Over the past few months I have been reading about Santería and I have been impressed with how much followers of this religion embed their beliefs into their lives. The Orishas are consulted over every aspect of the adherents’ lives; there are strict rituals to follow, and etiquette to respect. I have had several dreams involving the Orishas. The first such dream occurred a few months ago and it involved Chango, in his form of Saint Barbara. This was a very powerful dream, and I remember seeing St Barbara clearly surrounded by fire and lightning, holding her cup toward me. More recently, I have had two dreams during which a couple of Santeros were debating over which Orisha crowned my head. This was very interesting, given that followers of Santería believe that everybody has a mother and a father Orisha, with one being the primary Orisha, even if that person doesn’t follow the religion or believe in Orishas.
There is a lot in Santería that I would like to adapt and incorporate into my own practices. However, I am worried about cultural appropriation. My main concern is this: if I wanted to invite the power of the Orishas into my life, is there a legitimate way of doing this? Obviously I could try and train in Santería but there are, as far as I know, very few Santeros (if any) in the UK and I am satisfied with Feri being my primary tradition. Also, there are certain things that I do not find appealing about the religion, namely animal sacrifice. Aside from that, is it appropriate to work with the Orishas without observing their traditional rituals? We do it all the time with other pantheons, so why not with the Santos? I would argue that given that Santería is a living religion, unlike Greek/Roman/Egyptian religions, the beliefs of followers should be taken into account, and I’m sure they wouldn’t agree with a Witch working with the Orishas.
But what would the Orishas think?