Hello my Occulties,
First, an obligatory disclaimer: if you don't like saints, or you want to hurl your spaghetti monsters and sky ghost comments at me, please just don't read this article. ;) I do not discuss saints because I want to offend those of you opposed to religion or saints - I discuss saints because so many of my readers request this type of article. If YOU don't like this type of article, don't read it - it isn't meant to offend ANYONE, just to enlighten the curious.
Alright, now that we've gotten that out of the way, it's time to chat about a good friend of mine, Saint Martha (sometimes called Martha of Bethany.)
Saint Martha, we are told, was a contemporary of Jesus Christ, and is often said to be the sister of Mary Magdelene (so it is believed by Catholics) OR perhaps a seperate Mary, called Mary of Bethany, (in the Eastern Orthodox and many protestant traditions,) and the sister of Lazarus.
What we can glean from the Biblical accounts of Martha is not much (she is often a supporting character who speaks bluntly but politely to Christ - even though all the while professing her faith in Him,) but it seems I could reasonably say she was, in life, a Jewish woman, probably of a relatively well-to-do family (judging from the details given of those around the tomb of Lazarus,) that she lived in Jerusalem, Bethany, or perhaps Galilee (the accounts differ a bit,) and that she often waited on and served Christ and the apostles. I cannot think of a passage which implies she was a married woman, but I think we can fairly say she probably had no spouse when she came in contact with Christ. Martha has been called "very busy about waiting and serving," and so it should come as no surprise, one of her patrongages is that of waitresses. Basically, she is a faithful follower of Christ during his lifetime, and someone who we can assume spent a good deal of time with Him.
From legendary accounts comes another story about Martha. According to this legend, after Jesus ascended to Heaven, Martha travelled to France to evangellize the people there. She travelled over the French countryside spreading the message of Jesus Christ until she arrived in the town of Tarascon where a terrible dragon lived. Martha came upon the dragon - in one account he is eating a villager, in another I know he has snatched a child and is running off with the child to eat it, - and she showed the sign of the cross to the beast. As the dragon was held fast by seeing cross and couldn't move, she poured holy water on it to smother it's fire and prevent it from ever breathing fire again. Now that the dragon had been made "safe" she tied her girdles or hair ribbons to the beast, and led in through the town, as tame as any domestic animal. The people, grateful for being saved from the dragon, and amazed by the powers of Christianty, all converted upon seeing this. Obviously it's a colorful legend, but this is why you often see Martha stepping on a dragon in depictions of her. :)
No surviving physical descriptions of St Martha survive. I have seen her portrayed as an African woman, a sort of olivey-colored woman, and a pasty white lady, too. ;) I'm going to take an educated guess and say the most LIKELY description of her would be a woman who looks to be Middle-Eastern...a dark olivey color skin with dark hair and dark eyes. Still, no one knows for sure, as no description has been left to us. All pictures in this article are different representations of St Martha I have in my possession, in fact. I recommend you simply use whichever representation of her you find is most comfortable for you.
In the Catholic tradition, Martha is the patroness of domestic servants (male or female), waiters (male or female,) innkeepers, laundry workers, housewives, single women, and travellers. In Hoodoo, we often petition Martha for help in dominating another, especially in the case of women requesting help on errant boyfriends and men. This is why, sometimes, St Martha is referred to as "St Martha Dominadora," or "St Martha the Dominatrix" or "St Martha Dominator," among other similar titles.
While I've heard that St Martha "does not like men," I'm not sure I entirely agree. I think St Martha prefers helping women to be strong, powerful and assertive, and perhaps that she feels men are already naturaly imbued with these traits...so perhaps her "Dominator" aspect is set more for helping women in need of that power. This doesn't mean that St Martha is wholly inaccessable to men, or that she won't help men - still, I *might* caution men when asking St Martha to dominate a female, because St Martha loves helping women...and perhaps may prefer to do so, and I personally do not know if she takes offense if being asked to aid men in a similar manner. YES, I have heard she won't use her dominator powers for men, but I'm not sure that's true (I have no first hand reports either way.) If you're a gentleman seeking her help, I suggest you ask her to help you with an issue that does not have to do with dominating a female.
Perhaps St Martha's reputation for "not liking men," is based solely her reputation of being as effective she is at returning a wayward man, or making him do what his female partner wants, though. ;) A prayer found in the collection of prayers in the book "Helping Yourself with Selected Prayers," (revised ed. 1995, Original Publications, ISBN#0-942272-01-3) specifically aimed towards females petitioning St Martha to dominate a man goes: **"Holy Virgin Martha, who entered the mountain and tied up the beast with your ribbons, I beg you to tie up and dominate (name of man to be dominated.) Saint Martha, let him not sit in a chair, nor lie in a bed until he is at my feet. Holy Martha, hear me, help me for the love of God. Amen."
