Syncretic Powers, Activate!
Behold a fascinating revelation from the grand Cintra Wilson about her personal (and obviously striking) experiences with Santeria on her latest Substack.
Syncretism in ancient religious systems has always mesmerized me; I have studied it within and without the parameters of academe and it plays a significant role in my own, rather unorthodox spirituality, as well.
The ancient Egyptians, for example, were absolute masters at syncretism within their very own wildly diverse yet thematically unified mythical landscape. It blows the mind to witness the breathtaking ease with which they accommodated their gods, local and national, with such theological ease and, dare I say, panache. They LOVED to operate on that level. Of course, magic in its truest sense was at the heart of the ancient Egyptian system, and this of course is true of Santeria itself. “User-friendly” universes, I like to say.
The fluidity can be breathtaking and is a testament to human adaptability in the metaphysical sphere. Only Roman Catholicism, among the systems that emerged from the super-tribalistic Abrahamic-based monotheistic religions, lent itself to the beauty of syncretism. Islam, Judaism, and Eastern Orthodoxy do not, though saint/angel-cults exist in all of those systems, to some extent or another, especially Orthodoxy.
There’s also a curious link between religious systems bolstered by invasive imperialistic proselytism and the flourishing of syncretic faiths/rites like those of Santeria, in my opinion: where an empire forces its pantheon of gods/angels/saints upon local systems, the people are empowered to throw-off such shackles by syncretizing, yet at the same time they retain whatever is enriching from the newer system and jettison what doesn’t “fit” e.g. oppressive legalism of ritual and praxis.
Again, I think it’s a brilliant testament to the versatility and stubbornness of the human spirit in a wholly positive way. How awesome that Santeria found its way to Cintra through the veils and shadows … and that she found the wherewithal to answer the summons. Great and revealing piece. May Nadine embrace her unceasingly!
To the doubters, that’s cool, but there are more things in heaven and on the earth, Horatio(s).
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