Spirits, Blood, and Drums: The Orisha Religion in Trinidad / Edition 1

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Overview

James Houk's field work in Trinidad and subsequent involvement in the Orisha religion allows him a uniquely intimate perspective on a complex and eclectic religion. Originating in Nigeria, Orisha combines elements of African religions (notably Yoruba), Catholicism, Hinduism, Protestantism Spiritual Baptist, and Kabbalah. A religion of spirits and spirit possession, ceremonies and feasts, churches and shrines, sacrifices and sacred objects, Orisha is constantly shifting and unstable, its practice widely varied. As a belief system, it is a powerful presence in the social structure, culture, and, more recently, the political realm of Trinidad.

Houk carefully examines the historical forces that have transformed Orisha from a relatively simple religion in colonial Trinidad to an abstruse mix of belief, ritual, and symbolism. The voices of worshippers and Orisha leaders spring to life the intensity and power of the religion. Houk's own recounting of participation in many of the mystical ceremonies, including taking on the important role of drummer in several feasts, his initiation into Orisha, and his exceptional field research provide fascinating details essential in understanding the development of this Caribbean religion.

"Valuable, well-presented study examines background, rites and ceremonies, and social organization of Orisha religion, 'arguably the most purely African cultural practice left on the island.' However, worshipers combine, in varying degrees, elements from five traditions - African, Catholic, Hindu, Protestant, and Kabbalah - to form an 'Afro-American religious complex.'"--Handbook of Latin American Studies, v. 57.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781566393508
  • Publisher: Temple University Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/1995
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Tables and Illustrations
Preface
Acknowledgments
1 Orisha Experiences 3
2 Religion, Postmodernism, and Methodology 17
3 The Setting 25
4 African Roots of the Orisha Religion 47
5 Catholicism and the Orisha Religion 61
6 The Spiritual Baptists 71
7 Hinduism and the Kabbalah 86
8 Spirits and Spirit Possession 107
9 Social Organization of the Orisha Religion 125
10 The Orisha and Their Abodes 140
11 The Ebo, Feast for the Gods 156
12 The Orisha Religion as an Open System 169
13 Syncretism and Eclecticism versus Africanization 180
14 The Transmission of Religious Knowledge in the Orisha Religion 191
15 The Transformation of the Orisha Religious System 199
Appendix A A Demographic Estimate of Spiritual Baptists 211
Appendix B A Demographic Estimate of Orisha Worshipers 213
Notes 215
Glossary 219
References 221
Index 233
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