Tripping Balls and Learning to Work with The Patron Saint of Criminals
“The revolutionary knows that in the very depths of his being, not only in words but also in deeds, he has broken all the bonds which tie him to the social order and the civilized world with all its laws, moralities, and customs, and with all its generally accepted conventions. He is their implacable enemy, and if he continues to live with them it is only in order to destroy them more speedily.” – Sergey Genadievich Nechayev, Catechism of a Revolutionary
“The State’s behavior is violence, and it calls its violence ‘law’; that of the individual, ‘crime’… .only by crime does he overcome the State’s violence when he thinks that the State is not above him, but he is above the State.” – Max Stirner, The Ego and Its Own
“The illegalist milieu also illuminates a singular aspect of utopia, specifically that when the anarchist society is realized it will not be as a result of some esoteric will-to-liberty, or a Freudian erotic demiurge, nor as the result and sum of a labored economic equation, rather utopia will arise as a function of necessity, as banal as breakfast and as certain as summer heat.” – Paul Z. Simons, “Illegalism: Why Pay for a Revolution on the Installment Plan… When You Can Steal One?”
I am heaving now, clumsily reaching for a bucket as vomit flies out of my mouth at high speeds. All my wife can do is look on in horror, my eyes moving wildly as small whimpers creep from my disjointed jaw.
The drugs. Something is wrong with the drugs.
Sweat is not supposed to be dripping from my head. My legs and arms keep curling and I’m losing muscle control. I try to go back in my head, try to recall exactly what I took but I can’t. Everything is going black. My kidneys feel like they’re on fire. In between vomiting I can feel my body seizing and shaking, as my soul screams to be released from the pain lighting up my nerves. Blood is pouring from my mouth. A hallucination? I gasp for air, waves of pure dread emanating from my aura.
My wife scoots closer and grips my hand. She is saying something. I can’t make out the words. I can barely recognize her face. My hearing has stopped. Now I’m shaking. Something has gone wrong, very wrong.
All this for a simple question: “Who is Jesus Malverde?”
¡Que Malverde es Milagroso!
(Court Case Work with Jesus Malverde)
Who is Jesus Malverde?
Much like any question regarding Anarchism, Communism, or if a revolver is a valid choice for everyday carry, the answers depend on who you ask.
To cops he’s a symbol of criminal activity, his image “suspicious” enough to cause your car to be searched; to the Catholic Church he’s a foreign and pagan invader, a “narco saint” dressing up murder and drug-dealing in the guise of religion; to the working class of Mexico he is a hero, a loving soul that blesses border crossings, protects from corrupt police, and ensures the faithful never starve.
Perhaps he is all these things and more. My own dealings with the Saint seemed to suggest as such. I had been introduced to Jesus Malverde through a Conjure Woman by the name of Mama Micki. She had worked with him for many years, petitioning him for help with her job and gambling, and after reading a few articles of mine knew we’d be a good fit. “I thought you would be interested in Jesus Malverde because he was more interested in helping people than supporting an unjust system,” she told me. “He robbed the rich and gave to the poor.”
Well, I thought, who better for an Anarchist advocating violence, theft, and violence than a Saint who knew that route all too well?
The results were incredible.
My first act was simple enough: printing out two images of him, taping them to two white novena candles, offering water and tequila and asking for a sign he’d be interested in helping me. A taxi driver recognized me on a walk that day out of the blue and gave me a free ride. Keeping this simple set up that ran me about $10 I asked his aid for a hopeless court case I had fallen victim to, one where “guilt” was a very grey term.
I can remember that petition, paying fervently and promising that if Malverde aided me I’d build him a permanent altar in my home and send money to a children’s charity in Mexico. I watched in amazement as I felt a vaguely human shape sit up from the altar, say the word’s “okay, let’s go,” throw on a mask and disappear to the East.
Not only did Malverde make the whole thing go my way he made sure my insurance rates miraculously never went up. He brought me total victory and in return all he asked was that I make a donation to the poor.
This was a power the Weird Left had to know, a champion of the oppressed. Who better for the magical Anarchist to have as a patron than someone who gives fuck-all about the law and instead focuses on what’s right?
