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The religious practices of Santeria date back to the early fifteen hundreds when African slaves, particularly in Cuba and Mexico, were being Christianized as part of their new life. With a blending of folk beliefs from Nigeria, the Guinea Coast, and Senegal and Catholicism, Santeria has a very beautiful and often misunderstood set of traditions that incorporate Catholic traditions, African folklore, and ancestral worship as well as ritual sacrifice, tribal dance, and oracles. In order to better understand Santeria, it’s easiest to associate the Deities of Santeria with the Spanish Catholic Saints. Even the name “Santeria” means “honor of the Saints” in respect for their significance in the beliefs. There is a sort of stepladder approach to Santeria wherein “God” (as the Christian form) is known as Olorun, the owner of heaven. Under Olorun are could be hundreds of “Saints” or Orishas, all of whom are seen as lesser deities and human guardians, so I will not name them all here. Each Orisha has an associated Saint, day, color, number, animal, food, and herb as well. Oral traditions, or Patakis, tell the stories of the Orishas in Santeria. In order to become a practitioner of Santeria, you must be initiated. Initiation differs in many respects and beliefs, so there is no one way that the Initiation process is carried out. Nevertheless a simplified initiation process is the person being initiated must be told their parent Orisha. After that, the initiate must have their elekes purified and dedicated as well as have an image of Eleggua made for offerings. Next, the initiate receives items that represent the warrior Orishas, and finally the initiate is possessed by their Orisha in a private, lengthy, and extremely personal and significant ritual. Santeriais a very private, and very wholesome religion, however it always welcomes new initiates. Please take a look at our artical on the History of The Yoruba People and Santeria Yoruba Orishas