In-Defense-Of-SanteriaHave you noticed that the word Santeria has the effects of a false passwords that quickly closes all doors when it is uttered? According to the proven Pharisee manner, Santeria and the works associated with Santeria are readily delegated to that area of human experience sealed off by unshakable prejudices. This then spares us – at least apparently – the conflict with all the phenomena readily associated with Santeria: black magic, Satanism, black masses; everything vile, wicked, indecent, scandalous, repulsive; evil personified.

It is not my professes goal to overcome the existing prejudices. I am not trying to stimulate work on the collective shadow, even if both of these goals would certainly be welcome. I also naturally do not want to encourage the misuse carried out by certain Practitioner of Santeria. If there are groups formed today that call themselves Santeros, that represent the most peculiar theories and practice obscure rituals, but are actually in urgent need of psychiatric care, this has nothing to do with Santeria. If in a sterile and spiritual stunted world the youth search for the latest “kick” in black masses and move their nightly parties to cemeteries because of the apathy to deadly boredom, it cannot be blamed on Eshu when his name is then smeared onto gravestones. And when other lunatics call upon the Orisas in their atrocities, remember that our pantheon of Orisas never became criminals and that similar deeds have been committed by other mentally ill people in the name of the Cross and every other lofty idea.

Without a doubt, Ifa’s legacy and thereby also Santeria’s and their transcendent Oracles where created according to Olodumare’s direction. Because of their nature, symbols are always ambivalent. As images of the soul, they reflect the polarities of our unconscious and our reality. In our deepest innermost thoughts, we know that all things have their light and shadow sides and that only when both poles are present is a totality formed.

Our discriminating minds have tried to divide everything into pure good and pure evil for almost three thousand years. But today – for which also physics deserves its thanks – they are gradually being forced to accept the insight that there is no unambiguity. We should be truly thankful for this perception, for it was and is the belief in a possible unambiguity, in the possession of the one and only truth, which has time and again encouraged people to fight holy wars. This belief has given them the supposed right, if not even the divine mission, to commit genocide, build extermination camps, burn people at the stake, torture them, or even officially call from the highest places for murder, as recently in the case of the writer Salmon Rushdie.

In my opinion it is not objectionable or evil in itself to practice Santeria. However, if even the most enlightened of our contemporaries are somewhat uneasy in regards to these words, this also should not be taken lightly. Since – seen in respect to depth psychology – the occult can be equated with the deepest unconscious mind, there must actually be a self-awareness which is strong enough to confront these unconscious contents steadfastly without letting itself be consumed by them. This latter situation would then be equivalent to that which is quite vividly termed mental derangement.

Applied to both Ifa and Santeria, this means that the healthy adult can experience the confrontation with the respective Oracle and the examination of its symbolism as a great enrichment. However, those who are psychically weak or ill should be warned: if the images that rise within them, cause restlessness or start to exert a power of their own over them, these persons should instead be increasingly concerned with mastering everyday task and suspend their occupation with Santeria topics.

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