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Santeria

She bends down, releases it into the water as an offering and watches as it floats away. The skies have cleared just long enough for this small ceremony. Video by Jonathan Mejia. The offering — in other rituals it might have been a rooster or a duck — is a common practice in Cuba. This juxtaposition is the essence of syncretism, a term meaning that concepts and belief systems of two religions are combined — in this case, Spanish Catholicism and the orisha-centered religion of the West African Yoruba tradition. You are believing in the Yoruba God. You believe in all because God is one. This, he said, makes it distinct from Catholicism. But you find everything from people who would be maybe percent Santeros to those that would be percent Catholics, and the great majority of Cuban believers would be somewhere in the middle. Meanwhile, Walker said around 60 to 65 percent of the population is baptized Catholic, but less than 1 percent of Cubans attend Sunday Mass regularly.
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It is believed that access to the orisha s can be achieved through various types of divination. As a result of these ceremonial exchanges, the oracle often determines that one particular orisha has claimed the devotee as its child. In the crowning ceremony, the symbols of the patron orisha are placed on the head of the devotee, and he or she may enter a ceremonial trance and become a medium for that orisha. Through the bodies of their mediums the orisha s are believed to interact with the congregation directly and heal and prophesy for those who approach them. From the Cuban Revolution of to the early 21st century, nearly one million Cubans left the island, bringing Orisha religion to cities throughout the Americas, particularly Miami and New York. The tradition also spread to other Latino communities , African Americans, and white Americans. Although census data are lacking, it is likely that initiated devotees number in the tens of thousands and that those who consult an orisha at one time or another may be counted in the millions. Devotees see the Orisha tradition as a world religion and have received public recognition of their spiritual achievements. In the U. Supreme Court unanimously upheld the right of devotees to practice the controversial rite of animal sacrifice in the case Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye v.
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Exploring Santería in Cuba

Santeria is a belief system that has its roots in Yoruba land, West Africa. During the times of slavery, in the 17th century, this belief system took a journey from West Africa to Cuba. These days the religion is widespread and practiced all over the Caribbean, Latin America and mainland United States of America, even in Europe. Yet there is still much fear, mystery and misunderstandings Santeria. Here are ten things you should know about Santeria. There is only One God It is neither a Polytheistic nor a Pagan religion, nor an animistic one. The reason why there is confusion is that many refer to the Orishas as Gods. Strictly speaking, the Orisha are not Gods but aspects of Olodumare that are manifested in the natural world around us. Each individual is thought to be a child of an Orisha…There are hundreds of Orisha, but there are some that are more popular than others.
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It is believed that access to the orisha s can be achieved through various types of divination. As a result of these ceremonial exchanges, the oracle often determines that one particular orisha has claimed the devotee as its child. In the crowning ceremony, the symbols of the patron orisha are placed on the head of the devotee, and he or she may enter a ceremonial trance and become a medium for that orisha.

Through the bodies of their mediums the orisha s are believed to interact with the congregation directly and heal and prophesy for those who approach them. From the Cuban Revolution of to the early 21st century, nearly one million Cubans left the island, bringing Orisha religion to cities throughout the Americas, particularly Miami and New York.

The tradition also spread to other Latino communities , African Americans, and white Americans. Although census data are lacking, it is likely that initiated devotees number in the tens of thousands and that those who consult an orisha at one time or another may be counted in the millions. Devotees see the Orisha tradition as a world religion and have received public recognition of their spiritual achievements.

In the U. Supreme Court unanimously upheld the right of devotees to practice the controversial rite of animal sacrifice in the case Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye v. The U. Army and Federal Bureau of Prisons have incorporated orisha ministries into their chaplaincies.

Musicians, painters, sculptors, and writers have found in the Orisha tradition sources of African artistry and pride. It is likely that Orisha traditions will continue to grow and be recognized as one of the principal African contributions to world culture. Info Print Cite. Submit Feedback. Thank you for your feedback. Joseph M. Murphy Joseph M. Murphy Professor of Theology, Georgetown University. Author of Santeria: African Spirits in America.

See Article History. Britannica Premium: Serving the evolving needs of knowledge seekers. Subscribe Now. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. Its visual representations of the orisha take on the more popular form of images of saints, although they retain key traits of typical representations of Yoruba deities. Latin American dance: Importation of African cultures.

Dance was a mechanism for escape from emotional stress and one way to restore the emotional and physical well-being of the individual and community. History at your fingertips.

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