Information for Rookies: 50 basic questions to understand the Regla de Osha

Much has been said about Santeria, however there are still many doubts about religion, so we have compiled 50 basic questions from the Osha

1) What is Santería? – Santería is a religious doctrine brought to America by the Yoruba slaves in colonial times. He settled mainly in Cuba.

2) Who are the Yorubas? – The Yorubas are the members of a people that was born in west-central Africa. They have been located since the beginning of time in Nigeria and its neighboring areas. According to their tradition they are the oldest town on the planet.

3) On what is your religious belief based? – It is based on the belief of God through the elements of Nature, a distinctly African philosophy.

4) What does the expression Olodumare – Olofi – Olorum mean? – They are the names of the divine triad that together make up one God. It is something like the three divine people in Catholicism. Olodumare is the Creator God, Olofi is his representative in our world and Olorum is the sun, the divinity that is responsible for generating life on our planet.

5) Why these strange names to name God and the superior forces? – These names and words belong to the Yoruba vocabulary and it is as old as the first civilization. The first Yorubas gave these names to God and his deities and thus it has been conserved until the present time.

6) What are the Orishas? – They are the deities worshiped by the Santeros. They are the product of creation, they are the first children of God and each one rules in an element of Nature.

7) Who are the Santeros? – Are the people consecrated under the rituals of Santería. They are priests and priests who descend spiritually from the Yorubas.

8) What is a Babalawo? – He is one of the senior priests of the Yoruba religion and is consecrated with a deity called Orula, the soothsayer Orisha.

9) What are the Snails in the Yoruba religion? – The Snails is the oracle that the Santeros use to communicate with the Orishas.

10) What is the Ifa Oracle? – It is the oracle that the Babalawos use to communicate with Orula. In it is the essence of all religion and life itself.

11) How many Orishas exist in the Yoruba religion? – 401 deities are those belonging to the Yoruba pantheon, but in America only about 32 are known.

12) Who is Elegguá? – He is one of the most important Orishas. He owns the roads and is always made offerings and ceremonies before any other Orisha.

13) Who is Odduwa? – He is one of the first saints to come to earth. He was the one who founded the Yoruba people and organized the first civilizations.

14) Who is Obatala? – He is the greatest saint. It belongs to everything white and the heads of human beings (the understanding). He owns purity and rules in the mountains.

15) Who is Yemayá? – She is the owner of motherhood and the mother of almost all the saints. It rules in the seas.

16) Who is Oyá? – Deity who is in charge of channeling the spirits on their journey to the other dimension. She is the queen of the spirits and rules both in cemeteries and in storms.

17) Who is Chango? – It is one of the most popular Orishas. Owner of dance, music and the joy of living. It is the prototype of masculinity and according to tradition Yoruba is the first son of God on earth. It rules in lightning and thunder.

18) Who is Ochún? – He is the youngest deity of the Yoruba pantheon, rules in the rivers, owns love and loves money, which he does not hesitate to give to his children and protected. Share with Chango the fact of being the first daughter of God on earth.

19) Who is Oggún? – Is the Orisha owner of work and war.

20) Who is Ochosi? – He is the Orisha in charge of supporting the peoples. He is the owner of justice and hunting, hunting both good opportunities and evil spirits.

21) Is it possible to obtain health in the Santería? – If, in addition to health, also the economic and social stability, in addition that helps to evolve spiritually.

22) What is the ebbó? – It is the formula or method that the Orisha indicates to solve a situation or problem. The ebbó is determined through the oracles.

23) How can that be achieved? – Following the advice given by the Orishas through divinatory oracles.

24) How does a person start in the Yoruba religion? – It is achieved with the imposition of sacred and warrior necklaces, the latter have to be delivered by a santero or babalawo. This ceremony must be done by a consecrated Santero or Babalawo, and is usually indicated in the oracles.

25) What does it mean to “become the saint?” – It is the most important ceremony in the Yoruba religion, which consists in the person consecrating himself with his “guardian angel” or “tutelary orisha.” From there, the consecrated person becomes Santero.


