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Santerian is translated from spanish: Worship of the
Saint. Santeria developed in Cuba by Africans from
Benin and Nigeria who were sent to Cuba because of the
slave trade. They mixed their Yoruba religious traditions
with elements of the Catholic faith of the plantation
owners who were trying to convert the enslaved
Africans. The Africans accepted some of the Christian
traditions, but mainly adhered to their own religion.
Thus, Santeria was created. It was a secret religion for
decades, but has since revealed itself. Santeria is most
popular in Cuba, but has spread to other countries
especially since the 1959 Cuban Revolution. In the past,
Santeria was regarded a religion of the uneducated and
poor in the Caribbean, but now it also has a middle-class
professional following in countries like the United States.
The revolutionary Cuban government was critical of
Santeria at first, but eventually started to tolerate the
religion.The founder of Santeria is not known
The religion was founded in about 1515 C.E.
Initiation Rituals

Because this in an initiatory religion, ones

membership in a religious community is dependent
upon the initiation rituals one has received. In this
section, I will discuss five of these rituals:
Necklaces, Warriors, Hand of Orula, Crowning, and
Knife. Participation in each of these rituals requires
a different level of participation in the religion, but
each also has a public or semi-public portion that
non-initiates may attend, and that is what I will be
After the initiate has been bathed, he or she is
seated in front of the primary godparents Orisha
and presented with each of the necklaces. The
Orisha associated with each necklace is briefly
described, although often the initiate has already
been learning about them and their attributes.
Afterwards, the godparents will explain how to
wear and care for the necklaces. They may be
worn individually or in combination with each
other. As each represents a specific Orisha,
many people choose the Necklace associated
with the Orisha whose power or support that feel
that they need at the moment. The necklaces
must never be worn while bathing, sleeping, or
during sexual activity, and the necklace of
Obatala must be removed before drinking or
taking other types of recreational drugs.
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

Oldmar, 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
Although the religion is very old
and spiritual there are no sacred
books, most of the religions
stories have been passed down
There are many books about the
religion and rituals, none of which
are considered sacred though.
Basic Beliefs of Santeria

Santeria encourages building relationships with

orishas or spirits that are manifestations of God or
Olodumare. Orishas help people throughout their
daily lives. They also help people reach their fates
which have been pre-planned by Olodumare. In turn,
people must worship orishas so that the spirits
would keep on existing, because orishas are not
immortal. The Roman Catholic elements of Santeria
are associated with the belief in Catholic saints and
symbols. Saint Barbara in Santeria is connected to
fire and lightening.
Basic Beliefs of Santerians
The Santeria faith teaches that every
individual has a destiny from God, a destiny
fulfilled with the aid and energy of the
orishas. The basis of the Santeria religion is
the nurture of a personal relation with the
orishas, and one of the principal forms of
devotion is an animal sacrifice. According to
Santeria teaching, the orishas are powerful
but not immortal. They depend for survival on
the sacrifice.
Rituals of Santeria
The orisha is vital to rites and magic that
is preformed in Santeria
Rituals involve the use of herbs, roots, flowers,
plants and animals
Ritual supplies can be purchased in stores known
as botanicas
One major ritual is abemb. This
ceremony invites the Orisha to join the
community in drumming, singing and
Rituals continued
Santeria rituals also requires sacrificing birds
and a variety of animals
Saints are fed their favorite animal
The blood of roosters, turtles and goats are the most
common offerings to orishas
Santeria rituals are performed to resolves
conflicts within and between people
Rituals are said to be able to heal physical, emotional
and social disabilities
Figures of Santeria
Figures and idol worship are not as common as
spiritual worship. It is, however, allowed. Below
are a few examples of iconic worship
Symbols of Santeria