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Santeria

Santeria derives from Nigeria. Santeria is a magico-religious system that has its roots in nature and natural forces. Each Orisha or Saint is identified with a force of nature and with a human interest or endeavor. Chango is the God of fire, thunder and lightning, but Chango is also the symbol of justice and protects his followers against enemies. Chango symbolizes passion and virility and is often invoked in works of seduction. Oshun, on the other hand, symbolizes river waters, love and marriage. She is essentially the archetype of joy and pleasure. Yemaya is identified with the seven seas, but is also the symbol of Motherhood and protects women in their endeavors. Eleggua symbolizes the crossroads and is the Orisha of change and destiny, the One who makes things possible or impossible. He symbolizes the balance of things. Obatala is the father, the symbol of peace and purity. Oya symbolizes the winds and is the owner of the cemetery, the watcher of the doorway between life and death. She is not death, but the awareness of its existence. Oggun is the patron of all metals, and protects farmers, carpenters, butchers, surgeons, mechanics, and all who work with or near metals. Oggun also rules over accidents, which he often causes.

Ochun is the goddess of love, of money and happiness. She brings to alll the good things of life. She is the goddess of sweet water and can be found where there is fresh water, at rivers, ponds and especially waterfalls. Many offerings are left for her at the waterfalls. Many ceremonies in her honor are performed at the river bank Future Iyawo must go to the river for a special cleansing by Ochun the night before they are "crowned" in Ocha. Ochun loves to dance and make merry but also has a serious side. Ochun is a great diviner and her children are endowed with psychic abilities, especially when using the sacred seashells or "caracoles" in divination which are the mouths of the Orishas. Ochun is very sensual, but also very sensitive. Ochun may be easily offended.

Yalorde means Queen and is a popular title for Ochun. Just as the Virgen of the Caridad del Cobre represents the Queen of Heaven, so does Ochun, the Queen of Love and Money. All of Cuba's Orishas are considered to be Kings and Queens in part because many, like Chango, walked on Earth and were indeed kings.

Santeria is widely practiced in Cuba. In Regla, a small community on the Eastern side of Havana Bay, Santeria is commonplace.

Reference: Rituals & Spells of Santeria by: Migene Gonzalez Wippler and Migene Gonzalez-Wippler; "Diccionario de la Lengua Conga Residual en Cuba" by Teodoro Diaz Fabelo,

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