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    1. #1
      IfasehunReincarnated's Avatar
      IfasehunReincarnated is offline Never Let Them Disrespect the Ancestors

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      Priestess of the Ancestors/Egun


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      Priestess of the ancestors - Yanique Caudra
      COVER STORY
      By Ann Margaret Lim Observer staff reporter
      Monday, February 21, 2005
      www.jamaicaobserver.com

      For 32 year-old Yanique Cuadra, a Santeria high priestess, religion is everything - her roots, philosophy, identity and even the answer to national problems.

      "We are mostly African descendants, but we've neglected the ancestors in our lives. So now there is great imbalance," says Cuadra of Jamaica's escalating crime.

      For her, Jamaicans have bastardised their ancestors into 'duppies' and thus distanced themselves.
      "We have forgotten ourselves. Our Jamaican folklore calls the ancestors 'duppies'. When we bury our dead, we forget them.

      We don't have sciences or misas, as they call it in Cuba, where we call up the ancestors and talk to them," says Cuadra. According to her, Santeria builds community.

      "Santeria encourages kinship, because there are many god-parents and god-children. Crime would diminish because we see ourselves as part of the other and we realise the importance of each life form and the right they have to be here," says Cuadra. One of Santeria's main focus, she adds, is the balance between positive and negative energies.

      "In the Santeria or Yoruban worldview, there is no good or evil, it's positive and negative and they have to co-exist. Some are destined to be murderers, some doctors and some to have menial jobs. So when there's too much of either positive or negative, something like the December quake-tsunami that destroyed much of Indonesia, will happen," she says.
      Often the Orisha possesses a dancer or some dancers, says Yanique

      Cuadra has been in the Santeria religion for 18 years now. But, how did Yanique get involved in it?

      At ten years old she migrated to the United States from Jamaica. Her mother was a paralegal and her father an architect. At fifteen, she lived in a New York apartment complex with her family.


      Puerto Rican emigrant Lola Vega was her next-door neighbour. Vega who practised Santeria, a derivative of Yoruba; an African religion, had what the curious 15 year-old thought was the most beautiful shrine she had ever seen. Gradually, she began learning about the religion from Vega and at 18 years old she had her first reading.

      As her readings continued she was instructed that she was destined to be a priestess. They grew close. Vega was also a devout Catholic. And so was Yanique.

      "There's not much of a difference between them. Many of the Catholic saints are the same as the Orishas," explains Yanique.

      Her academic and physical interests became intertwined with her new and evolving philosophy. Yanique, who ideally wants to lecture and write books, has a first degree in comparative religion, from the University of Vermont.

      She studied dance and theatre production at the Edna Manley College for the Visual & Performing Arts, has two masters in History and cultural studies and is now pursuing a PhD at Emory University, in Atlanta in which she examines nationalism, tourism and culture in Cuba. She should be finished studying by December.

      Cuadra lives in Cuba with her husband, Francisco, a Santeria high priest, and 7 month-old daughter Naia Nzinga. But she's now in Jamaica, where she says there will be less distractions to keep her from completing her thesis.

      She makes part-time money as a free-lance choreographer and guest lectures in Afro Creole Religion, primarily in Cuba and Haiti at Edna Manley.

      Her husband makes a living as a high priest in Cuba.
      Dancing was, and still is, a main interest. She was enrolled at the Jamaica School of Dance for five years before she left the island. And in New York, she was tutored by Richard Gonzales, from age 15-20. He taught Bailesde Oche, which means Dances for the Orishas.

      For Cuadra also, her religion, which embraces reincarnation, represents justice in its organic employment of karma. "What you do in this life determines what happens to you and your children in your next life or theirs. Also, what you don't learn in this life, you learn in the next."

      "My religion has given me the greatest respect for life and living things. It has connected me with my environment. Santeria allows me to be a Caribbean person, because it is Afro-Caribbean," says Cuadra.
      Santeria is an African religion that survived the Middle Passage, and is practiced in Puerto Rico and Cuba.

      It is a derivative of Yoruba - an African religion practised in Caribbean and Latin American countries such as Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Brazil that finds harmony in the balance between God, the ancestors, the forces of nature, called Orishas and humans.

      Today, Yoruba is still practised in Nigeria, its country of origin.
      There are over 17,000 Orishas in Santeria. There's a belief in one main God, called Olodumare or Olofin. Next in the hierarchy comes the ancestors or eggun. And the Orishas follow them.

