Divine Correlations




Religion of the Orishas


Religious Figures


Divine Correlations


Garments of Worship


Altars of Worship


Music and Dance












Hierarchy of Beings

In the mid-eighteenth century, the Spanish church began creating cabildos.  These were organizations that attempted to teach and convert African slaves to Catholicism. 

"Under the direction of a diocesan priest the cabildo allowed for the accommodation of African customs to the church's worship.  Through this guided syncretism the priests hoped that the Africans would be swept up into the mainstream of Cuban Christianity, in time forsaking African customs.  In the meantime, the church allowed cabildo members to inject an African flavor into the European Christian rites"(II)

As Africans were taught the Roman Catholic traditions and beliefs, they began drawing parallels between their own religion.  They made connections between the hierarchical structures of each.  Figures with equal power and importance became associated with one another.  As time passed, they actually became fused into  one being.  The names became interchangeable and worship practices were neither completely Christian nor African. 

Yoruba Christianity
Olodumare God
Olofi Jesus
Orishas The Saints
Eguns The Dead  
Plants and Animals  



       Correspondences Between Orishas and Saints

  Orisha Saint  




Olofi Christ

The number of Orishas currently worshipped in Cuba has decreased dramatically from the nineteenth century.  It has been approximated that there are 405 divinities in Yoruba Nigeria and less than thirty in Cuba.  Although this could be indicative of a weakened practice, the phenomenon can also be explained by the merging with other religions.  "The current syncretisms take place when elements from older deities split off and incorporate other elements from religions of Bantu origin or even from Roman Catholicism...This process of loss and expansion is characteristic of the passage of elements from one culture to another.  It also illustrates the permeability of a religion obliged, for both social and environmental reasons, to adapt itself to a new setting."(I)

Babalú Ayé Lazarus  
Changó Barbara  
Elegguá Holy Child of Atoche  
Obbatalá Virgin of Mercy  
Ochún Virgin of Caridad del Cobre
Oggún Peter  
  Orula Francis of Assisi    
  Oyá Virgin de la Candelaria    
  Yemayá Virgin of Regla    
African Art Home

Tables taken from II