Offerings are an integral part of the Santa Muerte magick tradition. Offerings are sacrifices we make - in time, in money, in spirit - that help convey to the Santa Muerte how much she means to us and how much we appreciate her help in our daily lives. If you're new to working with the Santa Muerte, you may be wondering about the most appropriate way to make offerings to our Holy Saint Death, or how to discard offerings when they go bad or when you want to make space on your altar for a fresh offering. In Santa Muerte magick, making and managing offerings is relatively easy.
For starters, there are many types of offerings that you can make. The most common way for followers of Santa Muerte to make offerings to her is to place physical items upon an alter carrying her image. Saint Death has many vices, and is known to appreciates several types of offerings. Typical offerings for the Santa Muerte include:
Liquor / Tequila
Perfume / Siete Machos or Florida Water
Incense / Copal
Soda / Coca Cola
The type of offering you decide to make is entirely up to you. It is, after all, the thought that counts. For this reason, I generally advise devotees to make offerings that they themselves would like to recieve. If you do not smoke or drink, then you should not feel obligated to offer cigarettes or alcohol.
To offer a physical item, simply place it upon your Santa Muerte altar. If the offering is perishable, like bread or apples, then you should remove the offering when it begins to show signs of going bad. Flowers should be removed when they begin to wilt, and incense / candles should be removed when they've been used. If you offer cigarettes and cigars, you can either leave them on the altar un-smoked, or allow them to burn like incense on the altar, or actually smoke the item yourself and blow the smoke over your altar image of the Santa Muerte. Many followers who leave offerings of cigarettes and cigars will light the item, take a few puffs and exhale the smoke over their Santa Muerte altar, and then leave the item on the altar to burn like you would a candle or stick of incense.
As a general rule, don't leave open flames unattended. Ever.
For the most part, there's no consensus on when physical offerings should be rotated - use your best judgement. Just because something hasn't technically gone bad, it doesn't mean you can't rotate it off the altar in favor of more fresh offerings. Are you getting bored of seeing an item on your altar? Then the Santa Muerte may be getting bored of seeing it as well.
Most followers will have multiple offerings upon their altars at the same time - it is not uncommon to see bowls of fruit next to bottles of hard liquor on public Santa Muerte altars in Mexico.
Money offered at an altar can be spent on altar upkeep, or donated to the less fortunate. Everything else can be disposed of using the instructions outlined in my post How to Dispose of Magick Trash.
If you are not in a financial position to make regular physical offerings, you can also make offerings to the Santa Muerte in the form of prayers in her name. Many followers offer prayers by reciting the Santa Muerte rosary at their altars. You may also consider volunteering with organizations that help the less fortunate - it doesn't cost more than the cost of transportation and Santa Muerte smiles on any efforts to help the less fortunate.