      "Each person has a particular Orisha that guards their head. Christians would call it a guardian angel. My Orisha is Yemaya - the Orisha of the sea," explains Cuadra. Those who practice Santeria or Yoruba, make offerings to their specific Orishas. The offerings can be fruit or animal.

      It's Ash Wednesday when we visit Cuadra and she's about to go to the sea to offer a cooked fish and fruits to Yamaha.
      Mutton is Yamaha's (goddess of the sea) preferred meat, but Cuadra will stick to the cooked fish offering this time.

      And since mutton is the meat of choice for her Orisha, Cuadra doesn't eat the meat. "Usually you don't eat the food that is your Orisha's favourite," Cuadra explains.

      The practice of animal sacrifice has given them the label barbaric in some circles. But this label has not deterred the eight or nine practising Yorubans/Santerias in Jamaica. They still make their sacrifices, which they see as a primary component in the relationship between god, ancestors, Orishas and man.

      "In Santeria and Yoruba, the relationship between humans and Orisha is reciprocal. For example, Ochun, the goddess of fertility and love, gives you a fertile womb, so you give her sacrifices," says Cuadra.
      There are different shrines for the Orishas in the home of someone who practices Santeria or Yoruba.

      In the same way that Cuadra cannot eat meat, she cannot use the sea for recreational purposes. "I love the sea, but because it is my mother's home, I don't use it for recreation. In fact, I was prohibited from swimming in it at initiation," says Cuadra. Initiation is almost like a new birth. It is very symbolic, since the dress in which you are initiated is the same dress in which you are buried.

      But, how do you know what Orisha is yours?
      According to Cuadra, elders in the religion who become your god-parents do a reading with cowrie shells to determine this.
      "One of the first steps in Yoruba/Santeria, is getting a reading done. This tells you what Orisha guards your head," says Cuadra.

      After the Orisha is identified with you, you are given an eleke or collares, which is a bracelet whose numerology and colour code identifies you with the specific Orisha.

      Aside from her blue and transparent bracelet or eleke, Yanique wears seven silver bangles. Seven is the number associated with Yamaha and she's known for wearing seven silver bracelets.

      So while you can wear necklaces that signify other Orishas, the one that identifies your main Orisha is the bracelet on your wrist.

      "The eleke is always worn on the left hand, because the left side of the body signifies the source of life," says Cuadra, while explaining that everyone who practices Yoruba or Santeria has to have fresh coconuts at their home since it is these coconuts that the Orishas speaks through.

      In the same way that Christians pray for guidance or approach God with specific issues Cuadra, for example, asks the Orishas their advice on a daily basis.

      "The questions must be simply worded to get a yes or no answer. You ask the question then you throw four coconut pieces on the ground. A perfect yes would be when two dark sides (the skin) are up and two white sides (the meat) are up. Three dark sides up means maybe, so you throw again to get a definite answer," she explains.

      Dancing is very much a part of Santeria. There are often dance vigils, and each Orisha has his specific moves. Often the Orisha possesses a dancer or some dancers. Drumming is also an integral part of Santeria and Yoruba.

      The sacred drums called the Bata are played only by men. Cuadra explains why. "The spirit of the drum is female, so for harmony, only the males can awaken the spirit of the drum found in the Bata," she says.
      All is Well. Workin' Hard - Tryin' to Save Time for Fam. Check in Periodically.

    2. #2
      Sun Ship's Avatar
      Sun Ship is offline Warrior

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      powerful article...


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      A very interesting sister…very interesting and insightful article. This statement made me reflect:

      The sacred drums called the Bata are played only by men. Cuadra explains why. "The spirit of the drum is female, so for harmony, only the males can awaken the spirit of the drum found in the Bata," she says.
      I thought about the famous Duke Ellington score, “A Drum Is A Woman”. It’s amazing how some things translate through the sprirt of Black people.

      Thanks for sharing.

      Ashe


      Remember... there is no spoon...

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      As stated previously, I find this article to be very insightful as well as interesting. Aside from that, she and I have something in common.....we're both children of yemaya...lol

    4. #4
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      Warrior Princess is offline Administrator

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      Talking *late*


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      She is the sister of one of my dearest friends. For any of you in Atlanta, she visits family from time to time there and probably would not at all mind the link.
      "The greatest mistake of the movement has been to organize a sleeping people around specific goals. You have to wake the people up first, then youll get action." Brother Malcolm

    5. #5
      IfasehunReincarnated's Avatar
      IfasehunReincarnated is offline Never Let Them Disrespect the Ancestors

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      Warrior Princess, I got request.

