Short Fuse for Super-Exalted Mars Protection and Victory Talismanic Materia

In the wee hours of 3 March at my location, Mars will be super-exalted – perfectly within the very degree of his exaltation in Capricorn. He’s on the ascendant and conjunct Venus, and the ruler of the ascendant is in a strong first house position. The waxing moon is applying sextile to Venus and then Mars. 

All of this is in place for less than 30 minutes.

Exalted is nice. Super-exalted is even better, and the necessary astrological conditions for being able to make talismanic materia when Mars is super-exalted are *way* less common.

So you can understand why I need at least a rough “headcount” of how much *stuff* I need to prep in this very narrow window to capture this very powerful moment in the celestial “climate.” I have to prep as much as possible in advance and I can’t add a bunch of stuff at the last minute 🙂

The result – talismanic materia magica you can use in future workings for courage, victory over adversaries, and protection from calamities like violence, fire, crime, and accidents.

Talk about a fiery wall of protection. This super-exalted Mars is no joke.

Available in oil or candle form.

I will make a few extra of everything if I can, so there might be opportunities to get these later, but if you want to guarantee that you get one, I wouldn’t wait.

(There will almost certainly be some oil not already spoken for this time tomorrow. Might not be able to say the same about the candles, though.)

Read more or reserve yours now at Seraphin Station.

3X Rewards Program points right now, too.

The Crux Angelica of St. Thomas Aquinas

I send out various holy cards, prayer cards, and printed talismans with orders, and one of them is this Angelic Cross/Crux Angelica of St. Thomas Aquinas. The text on it says you can find out more at SeraphinStation.com, but after a customer wrote to ask about it, I realized the link is kind of buried and I probably need to make it easier to find. So I’m working on that, but if you’ve been wondering about the Crux Angelica, here you go, copied over from Big Lucky Hoodoo.

St. Thomas Aquinas did not like storms.

It’s no wonder. The story goes that when he was a little boy, lightning struck the tower in which he lay sleeping with his nurse. His mother ran in, frantic, at the noise. Thomas was unharmed but his little sister was dead, as were the horses in the stable below.

Later in life, he suffered terribly during a thunderstorm as he spent the night in an underground cave, and to help allay his dread, he is said to have traced the letters of the Crux Angelica, or Angelic Cross, on the cave wall.

Carried and recited with faith and devotion, it’s said to protect from sudden death, defeat in battle, disease, imprisonment, accidents while traveling, witchcraft, demonic possession, death during childbirth, and yes, storms.

The Latin translates as follows:

The cross to me a sure salvation.

The cross it is I ever adore.

The cross of my Lord with me.

The cross my refuge.

St. Thomas, the so-called Angelic Doctor, was one of the greatest minds of medieval Europe. It’s impossible to overstate how much his works of scholastic philosophy influenced Catholic doctrine. Due to his studiousness and incredible mind, he is also the patron saint of students and is known as the Angel of the Schools.

Read more about his life in this work by Fr. Placid Conway or in St. Thomas Manual: or Devotion of the Six Sundays in Honor of the Angel of the Schools, St. Thomas of Aquin.

October Protection/Reversing Community Altar Service (begins Thursday the 21st)

This service focuses on goals related to protection (both spiritual and physical), deflecting negativity, and in cases where someone is aiming something at you personally, returning that crap right back to the sender. 

Your name and petition/intention will be added with those of other participants to what is basically a protective container spell – a sort of spiritual and energetic fortress, if you will, with watchful and powerful guardians encircling you. I work these community rites on my altars for a month, from (just after) the full moon to full moon, with special attention to pertinent moon phases, astrological transits, holy days, etc. as applicable. Participants receive a link to my client calendar detailing the work over the course of the month and are invited to a private Discord chat for participants.

There are Pay What You Can options for this community altar service.

In many cases, this service lends itself especially well to the construction of protective charms, amulets, mojos, pakets, etc., and you can opt to have me make and send you one.

You can also opt to add a “care package” tailored to your situation, to have me ship you hand-selected and hand-blended spiritual baths and other supplies useful your particular situation.

