Santería is ubiquitous in Cuba, and is highly visible as both a religion and as a piece of popular culture. The term Santería is a prejorative term, given to the worshipers of Orisha (African Gods) by Spanish slaveowners. Among practitioners, the preferred terms are Lucumí, Yoruba Religion, and Regla de Ocha (Rule of the Orisha). I have studied this religion and its music for nearly 25 years. I am also an initiated drummer (Preist of Aña) and have written a book and several articles on the topic. While we are in Cuba, I am happy to answer any questions you might have about Santería and to even help you witness a Santería ceremony.
3 Minute Video – Beuatiful rendition of a song for the Orisha (God) Eleguá. Elegua is the guardian of the crossroads, the keeper of knowledge. He is also known as the Supreme God’s (Olodumare) messenger. This song is sung in 4 part modern harmonies. This is not traditional. However, it is now quite common to the original chants and alter them for artistic purposes. You should enjoy this! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clMg33x1_e4
10 Minute Video – A Santeria Ceremony with Bata drums in the city of Trinidad de Cuba https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fx6w1a4BeMY
10 Minute Video – Clearly Articulates Major Concepts of Santeria https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4m-591C7kZk
5 Minute Video – Dance by the Orisha (Godess) Ochún, goddess of fertility, femininity, sweetness, honey, gold, and rivers. Takes place in a home (looks intimate) but is designed for a small group of tourists. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3DkepJNapBM
I am recommending two readings. The first is called “Clarke_Santeria” and is a short introduction to the religion and its basic beliefs. I find it to be a very useful article when lecturing on this topic.
The second is a chapter from my book, The Artistry of Afro-Cuban Batá (Chapter 1 – The Lucumi Religion and Its Music). In this chapter I give an overview of the religion, the ritual, and the music. Because it is part of a larger work, some of the details in the chapter might make no sense. But, there are some really good concepts in here, nonetheless. If you enjoy reading and have the time…I encourage you to go through it.