Santería is an orally transmitted religion that combines indigenous African traditions with elements of Roman Catholicism. Developed in Cuba, Santería has spread to Latin America and the United States. The religion emphasizes a reciprocal relationship between practitioners and orishas (“humanlike spirits”), expressed through religious rituals involving trance, spirit possession, dancing, and animal sacrifice. Santería offers spiritual opportunities for initiated female and male practitioners (santeras and santeros) that are somewhat more egalitarian than many other religions.

Known to practitioners as la Regla de Ocha (“The Rule of the órishàs”) or la Religión Lucumí, Santería developed from the 16th to 19th centuries as African slaves brought the baKongo, Dahomey, and Yorùbá beliefs and rituals of their homelands to sugar plantations in the Caribbean. ...

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