The cornerstone of the Yoruba religion is the veneration of and respect to the ancestors. When using the expression "Iku lobi osha," (the Dead gave birth to the saints) the egun are remembered every time a new member is reborn to a life dedicated to the devotion of the Yoruba pantheon. In West Africa, there is a bird call Sankofa. It's representation has similar meaning to how we venerate the ancestors. This bird is associated with two expressions: "I'm not ashamed to return for what I have forgotten" and "the one, who does not know where he came from, does not know where he is going". The Sankofa reminds us to remember our past, understand and venerate it, and share this knowledge with future generations.
As Yoruba Priests and Priestesses, it is of fundamental importance to recognize that our feet rest over the shoulders of our spiritual and biological ancestors; therefore, we revel our ancestors and give them thanks for their sacrifices and devotion, without whom La Regla de Ocha would not exist. Therefore, we dedicate a small space to honor the memory of the priests and priestess that are the root of our religion.
In examining the structure that protected and preserved the development of our Yoruba Religion, we will being to summarize some of the principal branches that originated in Cuba and list some of the initiates who defended our religious system known as La Regla de Ocha .
of the cabildos in Cuba is a profound and fascinating historical process
of great impact and significance to our Yoruba religion.
The iles that were already founded in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries brought their customs, rules and procedures through the efforts of priests that were rooted in firm religious foundations. Among the primary or fundamental cabildos, we can include those from the city of Regla: our Lady of Regla/Yemaya, founded by Josefa Herrera (Eshubi Pepa) and Susana Cantero (Omi Toque); The Santa Barbara Cabildo/Shango Tedun; The Palenque twins, Perfecto and Gumersindo Cabrera; and the cabildo of Papa Silvestre.
In the city of Matanzas were the very memorable cabildos of Fermina Gomez Torriente; the cabildo Iyesa of the Garcia Family; and the cabildo of Santa Teresa de Cardenas and the Villamil Family. In the province of Matanzas were the Arara cabildos (from which their members were descendants of the slaves from the Fon, Mahi; Adja, Evhe, and other groups that came from Reynaldo Dahomey and what today is Togo.) These in some cases formed connections with Lukumí traditions in Matanzas.
In Guanabacoa, the
history and prominence of the cabildos is largely due to the efforts of
Pilar Fresnesda. Elsewhere, in the interior of Cuba, three Lucumi societies
and one Congo society played an important role and continues to function
up to the present time, in the city of Palmira, Cienfuegos.
When we speak of an ile, or Ocha house, we are referring more than just to a physical structure. The ile is composed literally "stone family" (familia de piedra) or ritual family, in other words initiates born from the Orishas of the babaloricha, iyaloricha or Awo initiator.
When we speak about ramas, we are talking about branches of genealogic linage. As per our tradition, the Rama or branch is established by two means of sacred reproduction (from which the Orisha is birthed) with whom you are related spiritually.
Our kinship is recognized when one recites the Moyuba prayer; this is a recognition of our elders and spiritual relationships. In the list of names mentioned below, the ancestors are mentioned who are now "at the feet of Olofi".
Here is a compilation of some of the most prominent Oloshas, Iyaloshas and Awos in our religion:
We invite you to list your spiritual lineage of Santeras/os from your Ilé and share them with us and with the world.