In the Santeria religion, the Orula bracelet, sometime called Santeria beads, is a sacred emblem thought to be a bridge into the realm of the saints and the gods. It’s a personal amulet that offers the wearer protection, communion, and control over the spiritual realm. The Orula bracelet is made of beaded jewels that represent a connection with the spirits that control our daily lives.
Now practiced around the world, Santeria, also known as Regla de Ocha or the Lucumi religion, originated in West Africa. When the slave trade brought many Africans to Brazil, Haiti, the Southern part of the United States, Cuba, Puerto Rico and other Caribbean nations they brought with them the Santeria religion.
Although most Africans were forced to convert to Catholicism upon their arrival, many continued to practice their native religions at the same time.
The word Santeria comes from the Spanish and loosely translates as devotion to the saints (santos). Many who practice this religion refer to the orichas, or deities, as saints. In this terminology the practitioners are combining Catholicism with this West African religion.
Those who practice the Santeria religion sometimes describe themselves as Catholics, attending mass and baptizing their children as members of that faith. At the same time they will practice their African-based religion in the own homes and temple-houses.
The religion and its traditions have survived and been passed down through the generations and as Cuban citizens and members of other Caribbean nations left the islands they took with them the Santeria religion where it spread to Canada, the United States, Europe, and many South American countries.
The term orisha (orixa, orisa) refers to any one of the deities of the Santeria or Regla de Ocha religion. An orisha is unlike the anthropomorphic supernatural entity worshipped in many Western religions. It is a complex multi-dimensional linking between divine power, a natural force, a deified ancestor, and an object that supports that unity.
The word orisha is related to “ori” the term that refers to the head as the dwelling place of the spirit or individual personality.
Some of these orishas are primordial in the sense that they existed before the creation of human beings. They emanated directly from God without any human intervention or aid. Other orishas came from heaven and still reside there. Still others are the earth’s first inhabitants and are now sacred beings that dwell on and in the earth.
Other orishas are the deified ancestors who lived in this world after it was created and who had such an impact upon it that their descendants continue to promote their memory.
Natural forces also contain spirits and they too are orishas. Among them are the earth; rivers, lakes, and lagoons; and mountains, certain trees, and the wind.
In practice, eachorisha is closely associated with particular occupations, places, skills, preferences, diseases, problems, capabilities, and misfortunes. Devotees—through the orisha’s priesthood—can make appeals to the orisha that is best able to resolve the problem they are experiencing.
With the mingling of Catholicism, the orishas became known as saints and guardian angels and are regarded as the supernatural entities that frequent both the physical and spiritual realms. They serve as mediators and messengers for the Supreme Being.
In the pantheon of Santeria, Orula or Orunmila is the orisha of divination, the supreme oracle. Orula is a great healer, the great benefactor of mankind, its chief adviser. Orula represents intelligence and wisdom and it is said that he witnessed the creation of the universe. Orula possesses knowledge of the secret things of man and nature, as well as the accumulated knowledge of the history of humanity.
Orula is the only orisha who knows the future of everyone on earth and has the power to influence our destiny. He knows how we can find peace of mind, health, happiness, and success. He can help us avoid mistakes and stay on the right path.
By receiving a consultation with Orula people can learn their destination in both the physical and spiritual worlds and know what difficulties will threaten them and how to overcome these difficulties.
Orula is the orisha whom the priest or bablawo contacts in a divination and the final answer the consultation produces will be the decision and command of Orula.
All the religious complexity around Orula makes him stand out from the other deities. Not only does Orula personify wisdom, but he is also a powerful healer, working with herbs and roots to cure people. His colors are yellow and green and these are the colors of his eleke (beaded necklace). Yellow and green beads are alternated in the making of a Orula bracelet or necklace. A simple yellow and green beaded bracelet is worn on the left wrist by men and women who’ve received the mano de Orula or cofa’ de Orula ceremony. This protects them from premature death and insanity.
As future prophet and counselor of humans, Orula is considered one of the most important of all the orishas. Many present day Cubans, and others who know of his position and power, wear his green and yellow beads as a tribute to him.
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