Many perceive Santeria as a bizarre an undesirable amalgamation of primitive, pagan beliefs and Roman Catholicism. Many believe the religion to be a dangerous, perhaps even Satanic, variation of Voodoo featuring zombies, indiscriminate animal sacrifices and other totems that make those from first world religious backgrounds uneasy.
The truth behind Santeria is far less ominous. Santeria is a legitimate religion with roots that trace deep back into history.
European colonization of the new world brought with it the importation of slavery. Many slaves were Yorubas (that territory lies in what is now a part of modern-day Nigeria). The Yorubans practiced a highly evolved religion that included multiple Orishas, which can be roughly understood as beneficial forces akin to saints in Christian religious practices or lesser deities in polytheistic religions. Yorubans understood the concept of Ashe, the life force of every person, and developed a number of worship and celebration rituals.
Slaveholders found the idea of Yoruban religious practices add odds with their own ostensibly Christian belief structure. Fearing the unique customs of the Yorubans and...