Syncretism (Orisha-Saint Correspondence)
(too old to reply)
2005-12-19 18:59:11 UTC
Bendicion a todos,

Below is a partial list of the more common Catholic syncretisms used in
Cuba for Orishas and certain caminos. If you have any to add, please do
so! I believe Afolabi is compiling more lists of Orisha descriptions,
and for those that are interested, you can look up any of the following
saints at The Patron Saints Index
[http://www.catholic-forum.com/saints/indexsnt.htm] -just go to
'List by Name.'

I have found it interesting to meditate on WHY certain saints were
chosen over others. I know some feel the associations are completely
random or at the most are based simply on color or a lithograph image
that reminds someone of some aspect of an Orisha, but perhaps there's
something deeper- or, for those of us that overthink everything
(¬°Maferefun Obatala!), perhaps a unique insight can be garnered by
meditating on the correlations between Saint and Oricha, even if the
original impotice was a syncretic survivalism and not a voluntary

At any rate, for better or worse, here is a Saint list for the Lucumi
Orishas. Some overlap, some are from Havana, some Matanzas, some I've
only come across once or twice (and are therefore dubious....)but I
list them here in the hopes that they are useful or at the very least
interesting to some.


Elegba: Holy Child of Atocha
Saint Anthony of Padua (Eshu Laroye),
San Benito de Palermo
The Lonely Soul- Anima Sola (Alagbana),
Infant of Prague,
Saint Peter (Eshu Onibode)

Ogun: Saint Peter
Saint Michael the Archangel (Ogun Shibiriki)

Ochosi: Saint Norbert

Erinle: Saint Raphael

Osayin: Saint Ambrose
Saint Sylvester

Orishaoko: Saint Isidor

BabaluAye: Saint Lazarus

Nanu: Saint Martha

Nana Buruku: Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Dada & Bayani: Our Lady of the Rosary
San Ramon Nonato
Saint Lucy

Aganju: Saint Christopher

Shango: Barbara

Obatala: Our Lady of Mercy (Ransom)
Ayaguna St. Sebastian
Oshagrinan St. Joseph the Worker
Eruaye Divine Providence
Oba Moro Jesus of Nazareth
Yeku Yeku Santisimo
Oshanla, Obanla Our Lady of Mercy (Ransom)
Alagema St Philomena or St Lucy

Oduduwa: Manuel

Oba: St Rita of Cascia
St Catherine of Sienna

Yewa: Our Lady of Monteserrat
Saint Clare
Our Lady of the Abandoned Ones

Oya: Theresa of Liseaux in Havana,
Candlemas in Matanzas
Theresa of Avila (some say these are the three roads Oya- I cannot
confirm this as my House does not do roads of Oya)

Yemaya: Lady of Regla
Asesu Saint Clare of Assisi
Achaba Saint Martha
Mayelewo Lady of Regla
Oshun: Our Lady of Charity
Ololodi Our Lady ofLoreto

Yembo: Saint Anne

Orunmila: Saint Francis of Assisi

Olokun: Stella Maris (Our Lady, Star of the Sea)

Oke: Saint Roque
Saint Robert

Oge: Saint Philomena

Ibeji: Saints Cosme + Damian
Idowu: the child in OL of Charity's arms (the Ibejis and Idowu are
sometimes associated with Faith, Hope, and Charity)

Boromu & Borosia: Saint Elias

Ogan: Saint James Matamoros (Santiago)

Agidai: Saint Bartholomew

Iroko: Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception

Saints that Have Been Lost in Cuba brought back from Brazil in some

Oshumare: Saint Bartholomew

Logun Ede (Laro): Saint Expedite
Denise Oliver-Velez
2005-12-19 20:38:32 UTC
Thank you Jesse,

And I agree that the correlations in the minds of African's in Cuba had
to have had some type of rhyme or reason.

Now I'll have to ask you more about Saint Martha - so that I can think
about why they connected her to Achaba.

2005-12-19 20:43:55 UTC
Hi Jesse,

Never heard of Logunede being syncretized with St. Expedite in Brazil
(where did you find that?). Logunede is syncretized with St. Michael

Maria d'Osala
2005-12-19 20:56:44 UTC
Bendicion Maria,

Actually, a friend of mine who recently just was initiated (he is a
son of Logun Ede)- his line I guess uses St. Expedite for Logun Ede. I
hadn't heard of it before Oba Ilari Oba Willie Ramos' site at
eleda.org. If memory serves me, he lists St. Expedite for Logun Ede as

However..... good to know that St. Michael is used.

Thank You Maria!
2005-12-20 23:29:38 UTC
Ase Jesse,

Well, You can ask Willie Ramos :-)

Part of the tools of Logunede is the balance (What is the name in
English were you weight stuff, like in Libra...? LOL). This is a symbol
of St. Michael's.

Never hear that we have "lineage syncretism...Jess...there are
syncretism in Brazil...with very few exceptions, they are all the same.
This is one thing that has been studied way back , and except with a
very few differences between the northeast (like Ogun) and Southeast,
there are no "lineage" or Nation differences...


2005-12-20 00:13:51 UTC
Mae Maria it's so good to see you. I hope you are well. Please drop me
a line if you get a chance.

