Santeria is an Afro-Cuban religion with strong belief systems from Yoruba world view. It is a monotheistic faith. Syncretism has been achieved with Roman Catholic Christianity. It is an oral religion, transferred from generation to generation by word of mouth. The number of practitioners is not certain. Some estimate the number in the millions.

Beliefs and Practices

In Santeria, the supreme being is Oludumare. Oludumare created everything with the life force or energy called Ashe. The universe is built of Ashe. Under Oludumare exist the orishas, who represent aspects of nature and human traits. Humans interact with the orishas not to Oludumare. By possession, orishas are thought to guide believers on health and wise behavior. Individuals are
born with an assign orisha. Female priest(iyalocha) and male priest(babalocha) tend to guide gatherings and are head of Santeria communities. The personal homes of the iyalocha and babalocha are the center of Santeria ceremonies and worship, like a church or mosque.


Santeria is thought to have developed during the 1700's with a large influx of slaves from the Yoruba ethnic group, stemming from turmoil in the Oyo Empire. Slaves began organizing themselves into "cabildos" or social groups. These groups would nurture the new faith, passing on orally Santeria teachings, rituals, herbal medicine. The Catholic Church frowned upon these African beliefs, driving Santeria underground. Since Catholicism had a lot of saints and Yoruba religion had a lot of orishas with similiar traits, saints began to be affiliated with orishas, making it possible to worship african gods in the guise of saints, a process of syncretism, keeping Santeria alive.

Many Cubans after the Cuban Revolution fled the island establishing large Cuban diaspora communities throughout Latin America and the United States, particularly New York and Miami, spreading the religion. During the Castro regime attempts were made to suppress the Faith. The religion presently, post 2014, is experiencing widespread acceptance and conversion.

God and Orishas

Human gain access to God Oludumare via the orishas. There are about 400 plus reported orishas, who can be affiliated with Catholic Saints.

God & Orishas
Catholic God and Saints
AguemaOur Lady of Immaculate Conception
Aganyu-SolaSaint Christopher
Babalu-AyeSaint Lazarus
ChangoSaint Barbara
ElleguaSaint Anthony of Padua
InleArchangel Raphael
Our Lady of the Rosary
OchagrinanSaint Joseph
OchosiSaint Norbert
YemayaVirgin of Regala
YewaSaint Clare
OshuOur Lady of Charity
OgunSt. Peter and St. Miguel
OyaCandelaria/ Saint Teresa