Learn more or book now at Seraphin Station.

Double rewards points now through Oct 24th.

internet update + Protection/Reversing community altar service

Just got internet back yesterday afternoon after the latest round of the neverending dance with what must be the worst ISP in North America. So even casual, irregular readers probably know the chorus to this tune by now: “I’m working on getting caught up” and “sorry I’m posting this so late.”

I’ve been wanting to offer something like this for a while, and I finally have a space cleared to dedicate an altar to it full-time. This way, I can offer it as a regular, ongoing service every month that people can drop into as the need arises without having to book anything.

There are Pay What You Can options for this community altar service.

Purpose/Goals

This service focuses on goals related to protection (both spiritual and physical), deflecting negativity, and in cases where someone is aiming something at you personally, returning that crap right back to the sender. The nice thing about reversing work is it just bounces things back – if there’s nobody to bounce anything back on, no harm done, but if there is, well, they set it in motion and your conscience is clear.

Your name and petition/intention will be added with those of other participants to what is basically a protective container spell – a sort of spiritual and energetic fortress, if you will, with watchful and powerful guardians encircling you. I work these community rites on my altars for a month, from (just after) the full moon to full moon, with special attention to pertinent moon phases, astrological transits, holy days, etc. as applicable. Participants receive a link to my client calendar detailing the work over the course of the month and are invited to a private Discord chat for participants.

If you have questions about any of this work, you can ask them and I’ll answer them in our private forum, where you can also trade ideas and perspectives with other participants if you want to. For instance, you might want to time a spiritual bath to coincide with a planetary day/hour or astrological event or saints’ day. I will occasionally make suggestions for things like this, too, if there’s anything interesting happening in the astrological or liturgical calendar.

At the conclusion of the service, I will ritually deploy or disperse the materia magica used in the working as appropriate to your petition/situation. 

Please note that community altar work services do not come with individual readings/reports, though I will post at least one photo of the work to the Discord “forum,” which you’ll receive an invitation to after you book.

In many cases, this service lends itself especially well to the construction of protective charms, amulets, mojos, pakets, etc., and you can opt to have me make and send you one.

You can also opt to add a “care package” tailored to your situation, to have me ship you hand-selected and hand-blended spiritual baths and other supplies useful your particular situation.

Read more or book your spot at Seraphin Station.


Community altar work services focus on a particular goal or area and have a limited number of “seats” for each working. They are a great compromise between big workings open to any number of folks (inexpensive but with little customization available) and hiring a worker to do 100% custom, private services just for you (completely tailored to you but often considerably more expensive since the costs of time and materia magica are not being shared by more than one person).

Pokeweed (phytolacca Americana)

Pokeweed root, aka cancer root, chou-gras, inkberry, poke salat. If you’re familiar with this plant, phytolacca Americana, you probably either love it or hate it. It can arouse strong feelings and incite epic comments-section battles – about whether you should eat it, and if so how to prepare it, and whether you can/should use any part of the plant except the youngest leaves and shoots — even whether it’s safe to handle the fresh root without gloves and safety glasses.

I’ve heard of Native American tribes using it for love work, but not, I think, in this region. And I’ve heard of people using it for courage, but again, not in this region. Around here, it is and has been overwhelmingly used as pain medicine, esp. for rheumatism, and for uncrossing and protection, and then the young leaves and shoots cooked and eaten as a sort of spring tonic. (Please do not eat pokeweed without doing your research first.)

Historically, the root’s been a prized ingredient for spiritual baths to take off unnatural illness and crossed conditions. But it is true that it’s quite toxic and that some people can be esp. sensitive to the sap, and its bevy of poisons includes proteinaceous mitogens, which I don’t love, so I don’t *personally* use the root in baths for clients. Long tradition of it, though!

The purple berries make lovely ink. The internet says ferment the juice and the ink will be brown but it will stay. But you can get a decent red if you fix it with alum and it will last a while.

