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Santería—also referred to as Lukumí—is a spiritual tradition heavily influenced by Yoruba cosmological thought and practice brought into the Western hemisphere by enslaved Africans. Based on an understanding of God as a distant, all-powerful Creator who has given power and authority to lesser divinities referred to as orisha, Santería involves the veneration of ancestors and the invocation of orishas for assistance, divination, and sacrifices as part of a long-standing religious belief system that has defied the many political and social attempts to destroy it. This entry offers a general description of Santería and the cosmology on which it is established.

Historical Background

While Yoruba-derived spiritual traditions are found throughout the African world, the belief system referred to as Santería may be one ...

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