Santeria – is a religion, magic or belief?

    Santeria (from Spanish "holiness") - a syncretic religion, that combines Catholicism and African beliefs of the Yoruba people, which is popular in Cuba and among Cubans living in the United States and other countries. This religion has family roots with the other Afro-Caribbean religions, such as voodoo (popular on Haiti), Macumba and Kandoble - in South America. All these beliefs emerged among African slaves, who were imported from the west coast of the black continent to America. Slaves were forced to appeal to the Catholic faith, moreover to combine their religion with Christianity. Thus, there is a comparison of African deities (Orishas) of the Yoruba pantheon with Catholic saints.

    The Spaniards thought that Negros devoutly pray to the St. Peter's, Lazarus, Barbara and to others, but are in fact turned out that they had prayed to the spirits of Yoruba. The exploiters derisively called them such exalted worship of "holiness" (Santeria). Themselves worshipers do not like the name holiness and they name their tradition – Lukumi or La Regla de Ocha.

    Santeria - is a religion of obsession, mystery, trance, blood and sex. In religion, there is a hierarchy, a kind of Olympus, which has more than 20 gods called Orishas.

    Gods and Rituals

    All of the gods are personified by magic stones and being worshiped by the people. Ritual of worship lasts for three days and is held three times a year. The ritual is called "feeding of the stones". Each stone has its own pet and its own infusion. The stones are being covered with the use of the blood of animals, which were sacrificed before, and are washed using an extract. On holidays and Sundays, there are meetings in the shrine, which has the altar. Worship accompanies with the battle drums and dancing. During the dance one of the Orishas’ gods chose one person, whom he will inhabit. Man, which is obsessed by the deity is falling into a trance; an obsession is manifested by the convulsions.

    Rituals are performed by priests. By the priests can be women and men. They determine which of the gods descended to the ground, and are inhabit into one person, as their duties are to worshiping. Supreme god in the pantheon of Santeria called Olorun. He is the creator of the world and the lord of the skies. After him follow a deity - Orisha, which differs with peacefulness and a good attitude towards people. In addition, the Cubans worship ancestors. According to the beliefs “Santeros” (the entire world) is permeated by the energy (power), which they call Aceh.

    The most revered Orishas in Cuba are Elegua, Oggun, Oshun, Chango, Obatala, Yemen and Onrula. Many of the deities correspond to particular saints of the Catholic pantheon. In addition, each Orisha has a manifestation of a natural disaster (such as thunder, lightning, wind), or the situation - for example, an unexpected change of circumstances. Orisha is associated with a set of attributes: color, number, symbol, day of the week, food donations. In total there are 100 to 400 Orisha.

    Here are some of the Orishas:

       Shango – is the head of the Orishas, God of Thunder;

       Olorun - God creator:

       Babalu-aye - is responsible for doctoring and corresponds to the image of St. Lazarus;

       Emayya - Goddess of the sea and fertility is revered as the Virgin Mary;

       Ogun - is the patron of miners, god of war and iron, corresponds to the image of Saint Peter;

       Oia - Goddess of fresh water and the wife of Shango.

    To determine - what god among the Orishas, dwells into a person, you have to make a special procedure of divination. The believer should behave in accordance with the rules laid down for its Orisha - to abstain from certain foods and deeds, in order to sacrifice to his Orisha.

     Orisha can transmit to people their will, inhabiting his servants. Santeros is trying to earn favor Orisha through prayers, music, sacrifice, adherence to the rules and prohibitions. An important role is played by altar in the worship.

     Important role played by rituals: entering into a trance (necessary for communication with the Orisha), dances in special sacred costumes, animal sacrifices. In this religion there are some restrictions, for example, you are forbidden to touch the dog and drink palm wine (it is, however, is replaced by cane vodka).

     Traditionally, rituals are closed to outsiders - are allowed only the presence of the priests and the converts. Knowledge transfer in Santeria takes place verbally; only recently information has been partially published.

     The hierarchy of priests in consists of several levels. On the ground are babalorishi (Orisha father) or iyalorishi (Orisha mother), which are heads of the temples. Diviners, who are capable of in a trance state communicate with the Orishas are called Oriat. Highest level in the hierarchy is hold by Ifa.

     In Cuba Santeria is not just a religion - it is a way of existence - she imbues all aspects of life of Cubans. Gods and rituals are mentioned almost in every Cuban song, Latin drum rhythms originate from the musical accompaniment prayers. Many Cubans believe that Fidel Castro - an adherent of Santeria, which is why he was able to avoid multiple attempts.

     Interestingly, in recent decades, interest in this religion exhibit not only Cubans, but also people from other countries.


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