      About 4 years back I attended Odun Egungun in Atlanta and have since lost touch with the orisa communities based there. Can you ask the sister if she knows of the event I was talking about? Does she know any of the organizers of this event or one of the several Egungun or Orisa'Ifa temples that participates? If she has the time, could u ask her to email me? (I will provide my address via pm)
      All is Well. Workin' Hard - Tryin' to Save Time for Fam. Check in Periodically.

    6. #6
      Warrior Princess's Avatar
      Warrior Princess is offline Administrator

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      Quote Originally Posted by IfasehunReincarnated
      Warrior Princess, I got request.

      About 4 years back I attended Odun Egungun in Atlanta and have since lost touch with the orisa communities based there. Can you ask the sister if she knows of the event I was talking about? Does she know any of the organizers of this event or one of the several Egungun or Orisa'Ifa temples that participates? If she has the time, could u ask her to email me? (I will provide my address via pm)
      I am not in touch with any orisa communities, but I am in touch with her older brother. :P He is currently out of the country, but I will talk to him before the week is out and get back with you.
      "The greatest mistake of the movement has been to organize a sleeping people around specific goals. You have to wake the people up first, then youll get action." Brother Malcolm

    7. #7
      Nandii's Avatar
      Nandii is offline Nandii

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      Thumbs up Santeria/Yuroba


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      I agree that this was very informative, answered questions I've had for sometime...
      Nandii THE SPELL OF AFRICA IS UPON ME


    8. #8

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      alafia ifasheun


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      this is the main reason why in my counttry of origine in northeastern brazil, african tradition is pretty much alive despite the catholic church deeming it" pagan" as you know brazil has the largest african commnunity outside continental africa and thru candomble and ubanda, we are still able to maintain contact with our ancestors,ashe for that sister,because here in toronto,there are 500 000 jamaicans and mostly black christians,i am being persecuted bya black chritian who think iam practising
      " witchcraft" being spreading lies about me that iam gonna burn his house down,his luck i am not in brazil though, because i could have gone to an orisha house to take care of that, however this article is very fitting and appropiate because,most jamaicans with the exception ofa few still have the shackles in their brains,still mentally enslaved up to this day and age,2005!

    9. #9
      Nebkheperura is offline Warrior

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      Quote Originally Posted by Kweku_Omowale
      this is the main reason why in my counttry of origine in northeastern brazil, african tradition is pretty much alive despite the catholic church deeming it" pagan" as you know brazil has the largest african commnunity outside continental africa and thru candomble and ubanda, we are still able to maintain contact with our ancestors,ashe for that sister,because here in toronto,there are 500 000 jamaicans and mostly black christians,i am being persecuted bya black chritian who think iam practising
      " witchcraft" being spreading lies about me that iam gonna burn his house down,his luck i am not in brazil though, because i could have gone to an orisha house to take care of that, however this article is very fitting and appropiate because,most jamaicans with the exception ofa few still have the shackles in their brains,still mentally enslaved up to this day and age,2005!

      Brotha,

      My heart goes out to you for the way some of our people have treated you in Canada.

      However, can you recommend a Candomble Priestess, in the NYC area?

      Hetep

    10. #10
      Im The Truth's Avatar
      Im The Truth is offline Organizer

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      Go to the site below to find an African Traditional Religion Temple (ATR) in your area:
      rootsandrooted.org/temple_sites_mailing_phone.htm

      YORUBA ORISA’IFA temples in New York

      Institute of Yoruba Cultural Studies
      Chief Adedayo Ologundudu
      112 15th Street
      Brooklyn, NY 11215
      Ph: (718) 788-8932
      email: ileorunmila@ileorunmila.org
      web: www.ileorunmila.org

      Lukumi Church of Orisas
      1756 East 172 St
      Bronx, NY 10472
      Ph: (718) 597-9600
      web: www.lukumichurch.com


      Quote Originally Posted by Nebkheperura
      Brotha,

      My heart goes out to you for the way some of our people have treated you in Canada.

      However, can you recommend a Candomble Priestess, in the NYC area?

      Hetep
      "If the enemy is not doing anything against you, you are not doing anything"
      -Ahmed Skou Tour


      "speak truth, do justice, be kind and do not do evil."
      -Baba Orunmila

      "Cowardice asks the question: is it safe? Expediency asks the question: is it political? Vanity asks the question: is it popular? But conscience asks the question: is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor political, nor popular - but one must take it simply because it is right."
      --Dr. Martin L. King


      Get Involved!

