Saturday, September 6, 2008

"The Santeria Experience" by Migene Gonzalez-Wippler

I had read this book years ago when my best-friend and her boyfriend where practising the religion of Santeria. I fell in love with this book and had the chance to reread it again this summer. The first time I read it I was pre-seminary and still searching. I was intrigued with Santeria's combination of African and catholic spirituality and its focus on the saints. I read the book almost as a "how-to." But this summer, when I reread it, I realized it was more of a book about one woman's journey into her own spirituality and she remains very honest throughout. Migene embraces the mystery of Santeria while coupling it with her knowledge of other religions, psychology and her understanding of Jung and his notion of "shadows" and the destinies we create ourselves. One of the striking characters in the book is Maria, the family maid who cared for Migene and introduced her to the world of Santeria. Through Marie comes the appreciation for nature, for God and for all those things we do not understand. The book balances the line between idolatry and ritual, respect for the known and the unknown. Of the saints who I was most "drawn to" where Yemaya, Chango and Oshun. I would recommend this book to anyone who was willing to have an open mind, who feel that their own religious beliefs are strengthened and enhanced when introduced to the ways others believe and worship.

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