Santeria African Spirits in America

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In researching the Yoruba people and their spiritual beliefs under Santeria, the book Santeria: African Spirits in America by Joseph Murphy allows for an exploration of the origins of Santeria which then creates a background for how the beliefs manifest in the United States. Through researching relevant literature to enhance topics within the framework of the subject, an exploration of the topic of the beliefs of Santeria creates a deeper understanding of the spiritual communities that celebrate the traditions of the religion.Background Santeria has been embraced through the Afro-Caribbean cultures that emerged due to migration of West African communities through slavery. The religion is practiced in North America, but has a large following in Cuba, Brazil, Haitii, and in West Africa (Brown 115). Among the multi-cultures in the United States, has provided a diverse place in which the practice and belief in Santeria has had a chance to flourish. Practicing communities can be found in Miami, New York, and in Havana Cuba. Urban cities in the Dominican Republic and in Haiti also have large size communities who share in the beliefs. There is an estimated 100 million people in the Americas that practice the worship of Santeria (De La Torre xiv). While the belief systems from West Africa have a very specific nature, the Santeria in the Americas has been changed to embrace a conglomeration of religions which are founded in Haitian Voodoo, Obeah, Brazilian Candomble, with high influences from the Catholic Church. When African slaves escaped their bondage from Brazil and reached Cuba, they were given the ability to marry, have property and to live in such a way to be trained and conduct free, contributing lives to society. The only stipulation was that they become baptized into the Roman Catholic religion (Murphy 28). The relationship that was formed between the religious beliefs of the West African form of spiritual life and the tenets of Catholicism formed the beginnings of the way in which it the beliefs are currently practiced, similar reformations creating the many influences that have combined to form the current forms of Santeria practice. Because of this mixture of religions from which the practices in the Americas were created, there is no individual who can be named for being the founder of the religion. The beliefs of Americanized Santeria still hold the worship of the orisha. The orisha are associated with the saints of the Catholic religion. Each of the saints is represented as an orisha with a principle, a color, a number, a food, a dance posture, and an emblem. The orisha are honored through sacrifice, often a ritualized taking of the life of an animal. The blood is used as an offering to the orisha to please the saints in order to bring good luck, purification and the forgiveness of sins. Other aspects of evoking spirits and creating possession by ancestors are accomplished through rhythmic dances that are freely expressed through fervent dances (De La Torre 126). Findings Santeria is a cultural religion that began in Africa among the Yoruba people who lived in the region now considered Nigeria. Among the many developments of the Yoruba people was the development of a complex understanding of their spiritual life that reached into a subtle envelopment of their way of life. God was called ‘Olodumare’ and was considered the owner of all destinies. He was also considered the ‘almighty’ and ‘the ground of life’ (7). The power that is the force of Olodumare has a name that identifies its association within the culture. Ashe is an incarnate life force that is the ‘