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.