The Menace of African Blood Cults

Few days ago, I read two news headlines, one here in Nigeria and another from the US, which had an uncanny link.

In Ibadan, Nigeria, two Voodoo ritualists were caught and arrested for being in possession of two fresh human heads and legs reportedly exhumed from a cemetery.

During interrogation, they confessed that these were occult ritual materials to attain material wealth. They intended to dry the human remains, burn and ground them into powdery form, mix it with soap, bathe with it and add some to a pap for consumption.

“After we have done this, some weird creatures, who we generally call spirits, will bring the money to us,” they said.

In Florida, a Voodoo priest was arrested for brutally torturing and killing a pit bull and disposing its body in a suitcase. Police found blood and animal remains throughout his apartment. He admitted that as a Voodoo practitioner, he has a right to kill animals.

Indeed, since 1993, the US Supreme Court has granted the right to Afro-Caribbean religions to sacrifice animals as this comes under the First Amendment which upholds the freedom of religion for all.

The connection between both stories is African paganism. Meanwhile, this is not the first time such grisly discoveries would be made in the US pointing to the growing influence of these Afro-Caribbean religions

Between the mid-16th century and 1888, millions of African slaves from Bantu, Yoruba, Fon, Lemba, Siniga and other tribal backgrounds were transported to the New World (Brazil, Cuba, and Dominica etc).

From here, these Africans merged African paganism with elements of Roman Catholicism and in some cases, American Indian traditions.

This religious hybrid resulted in Afro-Caribbean cults: Santeria, Giro, Candomblé, Obeah, Mesa Blanca, Palo Mayombe, Voodoo, Quimbanda and others. These religions are now finding strong foothold in the US (especially in Miami) and enjoying patronage even among notable celebrities whilst the original African pagan worship still flourishes in several parts of Africa.

In January 2014, authorities found human fetuses in a jar in the luggage of two women flying back to Miami from Havana. They told investigators that a Santeria priest had asked them to transport the jar.

In 2011, two Miami police department employees were fired for plotting to put a curse on a city manager by sprinkling birdseed in his office. In 2014, piles of headless cockerels and pigeons were found in the streets of Las Vegas, carried out in typical Voodoo style.

About that same time, sets of animal remains were found at strategic sites in Rochelle, New York. Police found decapitated goats and chickens wrapped in three layers of red, black and white clothes and strange symbols written on them.

Experts identified them as black magic rites associated with Palo Mayombe. Such rites are interwoven with African paganism in which sacrifices (animal and human) are offered to demon spirits in exchange for power, protection, fertility and elimination of rivals.

Now, a major difference between the western “white light” cults like Wicca, Neo-paganism, New Age groups etc. and African pagan systems is this: the former deals more with territorial less powerful demons while the latter deals more powerful demons.

That’s why the nature of their rites are miles apart. Wiccans may spend so much time offering cakes, fruits and wine to their deities, singing in the sun and dancing wildly in the forests but Santerios or Hoodoo practitioners, for example, don’t have time for such long, meticulous rites. They offer blood sacrifices to connect more vicious demons for their operations.

There have been historical and contemporary examples of the operations of powers wielded by these African religions, but I will cite the Haitian Revolution of 1791 as a noteworthy example.

This was a rebellion by the Haitans against European colonialism and it was spearheaded by Jacques Vincent Ogé. He was an affranchis representing the colony in France, who purchased weapons and led a revolt against the white colonial authorities in Saint-Domingue.

But before this revolution kicked off, it was preceeded by the Bois Caïman ritual ceremony in which Haitians made pacts with their deities and spirits (loas) to give them victory over the colonialists and it worked. According to a source:

“The Bois Caïman ceremony takes place in a thickly wooded area where the slaves solemnize their pact in a voodoo ritual. The ceremony is officiated by Boukman, a maroon leader and voodoo priest from Jamaica, and a voodoo high priestess. Various accounts from that night describe a tempestuous storm, animal sacrifices, and voodoo deities.” (Kona Shen, History of Haiti 1492-1802, Brown’s University Africana Studies, October 2015)

African pagan systems lay much emphasis on blood sacrifices. At first, initiates seeking success or wealth often start out with offering foods like cooked rice and stew to the spirits at specified locations (depending on the deities being appeased) but as they progress in their exposure, they are ordered to gruesomely torture and sacrifice live animals.