    11. #11
      Nebkheperura is offline Warrior

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      Quote Originally Posted by Im The Truth
      Go to the site below to find an African Traditional Religion Temple (ATR) in your area:
      rootsandrooted.org/temple_sites_mailing_phone.htm

      YORUBA ORISA’IFA temples in New York



      Institute of Yoruba Cultural Studies
      Chief Adedayo Ologundudu
      112 15th Street
      Brooklyn, NY 11215
      Ph: (718) 788-8932
      email: ileorunmila@ileorunmila.org
      web: www.ileorunmila.org

      Lukumi Church of Orisas
      1756 East 172 St
      Bronx, NY 10472
      Ph: (718) 597-9600
      web: www.lukumichurch.com
      Thank you Brotha!

    12. #12
      ShakaThunder's Avatar
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      Kujichagulia-self Determination


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      Quote Originally Posted by Kweku_Omowale
      this is the main reason why in my counttry of origine in northeastern brazil, african tradition is pretty much alive despite the catholic church deeming it" pagan" as you know brazil has the largest african commnunity outside continental africa and thru candomble and ubanda, we are still able to maintain contact with our ancestors,ashe for that sister,because here in toronto,there are 500 000 jamaicans and mostly black christians,i am being persecuted bya black chritian who think iam practising
      " witchcraft" being spreading lies about me that iam gonna burn his house down,his luck i am not in brazil though, because i could have gone to an orisha house to take care of that, however this article is very fitting and appropiate because,most jamaicans with the exception ofa few still have the shackles in their brains,still mentally enslaved up to this day and age,2005!
      IT IS NO PROB TO BE THOUGHT OF AS PAGAN SMILE AND MAKE YOUR OFFERINGS AND PRAYERS.... Pagan
      The term pagan is from Latin paganus, an adjective originally meaning "rural", "rustic" or "of the country." As a noun, paganus was used to mean "country dweller, villager." From its earliest beginnings, Christianity spread much more quickly in major urban areas (like Antioch, Alexandria, Corinth, Rome) than in the countryside (in fact, the early church was almost entirely urban), and soon the word for "country dweller" became synonymous with someone who was "not a Christian," giving rise to the modern meaning of "pagan."[1] In large part, this may have had to do with the conservative nature of rural people, who were more resistant to the new ideas of Christianity than those who lived in major urban centers.

      "Peasant" is a cognate, via Old French paisent. (Harry Thurston Peck, Harper's Dictionary of Classical Antiquity, 1897; "pagus").

      In their distant origins, these usages derived from pagus, "province, countryside", cognate to Greek πάγος "rocky hill", and, even earlier, "something stuck in the ground", as a landmark: the Proto-Indo-European root pag- means "fixed" and is also the source of the words "page", "pale" (stake), and "pole", as well as "pact" and "peace".

      Later, through metaphorical use, paganus came to mean 'rural district, village' and 'country dweller' and, as the Roman Empire declined into military autocracy and anarchy, in the 4th and 5th centuries it came to mean "civilian", in a sense parallel to the English usage "the locals". It was only after the Late Imperial introduction of serfdom, in which agricultural workers were legally bound to the land (see Serf), that it began to have negative connotations, and imply the simple ancient religion of country people, which Virgil had mentioned respectfully in Georgics. Like its approximate synonym heathen (see below), it was adopted by Middle English-speaking Christians as a slur to refer to those too rustic to embrace Christianity. Additionally, a lot of rural parts of Europe were the most resistant to forced Christian conversions, militarily resisted Christian Europe and stubbornly held to their natural religions reamplifying the medieval use of the term.
      SO YOU SEE YOU ARE IN GOOD COMPANY BEING THOUGHTOF AS AS PAGAN SMILE KNOW YOURSELF
      WHAY YOU GET, GIVE;
      WHAT YOU LEARN, TEACH.

    13. #13
      NubianSysta's Avatar
      NubianSysta is offline Warrior

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      My cousin is a High Priestess in the Santeria faith

      I'm going for my first reading this weekend
      HeruKhuti Clan / Rising Sekhert

    14. #14
      Nebkheperura is offline Warrior

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      Quote Originally Posted by NubianSysta
      My cousin is a High Priestess in the Santeria faith

      I'm going for my first reading this weekend

      Good for you sistah, I also went for my first reading the saturday before last by Baba Akinkugbe Karade here in New Jersey. I got excellent advice and learned what road I need to travel to fulfill my destiny.

      This past sunday I also attended their monthly gathering where offerings were made to Orunmila.

      It was one of the most important experience of my life.

      ashe, ashe, ashe O

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