feast day ofthis folk saint.There is some wiggle room and you can join up after the work starts as long as you see that there are still spots left and it doesn’t say “sold out.”
Jesus Malverde, also known as the Angel of the Poor or the Generous Bandit, is afolk saint who is said to have lived and died inlate 19th/early 20th century Sinaloa, Mexico. His reputation as a sort of Robin Hood figure began before his death, as the legend has it; he targeted the rich, redistributed the money and goods he stole to the poor, and basically spent his life on the wrong side of the law but by all accounts on the right side of morality.
While many details of…
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