Kicking things off, we find out about Tony Kail's background, his research into magico-religious cultures, and how he ended up finding out about and investigating Santa Muerte. Tony details who/what Santa Muerte is and how her origins are shrouded in mystery. He also explains how Santa Muerte is but one of many 'death saints' found in cultures around the world.

This segues into some discussion on Mexican folklore, specifically the story of La Llorona. This leads us into talking about the many Mexican 'folk saints,' how they come about and some of the more famous 'folk saints' such as Our Lady of Guadalupe, Dr. Hernandez, and Jesus Malverde. We talk a bit about how that culture of 'folk saints' can be seen in American celebrity culture. Looking at Santa Muerte, specifically, we find out how the Saint seems to appeal to people who are downtrodden, not necessarily just criminals. While the exact origins of Santa Muerte are mysterious, we do find out how long her presence has been a part of the Mexican culture in contemporary times.

Next we discuss the Mexican drug culture, how massive it has become and how it has adopted Santa Muerte as its proverbial mascot. Tony also share a surprising revelation about how the Mexican police are now also turning to magic as a means of combating the drug cartels' use of Santa Muerte. Given the adoption of Santa Muerte by the drug culture, we find out about the backlash against the saint from both the Catholic Church and the government of Mexico. Tony talks about how the Mexican government destroyed Santa Muerte churches throughout the country. Tony then talks about how worship of Santa Muerte is now spreading to the United States and the Internet.

We then find out about the variety of names given to Santa Muerte as well as the sheer number of emblems and statues of the saint that each have their own 'powers' attributed to her. We also find out how open people are about their worship of Santa Muerte in Mexico and the United States.

Looking at some of Tony's other work, we find out about his research into the magico-religious cultures of America and Africa. Tony talks about his organization has been used to help train first responders who may stumble upon practicioners of these magico-religious faiths. This leads to some discussion on Africa's "war on witchcraft" that has claimed or ruined many lives of people accused of being a witch. We also find out if Tony has ever witnessed anything supernatural connected to these magico-religious ceremonies. Tony shares one bizarre story from a trip he made to Africa. We also find out if he's ever investigated the magico-religious aspects of the Native American culture.

Going down a totally different path, Tony tells us about how he was on an episode of UFO Hunters, looking at cattle mutilations and if they are tied to magico-religious sacrifice. Trying to dispel a pop culture meme, we discuss voodoo and the idea of zombification as well as voodoo dolls. We then talk about the healing practice of Mexican folk magic. This leads to some discussion on how these cultures are slowly making their way into America and even appeal to some surprising demographics.

Heading towards the close, we find out what sort of projects that Tony is working on now, including his work helping victims of witchcraft accusations in Africa. Wrapping up our Santa Muerte discussion, we find out if the backlash against the saint has lessened since the original assault by the Mexican government in 2008. This leads to Tony telling us about the culture of 'hoo doo' in the Southern United States. The final note on Santa Muerte covers the paradox of her frightening appearance versus the sheer dedication that she receives from her followers.

Anthony Kail has traveled extensively throughout the United States and Africa where he has spent twenty years studying magico-religious cultures. He has interviewed practitioners, observed ceremonies and documented practices of numerous African and Latin folk healing traditions in order to educate public safety professionals about unfamiliar cultures.
Topics Discussed
1 Hr 40 Min
Tony Kail