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- Publié sur Amazon.com
The list of works in English on "Santeria" (alt. Lukumi Religion) has become extensive. Newcomers value careful introductions, yet the majority of works published have given us introductions. The historiography is reasonably rich and the offerings reasonably accessible via Amazon and libraries. The writer has provided a number of clearly written, though controversial, prior books on Santeria. Arguably, now, priests and lay-people hunger for depth, nuance, and development of theme. Hence, "Sacrificial Ceremonies" and "A Complete Guide to the Rituals and Practices" in the title and subtitle quickly drew my attention.
Systematic treatments of this particular subject are few; what exists is dispersed among numerous hard-to-find "treatises" of the Lukumi religion, most of which are in difficult Cuban Spanish, which few can read at all; moreover these authors intentionally withhold crucial information to guard their knowledge base and exclude others.
In the book at hand, the terms "ceremonies," "rituals," and "practices" denote the actual doing of sacrifices, plural. And "complete," if it were possible at all to provide an exhaustive treatment of the religion's vast sacrificial technologies, raises the expectation, at minimum, of thoroughness. The author devotes twenty four pages of this 242 page book to sacrificial ceremonies/rituals/practices, following a brief discussion of sacrificial "preparations" (Chapters Six and Seven) Chapters One and Two discuss cosmology and divination; Chapters Three and Four deal with Santeria's history and "globalization"; Chapter Five discusses the famous Santeria (Lukumi) animal sacrifice Supreme Court triumph of 1993. And the final Chapter Eight provides mythological stories (Pataki) on the theme of sacrifice. The two chapters devoted to practice are admirably detailed and systematic, though narrowly confined to a single paradigm.
It might be inappropriate to critique a work for what it does not do, rather than praise it for what it does. However, a number of other authors have already outlined the same basic paradigm in Spanish and English (e.g., M. Ramos and J. Mason). A cursory review of the more esoteric treatises (not to mention, the ceremonies themselves, in which we all participate) and of which the writer is certainly aware) indicates that sacrifices significantly differ with respect to the kinds of offerings, deities, pertinent ecologies (e.g., inside, outside--road, forest, ocean, river, hill, tree, etc.) and other variables, though the basic paradigm is observed--though significant variation exists. For example, who should use only their hands and who a knife? What offerings require the hands or the knife? How do you give a conejo to one deity, an ayapa to another, an eure to yet another, an igbin, ekute, aya, or agbani, eran...? How many of each offering; what colors should they be; in what sequence should they come? When should the ceremonies take place in the sacred room and when in a joro-joro in the forest? How do the particulars of the preparation for these acts change depending upon the deity? When do a coconut, thunderstone, bamboo knife, a golpe, and/or a romper enter as additional sacrifical tools? What are the implications for the ritual sequence for dos patas or cuatro patas? If it is the latter, what is the crucial relationship of "sacrifice" to the "acheses" taken out, and how are the different classes of transformed offerings and bodily reconstructions (not to mention the prayers and dances that accompany them) presented and represented to the deities? If you're concentrating on the Dead or upon Yemaya, how should the particular litany of the names of the deceased differ in the moyuba prayer?
In short, a thorough guide (covers the principal bases) would help me and many others a lot. An exhaustive guide (perfectly "complete") would probably exhaust anyone's patience. For many reasons, I cannot claim to have mastered any of the questions just alluded to. As an author, I am guilty of writing long and wide-ranging books, which do not cover what some readers would like to have in their hand. Hence, I do not expect the author of "Sacrificial Ceremonies" to do it all. However, someone with his experience in writing for lay and priestly constituencies, as well as whose author's persona has always attempted to project great expertise, should attempt to focus more intensively on the topic at hand. It appears that the knife is not only too short, but also requires significant sharpening.