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Santeria for beginners

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Santeria for beginners

Postby Ravencry » Wed Dec 01, 2010 7:00 pm


Regla de Ocha (The Rule of the Orisha) is the proper name for this religion. Ocha is an abbreviation.

Santeria (The Way of the Saints) is the common, popular name.

Lukumi is also used; it is related to a Yoruba word meaning "friend". It is used to refer to both the religion and the practitioners of Afro-Cuban worship of the Orishas.

La Regla Lucumi is still another term used to refer to the religion.

Candomble Jege-Nago is its Brazilian name. The religion is dividedinto in various traditions, reflecting the different nations of origin: Angola, Efan, Fon, Ijesa, Ketu, etc.).

Macumba is sometimes used as a synonym for Santeria. In fact, Macumba is a derogatory word used to refer to a supposedly evil form of Witchcraft. We> will not use the term here.

Aborisha is a term that refers to both the worship of the Orisha, and to the individual worshiper.

Quoting an essay on "The Lukumi Tradition" by Afolabi: 2

The name by which the religion is now most commonly known, "Santeria," is a pejorative term first applied by the Spanish to the religious practices of the peasantry. It was used as a derogatory reference to the unusual amount of devotion and attention paid to the Catholic Saints, often in preference to Jesus Christ. This term was again used in Cuba to identify the "pagan" religion. The Yoruba devotion to theOrishas, who were often referred to as "santos" ("saints") by both slave and slave-owners, was mistakenly seen as the'fanatical' worship of demigods and the neglect of 'God.' Therefore, the opprobrious and demeaning term 'Santeria' was extended to the religious practices of the so-called 'savages.' Only in recent years, after having the label applied by outsiders for an extended period of time, has the term begun to be used by members of the religion. 2


Santeria is a syncretistic religion of Caribbean origin. It incorporates the worship of the Orisha (literally "head guardian")and beliefs of the Yoruba and Bantu people in Southern Nigeria, Senegal and Guinea Coast. These are combined with elements of worship from Roman Catholicism. Its origins date back to the slave trade when Yoruba natives were forcibly transported from Africa to the Caribbean. They were typically baptized by the Roman Catholic church upon arrival, and their native practices were suppressed. They developed a novel way of keeping their old beliefs alive by equating the each Orisha of their traditional religions with a corresponding Christian Saint. Many traditions within the religion recognize different equivalencies. One common example includes:

* Babalz Ayi became St. Lazarus (patron of the sick)
* Shangs became St. Barbara (controls thunder, lightning, fire...)
* Eleggua or Elegba became St. Anthony (controls roads, gates etc)
* Obatala became Our Lady of Las Mercedes, and the Resurrected Christ (father of creation; source of spirituality)
* Oggzn became St. Peter (patron of war)
* Oshzn became Our Lady of Charity (controls money, sensuality...)

The religion is currently concentrated in Cuba and other Caribbean islands, and among Hispanics in Florida, New York City and Los Angeles. It had been actively suppressed in Cuba since the communist revolution - particularly during the 1960's . However, oppression has now largely ended, and the popularity and practice of Santeria has exploded in Cuba during the 1990's. The religion is also rapidly growing elsewhere. There are believed to be 300,000 practitioners of Santeria in New York alone. It is active in Brazil, where it is believed to have over a million followers.

Santerian Beliefs

Many Santerian beliefs are not freely discussed outside of the faith. In addition there are many religious leaders whose beliefs and practices differ significantly. The following is a general outline of what is known:

Deities: God is referred to as Olorun, or Olódùmarè, the "owner of heaven". He is the supreme deity, the creator of the universe, and of the lesser guardians, called Orisha. Each of the latter has an associated Christian Saint, a principle, important number, color, food, dance posture and emblem. The Orishas need food in the form of animal sacrifice, and prepared dishes, as well as human praise in order to remain effective.

Ritual Sacrifices: These form an integral part of many Santerian religious rituals. The animal's blood is collected and offered to the Orisha. Chickens are the most common animal used. Their sacrifice is believed to please the Saints, and to bring good luck, purification andforgiveness of sins.

Possession: Rhythmic sounds and feverish dancing during Santerian rituals are believed to lead to possession of the individual by the particular Orisha being invoked. The individual then speaks and acts as the Orisha.

Veneration of Ancestors: Ones ancestors, called Ara Orun (People of Heaven) are referred to for moral guidance and example. Their names are recited at family ceremonies.

Santerian Practices

The following Santerian practices are known:

Secrecy: Very little information about beliefs, ritual, symbolism, practice are released to the general public. One has to be initiated into the faith before information is freely released.

Tradition: Santeria is not a religion of a book, like Judaism, Christianity, or Islam. Like most Aboriginal religions, it is preserved by an oral tradition.