Now, as many of you know, I love St. Martha. I think of her as my patron saint. I'm a medal-wearing holy-card-carrying fan of St. Martha, and my reasons are not just because she's listened to my fears, my tears, my praise, my begging, and my thanks - and she's helped me more times than I can count, and fast (she and I have a conversation at least once a week,) but she's also been a great help to the many women I've introduced to her. If you ask anyone familiar with her, I assure you, several of those people will stand up and tell you St Martha brings results, and not just on man problems!
While it may be my humble opinion, St Martha has protected me and my family from danger and magical attack (for which I thank St Michael Archangel as well,) she has helped bring me business when I needed money, she's protected my business, she's helped me with man-problems which are Nunya Bidness, helped my clients and friends with man-problems also being Nunya Bidness, she's healed me, and I can also think of a time when I asked her to remove a curse from someone, and my St Martha medal burned on my neck so hotly I had to remove it - the person reported a marked improvement to me the very next day. As I said, she's an amazing lady, and I love her a great deal.
Well, there is always more than one way to do anything of course, but since this is my blog, let's discuss my way. ;)
I was taught Martha is best petitioned on a Tuesday, and that she prefers a red candle. Classically, the saint's picture and a glass of water beside the picture are placed on the altar alongside the candle. The candle is lit, and the following prayer said:
*"Saint Martha, take me into your protection and guide me. I offer myself completely to your mercy and grace.
I offer this candle in your honor for the happiness Our Savior received in your home. I plead with you to intercede for me and my family so that all our daily needs will be provided, and may we always have love of God in our hearts.
I also ask you to obtain the infinite mercy of God in granting me this great favor. (Here ask your favor.)
Help me to overcome my difficulties as you dominated the dragon at your feet. I ask this favor in the Glory of God. Amen."
Now an Our Father and a Hail Mary is said in honor of St Martha. So, for your convenience if you don't know these prayers, I have written them below for you (I do use the version of the Our Father with the kingdom, power, glory part added, but if you use the shorter version regularly, feel free to use it here.)
"Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our tresspasses as we forgive those who tresspass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory forever and ever. Amen."
"Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen."
This prayer can be said for nine days, nine tuesdays, one day, even every Tuesday for as long as you'd like. It's up to you.
Another prayer, similar in nature (to be said on nine consecutive Tuesdays, each Tuesday offering Martha a red candle,) is:
**"Holy Martha, I surrrender to your guidance and protection, honoring your wishes. To prove my act of contrition, and actions of grace, I shall offer this light in your honor every Tuesday.
Console me in my sorrow. Bring happiness to my home in the name of our Holy Savior, Jesus Christ. Provide me and my family with all our daily needs.
I implore you with your infinite mercy to grant the great favor I ask. (Here ask your favor of St Martha.)
Today I ask you, as you dominated the Dragon at your feet, defeat all my enemies. Amen."
If you'd like to leave her offerings, I have given her red flowers, fruit, cookies, cakes, and even a coffee now and again. ;) I have no specific "favorite offerings" passed down to me really.
So, that's how I do it.
How do other people petition St Martha? I have known people to give her green, blue, and purple candles, though green seems the most common other choice outside of red. I would also say, just asking her assistance with or without a candle would be effective. There are prayers to say while offering her an oil lamp, simple prayers which can be used with or without a candle... Pretty much there are a thousand ways to do the same thing. ;) I have given you my most trusted method for asking her assistance here.
Alrightey, kiddos, while I could go on and on and on (and maybe I'll add more here soon,) it's past your occult mastermind's bedtime. ;)
You know the drill - this is all copyright me unless otherwise noted. I didn't create the prayers, and I took pictures of other's representations of Martha, but the rest is mine so don't plagiarize. Thanks.
The book "Helping Yourself with Selected Prayers" (volume 1) is a compiliation of traditional prayers and is highly-recommended to any who wish to find good prayers for saints. You can find it by clicking here. I am not super fond of volume 2 which repeats many of the prayers given in volume 1, but the first volume is recommended by me.
*Believed to be traditional, author unknown. Found on several of my St Martha holy cards. My favorite St Martha prayer to use. ;)
**Believed to be traditional, author unknown. Found in "Helping Yourself with Selected Prayers, vol one."