Soon, they start to swig animal and human blood like Cognac and use human sacrifices as “magickal shields” for drug trafficking, money laundering, destruction of enemies and Internet fraud

Sometime in 2016, I came across a public group on Facebook for people who intend to practice all forms of black magick. Its members consisted of Satanists, Voodoo experts and other black witches unashamedly dishing out prescriptions on how to deal with one’s offenders and invoke demons for different purposes.

What particularly caught my attention was a fellow Nigerian guy in their midst who identified as a “Christian” and a witch. I sent him a private message, trying to get him to reconsider his ways and renounce the hidden works of darkness.

When he replied to me months later, he said “Yes, I’m a Christian but I love witchcraft and I won’t leave it … If you study me, you won’t graduate!” How tragic; a case of proverbial frog in the kettle being slowly boiled to its death. There’s no power, or prestige or wealth or fame that the devil offers one that doesn’t lead to destruction in the end.

And it’s only in Jesus Christ that one can find true fulfillment and protection from evil. Those who have had encounters with such traditional diabolic powers can only enjoy safety in the power of Jesus Christ. This is because the glory of God supernaturally surrounds every true child of God and those in the occult know this.

The Bible says “As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people now and forevermore” (Ps. 125:2).

There have cases of occultists who were so shaken up by God’s presence protecting His people in the spirit realm that they embraced Christ and left the occult.

In 2017, a woman known to my family and I personally was kidnapped by some ritual murderers. She’s a Christian widow and a mother of three.

She was taken to their den in a neighbouring state, but when she was brought into their shrine to be slaughtered, the priest demanded they send her away, that their demons have rejected her as a victim. She was later dumped along a street where she was found hale and hearty.

As Satan’s cohorts are getting thirstier for blood and destruction, we need to come under the blood of Jesus Christ and abide under the shadow of the Most High.

Seeking Guidance in the Stars?

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“What’s your sign?” a friend asked me some years ago. This zodiac sign was supposed to foretell my life through horoscopes.

“I’m not into astrology,” I replied.

“My sign is cancer and it accurately blends with my personality and eating habits,” he said with a re-assuring smile.

I was quite surprised that a Bible believing Christian would find astrology astutely compatible with his Christian life.

Tragically, there are many Christians in this shoe. They not only compartmentalise their lives but also curiously defend astrology as one of the ways of knowing God’s will.

Astrology is technically a form of divination and it shouldn’t be confused with astronomy – a natural science that studies celestial objects and phenomena.

From the earliest times, humans have observed the precise movements of the heavenly bodies and the seasonal changes of their locations in the firmament.

This teleological framework points to the existence of God the Creator (Ps. 8:3). Indeed, celestial bodies and their movements significantly influence our lives. The sun, around which the earth orbits, is a basic unit of human timekeeping.

The moon influences ocean tides and rivers. The stars are reliable guides in navigation, even for astronauts, and a working knowledge of the constellations can be used to predict floods or seasonal changes.

Astrology, though from astronomy, goes beyond the natural influence of the sun and moon on our environment. It asserts that the location and patterns of the heavenly bodies (sun, moon, planet, stars and constellations) reveal a person’s character and future.

Astrologers claim that the precise positions of the planets and the signs of the zodiac at the time of a person’s birth can influence his life course. This position at any given time is called a horoscope.

Thus, people seek information about their lives (e.g their “predestined” actions, finance, marriage or future warnings) by observing the alignment of key heavenly bodies and “calculating” their interaction with one another and with the earth. Many people faithfully follow their daily horoscope affirming its veracity.

The practice of looking to the heavens for omens to direct earthly events has been traced back to ancient Mesopotamia in the third millennium B.C.

Evidence of this can be seen in ziggurats (monuments that marked the solstice and equinoxes and transits of the planets) discovered there by archaeologists. Understandably, God directly warned His people against this in Deuteronomy 4:19.

Following the Persian conquest of Babylon, astrology spread to Greece, Rome, Egypt and India. From India, Buddhist missionaries spread it to Central Asia, Japan, China, Tibet and Southeast Asia.

The Maya civilization also had an elaborate system of astrology. The “modern” form of astrology spread from hellenized Egypt influencing the Arabs and Europeans.

The early astrological system was based on the disproved geocentric model of the stars and planets rotating around the earth supposedly at the centre of the universe. Astrologers thought that the sun travelled through the sky yearly along a specific path, passing through the stars and constellations.

This path was divided into 12 zones or segments with each zone named after the constellation through which the sun passed. This gave rise to the 12 signs of the zodiac.