Ritual: A ritual typically begins with the invocation of Olurun. Drums provide background African rhythms. The Oru or rhythm changes to that associated with a specific Orisha, who is then invoked as well. Animals, most commonly chickens, are sacrificed during many rituals. Dancing is another main component of the ritual.

Priesthood: Priests are called Santeros or Babalochas. Priestesses are called Santeras or Iyalochas. Olorisha can refer to a priest or a priestess. They are trained for many years in the oral tradition of the faith. This is followed by a period of solitude before being initiated. They learn dance, songs and healing methods.

Botanicas: These are stores that specialize in providing Santerian supplies. They sell charms, herbs, potions, musical instruments, and other materials used by the followers.

There are many national variations to this religion. This is particularly obvious in places like Los Angeles CA where the Spanish speaking population has many national origins. Mexican Santeria, for example, emphasizes its Roman Catholic roots; it often includes nationally-basedicons, like the Virgin of Guadeloupe. Cuban Santeria tends to emphasizes its African origins.

Conflicts over Santeria

Animal Sacrifices:
There has been considerable friction between Santerians and groups promoting the care and treatment of animals. The source of the conflict is the animal sacrifices which form an integral part of some of their rituals. Chickens and other small animals are ritually sacrificed at times of serious sickness or misfortune, and at times of initiation. Santerians defend their practices by pointing out: the animals are killed in a humane manner and later eaten, just as the many of millions of animals slaughtered daily in North American commercial establishments. ritual sacrifice of animals was a extensively practiced in ancient Israel and was only discontinued after the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in the eighth decade CE. they feel that the sacrifices must continue because their Orisha require the food. animal sacrifices have formed a part of their religion for over one millennium. the constitutions of the United States and Canada guarantee freedom of religious expression. They have won a number of court cases; one went all the way to the US Supreme Court. Sufficient precedence has now been established; there should not be any new legal problems in this area.

The Matamoros Incident:
In early 1989, the bodies of over a dozen murdered men were found in Matamoros, Mexico, close to the Texas border. A media frenzy resulted in which the killings were blamed on Satanists, Witches, Voodoo priests, or Santerians. Everybody seemed to have a different theory. After the lurid headlines died down and the police investigation concluded, the murderers were found to be orchestrated by an individual hired by a criminal gang of drug runners for protection from the police. The gang members happened to be followers of a variety of religious groups common to the area including Christianity, Palo Mayombe and Santeria. But no link was ever found between their faith and their drug running or murderous practices. The immediate cause was that the leader of the gang required the members to watch a Hollywood movie called The Believers a total of 14 times. That movie took elements of the Santerian faith, and added concepts foreign to the religion, including human sacrifice. If a single influencing cause needs to be assigned to the murder, it should be that movie.

Many individuals and groups who attempt to raise public awareness of Ritual Abuse or of Satanic Ritual Abuse often mistakenly use these killings as evidence of human sacrifice by religious minorities. Ritual abuse andmurder does exist, and there are many dead bodies to prove it. But instances to date have had no connection with Santeria or any other small faith group. Most of the deaths have been caused by unintentional murder during Christian exorcisms.

I'll post more, such as beginner rituals and prayers.
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Re: Santeria for beginners

Postby Ravencry » Wed Dec 01, 2010 7:09 pm

The Orishas of Santeria:


Elegguá is the owner of the roads and doors in this world. He is the repository of ashé. The colors red and black or white and black are his and codify his contradictory nature. In particular, Elegguá stands at the crossroads of the human and the divine, as he is child-like messenger between the two worlds. In this role, it is not surprising that he has a very close relationship with the orisha of divination, Orunmila. Nothing can be done in either world without his permission. Elegguá is always propitiated and called first before any other orisha as he opens the door between the worlds and opens our roads in life. He recognises himself and is recognised by the numbers 3 and 21.

Prayer for Eleggua: Echu obá loná tosí gbogbo ona iré o aché


Ogún is the god of iron, war and labor. He is the owner of all technology and because this technology shares in his nature, it is almost always used first for war. As Elegguá opens the roads, it is Ogún that clears the roads with his machete. He is recognised in the numbers 7 and the colors green and black.

Prayer for Ogun: Ogún oko dara obaniché aguanile ichegún iré


Oshosi is the third member of the group known as the Guerreros or Warriors, and is received along with Elegguá, Ogún and Osun in order to protect the Guerreros initiate and to open and clear their roads. Oshosi is the hunter and the scout of the orishas and assumes the role of enforcer of justice for Obatalá with whom he has a very close relationship. His colors are blue and yellow.

Prayer for Ochossi: Ochosi Ode mata obá akofá ayé o unsó iré o wa mi Ochosi omode aché


Obatalá is the kindly father of all the orishas and all humanity. He is also the owner of all heads and the mind. Though it was Olorun who created the universe, it is Obatalá who is the creator of the world and humanity. Obatalá is the source of all that is pure, wise peaceful and compassionate. He has a warrior side though through which he enforces justice in the world. His color is white which is often accented with red, purple and other colors to represent his/her different paths. White is most appropriate for Obatalá as it contains all the colors of the rainbow yet is above them. Obatalá is also the only orisha that has both male and female paths.