According to the legend Jesus Malverde was born in Culiacán, Sinoloa in the late 1800’s. Like the majority of the proletariat of Mexico he was destined to a life of starvation and poverty like his working-class parents, and by all accounts he lived a normal life. That changed when his parents died due to malnutrition in a land of plenty. Jesus, incensed and determined not to suffer the same fate, decided to make a change.
He became a criminal.
Jesus began robbing carriages at gunpoint, quickly gaining notoriety for his bravery and cunning in liberating the wealthy from their ill-gotten gains. As his exploits became renowned Jesus upgraded his methods, learning to pick locks, plan raids, and become a master of stealth; he became a burglar, ran a gang, and gathered intelligence to ensure every job supplied him with greater and greater loot.
Jesus Malverde never kept his prizes and instead shared them among the poor. Clothes, jewelry, and priceless antiques were fenced to buy medicine, cancel debts, and even bury the dead. No one went hungry and to the people all over the state of Sinaloa Jesus became known as “The Angel of the Poor” or “The Generous Bandit.”
The wealthy were afraid. Through guile, strength, and sheer guts he lifted the peasantry out of squalor. He exploits were dangerous enough, and quickly becoming the stuff of legend. The governor of Sinaloa, Francisco Cañedo, had even had his home broken into by the bandit. What if word spread farther across Mexico and imitators no doubt followed? Something had to be done.
Malverde was eventually betrayed by a member of his gang for a 10,000 peso reward. On May 3rd 1909 he was sentenced to death by hanging, and it is said his final words were “do not forget my people.”
Governor Cañedo, wanting to warn those of the gang who survived and intimidate the peasantry, demanded Malverde’s corpse be left to rot on a mesquite tree and promised a swift death to any who cut him down.
For a nation of Catholics this was a particularly cruel punishment, and implied Malverde would never know peace in the afterlife. And maybe it worked. Three days after Malverde died the betrayer was caught and murdered. Governor Cañedo died 33 days later.
The police intended to keep Malverde in torment, even with the Governor dead. The threat of execution still loomed. Gang members and peasants, in an attempt to right the state’s wrong, began to toss stones at the corpse’s feet whenever they passed it, eventually covering the body up and building a makeshift tomb.
It was from this tomb Malverde would perform his first miracle. A man was traveling near the body one night with mules who were loaded down with gold, a very uncommon thing for a “law-abiding citizen.” The mules ran off and took the man’s fortune with it. In total desperation, and quite possibly fearing reprisal for his bad luck, the man prayed for Malverde’s aid from beyond the grave.
Quickly, even as the man finished his prayer, the donkey’s returned as if lead by an unseen hand. The man cut down the corpse in gratitude and buried it in a secret place, a place still unknown to this day. The stones remained as a monument and word quickly spread:
Jesus Malverde had not forgotten his people. A Saint had been born.
The Responsible Thing to Do
So the history was intriguing: murder, robbery, and a steadfast dedication to the exploited. Yes, this was my fucking man! The people had to know! But how to tell them?
The Weird Left deserved more than a mere listicle. I wanted to really get to know my new patron, a Saint both my wife and I had grown to love, while at the same time making him available to the masses; a sort of keenly subjective assault on altered reality in search of the gnosis of Jesus Malverde, the unutterable fullness behind the image, not just who he is or what he’s about but what he means.
If he’d been alive I’d have bought him a stream of drinks, recorded our conversation, and mused deeply on its implications.
This avenue was unavailable due to Malverde being dead, so I figured I’d do what any responsible journalist would: load up on hallucinogens and fervently call to the Saint beyond the veil, praying direct knowledge permeate my being on a cellular level.
And after that?
As of this writing my kidneys still hurt and the vomit won’t wash out of the carpet. Perhaps I should have made a better statement of intent.
“Can’t Ask For A Better Omen Than That”
“So you’re talking the acid tonight?” My wife was in the bathroom, slipping into a black robe. Retro-Wave was pouring out of a speaker strapped to a lamp and I was struggling to get my pants off.
“Tomorrow.” I threw my work clothes onto the ground.“Halloween is for fun and I plan on drinking Charon out of house and home. Tomorrow I’ll make the prayers and drop the acid.” I adjust my skull mask and check my notes, making sure everything would be ready when we returned. “I don’t find it to be coincidence the moment I decide to do this on acid the stuff miraculously appears.”
