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Sacrificial Ceremonies of Santería

Sacrificial Ceremonies of Santería

A Complete Guide to the Rituals and Practices

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The first book to explore the history, methods, and thinking behind sacrifice in the growing Santería faith

• Explains the animal sacrifice ceremony in step-by-step detail

• Shares the ancient African sacred stories that reveal the well-thought-out metaphysics and spirituality behind the practice of animal sacrifice

• Chronicles the legal fight all the way to its 1993 U.S. Supreme Court victory to establish legal protection for the Santería faith and its practitioners

Tackling the biggest controversy surrounding his faith, Santería priest Ócha’ni Lele explains for the first time in print the practice and importance of animal sacrifice as a religious sacrament. Describing the animal sacrifice ceremony in step-by-step detail, including the songs and chants used, he examines the thinking and metaphysics behind the ritual and reveals the deep connections to the odu of the diloggún--the source of all practices in this Afro-Cuban faith.

Tracing the legal battle spearheaded by Oba Ernesto Pichardo, head of the Church of the Lukumi of Babaluaiye, over the right to practice animal sacrifice as a religious sacrament, Lele chronicles the fight all the way to its 1993 U.S. Supreme Court victory, which established legal protection for the Santería faith and its practitioners. Weaving together oral fragments stemming from the ancient Yoruba of West Africa, the author reconstructs their sacred stories, or patakís, that demonstrate the well-thought-out metaphysics and spirituality behind the practice of animal sacrifice in the Yoruba and Santería religion, including explanations about why each animal can be regarded as food for both humans and the orisha as well as how sacrifice is not limited to animals.

Shedding light on the extraordinary global growth of this religion over the past 50 years, Lele’s guide to the sacrificial ceremonies of Santería enables initiates to learn proper ceremony protocol as well as gives outsiders a glimpse into this most secretive world of the santeros.
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  • Destiny Books | 
  • 256 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781594774553 | 
  • August 2012
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 5
Blood and Honey
The Sacrificial Ritual


After completing the preparations outlined in chapter four of this text, the sacrifices begin. There are a few things to keep in mind during the ceremony. First, prepare the floor between each cycle of sacrifices. Before putting any orisha on the floor to eat, the priests handling the broom and mop scrub it clean; the ashé of each animal is different, and the orishas are strict in what they eat. Those priests present without active roles in the ceremony form a chorus; in response to each line the oriaté sings, they chant a response. If the orisha being fed is one... see more

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