What is Santería?

Been reading a lot of misconceptions on this topic. Would to like spread some light on this part of the Cuban culture. It is always good to know about cultures and religions around the world. First of all, I do not practice this culture rich religion nor am I promoting it. I’m just sharing what I know about santería being a Latino of African heritage. Can’t speak about everything in this post because that would take a few books. So bare with me to those who know a lot about this topic. I’m just summarizing it.

Santeros dancing photo courtesy of http://www.differencebetween.net/miscellaneous/religion-miscellaneous/difference-between-santeria-and-voodoo/

Santería in Latin America is actually very common. A lot of people who practice it now aren’t even hispanic nor of African heritage. This religion is a mixture of Roman Catholicism and Yoruban religions. It’s main language is Lucumí. Native to the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Puerto rico. This language is like Latin to the Catholics and Arabic to Muslims. Lucumí is a langague mixed with west African words and Spanish. It has too many words and grammatical differences to be called a Spanish Creole. It’s a completely different tongue.

Santería store in the usa photo courtesy of http://pluralism.org/religions/afro-caribbean/afro-caribbean-traditions/santeria-the-lucumi-way/

While in Cuba, I did not want to get blessings from a Santero or santera nor wanted to film their ceremonies. I will explain my reasons later. Most people think Santería is about worshiping the devil. Which is one of the misconceptions. In santería, there’s actually no devil. It’s similar to Pre-Christian religions of the Vikings, Romans and Greeks. There are many gods, so it’s not monotheistic like Islam or Christianity.

Changó, The God of lighting photo courtesy of https://www.originalbotanica.com/blog/chango-shango-orisha-santeria/

The main figure of santería is Changó. Changó is the god of lightning, dance and manliness. The dances you see santeros practicing is to please and get blessings from this lighting god. That’s why the marital arts like capoeria and juego de maní focus mainly around dance. Since, Changó is of Yoruban origin. Which is now manly part of Nigeria. I will speak more about this in detail on another post. Since, I could write a whole book about this topic.

Map of where Yoruba is spoken in Africa photo courtesy of https://www.ucl.ac.uk/atlas/yoruba/introduction.html

So, the history of Santería is very interesting. This religion was created by slaves in order to hide the preservation of thier African culture from the Spanish. They used saints from the Catholic church to trick the Spanish into thinking they were practicing Christianity. The mixture of African religions with Catholicism was very common in the Portuguese and Spanish colonies. In the Spanish colonies, Santería was born.

A santera photo courtesy of https://yagbeonilu.com/santeria-rituales/

Being Hispanic of African heritage from the Caribbean, Santería and other African religions are commonly practiced. Some do it in hiding, others are very open about it. I don’t practice santería because I don’t want to bring spirits into my life. As you all can tell, my life is crazy already. Adding spirits will just complicate things. Also, be careful when going to santeros. You don’t always know their true intentions. They could be bringing negative spirits into your life.

Thank you so much for reading! Much love and safe travels everyone.

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17 thoughts on “What is Santería?

  1. Yes please do write a book! It’s so interesting. I like Santeria very much. I always thought Obatala was the most important Oricha. But that’s not important here. I never did fear it, I am interested in it. I once did visit a ‘santero’ through a Cuban friend but he seemed more like a catholic priest to me. Fact was, I was relieved of my digestive problems (you know when you can’t resist thatone ice cube in your drink). Another visit tought me that my ‘god’ was Ochun. It’s nice to know 🙂

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  2. I’m Portuguese but our brothers from Brazil are big on Santería and I grew up hearing stories about it. I also lived in Africa for a great part of my childhood and teens and it was very interesting to see how the African mythology mixed and mingled with Christian beliefs to create this fascinating belief system. In fact, I even wrote a fantasy series where Santería (or something like it) plays a major role. Great post.

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