“I’m still amazed he was in the process of buying it right when you texted him.”
“On a whim. On a fucking whim. And how long have I been asking?”
“Since the last time.” She was standing in the doorway with a rainbow-colored cowboy hat on her head, a fist-sized splash of color across a pitch black outfit. “Does the tiny hat work?”
“Absolutely. The hat is awesome–“
“Before we go you should draw a card to see how the trip will go.” Her face winced in concern. “Just in case you need to plan another article.”
“Ah yes, the Sabal Trail fiasco. At least we have a better understanding of Florida’s pill mills.” I lurched across the room and paused the music, moving quickly to start shuffling the red-and-black microcosm I kept in my pocket. The cards felt warmer than usual but I kept this detail to myself, wondering if my wife could sense it as she peered over my shoulder. I split the deck and flipped a card, both of us soon breathing a sigh of relief.
“Red is good,” she said patting me on the head.
“Ace of Diamonds: Good Luck or News. A very positive card and a sure sign I’ll get the message I’m after. Can’t ask for a better omen than that.”
Out we went, determined to as get fucked up as possible and muttering incantations at eighty miles per hour. We gunned towards a Florida city where, according to federal statistics, 1 in 12 residents will be robbed and 1 in 49 will be the victim of violent crime; a terrible place to live but seedy enough to be left alone. In short order the others shuffled in, weary bodies fresh from work clad in black robes and make-up. Each passed under several cards hung in the doorway, a protective charm to shield the side-hustles that kept the inhabitants up to date on their bills.
Taking a central position in the kitchen I did readings for the working-class clientele: a single-mother wanting to know if her dead mother was happy for her, an immigrant wanting to know if she’d die young, a young couple wanting to know if they’d ever have enough money to get out of their apartment. An atheist grabbed me by the shoulder and wanted advice on his first sigil. Tearing me from the table soon after Ash brings me to a back room, clear boxes writhing with designer pythons for sale on the underground pet market.
“This is a ‘hobby,” she says, “so I don’t have to declare anything. It’s not ‘technically’ breaking the law.” Each snake can easily sell for thousands of dollars. The recent clutch of hatchlings carry the hopes of the house for rising out of poverty.
Hope, that’s what drove these people, hopes and dreams that with a little bit of guts and plenty of cunning they could beat a system that was stacked against them. They knew that the lives promised on television in all those bright commercials would never arrive; they knew we were the bottom of the ladder. Rather than become a better slave, rather than engage in a feeble attempt to chameleon their way in to a better life, the assembled put their faith in a preternatural instinct for danger and opportunity. Society had the courts, the laws, the cops, but they were sly and clever. The game was not yet finished.
Here in a city long abandoned to atavistic behavior and violence, a “failure” of the capitalist peace project, the workers had not yet surrendered. Lying to police, breaking the law, and engaging in all manner of illegal activity came as naturally as drinking water or breathing air.
I was ready to meet the Saint who took them as his own.
Buy The Ticket, Take The Ride
It wasn’t till late the next day my wife and I dropped the acid. She took one and a half, I ended up eating about 5. The buildup was steady but enjoyable, and I initially became worried that nothing would happen. I detected no presence.
I mentioned this to my wife when suddenly the light in the room flickered twice. We both turned to look at it, and as soon as we both stared the luminosity began to alternate, as if someone was trying to wave at us.
This was not the acid at work. Too little time had progressed for THAT kind of madness. The lamp continued to roll in two long waves and our jaws fell off our skulls and rolled against the floor.
“Hoooooooolyyyyyyy shiiiiiiiit.” My wife scooted back against the wall.
“Straight up spiritual contact. A direct response to a floated question. Someone just got our attention and… and… and winked at us.”
As we spoke about this I began to get uncomfortable. Something was coming over me. I needed water, I began to sweat. This was not supposed to happen.
“Hey babe, I’m not feeling too good. Can you, uh, turn that light off for me?”
The light, the same one that had flickered, turned off. It was about 5 feet from our bodies and hadn’t been touched.
