Perhaps the most popular is that it involves black magic or witchcraft. The fact of the matter is that there is witchcraft and black magic that are used in Santeria, just as there is darkness and evil throughout the world. Western history is rattled with Jihads and Crusades where people forced their religions and ideologies on others with the strength of a blade. Like any religion, there are people who use the forces of the universe for evil.
However, most people in Santeria use magic for good.
Another misconception is that Santeria is used to hex people, to put a curse on others, or to cause adversity or misfortune. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, followers of Santeria only worship Orishas (saints). They obey the guidelines of the religion, observe important feasts, and carry out the rites that are expected of them. In return, those who follow Orishas are promised access to powers as well as protection from evil. A more controversial aspect of Santeria is the practice of animal sacrifices.
While animal sacrifice is a fundamental part of Santeria religion, it is used in order to acquire what is considered a cosmic energy as well as to appease deities. Virtually all-traditional religions made animal sacrifices.
The truth of the matter is that sacrifice is a great component of spirituality.
Some may call it creative destruction, when something has to die in order for something else to be created. However, the premise behind the act of making a sacrifice is to understand that everything in the universe is interconnected. In Santeria, worshippers understand that the world is perfectly balanced, and in order for something to be created, something else has to be destroyed. The basis of sacrifice in Santeria is for the worshippers to give something of themselves.
Worshipers are known to give charity, prayers, songs, foods, time, and money as a sacrifice.
Worshippers also use dance, rituals, and tell stories as sacrifices. However, the best sacrifice that a worshiper could ever offer the Orishas is to sacrifice his or herself. They can do this by conducting a service that is totally self-less. This service could be in the form of charity, of giving, or merely sending out prayers and good intentions to others. Worshippers of Santeria understand the true value of sacrifice and have a profound respect for animals and nature.
Santeria has been a major religion in Cuba practiced by diverse people and has become a global religious movement in the United States and the Caribbean. Historians believe that Santeria began between 1780 and 1850 during the Atlantic Slave trade, when approximately 1 million captives were transported from Africa to Cuba. In Cuba, Africans from different regions intermingled and formed a popular religion from traditional African beliefs.
Santeria, much like many other traditional European religions consist of diverse spirits and divinities.
The supreme god, Olodumare, created the natural world where humans lived. The deities known as orishas in Santeria, ascended to greatness by exemplifying good character and thus becoming angels with unlimited abilities. Like other traditional religions, orishas were associated with natural features like rivers, thunder and mountains. In Greek mythology, Zeus was the God of thunder. In Santeria, the orisha Chango is the god of lightning and fire. Stores of the orishas, also known as patikis reveal their specific personalities and traits. Each orisha rules over some aspect of human life and or society. The patikis guide practitioners on how to worship the Orishas. Dozens of books have been published with complete guides and charts on offerings, foods, colors, virtues, and songs about each orisha.
In Santeria, each human has a patron orisha, or presiding orisha that is assigned to him or her before birth by the supreme God Olodumare.
The ori, which translates into head, is divided into four parts. The ori contains the true essence of the human being. It works as a guiding force to help an individual to follow his or her destiny, to strive to have good character, and to adopt special gifts and talents. Once, an individual has achieved all of this, they are led by the orisha Eshu through the gates that separate the physical world from the spiritual world. In the spiritual world, they become ancestral spirits known as eguns.
Ashe, also known as energy in the Western world, and Chi in the Eastern world, is the inherent power or essence that makes things happen.
Everything in nature vibrates at its own frequency. Ashe, much like healing energy works based on polarities such as positive and negative, male and female, and yin and yang. Priest and priestesses in Santeria strive to find the perfect vibration for each life form. Therefore, words spoken or sung carry ashe. Herbs giving to an ailing patient carry ashe. Animal blood and certain key parts of sacrificed animals carry ashe. Practitioners and priest of Santeria strive to create balance by attaining the perfect vibrational frequencies in nature and within themselves.