But science has now demonstrated that the sun doesn’t travel around the earth, instead, the earth travels around the sun. This was one discovery that blew astrology out of the water.

Research has also shown that the different astrological signs have no correlation with the actual physical science of the stars. In some cases, a person claiming to be an Aries may actually be born during the period of Pisces.

Some astrologers don’t base their predictions on stars but more on positions of planets during a birthday, but this is not without some problems as Dutch researcher, Nees Noorlander points out:

For instance, ebb and flow are caused by the moon and the sun, but not by the planets. So the planets cannot influence your life. But even in the hypothetical case that there is an influence of the planets, which of the planets are important? Formerly astrologers used the sun, the moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. But in the last centuries they discovered new planets: Uranus in 1781, Neptune in 1846 and Pluto in 1930. And the number of planets is not complete yet. The astronomers expect a tenth planet, which is too dark to see now” (quoted by David Benoit and Eric Barger, Entertaining Spirits Unaware, Evangel Pub., 2000, 41).

Astrology is based on fatalism, an illogical and unbiblical belief. If horoscopes are based on truth, thousands of people born in the same month should have identical features and lifestyles. But this is not so.

A study was conducted in a London hospital in 1958 in which more than 2000 babies born in early March of that year were registered. Based on the astrological system, these babies are “time twins” that should have identical characteristics.

Researchers looked at more than 100 different characteristics, including occupation, anxiety levels, marital status, sociability, IQ levels and ability in arts, sport, mathematics and reading – all of which astrologers claim can be determined from astrological birth charts. The scientists failed to find any evidence of similarities between these people.

Granted, a group of people born at different times can die in the same accident thus refuting the uniform influence from the stars.

If our fate or destiny is tied to the stars and astrology unravels it, then it wrongly ignores the effects of genes, parenting, education, healthcare, climate and personal experiences in altering our choices, lifestyles and thinking even if we were born on the same day or month.

This is also a reason to reject the “4 Temperament” theory, because like astrology, it attempts to reduce diverse and widely complex human personalities into 4 cute boxes. It’s simply preposterous.

In the astrological framework, there is little or no room for positive change or personal development.

Those relying on horoscopes to find a marriage mate soon realise that cultivating good character and moral values are what sustain good relationships. Students following the stars soon discover to their chagrin that academic success doesn’t just fall on people like cherries.

Some psychics, in a desperate claw at validity, argue that just as the stars led the Magi to baby Jesus in Bethlehem, the stars can also guide our lives. This is flawed exegesis.

While it’s historically true that the wise men were astrologers from the East (Medes-Persia), God who created the stars used them to lead these men to Christ just as He also used a donkey to warn Balaam; ravens to feed Elijah and a fish to arrest Jonah. Certainly, God’s one-time supernatural use of the stars is not an implicit endorsement of the zodiac.

Furthermore, when we examine the Bible in its entirety, God’s denunciation of astrology becomes clear. In Isaiah 47:13-14, God says to Babylon:

Let your astrologers come forward, those stargazers who make predictions month by month, let them save you from what is coming upon you. Surely they are like stubble; the fire will burn them.”

In ancient Babylon (and other cultures), astrologers and magicians wielded so much power that major military or political decisions weren’t made without consulting them, yet, their failures were documented in Daniel 4:7 and 5:7-11.

Once you take away the superstition, quackery and lies making up astrology, what you have left is a demonic web. Little wonder the Maya who made use of an extensive system of astrological calculation couldn’t foresee the collapse of their own civilization in the 9th century AD.

Astrology doesn’t just lead people into the occult – it is occultism. In every instance where people dabbled into it in Scripture, they also adhered to deeper occult practices like sexual perversion, demon worship and child sacrifice (e.g 2 Kgs. 23:5-13).

Worshipping of the heavenly bodies was closely linked with Molech worship. It’s hard to separate astrology from demonism (Jer. 8:1, Zeph. 1:5).

Astrology divides the sky into 12 zones or “houses” which the sun passes through in an ecliptic fashion. These “houses” are considered to be abodes of specific deities which are symbolized as the 12 zodiac signs.

Ancient myths and occult writings such as The Book of the dead and the Pyramid texts contain cryptic descriptions of stories of deities residing in the heavens that control earthly events.

In the Yoruba religion of West Africa, these deities are called “orisha.” In fact, the divination tray called Opon Ifa is somewhat similar to the astrological chart in that it can also be divided into 12 “houses” with each area ruled by a particular orisha.

