Santeria: A mix of African Voodoo and Catholicism

1st Corinthians 10:20 “But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.”

Jon Watkins  Exposing Satanism and Witchcraft  April 15, 2015
Updated May 21, 2016

I have come across many news stories of animal sacrifice in recent years. There is an uptick and it seems to be directly related to the mass influx of Illegal’s pouring across the southern border of the United States. These “dreamers” as the media has labeled them, are coming not just from Mexico, but as far away as Peru in South America. There are many more other nationalities from all over the world “migrating” through Mexico, but that is not what this series is about. It IS about those in other cultures who come here with their false religious beliefs, in this case, Santeria.Santeria (Way of the Saints) is an Afro-Caribbean religion based on Yoruba beliefs and traditions, with some Roman Catholic elements added. The religion is also known as La Regla Lucumi and the Rule of Osha. Santeria is a syncretic religion that grew out of the slave trade in Cuba. Syncretism is the combining of different, often seemingly contradictory beliefs, while melding practices of various schools of thought. Hence the mixing of Catholicism, Witchcraft and Voodoo.

 

Those beliefs are then spread like a disease to others who are spiritually dead and unable to discern the truth. As scripture says in several places “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” Galatians 5:91st Corinthians 5:6 as well as Luke 13:21Matthew 13:33Matthew 16:11-12 Mark 8:151st Corinthians 5:7-8. Pretty simple to discern once your eyes have been opened: 2nd Corinthians 4:3-4 “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

Let’s go directly to the horses mouth to see what they say Santeria is.

“Santeria is often mistakenly depicted as an evil religion that worships demons, engages in blood-thirsty rituals and seeks to do evil on others. (the worship of false gods and spell casting is evil) This is further racist, (note how they slip the racist jargon in) colonial depiction of the beautiful and complex African religious tradition of Santeria. (See what this beautiful and complex religion requires here) Santeria’s chief tenet is to always strive to stay in a place of iré (blessings) by following the advice of our egun, orishas and elders. There is a strong ethic of helping others and working cooperatively to lift people out of poverty and sickness toward blessings, health, prosperity and longevity. We pray for “iré omó, iré owó, iré arikú babawa” which means “blessings of children, blessings of prosperity and blessings of long life.” We strive to cultivate a good character, live peaceful lives and respect nature and others around us. There is the use of magic (see info on magic here and here) for one’s defense, but in many ways this is no different than praying to God for defense against your enemies or petitioning saints (Catholic jargon) to stop those who seek to harm you. The same thing can be said for other ATRs like Vodou, (voodoo) Candomblé, Arará, etc.” Source: santeriachurch.org

The following was gleaned from BBC Religion but is “archived” and “no longer updated” Theirs is in Italics and I will comment in regular text.

Santeria deities

The religion focuses on building relationships between human beings and powerful, but mortal, spirits, called Orishas. An Orisha is a manifestation of Olodumare (God).

Followers believe that these spirits (demons) will give them help in life, if they carry out the appropriate rituals, and enable them to achieve the destiny that God (should have been a little “g”) planned for them before they were born.

Let me interject something here for a moment. God does have a plan for everyone. That is to accept his Son as Lord and Savior. The trouble is when people worship false gods then a curse is passed on from generation to generation and if their eyes are not opened to the truth as scripture states above, then as it is passed on it will wax worse and worse! We are seeing that manifest before our eyes as evidenced in the next paragraphs.

This is very much a mutual relationship as the Orishas need to be worshipped by human beings if they are to continue to exist.

In a Supreme Court Case in 1993, Justice Kennedy in his decision said:

“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.” Justice Kennedy, 1993

Orishas can be perceived in the physical universe by initiates, and the whole community can share in their presence when they possess a priest during some rituals.

I did not say it, they did. The rituals they perform cause and invite demon spirits to come into the priest. I would also add that anyone else who may be talking part or just observing who is NOT protected by the Blood of Jesus and the Holy Spirit!

Influence of Catholicism

The Roman Catholic element in Santeria is most obvious in the way Orishas are associated with Catholic Saints such as:

Saint Barbara [Shangó], who embodies justice and strength, and is associated with lightning and fire
Our Lady of Charity [Ochún] – the Yoruba goddess of the river, associated with water, yellow, sweets, money, and love
Saint Lazarus [Babalú-Ayé] – who is associated with the sick

Followers of Santeria are often (nominal) Roman Catholics as well. Catholic symbols are sometimes used in Santeria rituals.

Oh now I have went and angered you Catholics by including the Catholic connection!

Holy Books

Santeria has no scriptures and is passed on by word-of-mouth.

Rituals and Customs

Santeria rituals allow human beings to stay in contact with the Orishas – these rituals include dancing, drumming, speaking and eating with the spirits.

Santeria has few buildings devoted to the faith. Rituals often take place in halls rented for the purpose, or privately in Santeria homes which are may be fitted with altars for ritual purposes. During appropriate rituals the Orishas are able to meet believers at these sacred spaces.

Material for use in Santeria rituals can be bought in specialist outlets called botánicas.

These rituals can include Roman Catholic elements:

Lydia Cabrera notes that, in Santería, one ritual against evil eye combines a specially prepared herbal bath with three Our Fathers, Three Credos, and Three Ave Marias. Hector Avalos, Introduction to the U.S. Latina and Latino Religious Experience, 2004

Bembé

One major ritual is a bembé. This ceremony invites the Orisha to join the community in drumming, singing and dancing.

