An adolescence on the brink of crime, death and prison led Raul Kahayarix (Taíno red shark) Rivers > to a desperate search for peace and reconciliation. In her journey through the paths of spirituality she professed Catholicism, Christianity and the Pentecostal faith until her encounter with the Santería.
"My mother was an addict, I grew up without harmony and "said the Puerto Rican Harlem activist, who says he was summoned by the Orisha (divinities of the Yoruba mythology) five years ago.
" By then I was in charge of a Cuban party in a club where he worked as a security guard. Three strangers in white approached me to say: They are looking for you , remembered Kahayarix Ríos (52). "I later realized that it was the voice of the Orisha offering me the harmony I craved."
Today, identified as a son of Oggún of the primitive force represented by San Pedro) believes he is fulfilling his destiny after founding the Latinos NYC organization, which provides services to poor families. Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert , coauthor of the essay "Possessions Sacred: Voodoo, Voodoo,"
Santeria, Obeah and the Caribbean "(1997), explained that Santeria has its mainstays in the mythology of the West African Yoruba tribe.
Between 1820 and In 1840 the Yoruba people were enslaved. His Diaspora, forced to work on sugarcane plantations in Cuba and Brazil, was forbidden to worship their deities. To evade the masters they identified the Orisha with the Christian saints, and by the end of that century Santería was a definite religion.
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"It is the creator of everything that exists . It manifests itself through Ashe, the blood of cosmic life flowing towards force and justice. "Paravisini commented that in Santeria people have a destiny established before their birth in Ile-Olofi, the house of God in heaven.
"Those who are far from their destiny are in imbalance. The Babalawo (priest) is the guide that returns them to the path. The Orisha speak through him in a sacred possession. "
Rios said that in his religion believers are consecrated to an Orisha or holy according to their virtues. There are several levels of participation. The one of greater hierarchy is the Babalawo. The first initiation corresponds to the five necklaces, known as elekes and represent Eleggua, Obatalá, Shangó, Yemayá and Oshún . If the believer demonstrates moral quality, the Babalawo instructs him for his growth in religion. Some activities include white dressing for a year.
Paravisini-Gebert explained that Babalawo has extensive knowledge of herbalism and her role as healer is reliable for the community.
Stigma more associated with Santeria, links it to witchcraft and animal sacrifices , but believers defend them by arguing for spiritual ends. The Orisha are worshiped with offerings (fruit, honey, food and candles) and sacrifices which, according to practitioners, represent the Ashe, the spiritual energy that strengthens the deity through consecration. >
The sacrifices are only made to purify, request the help of an Orisha and for the ceremony of an initiation, weddings or funerals . After the ceremony, the animal's flesh is consumed or offered to needy families.
In 1993, the Supreme Court ruled that Santeria practitioners have constitutional rights to sacrifice animals, following the case of Lucumí Babalú Vs. City of Hialeah, Florida . The magistrates banned laws against the mistreatment of animals directed specifically to the Yoruba community.