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Religious Beliefs and Practices of the Yoruba. Socio-Historical Context. Several hundred religions in Africa Yoruba society today = 10 million people Has endured for over 100,000 years The Yoruba live in the western regions of Central Africa In Nigeria, Benin, and Togo.

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Religious Beliefs and Practices of the Yoruba


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socio historical context
Socio-Historical Context
  • Several hundred religions in Africa
  • Yoruba society today = 10 million people
    • Has endured for over 100,000 years
  • The Yoruba live in the western regions of Central Africa
    • In Nigeria, Benin, and Togo
socio historical context1
Socio-Historical Context
  • The Yoruba are not a unified nation but are a group with a common language and culture
  • Have preferred living in cities throughout their history
  • City of Ife = Center of Yoruba religion
    • Believed to be the place where the god

Orishna-nla first began to create the world

purpose of yoruba religion
Purpose of Yoruba Religion
  • Maintain balance between the human beings (earth) and gods (heaven)
  • Guard against the evil deeds of sorcerers and witches
  • **Boundaries between human and supernatural realms are very thin and can be easily crossed over – important to mediate and maintain balance between the two worlds!**
olorun the supreme god
Olorun(the supreme god)
  • Primary, original source of

power in the universe

  • All other life forms ultimately

owe their existence to him

  • Distant and remote, not

involved in human affairs

  • Hardly worshipped, except in

prayer

    • No shrines, rituals, or sacrifices

made for him

orishas
Orishas
  • Lesser deities, but are very significant
  • Hundreds of orishas exist
    • Some worshipped by all Yoruba, others by only one family group
  • All are sources of sacred power
  • Can help or harm human beings
    • Based on how well the rituals designed to appease them are carried out
ancestors
Ancestors
  • Deceased humans who have acquired supernatural status
  • Possess sacred power; can help or harm the living
  • Worshipped through rituals at special shrines
  • 2 Types:
    • 1. Family ancestors
    • 2. Deified ancestors
ritual practitioners
Ritual Practitioners
  • Mediate between the gods and ancestors in heaven and the human beings on earth
  • Help maintain balance between the 2 worlds
  • Diviners: Practice divination, the art of seeing one’s future
new vocabulary
New Vocabulary
  • Syncretism = A phenomenon that occurs when elements from diverse religious traditions blend
  • Eschatology = The branch of theology concerned with the final events in the history of the world/humankind; “end of the world”
religion and resistance
Religion and RESISTANCE
  • During times of slavery, the Yoruba and other African ethnicities utilized their religious practices to maintain their culture and ties to their homeland
  • Today, many people in the Americas practice the syncretized forms of Yoruba religion, such as Santería and Vodú
religion and resistance syncretism
Religion and RESISTANCE: Syncretism
  • Syncretizedorishas with Catholic saints
    • Hid their gods/rituals behind a “mask” of Catholic saints/rituals to avoid religious persecution
    • Found similarities between saints and orishas
    • Saints were seen less as intermediaries between humans and gods and more as objects of worship themselves, like the orishas
yemoja
Yemoja
  • The mother of all saints, protector of children
  • Colors = blue and white, for the ocean
  • Favorite offerings = melons, molasses, whole fried fishes, pork rinds
  • Syncretized with the Virgin Mary
orunmila
Orunmila
  • Yoruba grand priest and custodian of the divination system, a sage, spirit of wisdom, first prophet
  • Favorite offerings = Flowers, fruits, peanut, coconut, white basil, dove
  • Syncretized with St. Francis of Assisi
santero interview on orishas and saints
Santero Interview on Orishas and Saints
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXcufe3khXo

Ceremony to honor Oya (female warrior orisha): “Crowning of the head”

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4I4TZilVSWo
essential theological terms
Essential Theological Terms
  • Cosmology – An understanding or theory of the nature, origin, development, and eventual fate of the universe
  • Transcendence – A state of being that has overcome the normal limitations imposed by the human condition of physical existence (such as through meditation, prayer, and visions)
  • Axis Mundi– The axis or center of the universe
  • Syncretism = A phenomenon that occurs when elements from diverse religious traditions blend