Part of A Bayou Hoodoo Herbal.


first draft: 10 Sep 2021


Text and any uncredited photographs © Karma Zain and Seraphin Station, 2020-2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Karma Zain and Seraphin Station with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana)

American beautyberry (callicarpa Americana) grows like mad around here and is immensely popular with the local wildlife. Its leaves repel biting pests. When I take Roo out to go walkies in the pastures and woods here in what feels like the Tick Capital of the Freakin’ World, I stuff lightly crushed beautyberry leaves into my boots and pockets and tuck a couple under her collar to discourage the ticks. It’s not DEET, but it does help some, and around here, every little bit of help is welcome.

The berries are gorgeous, but they aren’t really the best for snacking on raw (for humans anyway). They make a really pretty jelly, though. Here’s a recipe.

I’m positive that I attempted to use them to stain a table once, and I seem to recall waxing it afterwards to help retain the color. I’m not positive, but I think I recall the end result being pretty disappointing – there was doubtless some chemistry involved that I was ignorant of at the time that might have helped fix the color. No luck with making ink yet, either, but I’ll update if I manage a decent batch or come across any new intel on using it for ink/dye.

In this region, medicinal uses have been pretty varied. The Alabama treated fever, malaria, and rheumatism with it [1], the Seminole used the roots and bark to treat snake sickness (characterized by itching skin, among other things) [2], and the Choctaw used the roots and/or berries to treat various gastrointestinal problems [3].

I don’t know of any traditional uses for it in specifically hoodoo rootwork, but folks in my neck of the woods make a weak tea with the ripe berries for a facewash, the association being with the “beautyberry” name from what I can gather, and use the leaves to drive away pests of the more figurative type, corporeal or otherwise.

So while it probably won’t ever make an appearance in a fiery-wall type of protection formula, it could easily find a home in lower-key work when you have a welcoming smile on your face but are keeping a side-eye out for any pestiferous or weaselly influences that you want to bar the way against. In fact, if you ask me, there’s nothing fiery about it. It’s a pretty “friendly” plant. If it owned a restaurant, it would smile and hold the door open for you. It just doesn’t take any shit, and if you look all weaselly like you’re gonna be annoying or try to worm your way out of paying the check, it’ll make you feel supremely unwelcome.

Part of the Bayou Hoodoo Herbal project.

Last update: 3 Sep 2021.


Sources

[1] Swanton, John R, 1928, Religious Beliefs and Medical Practices of the Creek Indians, SI-BAE Annual Report #42:473-672.

[2] Sturtevant, William, 1954, The Mikasuki Seminole: Medical Beliefs and Practices, Yale University, PhD Thesis.

[3] Taylor, Linda Averill, 1940, Plants Used As Curatives by Certain Southeastern Tribes, Cambridge, MA. Botanical Museum of Harvard University.

Bushnell, Jr., David I., 1909, The Choctaw of Bayou Lacomb, St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, SI-BAE Bulletin #48.


Text and photograph © Karma Zain and Seraphin Station, 2020-2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Karma Zain and Seraphin Station with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

St. Bartholomew Altar Service & Talisman – Uncrossing, Protection, Cast Off Evil, Spiritual Cleansing, Road Opening

This is a three-day service beginning the night of August 24th, the feast day of St. Bartholomew. 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.”

St. Bartholomew is the patron saint of bookbinders, butchers, tanners, and cheese makers. Some very brief and pretty confusing scriptural references mean he’s numbered among the original apostles, so we don’t know that much about him as a historical figure. But as is so often the case, rich folk traditions have filled in the gaps.

His strong association with knives and sharp things has a gruesome origin – he’s said to have been martyred by being skinned alive – but today he’s associated not just with the literal cutting of things but also with cutting *through* things more figuratively. So his devotees might call on him if they’re undergoing surgery, or if they need to “cut through” a web of lies or obfuscation to see clearly into the heart of a matter.

Folks who work in restaurants, delis, and kitchens call on him as a patron for any number of employment- and career-related petitions, from obtaining regular work to avoiding work-related injury.

You can also call on him for strength and protection when you need to resist the wiles of the devil or free yourself from negativity, evil, crossed conditions, and various kinds of temptation.

