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Santeria (Santeria - Español) :
Santería is a syncretic religion of Caribbean origin. Also known as Regla de Ocha, La Regla Lucumi, or Lukumi. From Spanish meaning "one who 'has', 'makes' or 'works' the spirit". The priests are known as Babaolorishas, "fathers of orisha", and priestesses as Iyalorishas, "mothers of orisha", and serve as the junior Ile or second in the hierarchical religious structure. The Babalorishas and Iyalorishas are referred to as "Santeros(as)" and if they function as diviners of the Orishas they can be considered Oriates. The highest level of achievement is to become a priest of Ifá (ee-fah). Ifa Priests receive Orunmila who is the Orisha of Prophecy, Wisdom and all Knowledge. Ifa Priests are known by their titles such as "Babalawo" or "Father Who Knows the Secrets" and "Iyanifa" or "Mother of Destiny." Ifa Ile or Temples of Ifa serve as the senior to all Orisha Ile in the Traditional Orisha-Ifa / Santería Community. The Sacred Oracle of Ika-Fun or Ika Ofun serves as confirmation. The "Seven Powers of God" or "Siete Potencia" are; Elegua, Oggun, Oshun, Chango, Obatala, Yemeya and Onrula. These are the most common Orisha names, especially in Cuba.

The Orishas (Gods of Santeria): the African slaves were not allowed to freely practice their own religion, they had to “disguise” or syncretize their gods, with those of the slave owners - the Catholic saints.

The slaves were not allowed to practice their religion freely, nor worship their gods due to the heavy Catholic influence by the slave owners. Therefore, the intelligent slaves found a way to “disguise” their worship by symbolically using the images and names of the Catholic saints and syncronising them with their African gods.
Santeria believes in one creator, one All Mighty God - Olorun/Olodumare, who created the other “semi-gods” or entities called Orishas, to deal with every facet of human life and nature itself. They intercede in on our behalf, just as the Catholic saints intercede.
Santeria is a combination of the West African Yoruba religion and Catholicism. It was brought to Cuba originally by the African slaves which were brought by the Spaniards to that island.

video de santeria
 Botanica 7 Angeles: tarot reading, spiritual advisor, oils, candles, inscences, and more religious santeria supplies. NJ, NY, LI, New York City, Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, USA. Santería is one of the syncretic religions. It a system of beliefs that merge Yoruba religion (brought to the New World by slaves imported to the Caribbean to work the sugar plantations), Roman Catholic and Native American traditions. These slaves carried with them their own religious traditions, including a tradition of trance for communicating with their ancestors and deities, animal sacrifice and the practice of sacred drumming and dance.

Those slaves who landed in the Caribbean, Central and South America were nominally converted to Christianity. However, they were able to preserve some of their traditions by fusing together various traditional believes of the tribes that made up the old Oyo Empire ( Egba, Ijesha, Dahome, Asanti, Bini,) and Lukumi beliefs and rituals and by syncretizing these with elements from the surrounding Christian culture.

In Cuba this religious tradition has evolved into what we now recognize as Santería. In 2001, there were an estimated 22,000 practitioners in the USA alone, but the number may be higher as some practitioners may be reluctant to disclose their religion on a government census or to an academic researcher.

Of those residing in the USA, some are fully committed priests and priestesses, others are "godchildren" or members of a particular house-tradition, and many are clients seeking help with their everyday problems. Many are of Hispanic and Caribbean descent but as the religion moves out of the inner cities and into the suburbs; a growing number are of African-American and European-American heritage. As the If á religion of Africa was recreated in the Americas it was transformed.

"The colonial period from the standpoint of African slaves may be defined as a time of perseverance. Their world quickly changed. Tribal kings and families, politicians, business and community leaders all were enslaved in a foreign region of the world. Religious leaders, their descendants, and the faithful, were now slaves. Colonial laws criminalize their religion. They were forced to become baptized and worship a god their ancestors had not known who was surrounded by a pantheon of saints. The early concerns during this period seem to indicate a need for individual survival under harsh plantation conditions. A sense of hope was sustaining the internal essence of what today is called Santería, a misnomer for the indigenous religion of the Lukumi people of Nigeria.

In the heart of their homeland, they had a complex political and social order. They were a sedentary hoe farming cultural group with specialized labor. Their religion based on the worship of nature was renamed and documented by their masters. Santería, a pejorative term that characterizes deviant Catholic forms of worshiping saints, has become a common name for the religion. The term santero(a) is used to describe a priest or priestess replacing the traditional term Olorisha as an extension of the deities. The orishas became known as the saints in image of the Catholic pantheon." (Ernesto Pichardo, CLBA, Santería in Contemporary Cuba: The individual life and condition of the priesthood).
video: Santero (Babalawo) Prepares Good Fortune Amulet
As mentioned, in order to preserve their authentic ancestral and traditional beliefs, the Lukumi people had no choice but to disguise their orishas as Catholic saints. When the Roman Catholic slave owners observed Africans celebrating a Saint's Day, they were generally unaware that the slaves were actually worshiping their sacred orishas. In Cuba today, the terms "saint" and "orisha" are sometimes used interchangeably. The term Santería was originally a derisive term applied by the Spanish to mock followers' seeming overdevotion to the saints and their perceived neglect of God. It was later applied to the religion by others. This "veil" characterization of the relationship between Catholic saints and Cuban orisha, however, is somewhat undermined by the fact that the vast majority of santeros in Cuba today also consider themselves to be Catholics, have been baptized, and often require initiates to be baptized. Many hold separate rituals to honor the saints and orisha respectively, even though the disguise of Catholicism is no longer needed.

The traditional Lukumi religion and its Santería counterpart can be found in many parts of the world today, including but not limited to: the United States, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Panama, Nicaragua, Argentina, Colombia, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Great Britain, Canada, Venezuela, and other areas with large Latin American populations. A very similar religion called Candomblé is practiced in Brazil, which is home to a rich array of other Afro-American religions. This is now being referred to as "parallel religiosity" (Perez y Mena, SSSR paper 2005) since some believers worship the African variant that has no devil fetish and no baptism or marriage and at the same time they belong to either Catholic churches or mainline Protestant churches, where there is a devil fetish.

Video: Yoruba Culture in Cuba
Lukumi religiosity works toward a balance here on earth (androcentric) while the European religions work toward the hereafter. Some in Cuban Santería, Haitian Vodou or Puerto Rican Spiritualism (Afro-Latin Religions) do not view a difference between the saints and the orishas, the ancestor deities of the Lukumi people's Ifa religion. There are now individuals who mix the Lukumí practices with traditional practices as they survived in Africa after the deleterious effects of colonialism. Although most of these mixes have not been at the hands of experienced or knowledgeable practitioners of either system, they have gained a certain popularity.

In 2007, the first Santería church in the United States was incorporated as the Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye.

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