This is an introductory course about the three main synergistic African-origin religions in the New World.
Although they all originated in Africa, all three religions contain prominent elements derived from other sources, such as Catholicism, Native American religion and even European renaissance occult practices and nineteenth-century Spiritism.
Originally, African religious practices were exported to the New World through the slave trade. Now, one of the consequences of globalisation is that these as well as other African-origin religions are returning to the Old World. Candomblé is well-established in Portugal and has footholds in many other European countries, while Santería is well-established in Spain and likewise has many European footholds. There is even an influx of Africans to Brazil wishing to learn their spiritual roots, which have been weakened in many parts of Africa.
This course will have three sessions:
1. Brazil: Candomblé, Umbanda and Kardecism
This session will outline the history and practices of Candomblé and how it differs from Umbanda and Kardecism. We will trace the origins of Candomblé among the various African nations that were exported to Brazil, as well as the way it has evolved since the establishment of the first Candomblé house, Casa Branca, in Salvador da Bahia.
2. Cuba: Santería and Palo
This session will outline the likenesses and differences between Brazilian Candomlé and Cuban Santería, as well as the strong influx of Santería to the United States, most notably Miami. We will also talk about Palo, which is very different from Santería but is nevertheless practiced by many initiates of Santería.
3. Haiti: Voodoo Rada and Voodoo Petro
Haiti has a special place in the New World, since it was the only country where the slaves successfully staged a full-scale revolution. The slave trade to Haiti thus stopped almost one hundred years earlier than to many of the other colonies in the New World. This meant that Haiti did not experience the wave of Yoruba slaves in the nineteenth century seen by both Cuba and Brazil. Thus Voodoo became dominated by the nations of Dahome and Congo rather than Yoruba. In this session we will talk about the diverse religious landscape in Haiti as well as the reasons why “Voodoo” has wrongfully become synonymous with black magic in the popular imagination.
(Blaine Harrington/Alamy Stock Photo/)