During this work, I will be creating an amulet called a St. Bartholomew’s Cross. I’ll make a few extras to offer separately later on in the shop, but if you want to guarantee you get one, you can book this service and add the amulet option, and it will go out in the mail to you when it’s finished (which you should allow at least ten business days’ for from completion of this service).

This cross comes from the Spanish Cyprianic grimoire tradition and is used for uncrossing and protection. Its power has also traditionally been invoked against lightning storms, to help women in labor, to remove the evil eye and crossed conditions, and to help clear the way, opening roads and removing obstacles. St. Bartholomew’s devotees who carry this cross and pray his prayer regularly are said to have the escort of the Virgin Mary as psychopomp at the hour of death to avoid the torment of devils and be guided to heaven.

The handmade wooden cross, which takes several consecutive days to make in a ritual setting with a very specific list of components and ingredients, will come in a hand-sewn bag with accompanying dried herbs. So this is a full-blown, handmade, artisan charm bag or mojo bag type of setup, not just a holy medal and a few grains or leaves slapped into a cheap bag or something like that.

If you join up after midnight my time on the 24th, it’s totally fine – your work won’t technically have started on St. Bartholomew’s feast day in that case, but there’s actually nothing in the old Cyprianic grimoires that says this work has to be done at a certain day/time/time of year. It just has to be done the right way. And the cross has to be made the right way. And since that takes *days,* this altar setup is going to be up and working for some time. 

Read more or book your spot at Seraphin Station.


Thanks to my irreplaceable assistant Sonia for her help with the Spanish research and her input on St. Bartholomew traditions from her family’s neck of the woods!

The Blue Charm: Rustic Hoodoo Amulet Necklace

For this amulet necklace, I’ve basically deconstructed a classic rural Southern-style conjure bag, aka a mojo or toby, and made jewelry out of it.


This is backwoods conjure the way it used to be. It’s miles away from the shiny city general store with imported spices and soaps and fabrics. This is the part of the country where floorwash is made with chamber lye, not ammonia and certainly not Florida Water. New curtains come from recycled worn-out clothes, and those clothes come from recycled flour and feed sacks.

Old barn and field gear provides tiny scraps of leather. Copper, brass, and steel are scavenged from derelict machinery and buildings. Scraps of fabric — saved in an old cookie tin with thimbles and thread — tell 50 years of stories in a square inch: palest blue silk of a once-treasured gown; crisp white poplin once someone’s Sunday best; a thin strip of woven blue and gold once a hair ribbon won at the county fair. Whether passed on or simply moved on, those who once owned these bits and scraps are no longer here. And nobody was listening for their voices before you and I got here. Not everybody can hear them, after all.

This necklace is for those who can – or who want to. It’s for the medium, the storyteller, the card reader, the local historian, for the mad prophet, the family memory-keeper, the soothsayer. It’s for those who live too much in their own heads and those who don’t live enough in theirs, for those who want to remember and those who cannot forget. It’s for magpies of myth, keepers of scraps, and weavers of visions, those who can read the narrative in excavated brick or crumbling beams or rough-loomed fabric remnants. It’s for those who don’t go the long way round to avoid the cemetery at night and who aren’t afraid to slow down and chance hearing whispers in the wind.

Continue reading “The Blue Charm: Rustic Hoodoo Amulet Necklace”

Questions You’ve Asked: Patron Saints Playing Favorites

A client is getting set up with some Law Keep Away work, some of which involves physical items being installed at the front entrance where a St. Michael paket has been living. She wonders if she needs to move/remove St. Michael, whom she petitions for physical and spiritual protection, since he’s “the patron saint of police and general law and order guy.”

What a great question!

Short answer, no. No need to remove St. Michael.

A fixed paket of the type I used to make for clients/customers, when I could still source those detentes for reasonable prices. I haven’t been able to do that since reopening, but I like them very much and I hope I can offer them again one of these days.