The Orisha may ‘seize the head’ of a person (or ‘mount them’ as if they were a horse), and cause that possessed person to perform ‘spectacular dances’, and to pass on various messages from the Orisha to community members.

Animal sacrifice in Santeria

Animal sacrifice is central to Santeria. The animal is sacrificed as food, (for the priest or participants) rather than for any obscure mystical purpose.

Wrong! The BBC writer is going by what they have read and parroting. In these rituals of any such religion, the more the animal or HUMAN istortured the more power one gets from these demons. They also collect the blood and sprinkle it around, again gaining strength and power supposedly from the animal or HUMAN being sacrificed as is evidenced in the next paragraphs.

Followers of an Orisha will offer them food and sacrifice animals to them in order to build and maintain a personal relationship with the spirit. The process not only brings the worshipper closer to their Orisha, but makes them more aware of the presence of the Orisha within them.

This is a mutual process; the food is essential for the Orishas, who will die without being fed, and in return the Orishas are able to help the worshippers. Orishas are also nourished by other forms of worship and praise.

Sacrifices are performed for life events such as birth, marriage, and death. They are also used for healing.

Without sacrifice the religion would die out, as sacrifice is essential for initiation into the faith community and the ‘ordination’ of priests.

The animals are killed by cutting the carotid arteries with a single knife stroke in a similar way to other religious methods of slaughter.

Animals are cooked and eaten following all Santeria rituals (except healing and death rites, where the sickness is believed to pass into the dead animal). Eating the sacrificed animal is considered a sharing with the Orisha, who only consumes the animal’s blood, while the worshippers eat the meat.

Sacrificial animals include chickens (the most common), pigeons, doves, ducks, guinea pigs, goats, sheep, and turtles.

The USA Supreme Court has stated (Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah, 1993 – see related links) that it is constitutional for Santeria worshippers to kill animals for such a ritual sacrifice.

Organization

There is no central organization in Santeria.

A vital unit of the Santeria community is the ‘house’ called a casa or ilé. This is often the house of a senior Santeria priest, who heads an extended family:

He, or more often, she, is the head of the ilé in the deeper sense of ‘family’. She or he is ‘godmother’ or ‘godfather’ to a family of sisters and brothers en santo, in the spirit.

In the minds of its members, the core function of the ilé is to honor the spirits and receive from them in turn guidance and assistance in all of life’s endeavours.

The Orishas offer their children spiritual experience and heavenly wisdom which is marked by progress in the initiatory hierarchy of the ilé. The ilé sets out a path of spiritual growth, a road en santo. Joseph M. Murphy, Working the Spirit: Ceremonies of the African Diaspora, 1994

The members of the ilé relate to each other in much the same way as members of an extended biological family. There may be an elaborate hierarchy based partly on the levels of spiritual development that family members have reached.

An ilé may be large or small. Ilés are independent but may join up for special occasions.

Membership is taken seriously, and members are expected to take part in the life of the ilé. Many people are involved with Santeria to a lesser extent, without becoming members of an ilé.
Initiation

Members mostly join as adults, usually after feeling that a particular Orisha has called them to do so.

Many testify that it was their experience of a life-threatening illness which first prompted their devotion to an Orisha.

Illness, they say, is a call from the Orisha, a crisis to a waken one to one’s destiny as a servant of the Orisha.

Their subsequent pact with the spirit reflects both their respect for the power of the Orisha to claim their lives and their gratitude for the Orisha’s agency in effecting a cure. Joseph M. Murphy, Working the Spirit: Ceremonies of the African Diaspora, 1994

Initiation is a solemn and life-changing event for the follower and unites them with their Orisha, and with other followers of that Orisha.

Priesthood

Santeria has a priesthood that includes both men and women. Priesthood involves training and initiation.

The priest may be a babalorisha (Father in the Spirit) or iyalorisha (Mother or Wife in the Spirit). The Spanish words for these priests are santero or santera.

Priesthood is not a full-time paid job, and is often combined with ordinary work.

A priest has ‘made the saint’, which means that they have been ‘reborn in the spirit’ and made a commitment to serve a particular Orisha.

Priests have special powers because they have been ‘entered’ by an Orisha. What they are saying is they become Demon Possessed!

Divining the future

These powers are thought to allow them to predict the future.

Divination mediates between earth (aiye) and heaven (orun). It proffers counsel and guidance to believers at all critical junctures and transitional experiences of the life cycle.

Eugenio Matibag, Ifá and Interpretation: An Afro-Caribbean Literary Practice, in Sacred Possessions: Vodou, Santería, Obeah and the Caribbean (ed. Margarite Fernandez Olmos and Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert), 1997

Divination can be done by casting palm nuts, interpreting the fall of shells, or using a divided coconut.

Santeria also includes the Yoruba divination system called Ifa, which can only be performed by a senior male priest called a babalawo. This ritual involves throwing an ekwele, a chain of 8 shaped pieces. The way in which these pieces fall is used to provide guidance.
Healthcare

Santeria priests have a great knowledge of traditional medicine and herbalism, and often play an important role in the health of their community. Their healthcare draws on Catholicism as well as African tradition; holy water is an ingredient in many Santeria medicinal formulas.

I pray you have absorbed what the beliefs and traditions of Santeria are. In the following posts you will need this knowledge to understand what the people are really up to!

To be ContinuedWho is involved? Some of the “priests” may surprise you!