South American Folk Religions

Most south and central American practitioners of south american folk religions practice Candomble’ or Santeria. There are numerous folk religions but we will umbrella them under these two main headings.

Many folk religions are a mixture of Christianity or Islam with the local animistic practices constituting a two tiered approach. There are 29 common domestic animals used in these sacrifices and the sacrifice is usually carried out by priests, priestesses and adherents.

Christians assumed that traditional south american folk religions would die out with the advent of Christianity. This was not true, as folk religions, which may have incorporated some of the Christian beliefs, simply went underground.

Many people accept orthodox theologies, but still go to witch doctors, shamans, diviners and healers during the week.

As stated by Paul G. Hiebert, R. Daniel Shaw and Tite Tenou, folk religions explain “the existential problems of everyday life” for their respective cultures.

The four life concerns that underline the beliefs of folk religions are:

  • - the threat of death
  • - tragedies and life’s misfortunes
  • - guidance and the unknown
  • - the problem of right, wrong and moral order


    Is a religion practiced for the most part in south America and is based on the traditions of older African beliefs and makes much use of animal sacrifice. This animal sacrifice feeds gods or deities known as “orishas” who in turn attend to the true believers requests and desires, healing disease and solving financial or personal problems.

    Although Christian and other religions disapprove of this ritual sacrifice of animals we wholeheartedly accept the daily slaughter of animals in abbatoires to fulfill our own daily needs.


    Santeria also known as La Regla Lucumi originated in west Africa. The slave trade brought these people to Cuba, Brazil, Haiti, Trinidad, Puerto Tico and other areas.

    Santeria originated with the Yoruba who were a civilized and cultured people who believe in a God known as Olorun or Oldumare who is the source of spiritual energy that makes up the universe. This God interacts to the people of the world through emissaries known as orishas who communicate through ritual prayer, divination, offerings (ebo which include animal sacrifice) song, rhythms and trance possession.

    In today’s world Santeria is deeply entwined with Christianity as may be noted by the inclusion of Jesus or Mary in many shrines.

    Folk Religions

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