Longer answer explaining my rationale: for one, human beings declared him the patron saint of law enforcement – he didn’t proclaim himself that lol… and even if he has shown a propensity for watching out for law enforcement, he certainly hasn’t done so to the exclusion of anyone else. IOW, law enforcement doesn’t have the corner on St. Michael.

Now he is a “law and order guy,” and I would not necessarily expect him to have my back if I, as a devotee of his, were to go out, get fucked up as a rat, and start a fight in a situation that didn’t need a fight, thus causing unnecessary chaos. But a fight for a good cause? Might be a different story – and that might be so even if in the eyes of the law it made me guilty of assault and battery.

IOW, angels and saints are not and have never been especially known for being huge champions of human codifications of law, order, and morality. Or to put it another way, in a standoff, St. Michael would have Valjean’s back, not Javert’s.

But another consideration too: even if St. Michael tended to “take the side” of the person working in the name of human law over another person, working to stay off the radar of some authority doesn’t necessarily equate to being against that authority. I can think of a dozen good reasons off the top of my head to want to avoid being the person an agency or authority focused on that don’t have anything to do with me breaking any laws in my city, state, or country. And I can think of a dozen more off the top of my head that might technically involve some law-breaking but there’s something about the situation, or the system, or the local authority, or the law itself, where the morality of the situation does not match the letter of the law that’s on the books.

And in any case it’s totally possible for me to break the law regularly while still having respect for members of law enforcement and not wanting them to be hurt in the course of doing their job. And to have respect for them but not ever want to see them knocking on my front door 🙂

Now would I count on him to have my back if I wanted to injure a member of law enforcement in the course of doing whatever I’m doing? No. And I would not expect him to have the back of a member of law enforcement who wanted to injure me, either, like set out with that intent. IOW, I think intent matters here, as does general moral orientation. And you know, like Santa Muerte, St. Michael is commonly depicted holding a set of scales or balances in his hand. That’s a reminder in both cases of their roles in weighing the heart or soul of an individual at the personal judgment when that person dies and/or at the general judgment day at the end of time when eternal judgment is passed on everyone who ever lived. And while they might help out with the weighing ritual, only God gets to do that ultimate judging.

Visit Seraphin Station to get a custom-fixed scapular paket to wear, carry, or hang by your doorway.

So it doesn’t actually matter what we people think. We don’t have the final say, we humans, and we are flawed and imperfect and so are our systems and governments. And that is how it can be possible that Santa Muerte is called on to protect both members of law enforcement and those who regularly run afoul of the law in Mexico. It’s not because she just adores cops or she just adores criminals. It’s because she is a champion of those who find they have to live dangerous lives on the margins of society in one way or another, and her perspective is much larger than ours. So with any saint’s. So with St. Michael. We do not have the big picture, but certainly heaven and hell are not being run the same way as FCI Talladega or Folsom Prison 🙂

Jesus Malverde Community Altar Service starts tonight

Have a vigil light set and worked on my Jesus Malverde altar in community altar work service beginning on Monday, May 3rd, which serves as the feast day of this 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 a folk saint who is said to have lived and died in late 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 his life and death are the stuff of legend and as such unverifiable and certainly prone to dramatic embroidery, what’s undisputable is that he has a solid reputation for responding to the prayers and petitions of his devotees, especially those who find themselves running afoul of the law due to poverty and corruption. 

Since the 1970s, he’s gained greater notoriety in the public eye as a narco saint — the patron saint of drug dealers and smugglers — and that is how many folks beyond the borders of Mexico who hear of him categorize him, increasingly so since the 1990s. But to dismiss him as merely a narco saint and his devotees as drug kingpins and criminals is to ignore the lived realities of the faithful in a complex world where things aren’t always so black and white – where sometimes breaking the law is the right thing (or the only thing) to do, where justice isn’t blind, where the distribution of wealth is immoral, where there is government corruption and the police aren’t always on the right side of the law – humanity’s or God’s.

His devotees petition him to have enough food for their children, for safety in dangerous lines of work (including but definitely not limited to smuggling), and to get them out of legal difficulties, as you might expect from a bandit folk saint. But they also tell of how he miraculously cured their illnesses, returned lost or stolen property, even helped them get *off* drugs and get their lives on firmer footing. 