Discomfort escalated. I began to feel ill, feelings of death overtaking me. Suddenly the room became very small and reality slipped away. Totally, 100%. I couldn’t see or feel the room I was in and instead was confronted with a vaguely triangular “space” that had a desert on the right and a starry night sky on the left.
Pain laid me low. I began coughing, struggling to breathe. Hot winds felt like they were blowing through my body. My entire soul wanted to flee and a voice not my own told me I was going to die.
That wasn’t acid you took idiot. Watch this.
“Oh god, get me a bucket. I’m going to be-“ a stream of vomit flew from my throat, my stomach feeling like razor blades. I couldn’t tell if what I was seeing was real but blood appeared to fill the bucket.
I wasn’t dying, I was already dead. I had crossed the point of survivability and was careening into total organ failure. I breathed in shallow, quick gasps. My kidneys were on fire and I could feel the outlines of my liver. This is it, I think, this is how I die. I OD’ed on some unknown substance I thought was acid in pursuit of an article. I struggled to kick myself out of whatever hell I’d slipped into but something kept dragging me back. I’d become lucid for a few minutes, tell my wife something was horribly wrong, and then my vision would wink out and return me to the Place In-Between. My arms began to curl like a dried out insect. I struggled to keep them down as my wife shook me. She’d later say my eyes were filled with pure terror, that I made weak screams and looked like a someone was sawing my leg off.
My entire memory, my history, suddenly wiped out, ripped off like a scab and exposed to cold air. I couldn’t remember who I was or anything I’d ever done, what I was doing now or how long it had gone on. I didn’t know my name, where I lived, how to write or how to speak. My entire life, every experience that had culminated into my sense of “I” simply vanished.
I was reduced to a shivering, pain-filled bag of nerves existing solely on current sensory inputs. I was a body with no self, no being. The burning desert winds from unknown places picked up, and as they lashed and scorched my corpse two “feelings” imprinted across me.
1. That I was trapped between life and death, The experience is almost too terrifying to recount. No amount of words here are going to make you understand what it was like to be outside our world yet not beyond it and unable to do anything to change that. The liquidation of my entire past was one thing but this was nothing short of a Lovecraftian hell. Though I had died my soul would not free itself from my corpse, even though that’s all I wanted to do. I became acutely aware that I wasn’t merely chained to my body but somehow connected to images of me. The largeness of my spirit felt like it had been chained into a box, like I was in a dimensional cage, and would be so for all time.
2. Experiences of places and people I’d never known. Death itself felt common because I remembered seeing people die all the time, hungry bellies or people killed. I saw lives lived on the edge with the barest of resources, made or broken by risky business at the barrel of a gun. I felt totally divorced from a first world existence and saw life as it truly was: grim and grimy. You do not understand what it is like to see a friend gunned down, to know a loved one has been kidnapped and undoubtedly tortured, what blood smells like as it cooks on pavement. These images paraded before me in a first-person view. I felt souls spoken about as painful memories by the living. Cut short. Abused. Hopelessly lost and abandoned. Like me, like me….
I don’t know how long I was “out there” until my wife brought me back. She rubbed my head and talked to me, the warmth of her love flowing into my nerves and pushing back the darkness. She spoke in low tones about what was real, who I was, and what I was doing. She explained that I was a writer, that I was working on an article. For several minutes she uploaded pieces of me bit by bit, like feeding paper into a copier.
The visions subsided and I was left to tremble for the next 6 hours, grateful to be alive but feeling as if I’d left a friend in the hands of his captors. Out there, somewhere, somebody was trapped. I had been him and I can’t say a piece of me still isn’t.
But I had gotten my wisdom. Oh yes. Jesus Malverde, Patron of Criminals, had helped me steal fire from the gods.
Way of the Saints
(The Author’s Altar to Jesus Malverde)
I didn’t say much when morning came, and the rest of the day passed mostly in silence. I couldn’t shake the fear, the pain, and above all that visceral knowledge that Jesus Malverde was a person just like you and me thrown into a situation far beyond our understanding.
Who can say what gave him his powers? His death is oddly reminiscent of the Shaman’s journey or Odin’s quest for wisdom. What happens to a soul filled with conviction, denied the most basic of decencies, and left to an afterlife without rest or peace?
