Information About the Santeria Religion
Information on the development of Santeria in the Caribbean. Includes details on the beliefs and practices of the followers of Santeria. Explanations of the Orisha and Olorun are provided.
Santeria is a type of religion that is practiced throughout the Caribbean. It is particularly popular in Cuba. It combines traditional Roman Catholic teachings with African practices. Santeria has several mystical qualities and its core teachings are often kept secret from outsiders.
The History of Santeria
Santeria combines the beliefs of the Yoruba religion, Roman Catholicism and some Native American traditions. It was developed among the slaves that were brought to the Caribbean region to work in sugar plantations. The Spanish slave owners attempted to convert the slaves to Catholicism in an effort to save them. Santeria was developed by the Africans to retain some aspects of their heritage while they were enslaved. The name Santeria arose as a mocking term by the slave owners. The slave owners looked at Santeria as secular. They did not think the slaves were worshipping any God whatsoever.
Santeria has evolved and spread around the world. There are over 22,000 people who practice the religion in the United States. The majority of the people who practice the religion are of Caribbean descent. However, there are a growing number of African Americans and European Americans who practice Santeria. People who follow Santeria are called the Lukumi, which translates to friend. They are also sometimes called the Aborisha, or worshipper. Santeria is not to be confused with voodoo. While they do have some similarities, the main difference is that the Orisha in Santeria can be interchanged with Roman Catholic saints. Voodoo looks at the Orisha as completely separate from the Catholic saints.
People who follow Santeria worship one God, called Olorun. Olorun is worshipped because he is the source of Ashe. The people that follow the Santeria tradition view Ashe as a divine life force. It is found in all living things and objects in the universe. In addition to Olorun, the followers believe in several Orisha. The Orisha are a group of saints with their own distinct qualities. Many of the Orisha have been borrowed from the Roman Catholic faith. One of the most well known Orisha is Ogun. Ogun is the saint of fire and metal. Another popular Orisha is Oshun, the saint of the river.
Followers of Santeria use many different methods to worship Olorun. They make animal sacrifices to feed the Orisha. This practice is said to bring forgiveness and good luck to the Lukumi. The Orisha get restless and angry if regular animal sacrifices are not made. Angry Orisha are said to be the cause of huge disasters on Earth.
Dances, music and large festivals are also very common with Santeria. Dances are used to communicate with the Orisha. The Orisha possess priests during the dances and send messages to the followers. The Orisha have a very personal relationship with the followers of Santeria. They will often make requests for a specific ritual called an Ebo. Rather than communicate to all of the saints at once, Santeria followers appeal to specific Orisha when they need something.