Prayer for Obatala: Obatalá obá layé ela iwo alara aché


Oyá is the ruler of the winds, the whirlwind and the gates of the cemetery. Her number is nine which recalls her title of Yansá or "Mother of Nine" in which she rules over the egun or dead. She is also known for the colors of maroon, flowery patterns and nine different colors. She is a fierce warrior who rides to war with Shangó (sharing lightning and fire with him) and was once the wife of Ogún.

Oshún rules over the sweet waters of the world, the brooks, streams and rivers, embodying love, fertility. She also is the one we most often approach to aid us in money matters. She is the youngest of the female orishas but retains the title of Iyalode or great queen. She heals with her sweet waters and with honey which she also owns. She is the femme fatale of the orishas and once saved the world by luring Ogún out of the forests using her feminine wiles. And,in her path or manifestation of Ibú Ikolé she saved the world from draught by flying up to heaven (turning into a vulture in the process). Ikolé means Messenger of the House (of Olodumare). For this reason all who are to be initiated as priests, no matter what orisha rules their head, must go to the river and give account of what they are about to do. She recognises herself in the colors yellow and gold and her number is five. Peacocks and vultures are hers and we use them often to represent her.


Yemayá lives and rules over the seas and lakes. She also rules over maternity in our lives as she is the Mother of All. Her name, a shortened version of Yeyé Omo Eja means "Mother Whose Children are the Fish" to reflect the fact that her children are uncountable. All life started in the sea, the amneotic fluid inside the mother's womb is a form of sea where the embryo must transform and evolve through the form of a fish before becoming a human baby. In this way Yemayá displays herself as truly the mother of all. She partakes of Olokun's abundance as the source of all riches which she freely gives to her little sister Oshún. She dresses herself in seven skirts of blue and white and like the seas and profound lakes she is deep and unknowable. In her path of Okutti she is the queen of witches carrying within her deep and dark secrets. Her number is seven for the seven seas, her colors are blue and white, and she is most often represented by the fish who are her children.

Prayer for Yemaya: Iyá eyá ayaba okun omá iré gbogbo awani Iyá

Perhaps the most 'popular' of the orishas, Shangó rules over lightning, thunder, fire, the drums and dance. He is a warrior orisha with quick wits, quick temper and is the epitomy of virility. Shangó took the form of the fourth Alafin (supreme king) of Oyó on Earth for a time. He is married to Obba but has relations with Oyá and Oshún. He is an extremely hot blooded and strong-willed orisha that loves all the pleasures of the world: dance, drumming, women, song and eating. He is ocanani with Elegguá, meaning they are of one heart. When sees the quickness with which lightning makes short work of a tree or a fire rage through an area, one has witnessed the temper of Shangó in action. Though he traded the Table of Ifá to Orunmila in exchange for the gift of dance, his children have an innate ability for divination. To acknowledge the greatness of this king, all in the religion raise up on the toes of our feet (or rise out our chairs if we are sitting) at the mention of his name. His colors are red and white and he recognises himself in the numbers four and six. He is most often represented by a double headed axe.

Prayer for Shango: Shangó obá adé oko, obá ina, Alafin Oyó aché o


Orunmila is the orisha of wisdom, knowledge and divination. He was the only orisha allowed to witness the creation of the universe by Olorun and bears witness to our destinies in the making as well. This is the source of his title of Eleri Ipin or "Witness to Destiny in its Creation". His priests, the babalawos or "Fathers of the Secrets" must devote themselves entirely to the practice of divination and the accompanying arts. Through the Table of Ifá his priests unfold the secrets of the universe and the secrets of the unfolding of our lives. His colors are green and yellow which reflect Orunmila's relationship with Osayín (the secrets of the plant world) and with Oshún, who is his apetebí with whom he has an extremely close relationship.

Prayer for Orunmila: Orunmila Ibikeyi Oludumare ela isode aché
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Re: Santeria for beginners

Postby Earth Ritual » Fri Dec 03, 2010 10:19 am

Santeria is sooooooooooo beautiful like honey and the mountain forests after a rain or rocks of the ancient rivers telling their stories
Blessings to you for enlightening us Ravencry smiley_dance
You are either for Life or against It. There is no in between.

I used to believe in god above. Now I'm filled with so much love.-Erykah Badu after the invocation of the Goddess

May the love that holds eternity at its fingertips kiss each and everyone one you on the lips. May your words bring worlds that bring hope to a world dying to be reborn.
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Re: Santeria for beginners

Postby Nightshade1 » Tue Feb 01, 2011 6:56 pm

This is fascinating information. Ive attempted to research Santeria on my own but know little about it. I have always wanted to learn though. Thanks for sharing this. I look forward to learning more.

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