Jesus Malverde is about pain: the pain of his people, the pain of running from the law, the pain of having power lorded over you, the pain of an everyday existence that depends on quick thinking and chancy moves to survive. That pain is the human experience for the billions of working poor that call this planet home.
That realization has stuck with me like gator teeth in a chicken.
There is something beautiful about a Saint’s soul, something that defies description. Gods, Demons, and Spirits of all stripes have a distinctly foreign feel to them. Even the most personable seem vastly different from ourselves or the people we know: the intelligences behind the Arabic Lunar Mansions often feel like alien creatures from another realm, infinitely and immeasurably peculiar; The Crossroads Man, an American combination of Devil and Trickster Deity, delights in confusion and can turn on a petitioner if he finds it amusing.
Thor’s bravery, Athena’s wisdom, Erzuli’s beauty, all mark them as qualitatively other than ourselves. We worship the gods because we acknowledge them as creatures beyond our ken.
The Saints however are distinctly human; whether borne up, dressed up, or called up their lives are entwined with our own. While some Saints appear to be thinly disguised gods, such as St. Brigid, St. Christopher, and St. Lazarus, for the most part the Cult of the Saints is actually made up of dead people. The beings you are petitioning at one point lived, ate food, loved, and cried; relics even made from their bones, skin, or corpses are common. In St. Augustine for instance you can go and pray before the bone fragments of 18 different Saints dating back to the First Century, beeswax candles on hand for covert necromancy at 25 cents a pop.
This focus on the Dead, rather than gods and the elements they rule, is recognizable in the African derived traditions of Palo Mayombe and Hoodoo:
“In Palo Mayombe our bilongo (‘workings’) are concentrated substances of a particular virtue… the same principle that fundamentally powers hoodoo’s practical work as well. We gather a range of ingredients that ‘heat’ the dead and attract a certain potential or effect. The dead are this potential, and they are the root cause of the effect… The Ambient Dead are the dead (the Spirit) that permeates a given area or person. It is a sea of consciousness.”
Make no mistake: the Saints are far beyond any vein of Christianity and speak of something older. The Saints require no hierarchy, no divine selection. Call them according to their tastes and they will come, be ye Catholic or depraved, drug-crazed conjurer. They are forgiving and understanding; they can be cruel, they can be kind. Above all the Saints stand ready to tilt the odds, a post-human platoon of occult commandos with an eye for helping incarnated kin.
They have not forgotten their people.
Being formerly human, or a least symbolically understood as such, the Saints are finely attuned to human existence. They claim countries, peoples, professions, and even diseases under their patronage. And yet… a Saint is otherworldly. There is something about them, some spark of life, that seems to be greater than our own, marking them as part of the Dead yet something beyond it. “The greater the Fire within a concentration of Being,” it is said in the African traditions, “the more powerful its ability to mold the Sea around it and manifest it’s nature into the physical realm. The Holy Dead have, in their perfection, refined and concentrated the fire of life within them beyond that of the average person/thing.”
Faced with the most wildly sorcerous aspect of their faith, most Christians ensure the Saints get neutered. They become less dangerous, less human. Believers are told to exalt martyrs, patient women with no sex drives, and men whose sole purpose in life was to be a willing vessel for a grander being.
That is not who Jesus Malverde is and may be why the Catholic Church hates him so much.
Jesus Malverde is more than just a dead man made mighty. He represents a rejection against desperate times and artificial scarcity. Malverde deals with the real world, not some religious or “revolutionary” fiction. Fundamentally human he drinks, eats, smokes, and is even well-noted for asking his female devotees to flash him. He enjoys lively narcocorridos and regional guitars to Latin mass or boring hymns. He has not forgotten that the laws and morals invented by human minds speak little to their actual reality; “right” or “wrong” mean nothing when he sees people starving or living in squalor. If you’re looking for grace or erudite wisdom he is not your man. Instead he stands ready to help an immigrant family sneak across the border, to keep a transwoman safe in a dangerous city, to bring victory to a drug-dealer’s court case, and even to bless the bullet that will kill an informant.
Powerful, quick, Jesus Malverde wields luck and death like two pistols ready to make war upon the world; all he asks in return is that you help the poor just as he did. This is a capable and dynamic being every revolutionary should being working with immediately.
Here’s how to do so.