Aries or Mars, symbolized as the ram is called Ogun (god of iron) in the Yoruba version. Pisces is called Olokun (sea deity); Gemini is Ibeji (twin deity); Scorpio is Oya (goddess of violent storms); Aquarius is Sango (god of lightning) and Leo is Orunmila (god of divination). Taurus, known as Baal or Marduk elsewhere is associated with Oshun (fertility goddess).

The lies astrology is based on reveal it to be from the devil, the “father of lies” (Jn. 8:44).

Now when a Christian who calls on the name of the Lord also identifies himself as “a Scorpio” or “a Leo,” he is attaching himself to demons and cutting himself off from divine approval. This diabolical self-renaming should be prayerfully renounced.

You don’t need to know the future, all you need to know is the One who holds the future. When you come to Jesus, you won’t need the stars because you’ve found the Creator of the stars.

The Santeria Religion

I saw the Iyanla Fix My Life TV reality show for the first time some weeks ago. The edition featured how Iyanla Vanzant led a family out of the emotional crisis caused by the father’s drug addiction and absence serving his prison sentence.

I was touched by Iyanla’s wise insights and I agreed with much of her counsel. I was happy that there is at least, a TV personality helping society to heal – unlike some materialistic “reality TV” silly billies.

Later on, my discerning side began to overcome my emotional side. I wanted to know who this Iyanla was and what she believed.

After a brief Internet search, it became clear to me that Iyanla Vanzant (birth name: Rhonda Eva Harris) was Oprah Winfrey’s close friend, a New Thought Minister and a devotee of the Santeria religion. In one word, a New Ager.

Instantly, it struck me, (though pronounced with a different inflexion in the show) the word “Iyanla” is the Yoruba word meaning “the great mother.” I’m from the Yoruba tribe, so I understand that this title is usually reserved for high priestesses in the Yoruba pagan cult. Ergo, Iyanla can’t fix your lives.

She wrote:

My experience with YORUBA culture had been through the dance and music. It seemed only natural that I would embrace the spiritual and religious philosophy … As I was initiated in the Santeria tradition, I was primed and ready to be possessed, since that seemed to be a prerequisite to being a good priest.”

Santeria (the worship of the saints in Spanish) is an Afro-Caribbean religion based on Yoruba pagan beliefs and traditions, with some Roman Catholic elements added to it. Since it incorporates elements of several religions, it’s a syncretic religion which adherents can combine with their own religions.

Santeria teaches that the universe was created by one supreme God who entrusted its care to many smaller gods, called orishas. The orishas are divinities (similar to ancient Greek gods) with each representing a set of human characteristic or force of nature.

Santeria has been a prominent religion in Cuba for many years spreading to other nearby countries. Though it began as a secretive, underground religion, it has now come to the surface and gained much popularity. Lizette Alvarez writes in the New York Times that:

“Once dismissed as a ghetto religion practiced only by the Caribbean poor and uneducated, Santeria has a growing following among middle class professionals, including white, black and Asian Americans. There are police officers in New York who pray to Obatala, the father of all deities, or orishas, before they slip on their gun belts. There are lawyers and professors, civil servants and musicians whose homes are filled with altars laden with flowers, rum, cake and cigars to keep the gods happy and helpful”.

Many large cities in North and Latin American countries have shops that specialise in Santeria herbs and paraphernalia like crosses, candles, amulets and statues of patron saints. These shops are known as botanicas.

Many tend to be attracted to the Santeria due to its mysticism, exotic aura (which includes music and dance) and the sense of family or community within its circle. Though it’s difficult to know how many people follow Santeria, as there is no central organization, and it’s often a “private” religion. Some estimates go as high as a hundred million devotees worldwide.

When Africa met Rome

Santeria (and its sister traditions like Voodoo, Akan, Obeah, Macumba etc.) emerged from a hybrid of Catholicism and African religion practiced by Yorubas in Nigeria.

The Yoruba slaves were taken to the Caribbean islands as slaves between 1770 and the 1840s. In the New World, they were forced to accept Catholicism but they refused to give up their traditions so they merged both religions.

From then on, they gave Catholic saints dual identities such that each one corresponds to an African deity with a similar power or characteristic. It is believed they did this to avoid persecution from their Catholic masters. But I think they could effortlessly blend their beliefs because they could see into the spirit realm.