His reputation as a narco saint has blossomed only over the last 40 or so years and not without a good bit of help from the media. His reputation as the Angel of the Poor and the Generous Bandit, however, long predates the sensationalist “narco saint” appellation, and as a folk saint, there’s a lot more to him than this. So it would be appropriate to petition him for pretty much anything related to living a life that is in some way “on the margins” or precarious or dangerous. It would also be suitable to use this service as an opportunity to “introduce yourself” to Jesus Malverde if you’ve been thinking you wanted to learn more about him but haven’t begun working with him yet.

If you are experiencing financial difficulties, you do not have to pay for a spot in the vigil service in order to have your name and petition included in my prayers and offerings to Jesus Malverde on May 3rd. You can simply submit your name and petition via the intake form and in place of the service/order #, type “jesus malverde prayers only.” There is no cost for the prayers-only option, though if you’d like to, you can make an optional donation in any amount you wish to help offset the cost of time and materials used, and in this case, I will set at least a votive light for you to burn for a few hours, depending on the number of reduced rate/pro bono requests I get for this service.

I’ve been doing some sort of pro bono or reduced rate/pay what you can service every month since COVID began to help those who need spiritual help but can’t afford to book private services. And I’m happy to present your petitions and pray for you as part of my own thanks to Jesus Malverde. Remember, when Jesus Malverde answers your prayers and grants your petitions, you should “pay” the saint by making a donation to the poor. Don’t protest that you are the poor and therefore you’re exempt from this duty – there’s *always* someone poorer than you. You must participate in the spiritual economy, which with Jesus Malverde is always already a financial one as well, and approach him with open rather than closed hands. Make sure you keep your side of the bargain!

Please note that community altar work services do not come with individual readings/reports, though I will post at least one photo of the work to the Discord “forum” for clients, which you’ll receive an invitation to after you book your vigil service spot.

Read more or book your spot at SeraphinStation.com.

If you’d like to make a donation to help offset the cost of pro bono and reduced rate services that I provide for folks experiencing income instability and career challenges during this COVID mess, you can do so here. (Offsite PayPal link)

Fiery Wall of Protection community altar service starts tonight

Fiery Wall of Protection community altar service starts tonight at midnight Central time. There is a little wiggle room and can join in late as long as you see that slots are still available.

Read more or book now at SeraphinStation.com.

Community altar work services focused on a particular goal or area and with a limited number of “seats” for each working are a great compromise between big workings open to any number of folks (inexpensive but with little customization available) and hiring a worker to do 100% custom, private services just for you (completely tailored to you but often considerably more expensive since the cost of time and materia magica are not being shared by more than one person).

If you’re interested in seeing a type of service or working that I’m not currently offering, please feel free to make suggestions. Some work I don’t generally perform as group work (stuff like revenge, crossing, and binding – that’s always gonna be 100% custom and private). But it could be I do offer it, only it just so happens that saints’ days kept me too busy this month. Or it could be that I don’t often have clients asking for that type of work so I haven’t focused on it before. So don’t be shy about asking – if I can offer it and am likely to get participants, I probably will, and if I can’t, I’ll at least tell you why and let you know about some other options you might consider.

Chaplet of St. Michael – Angelic Crown Rosary – SOLD

Call on the blessings and protection of St. Michael and the nine choirs of angels with this one-of-a-kind Angelic Crown chaplet, aka Chaplet of St. Michael.

  • Czech glass Pater beads in iridescent blues
  • crystal clear pressed glass Ave beads
  • cast bronze reproduction of an antique Latin American rosary center
  • cast bronze reproduction of an antique St. Michael holy medal

New listing: Vintage St. Dymphna

st dymphna medal (4)
Currently available at Etsy.

This delicate, lightweight necklace features a vintage aluminum holy medal with St. Gerebernus on one side and St. Dymphna on the other. I got the medal from Belgium but it was made in Germany. I can’t date it precisely, but my guess is between 1950 and 1990.

