Who is Martha the Dominator?
Martha is mentioned in the Bible twice, once in the Gospel of Luke 10:38-42, then again in the Gospel of John 12:1-8, both times she is recorded being at the service of Jesus Christ accompanied by her sister Mary (of Bethany) and brother Lazarus.
In the Gospel of Luke 10:38-42, Martha is depicted as a dutiful, assertive woman who holds her tongue for no one, not even Jesus Christ himself. When Jesus comes to visit the home of the three siblings Martha, busy with some unspecified tasks turns to ask Jesus if he is aware of her struggle as the sole hostess and asks Jesus to tell her sister Mary (of Bethany) to assist her instead of simply sitting at his feet. In the Gospel of John 12:1, we see Martha go to confront Jesus about his absence which she blames for the death of her brother Lazarus. Later in the account she is recorded hosting a dinner for Jesus and his apostles which her brother is in attendance.
These acts of service to Jesus and his apostles gained Martha the reputation as the patron of service and hospitality workers.
Day of Observance
Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran churches observe a feast day on July 29th
The Orthodox church observes a feast on June 4th
In legendary tales, Martha, Mary (of Bethany), and Lazarus travel to the south of France after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ to preach the Gospel. Upon their arrival at the village of Tarascon, they hear about a monstrous beast who has been plaguing the villagers. It is Martha who goes off to seek the beast and comes across a dragon right as it is consuming a man. St. Martha subdues the dragon with holy water, charms, and prayer then proceeds to take a belt or her girdle (depending on which version of the tale is being told) and restrain the dragon to take it back to the village to be killed.
As a result of this tale, depictions of St. Martha often portray her arched over the body of a slain dragon with one foot on its head as she holds up a torch in one hand and the Bible in the other. This is also why she is credited with the ability to intervene in difficult situations.
In the context of Hodou, the image of Martha changes drastically. Her image is that of a light-skinned woman of African descent, wielding one to two large snakes. It is a common belief that this Martha (Martha the Dominator) is an adaptation of the mermaid Mami Wata, a great water spirit that was revered in West, Central, and Southern Africa who had to be hidden behind the image of St. Martha by the enslaved African people who were forced to adopt the Catholic faith.
How Martha the Dominator came to be a beloved figure in Hodou can be credited to the influx of Caribbean and Latin immigrants who started coming to America. Another reason for her popularity among Hodouist may be due to the ease in which she is said to be petitioned. This is in direct conflict with the vast majority of Caribbean and Latin spiritual paths that revere Martha the Dominator (Santa Marta Dominadora, Marta La Dominadora) as a fierce spirit that cannot be successfully petitioned by the uninitiated and has no connection with Hodou whatsoever.
Divine figure that aids in the domination and control of unjust bosses, breaking up of unholy unions, and defeating enemies.
Goddess Forms: Mami Wata
Animal Forms: Half-human half-serpent, Mermaid
Other names: Martha Dominadora, Santa Marta Dominadora, Martha La Dominadora, St. Martha
Color(s): Green and White
Offering(s): Spiritual waters (such as Holy water), white wine, white flowers, colognes, and sweetbreads (pound cake, cornbread, muffins), A green 7-day candle in her likeness
“Novena To Saint Martha.” The Grimoire of Hare & Raven, http://www.hareandraven.com/2018/04/novena-to-saint-martha/.
“St Martha the Dominator.” Leaving Paw Prints through Sand and Snow, https://www.cunningfoxwitch.tumblr.com/tagged/Martha-the-dominator.
Beavis, Mary Ann. “Mary and Martha.” Bible Odyssey, https://www.bibleodyssey.org/en/people/main-articles/mary-and-martha.
Queen, Voodoo. “Who Is St. Martha?” Spiritual Information, http://www.spiritinfo.blogspot.com/2017/07/who-is-st-martha.html.