2005-12-20 23:25:07 UTC
Ase Afolabi,

I am totally lost in this maze!!! LOL


2005-12-21 01:35:56 UTC
You can write me at ***@yahoo.com ... I'd love to

2005-12-21 00:10:15 UTC

Was already in bed when I remembered the name of the tool: SCALE LOL...

A scale is part of the tools of Logunede, because St. Michael Archangel
carries a scale...

Maria d'Osala
PS. My English tend to disappear at night...
2005-12-28 04:47:51 UTC
Kaimbote Maria,

Don't worry about your English disappearing at night, so does mine and
it's my first language!

I will, as is my habit (endearing isn't it) throw a wrench (another
tool - although this one belongs to Sarabanda) into the works. Eugenio
Matibag suggests that it is far wiser to look upon these
correspondences as a system of multiple representations rather than
syncretism. By 'multiple reference' he refers to a system which allows
separate traditions such as Las Reglas de Congo, La Regla de Ocha, and
Catholicism to communicate across different traditions about similar
spiritual entities and forces. It explains susccinctly the kind of
communication which is going on and does not foster the illusion that
these represent some overarching religion without distinct boundaries.


2006-01-05 02:14:16 UTC

I appreciate that comment. I tend to follow Niebuhr's position that
certain cultures have 'value centers' and that these value centers will
find representations in the general populace- they can never be
fogotten, only replaced or modified. All things such as language,
environment, and historical influence may change them, but the faces of
these 'value centers' are just that- faces. I use the word syncretism
lightly- but perhaps other than a few ideas about the Orisha that are
seemingly Catholic import, and the only true syncretic practice-
Espiritismo involved in Lucumi, the Religion is very good at masking,
and most of all surviving.

Eugenio Matibag? I'll have to look into his works... Thank you, Eoghan.

Con respeto,
2006-01-05 05:56:16 UTC

Do look into his writing. The title is " Afro-Cuban Religious
Experience: Cultural Reflections in Narrative." It's published by
University Press of Florida.

I always find it amusing that so much emphasis in the US is placed on
the relationship between Ocha and espiritismo when in Cuba practically
99% of espiritismo is wrapped up in dealing with "Congos".

Oh well.

Denise Oliver-Velez
2006-01-05 13:19:33 UTC

I agree Eoghan - since the slaves in Puerto Rico - described often as
"Carabali's" or "Congos" were not even remotely connected to Yorubas,
the Puerto Rican adaptation of Kardec is only recently taking on more
and more Orisha based overtones. In my early experiences with Mesa
Blanca all of the African references and archtypes were of Congos.

There is an interesting article available online with addresses some of

Caribbean Espiritismo altars: the Indian and the Congo
Art Bulletin, The, June, 2005 by Judith Bettelheim


2006-01-05 16:19:59 UTC
And with all due respects to Puerto Rican Mesa Blanca, while it may be
similar to what Cubans call Espiritismo cientifico, it bears little
resemblance to what the vast majority of Cubans call Espiritismo, which
is that form known as Espiritismo cruzado or simply "Cruzao". Sometimes
just about the only thing in a Cruzao ceremony to tell you that it is
Espiritismo Cruzado and not Palo is that the songs are different. Well,
that's a little bit of an exageration, but not a lot.

2006-01-05 16:38:35 UTC
Actually, masking to survive is a pleasant fiction. It made sense at
the time that Bastide and subsequently his colleagues conceived of the
explanation that the use of saints was a subtefuge to cover what was
really being worshipped, but the truth is, it was an academic theory.
It was an appealing one and so appealing in fact that many followers or
Orisha religions began saying "Yes, that is exactly what it was." They
said it so often that they began to believe it.

That does not make it any less a fiction. The truth of the matter is
that African religions were persecuted, for the most part when there
were fears of rebellion or uprising. In the majority, while traditional
religion might be frowned upon, and at certain times people were
charged with it as criminal, largely it was left alone. Harrassed
often, not allowed full openness and freedom certainly, but mostly not
actively persecuted. Why? Well, for one, most slave owners hd no
abiding concern for their own souls let alone those of their slaves,
and the church, especially in Cuba and Brazil, could have cared less
about anyone's soul, even that of the Pope, so peity played no role.
However, healing did, and often the African religious practitioner was
the best medical practitioner around. And their ability to soul
romantic and financial issues often led whites to their doors as well.

But, the saints came directly out of the cauldron of Bantu religious
practice. The Congo were already equating saints and African gods
before they left Africa and continued to do so after they got here.
Many professing quite sincere devotion to the church and demonstrating
knowledge of Catholic prayers and catacism. The Kingdom of Kongo was a
Christian nation. Now, that Christianity may have appeared more like
Palo or Vodu to a North American Protestant of today, but it was viewed
by Kongo and Vatican like at the time as legitimately Christian.
Therein lies the source of "syncretism".

That being said, I find Matibag's schema an extremely adroit analysis
and reflective of what goes on in Cuba today.

2006-01-06 13:28:04 UTC
In Brazil, I am given to understand that
Oya became St Barbara and, Shango is St Jerome
William - Omi Aiye
There are others but the book has disappeared for the time being.