The St. Gerebernus side is in Latin and the St. Dymphna side in English, both saying “pray for us.” It’s one inch long and hangs from a dainty 18 inch silver-tone ball chain necklace, set off with a tiny beaded drop with frosted Czech glass beads in blue-green and bronze.

St. Dymphna is a very popular saint to call on against madness, anxiety, depression, and epilepsy. She’s also the patron saint of runaways and survivors of incest and sexual abuse. She is called on by those who suffer from mental illness and by those who treat the sufferers of mental illness.

Dymphna – whose  name would have been something like Damhnait or Davnet before it was Latinized – is thought to have lived some time between 500 and 720-ish A.D. in Ireland. (The sources and scholars don’t agree and there’s no historical record dating anywhere close to when she would have lived, if she’s even really a historical figure — there’s only oral tradition and legend until hundreds of years later). [*] She fled to Belgium as a young teenager from a very troubled home life. accompanied by her confessor, the elderly priest St. Gerebernus or Gereberne.

The martyrologies are chock full of murderous guys who like to kill totally peaceful Christians in very gruesome ways, but even with all the bloodshed and decapitation and suffering in these annals, St. Dymphna’s father still manages to stand out as one of the biggest ass-hats of them all.

He apparently went a little nuts after his beloved wife, who’d been a Christian, died. Pressed to remarry, he ultimately decided only his own teenage daughter, who so strongly resembled his dead wife, would fit the bill.

Well, incest is gross, but even beyond that, Dymphna had also become a Christian and dedicated her virginity to Christ, so this whole thing was a double helping of nope as far as she was concerned. She and Gerebernus took off for Belgium and hid out at the monastery of St. Martin for a while. But her father caught up with them, had his servants kill the priest, and cut off his own daughter’s head. So that’s why she’s invoked against madness, because she steadfastly faced the madness of her father, keeping her cool in the face of such onslaught, and was martyred in the preservation of her virginity.

Gerard_Seghers_-_Martyrdom_of_St_Dymphna_and_St_Gerebernus
Gerard Seghers – Martyrium des hl. Dymphna und des hl. Gerbert (Martyrdom of St Dymphna and St Gerebernus). Public domain via Wikimedia Commons. Held by Staatsgalerie im Neuen Schloss Schleißheim.

St. Gerebernus is the patron saint of Sonsbeck in what’s today North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.

Epileptics, the insane, and the possessed have been said to receive miraculous cures at Dymphna’s tomb, and in older literature and art especially, she’s portrayed as vanquishing a demon at her feet and is given the title of Demon Slayer. You can’t tell it from modern holy cards these days, but Dymphna is kind of a badass. Just leaving aside for the moment the problems with personifying or even demonizing mental illness, the fact remains that practically speaking, she’s a great source of comfort and aid to many sufferers of mental disorders and anxiety as well as their loved ones who pray for them.

C. Christopher Smith at the Englewood Review of Books put her forward as a fitting patron saint for the #MeToo movement.

Saints Dymphna, Michael, and Benedict are a trio that’s hard to beat when it comes to protection / defense work. Between the three of them, they’re quite the spiritual army and they can anchor and defend the faithful in body, soul, and mind against chaotic onslaught and demonic siege.

For even more info and resources on saints and their lore in folk religious practice, visit The Chapel: Karma Zain and follow the tags.


[*] Sources

The Acta Sanctorum Hiberniae of John Colgan, reproduced at the Ordnance Survey, Dublin. Reflex facsimiles, Irish Manuscript Commission 5, 1947.

Kirsch, Johann Peter. St. Dymphna.” The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 5. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. Accessed 25 Apr. 2020.

O’Hanlon, John Canon. Lives of the Irish Saints, vol. 6. Dublin: James Duffy and Sons, 1873.

Smith, William and Henry Wace. A Dictionary of Christian Biography, Literature, Sects and Doctrines, vols. 1 and 2. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1877.

Resources

Novena in Honor of Saint Dymphna at CatholicSaints.info