How to Begin Working with Jesus Malverde
Malverde can be enlisted for a variety of purposes, including quite a bit of enchantment and witchcraft. He can aid in healings, the consecration of oils, money drawing, law keep away work, and nearly every conceivable condition the would-be revolutionary might petition a plethora of gods for. For further reading on specific spells I can’t recommend the pamphlet from Haedan Press more highly. It sits on my own altar and was the source of its own design.
If you are calling Jesus Malverde for a one shot operation, print out two suitable images of him. Tape these to white novena-style candles and prepare a place for the evocation. Add a glass of water, a shotglass full of Tequila, and 22 stones to the arrangement. Light the candles and pray to Jesus Malverde, offering to donate money to the poor as payment for his help. Take one of the rocks and keep it on you at all times until the petition has been granted, re-lighting the candles as needed. Change the water and tequila every 3 days.
To work with Jesus Malverde on a permanent basis, find a suitable table and scrub it with whiskey. You can use either a framed image of the Saint or a statue, a glass of water, 22 rocks, a shot-glass for tequila, a plate for food offerings, and an ash tray for cigars. A suitable altar cloth is a bonus as well, something that matches Malverde’s aesthetic.
On the first night place the stones around the framed image or statue, with both candles lit and burning beside it. Fill the water and tequila. Prepare a plate of homecooked Mexican food and offer it to the Saint. Lighting a cigar take three puffs, praying as you do so that Jesus Malverde aid you and be welcome in your home. Blow the smoke onto the statue/image and repeat the following prayer.
Angel of the Poor,
Come into my home and be welcome.
Accept my hospitality, my offerings, and know that I seek your aid.
Oh Jesus Malverde, as you helped the people of Sinoloa, please help me with
Do this for me Jesus Malverde and I will aid the poor just as you continue to do.
[STATE HOW YOU WILL AID THE POOR]
I will ensure your people are not forgotten.”
Narcocorridos or songs about Malverde (such as this one) can be played after the prayer on the first night to welcome him. The stones can be left on the altar and the food should be disposed of outside near a tree after 12 hours.
Building an altar is building a relationship, and one should remember Malverde is human. Offerings like coffee help to “wake him up” and he’s rumored to enjoy the occasional Playboy Magazine as a gift. Replace the offerings about every three days and “smoke” him with the cigar once a day. Speak to him as you might a friend.
Like a friend he’s very forgiving. He understands a missed offering though he’ll ask for something to make up for it. Malverde does not fuck around when it comes to helping the poor however, and he will withhold blessings until payment has been made. My wife and I have noticed he’ll often grant petitions halfway to see if you’ll do your end of the bargain before giving them the final push.
Late payments mean he’ll freeze you out of any help. Continued delinquency is rumored to result in much worse.
Beers I give to him as an offering I leave at the bus-stop for a wandering thirsty traveler; my wife and I have made donations to orphanages and women’s homes in Mexico as payment and thank-you’s. Offerings and notes of thanks can be sent to his chapel in Culiacán at
La Capilla De Jesus Malverde
Sin Asignación En Nombre de Asentamiento,
So, there you have it. A Saint capable of helping every would-be revolutionary do some of the most practical and difficult aspects of The Work, available for the low cost of a couple of candles, a shot of liquor, and a sincere desire to help the poor; no long ceremonial robes or astrological calculations required. Jesus Malverde is here to help the all those Capitalism has turned its back on.
Let the priests, the politicians lament the glorification of a man who robbed and killed. Since when have we cared for their opinion, the same people who would have no mercy or pity on us?
They call you and your beliefs criminal. Take it as a compliment. Call upon your patron and realize in a world of legal slavery it is the highest honor to be counted among rogues.
Dr. Bones is a Hoodoo-slingin’ Florida native and Egoist-Communist spitting pure vitriol and sorcerous wisdom at a world gone mad. He lives with his loving wife, a herd of cats, and a house full of spirits.
His poltergasmic politics and gonzo journalism can be found at Gods & Radicals and The Conjure House. He can be reached by email, twitter, or facebook. Want to do him a favor? Help keep him alive for as little as $4.99 a month.
Dr. Bones has an exclusive essay in A Beautiful Resistance: The Crossing. You can pre-order it here.