They realized that the same entities they worshipped as gods in Africa were the same entities been worshipped as Catholic “saints” in the New World. The whole idea of Catholic saint worship is straight out of paganism. I don’t think it was that hard to spot their old buddies from Africa dressed in Roman costumes.

Worship Structure

Santerios believe God has designated various roles to different orishas. The will of the orisha is interpreted by Santeria priests through divination, particularly through the Ifa corpus.

The Ifa corpus is a system of divination expressed in 256 symbols that represent the Santeria tradition. Sometimes, the orisha possesses the worshipers in order to voice their counsel. Santerios seek the orisha’s intervention through prayers, music, offerings and proper behaviours (iwa pele).

New members are initiated by priests in a ceremony that includes music, dances and animal sacrifices. When an initiate is baptized into Santeria by a godfather or godmother, he takes the godparent as a smaller god and a close affinity is established between them. The santerio community is led by priests.

Music is important in Santeria worship. Drums, xylophones or marimbas are used to invoke specific deities. At times, the membranes used for making drums are from sacrificed animals to discharge “vibrations” of the orishas. Each deity has its rhythm which are used in some Latin music.

Some of the orishas in the Santeria pantheon (note: the spellings are not original Yoruba ones) are:

Obatala: A god said to be the creator of human life and consciousness.

Oggun: Patron god of miners and workers, worshiped as “saint” Peter.

Babalu-aye: Deity in charge of healing also worshiped as “saint” Lazaro.

Ochun: Goddess of rivers, love, marriage, money, and abundance. Also known as Virgen de la Caridad, patron saint of Cuba.

Orumila : The deity that decides an individual’s fate.

Yemaya: Goddess of the seas and of fertility, identified with the Virgin Mary or the Virgen de Regla in Cuba.

Chango: god of fire, thunder and lightning also worshipped as “saint” Barbara in Catholicism.

In Yoruba paganism, it is believed that the creator (Olodumare) created the earth and designated his second son, Obatala (the “white deity”) to finish up the work of creation of the sky and the human body.

Obatala, according to the myth, came to earth with the aid of a chain, scattered sand on it with the aid of chicken legs and began to create (although he later became drunk and slept off).

What is conveyed here is a form of deism. Conversely, the God of the Bible didn’t withdraw away from the earth after He created all things. He is actively involved in the world He has created (Ps. 104:27-30, Is. 45:5-7, Ps. 75:6-7).

The Santeria also adhere to fatalism. They believe we have all chosen our fate in heaven before our consciousness and this “destiny” governs our life when we come to the earth. In contrast, God calls His people to love Him (Jn. 14:21-23), to be holy (Lev. 20:26), to come to the knowledge of truth (1 Tim. 2:4) and desires that everyone comes to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9).

If our lives are being governed by fate or predestination, these commands and instructions are meaningless. Even in our day-to-day lives, we take safety precautions in what we eat, what we do and how we drive our cars, because “fate” is a lie.

Santeria is stepped in occultism – necromancy, witchcraft, divination, charms and consulting with familiar spirits which are are strictly forbidden by Scripture (Deut. 18:10-13, Lev. 19:31). Hence, it’s incompatible with the Christian faith. All the so-called orishas are nothing but demons.

John Ramirez, a former Santeria priest, in his testimony recalled his initiation “They started chanting and calling the five main gods, the demons from Santeria.” From this point on, he came under their control:

When drug dealers died in the streets, I wanted to run out and get that blood because I could use that blood to do witchcraft … The Devil said [to me] ‘Do the religion, I will give you everything you want’ … In clubs I started looking for Christians. I knew if I could get into it and you had it in your system … The Devil told me ‘whatever you kill in the spirit [world], you can kill in the natural. I would leave my body home and project myself in different neighbourhoods. I would speak curses and speak things I wanted to happen in the neighbourhoods“( transcript).

John continued as a slave of Satan until he was gloriously saved out of demonism by Jesus Christ. Though not everyone who dabbles into Santeria would have the same experience John Ramirez had, but the fact still remains that Santeria is a form of Satanism.

Satan loves to import and export Satanism from one continent to another not only to trap more unsuspecting people, but to make way for his one world religion. While he ships African pagan worship over to America and Britain, he brings Eastern mysticism to Africa and then moves American occultism to the East.

Every system of religion that rejects the shed blood of Christ but instead relies on the blood of animals (or humans) is under Satan’s umbrella.