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.

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“(CBN.com 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.

The Origin of Saint Worship

Knowing the origin of Catholic saint worship explains why the practice lacks any Biblical support and why those truly saved must renounce it.

In an attempt to hoodwink Catholics from seeing how abominable this practice is, the Council of Trent says:

“And though the church has been accustomed to celebrate at times certain masses in honor and memory of the saint, she does not teach that sacrifice is offered to them but to God alone who crowned them; whence the priest … implores their favor that they may vouchsafe to intercede for us in heaven whose memory we celebrate on earth” (Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, 146).

If the saints are being sought for protection and blessings then what is being accorded to them is worship. Besides why seek out the spirits of the dead for what God can give?

Catholics object to the term “saint worship,” they argue that what they offer to God is latria (worship) in Greek and what they offer to saints is dulia (veneration). These are the same word games cults like to play – redefining words to hide a heresy.

Even if you address someone as “your worship” you can’t really be said to worship that person as a deity, but when you pray to him, build him a shrine, light him a candle or kiss his bones to receive a supernatural assistance or favour, then you are worshipping him.

In Scripture, the gestures – bowing, kneeling and honour – directed to God in worship are also displayed by Catholics towards their “saints”:

But the LORD … is the one you must worship. To him you shall bow down and to him offer sacrifices” (2Kings 17:36)

But I, by your great mercy, will come into your house; in reverence will I bow down toward your holy temple” (Psalm 5:7)

Come let us bow in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker” (Psalm 95:6)

…These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men” (Mark 7:6-7)

Note that the words “worship” and “honour” were used interchangeably, and in the Old Testament, there were altars and a temple built to the Lord just like Catholics build altars and shrines for their saints. Pagan religions express the same devotion to their many deities.

Ancient Babylon for example, worshipped up to 5,000 deities. Like Catholicism, they also believed their gods were once living heroes on earth but were now on a higher plane. They believed “every month and every day of the month was under the protection of a particular deity” (The Historians’ History of the World 1:518).

From the Bible, we can see that Syrian pagans also believed in different deities limited to certain geographical locations. When they lost a war against Israel, they said “their gods are gods of the hills; therefore they were stronger than we; but let us fight them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they” (1Kings 20:23).

Eastern religions generally had their worship of various deities, as the goddess of sailors, the god of war, gods of fertility, gods of special neighbourhood or occupation. The same for ancient Rome:

“There were gods who presided over every moment of a man’s life, gods of house and garden, of food and drink, of health and sickness” (Will Durant, The Story of Civilization, Simon and Schuster, 1950, III:61).

They had various “patron gods” for every aspect of life just like Catholics have their “saints” today.

Ceres was the goddess of corn, wheat and vegetation. Minerva was the goddess of wisdom, music and crafts. Venus was the goddess of sexual love and birth. Vesta was the goddess of bakers and sacred fires. Ops was the goddess of wealth. Castor and Pollux were regarded as the protectors of Rome and of travellers at sea. Janus was the god of doors and gates and so on.

Since this concept was in existence before Christianity and was known outside the church, its presence in Catholicism today points to its assimilation at some point.

This pagan influx majorly started from the 4th century. The pagans that flocked into the churchea ostensibly wanted to continue their devotions to their pantheon of gods, so step by step, it was revived in the church, this time under a new toga – as “saints.”

Here’s a break down:

1. Saints for different occupations

Just like the pagan Romans had different deities for different profession with different days of devotion, Catholicism too developed different “saints” for different aspects of life with different “feast days.”

St. Thomas (Dec. 21) for architects.
St. Matthew (Sept. 21) for bankers.
St. Luke (Oct. 18) for doctors.
St. John Bosco (Jan. 31) for editors.
St. Andrew (Nov. 30) for fishermen.
St. Francis of Assisi (Oct. 4) for merchants.
St. Anne (July 26) for housekeepers.
St. Thomas Aquinas (Mar. 7) for students.

Whatever may be your occupation, mama Rome has a ‘saint’ for you.

