Religious leaders of the Cuban Santeria predicted 2022 with hope, but they also fear an exacerbation of diseases, an increase in violence and even plots.
At least two important groups of “babalawos”, as the priests are called in this denomination, released this Sunday their “Letter of the Year”: a set of predictions for the next 12 months and whose ceremony takes place every December 31 .
According to the Organizing Commission of the Letter of the Year – known as October 10, by the municipality where the cult is carried out – and the most traditional of divinations, the sign of 2022 will be “Obe Juani” and the ruling deity or orisha It is Obatalá accompanied by Oshun.
“This sign is of the pandemic, of cardiopulmonary diseases. You have to work with medicinal plants, because there will be a shortage of medicines, (something) that exists in Cuba, but in the world it will also be seen, “Ifa priest Victor Betancourt told The Associated Press. “Yes, increased death, we call it the sign of the cold grave … it is worrisome.”
As for the predictions personally, they said that this year people could suffer from cardiovascular or lung disorders, skin or bone problems.
On the social front, they recommended that people maintain hygiene in homes and encourage the use of medicinal plants, and they suggested that governments favor the construction of infrastructure, from homes and hospitals to cemeteries.
In addition, people should pay attention to the formation of children and avoid interpersonal violence, as well as be attentive to plots in which “several people come together to harm another,” said the written text of the Letter.
For its part, the Yoruba Association of Cuba published its Letter, for which it took “Baba Eyiogbe” as the ruling sign and also Obatalá as the divinity of the year.
Both “Letters” have Obatalá as the orisha of the year, the patron saint of intelligence and human thoughts, dreams and feelings. It is represented with the color white and according to these beliefs it is the creator of the earth.
In the syncretism of Cuban Santeria – the mixture that was made between African traditions and Catholicism – it is identified with the Virgen de las Mercedes.
Although the two groups of babalawos —who have thousands of followers or godchildren both in Cuba and in countries with heavy emigration such as the United States, Spain and Mexico— have worked separately for decades, in recent years they have sought to produce a unified letter. However, on this occasion they again distanced themselves due to differences that neither side identified.
“Ifá is not discredited, because there are several letters,” the priest Lázaro Cuesta, one of the founders of the October 10 Commission, told a group of journalists, the group that tends to see itself as independent, while the Yoruba Association for the support With which it counts on behalf of the Cuban State, it is usually considered official.
“If all of us babalawos maintained unity and not the spirit of being a central figure, we would have better results. Ifá calls us to coexistence in harmony “, even so,” respect for diversity is an important tool, “he added.
Cuban Santeria emerged as a fusion between the traditions brought by African slaves and the Catholic beliefs of the Spanish. On the island it is the majority religion strongly rooted in idiosyncrasy and national culture.