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26) Why do people become the Saint? – Consecrating oneself in saint depends on several circumstances. It can be by health, by devotion, by priesthood, to achieve stability, to avoid a very great danger, by tradition, etc.

27) Who determines that a person should consecrate himself in a saint? – This is determined by Olofi and the Orishas through the divinatory oracles of religion.

28) What does “Syncretism” mean? – Syncretism basically means comparison. Religious syncretism is widely used in Santeria, where the Orishas are compared to Catholic saints because of certain similarities.

29) Can we say then that the Orishas are the same Catholic saints? – No, that is totally false. The syncretism was used by the Yoruba slaves to protect themselves and their religious customs before the colonizer. Then it was customary to call the Orishas with the names of Catholic saints, but obviously we are not talking about the same deities. For example, it can not be said that Changó is Santa Bárbara, the difference between the two is well marked.

30) Can we say that Santería is equal to Spiritism? – No, Santería is one of the oldest religions and has its specific rules, while spiritualism is based on communication with spirits and basically works by inspiration .

31) Can the necklaces of the Orishas be placed by a spiritualist? – No, the necklaces that represent the Orishas can only be placed by those who are consecrated in the rule of Ocha, that is by consecrated santeros.

32) In the Santería people speak of Egun, to whom do they refer? – The Yorubas call Egun the spirit of the ancestors. In the Yoruba religious practice, attention to these spirits is essential. This does not mean that Santería is mixed with Spiritism, it is just that tribute must be paid to the ancestors before beginning any ceremony.

33) What is the spiritual vault? – The spiritual vault is a place where tribute is paid to the ancestors and spirit guides of the person. It is basically made up of glasses with water and there are offerings to Egun such as: flowers, fruits, honey, brandy, tobacco, candles, homemade foods, sweets, etc.

34) What are the Batá drums? – They are the sacred drums that are used to pay homage to the Orishas at parties.

35) Who is Añá? – Añá is a deity who lives inside the Batá drum. He is in charge of channeling the message that emits the sounds of the drum.

36) What is an Omoalaña? – It is the name that is given to the musicians who play the Batá drums. The name means “son of Añá”.

37) Can a santero be married by the Catholic Church? – Yes, the Yoruba tradition is open to religious doctrines that exalt the figure of God.

38) Where did Santería originate? – Santería comes from the Yoruba culture and originated in the sacred city of Ifé, Nigeria.

39) Who is the Ooni? – He is the maximum representative of the Yoruba religious culture. The Ooni is for the practitioners of the Yoruba religion what the Pope is for Catholics.

40) How is an Orisha properly treated? – Offerings are made according to your taste, which will depend on the situation you want to solve and what the oracles say.

41) Can a non-consecrated person use the divining oracles of the Yoruba religion? – Absolutely not.

42) What is the Ildefá de Orula? – It is a bracelet made of green and yellow beads that is placed on the left wrist of people who need it. It symbolizes the covenant that Orula made with death so that it respects the life of the people who use it until Oloddumare determines that he must leave the earthly plane.

43) Who places the Ildefá? – The Ildefá de Orula should only be placed by the Babalawos, because these priests are consecrated to Orula.

44) Can a person make offerings to the Orishas without being a santero? – Yes, he can. It does not need to be consecrated to pay tribute to the Yoruba deities.

45) But, since you do not have the tureens where the Orishas live, how can you pay tribute? – You can do it in Nature. To Elegguá in the mountains, to Obatalá in the mountains, to Yemayá in the sea, to Changó in a royal palm or a ceiba, to Oyá in the cemetery, to Ochún in the river, etc.

46) Is there a difference in the practice of Santeria in other parts of the world? – There is no difference if it is practiced keeping the rules imposed by the first Yorubas that arrived in America.

47) Can a child be consecrated in saint? – If possible, it can even be consecrated while in the mother’s womb.

48) In Santería can a person be helped after death? – Yes, with daily attentions and with deeper ceremonies.

49) A santero can consecrate his own relatives? – Only to whom is minor, except for the children or couple.

50) After consecrated a santero can withdraw from his Faith? – The person can move away from religion, if it is their decision, but it is important to know that the Kari Ocha ceremony can not be erased. It even remains until after death.


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