santa marta dominadora

This photo from the late 1800s served as the inspiration for the classic lithographs of Santa Marta La Dominadora and, in Benin, the entire conception of the deity Mami Wata:

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Previous to the above photograph being taken, Santa Marta has always been portrayed as a white woman dressed as a typical saint with a dragon instead of snakes.

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The photograph, which was widely distributed across Europe, and into both West Africa and the Caribbean, was actually of a Roma (offensively referred to as “G*psy” at the time) woman or at least someone pretending to be a Roma woman.

This is an excellent example of real, cross-cultural syncretism.

Santa Marta la Dominadora, at least in Afro-Caribbean religions, rules over a type of trabajo (working) called amarres. Amarres are dominating love spells, spells that bind someone to love another person against their will. They tend to be the kind of trabajos and obras most requested of professional readers, rootworkers, and bruj@s. Personally, they are taboo to me so I don’t go anywhere near them, but I respect people who can make that happen.