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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on September 21, 1998
This is an excellent exposition by a brilliant author of a badly misunderstood religion. Migene Gonzalez-Wippler was the first author to write about Santeria for en English-speaking audience, When she began her research ahe was not an initiate and most of the santeros she interviewed gave her wrong information purposefully. This reflected in her first book on the subject. Since then she has recived several of the initiations of Santeria and her books reflect not only her love but also her great respect for it. She was the first author on the subject to make correlations between the orishas of the Yoruba pantheon and the archetypes of the collective unconscious. This is a major contribution to the study of Santeria. The secrecy which is such an intrinsic part of Santeria was born of the need of the African slaves to hide their practices from their Spanish masters. This secrecy is no longer necessary and does a great disservice to the religion. If is more important to let the world know that Santeria is a valid and powerful religious system and not the shady and suspicious cult that most uninformed people think it is. Gonzalez-Wippler has dispelled much of these false misconceptions. Her books were largely resposible for the favorable decision made by the Supreme Court declaring Santeria a valid religion, protected by the American constiturion.Unfortunately, this religion attracts a great deal of fanatics and people of the lower classes, many of them with an ax to grind. None of their ill-intended comments can change the fact that this is one of the most thorough and brilliant books written on the subject. I strongly recoemmend this book to any INTELLIGENT person who wants to know what Santeria is all about. Also excellent is here book The Santeria Experience. =
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2004
This is an alright book for those seeing an overview of Santeria but it does contain some misinformation. The book has a small section on Palo Mayombe. The author describes Palo as being evil and calls it "the dark side of santeria". This is not correct at all. Palo Mayombe, Palo Monte, Palo in general is totaly different and seperate from Santeria. There are spirits in Santeria and Spirits in Palo. Palo Mayombe is hardly anything like the information presented in this book. The Other thing to watch out for is her description of Orisha as Gods. Orisha are not gods, In santeria there is one God. The orisha are spirits who live on this earth with those who are initiated in santeria. Be careful when reading this book, use it as a tool to help you get some basic information but take it witah a grain of salt.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on December 22, 1998
This is the most fascinating book I have read in a long time. I had the pleasure of being present during one of Ms. Gonzalez-Wippler's scholarly lectures on the subject of Santeria while I was a student at Columbia University, and she was both candid and supportive about the work of the santeros. THis book excelled all my expectations. She should be commended for her courage and admirable scholarship in presenting this much-misunderstood religion in a sympathetic and dignified manner. If you really want to know what Santeria is all about, you could not choose a better book. I strongly recommend it.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 1999
Un buen libro para comenzar a conocer sobre la santería. Presenta un buen marco de referencia para las personas que tienen curiosidad sobre el tema. La temática es tratada con suficiente respeto y decoro. Su profundidad es limitada. Su lectura es amena y entretenida. No lo recomiendo para personas que ya poseen conocimiento sobre el tema o desean realizar un estudio serio sobre la religion Yoruba según es practicada en el Caribe.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on September 29, 2002
The Works of Migene Gonzalez Wippler are the most widely distributed and best selling books on the Subject of Santeria, and Cuban Lucumi. Her works are both liked and disliked, liked buy the community who are new to Santeria, and very much disliked buy Elders and initiates in the religion.
It is not that Wippler's books are not accurate, they are. It is just that they seam to closely resemble other published books on Lucumi and Santeria that have been written in Spanish and have no copyrights. But aside from this, "if you can put this aside, many of the Elders in the religion, will not." (That is steeling) Then you have a pretty interesting book, full of basic wisdom and knowledge that really opens the doors for new comers into the religion, or for those who have a basic curiosity. "I guess those who do not know gotta start somewhere." I recommend it to those who have no knowledge of the religion, it breaks that Voodoo stereo type, but this book is pretty much a stepping stone for other bigger and greater things. But I do not completely dislike her books, in fact I recommend this book, and Powers of the Orishas, to all Aleyos out there.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 1999
Ya sea que lo lea como una historia de ciencia ficción (novela) o como una entrada al mundo de lo esotérico encontramos los relatos muy amenos. Se encuentra cronológicamente estructurado y bien redactados. Es observar las prácticas de lo que se encontraba hasta hoy oculto, en la mirada inquisitiva de una mujer profesional. El lector debe comprender que no se comparte profundidas de conocimiento sino; como bien se títula el libro sus experiencias.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on November 21, 1999
I am a student of world religions and have friends in the Yoruba, Candomble, Santeria religions and have found this book to of great understanding of how the religion is interpreted. This is a complex religion, not easily understood by a lay person and the author takes great strides in presenting the religion in a language that demystifies the shrouded religion. Any student of ecumenical studies or anyone that knows someone in The Religion, should read this book from cover to cover.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2002
Im glad she reveals a lot of the stuff that is written in spanish. Though I also realize that eighter she made a few mistakes in her book orshe was deliberatly mislead with some of the information. She does give a crate load of information on the religion and beliefs of Santaria. If you are interested in Santaria or you are just curious about it than this should be your first book on the subject. Also her other book The Power Of The Orishas is pretty good as well. In her book Santaria she gives you information about some of the major orishas like Oshun, Chango, Yemaya, Elegua and more. She discusses the taboos and unfortunatly the macho part of it. Unfortunatly it is true a woman can not achieve the same high ranks a man can even though she can reach a centain rank on a Santera (priestess) a man can rise above her to higher ranks. If you are a gay man you can only reach the same rank a woman can. There are some things she did not mention like a woman can not sacrifice animals even as a Santera unless A) she has a warrior Orisha that rules her head or B) she is past menapause. To me thats a load of BS made up by men but thats the religion. Maybe one day it will change. But back to the book she is the only auther that i know of that revealed a lot years ago with her writtings. I brought this book years back and I will never give it away.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 2006
This is a pretty good introduction to the basics of Santeria. There is some information in the book which is questionable, so I would say read this with a grain of salt and decide for yourself. The author does describe Palo Mayombe as dark and evil, and this is not so, Palo is a beautiful practice and should not be degraded like this. That aside, this was one of my first books on Santeria and it does give good descriptions of readings, recieving beads and warriors, asiento, and more. There are also several photographs of altars, botanicas, and fetishes. For the most part, a good solid book. For difinitive answers, seek out a santera or santero.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2013
When when I read this book in 2007 I found it to be one of the greatest works that I ever came across. There was so much knowledge and information that helped me begin the journey into Santeria and working with Orishas that I would have given it 5 stars. Now in 2013 I've realized that not all the information in it is true. It's unfortunate for two reasons:

1. People are reading this book believing that everything in here is fact, when some of it is actually misunderstandings or bad research

2. Anyone who wants to truly know about the religion and find their way into it don't have much except this book to go on since there aren't many authors who use this religion as a topic.

I will start off by saying that she refers to Palo as the "dark magic" in Santeria which is a false accusation. Without books on Palo and Paleros to prove it all I can give you is the experience I've had with the people I've met and the knowledge they've passed to me, one of which is Palo is not "dark magic". There are a few other things but I don't want to drag this review on too much.

So my advice for this book is if you don't have any avenues to lead you down the path then read it with a grain of salt and understand that not everything is fact and there is some misdirection. I'm not sure if that was because she was ignorant herself or if the elders she spoke to lied to cover up the secrets (something she stated in a previous book). At the end I personally believe that Migene was trying to create something that informed people about the religion and get rid of a lot of the BS some people coat around it to state it is evil, satanic, etc. Whatever the case, take it for what it is.
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