2. Saints for various problems

Like the old pagans gods, saints were also believed to be endowed with powers to solve specific problems: St. Anthony of Padua was for barren women; St. Nicholas for alcoholics; St. Lawrence for the poor; St. Joseph for spinsters seeking husbands; St. Dominic for children; St. Columban for floods; St. Eustachius for family troubles and St. George for fevers etc.

With this list of “friends on the other side” to help people get whatever they want, God was reduced to a mere spectator.

3. Changing of the gods

According to a historian, “Paganism survived … in the form of ancient rites and customs condoned, or accepted and transformed by an often indulgent Church. An intimate and trustful worship of saints replaced the cult of pagan gods” (The Story of Civilization, IV: 75).

Sometimes, as the old pagan gods were being renamed, the names of the old deities were slightly modified, but their rites and external features were left intact.

The goddess Victoria of the Basses-Alpes (France) was renamed as “St.” Victoire.

Cheron became “St.” Ceranos. Artemis became “St.” Artemidos. Demeter, a Greek goddess became “St.” Demetrios – a masculine warrior saint. Mars, the Roman god of war was conveniently renamed as “St.” Martin the warlike saint, and Lares became “St.” Lawrence.

4. Pagan legends became saints’ stories.

The Catholic Encyclopedia admits that saint “legends repeat conceptions found in the pre-Christian religious tales … The legend is not Christian, only Christianized … In many cases, it has obviously the same origin as the myth

Why is this so? It continues, “This transference was promoted by the numerous cases in which Christian saints became the successors of local deities, and Christian worship supplanted local worship” (Vol IX: 130, 131 art. “Legends”)

5. Pagan emblems adopted

Ancient arts show that the pagans represented their deities with a drawing of halo around their heads, the same was adopted for Catholic saints.

The New Catholic Encyclopedia (XII, 963) says:

“The most common attribute, applied to all saints, is the nimbus (cloud), a luminous defined shape surrounding the head of the saint. Its origins are pre-Christian, and example are found in Hellenistic art of pagan inspiration; the halo was used as evidence in mosaics and coins, for demigods and divinities such a Neptune, Jupiter, Bacchus and in particular Apollo (god of the sun).”

The New Encyclopedia Britannica (IV:864) states:

“In Hellenistic and Roman art, the sun-god Helios and Roman emperors often appear with a crown of rays … It was not until the 6th century that the halo became customary for the Virgin Mary and other saints.”

Fredrick Goodman writes that “the circle is the most important unit in magic symbolism and in almost every case where it is used … it is intended to denote spirit or spiritual forces … and it has survived in Christian art forms as the halo – a circle of gold…” (Magic and Symbols, Brian Trodd, 1989, p. 17).

In essence, those who invoke or pray to “saints” whether in Catholicism, Santeria or Voodoo are really communing with demonic entities pretending to be “saints.”

6. Pagan temples became shrines

The Pantheon Temple still remaining in Rome is a good example of this pagan assimilation.

In pagan Rome, that temple was dedicated to “Jove and all the gods” as seen on the inscription over the portico. Pope Boniface IV ‘re-consecrated’ it to “the Virgin Mary and all the saints.” Such restoration of pagan temples was common in other places.

The Celtic goddess Brigit (renamed as “St.” Bridget) had her main pagan temple at Kildare, Ireland, served by vestal virgins who tended the sacred fires. The temple was taken over and made a Catholic convent and nuns continue to tend the sacred fire which they now call “St. Bridget’s fire” (Ethel Urlin, Festivals, Holy Days and Saints’ Days, 1915, p. 26).

“Churches or ruins of churches have been frequently found on the sites where pagan shrines or temples originally stood … It is also to some extent true that sometimes the saint whose aid was to be invoked at the Christian shrine bore some outward analogy to the deity previously hallowed in that place” (Cath. Ency. 2:44)

In other words, paganism died in a way, only to live again within Catholicism.

The very spirits the pagan world bowed to only changed their names, they are still being bowed to today in the same temples for the same ‘favours’. God wants our Catholic and Eastern Orthodox friends to renounce this false worship.