The success rate in Santería marriages has not been, to my knowledge, officially studied and measured. However, it is common wisdom that people who share a common faith have more chances of success than those who do not. However, even shared common practices does not guarantee success in a marriage, just may increase the odds.
Over coffee this morning, my now ex-husband and I started to reminisce about our life together. It has been nearly 16 years since we married. Our journey together started by with a simple question. “Do you know anything about Santeria?” We had just met at a party and he learned that I was from Puerto Rico. The conversation took off to a great start. We discovered many spiritual and mundane common interests and our relationship bloomed both spiritually and romantically.
In time I devoted my life to Yemayá and him to Obatalá. Life has tested our marriage in many ways and it is the Egun and the Orishas who keep us strong together as a family by providing us the guidance to overcome obstacles and the wisdom to follow advice even when sometimes it may not be exactly as we have foreseen.
An interesting fact about us as a couple is that although we are fully committed to one another, our commitment to our head orishas comes always first. Now, some of you may wonder how this can be. When a couple shares spiritual harmony and respect, their head orishas work together, it is as simple as that. A strong household begets the ideal ground to develop strong children and godchildren.
Here are some things we have learned along the way.
1. Honor the Egun as a family. Honoring and servicing the ancestors together at least once per month is crucial. This allows for children to observe, learn and be active participants is a crucial routine. The family here has a time and space to voice petitions, thank the egun for blessings and pour their heart out. This can also be a healing ground if there are any unresolved issues as they can be brought forth to the egun and resolved.
2. The power of collective ebbó. It is healthy to do a reading at the beginning of the year for the household and family to determine ebbó for the year. One of these ebbós can be feeding the earth as a family.
3. Keep tidy altars. Another way to increase ashé in the house is to have tidy ritual spaces that are kept in shape by assigning tasks among family members.
4. Keep communications flowing. Unspoken words are wasted opportunities for growth and learning. It is imperative to follow a simple rule, do not let the sun set over disagreements. Iron kinks out before going to sleep. There is nothing worse than festering wounds for it breeds osogbo.
5. Be selective in your associations. Keep a close eye on who comes to your house, both to your spiritual house and as guests. Get rid of any relationship that creates discord in the family unit. Do not tolerate gossip and do not engage in gossip. Gossip breeds osogbo.
6. Adhere to a cleansing routine. At least once per month do a spiritual cleansing of your home and prepare a collective ebbó misí (spiritual bath) for all family members.
We are sure that there are many other lessons that readers can share in the forum and we welcome your thoughts and experiences since no one has the full secrets to a happy married life. At least we hope this helps those who are just starting a married life and those who are thinking about embarking in this lifelong commitment.
May your home and destiny as a couple always be in harmony,
Omimelli Oní Yemayá Achagbá
30 Responses to Santería and Marriage: How to Increase Chances of Success
Liz says:November 21, 2011 at 1:21 pmOn aniversaries, birthdays, holidays or just whenever, my husband and I honor each others tutelary orisha as well. My husband has shango made and I like to thank shango for bringing me a son of his that is an excellent husband, father, friend, provider and protector to his family. So, with my husband’s permission, I like to serve his Chango an occasional adimu and my husband, in turn, will bring flowers to my Yemaya (he’s not much of a cook lol) or some other small token of appreciation.
Omimelli says:November 21, 2011 at 2:24 pmLiz That is an excellent exchange. I think it is very healthy to petition to each other’s orisha. One roof, one purpose, one spiritual devotion. That is what cohesiveness is all about. Omimelli
Kjerstin says:November 22, 2011 at 8:42 amDear Omimelli I am blessed to see that you are doing well! I too am blessed to share a deep and abiding relationship with my husband that allows us to honor our spiritual path before our relationship, to care for and protect our family right next to that. When the bonds are close and in proper balance with Spirit so are we. I will admit we both share your love of good coffee, sharing things we love is an important daily ritual..small things bring great joy… thank you for reminding me of this. (((((((((hugs))))))))) Love Kjerstin
Iyawo Obba says:November 30, 2011 at 1:19 amGreat article! I do wonder if it is best to marry within the religion. Babalowos have told me that me marrying a babalowo is important being crowned Obba. We shall see. Iyawo Obba
Omimelli says:November 30, 2011 at 10:34 amHi Iyawó, Thanks for reading TMC. From my experience it is best to marry someone you love but who also shares your religious point of view, even if they do not practice it with the same intensity. Respect and devotion are important in a marriage. As far as marrying a babalawo…well that is all in the Stars, if it is meant to be for your happiness it will be. If it is a status thing, like I have seen for many women, then think about it long and hard, there are challenges that come with every marriage. Onareo, Omimelli
Hija de yemaya says:December 10, 2011 at 5:58 pmThere are so many myths about being married to a Babalawo. My husband is and it is a challange and one a woman has to be prepared for, if any woman is thinking of marring a Babalawo for status she would be sadly mistaken. The responsibilities are great and deep. Once Orula is in your home everything changes and so does the marriage. It took me a little time to learn how to serve my husband the right way but this is definatly a two way street. Blessings to all!!!
Omimelli says:December 11, 2011 at 12:52 pmHija de Yemaya, Thank you kindly for your time and for posting a response. I am sure that changes in the marriage are interesting to say the least. The work of the apetebi is of great importance and requires a great deal of patience and humility. Could you share with the forum what were the main changes and adjustments you had to make? Odabo Omimelli
Omimelli says:December 26, 2012 at 2:46 pmHello Thanks for your post. I am amazed at the level of ignorance some so called santeros display. If I was you, I would be seriously considering finding another ilé. There is nothing that keeps two people with the same head orisha (I will asume you have kariosha made) from being together. Now, if you are brother and sister born from the same stones in the same house, there I have objections. Otherwise, no. Omimelli
Omimelli says:January 30, 2014 at 3:14 pmAntone With all due respect to the person advising you…that is not so. Omimelli
lovebug26 says:April 16, 2013 at 4:23 pmMy fiancé practices the religion and I’m a practicing catholic. I’m wondering if this might be conflicting and harmful towards our future marriage. Also what goes on in an official marriage ceremony?? Sorry im not full knowledgeable in this and would really appreciate knowledge on the subject. Thank you
Omimelli says:April 17, 2013 at 2:53 amHello Lovebug26 This is certainly a delicate consideration. Families that pray together, tend to stay together or at least increase their chances of success. Here are the things I would like you to consider carefully. In any relationship, the key element for success is knowing yourself. When you know yourself you can deal with most situations accordingly because you know how far to go, how much to commit and how and when to compromise. 1. Are you willing to allow your future husband to have privacy to practice at will in his home and your home? 2. Will you participate as needed if needed in any ritual that may involve you as the woman of the house? This could be a simple cleansing or you hosting a dinner for other orisha people. That in itself can be a ritual, cooking and feeding orisha people at your home. 3. How involved is he? Is he an olosha or an aleyo? 4. How involved will he want to be in the future? 5. What if he decides to become an olosha? Will you be able to respect his restrictions as iyawo. Meaning no sex for the first 3 months or up to a year depending on the house? 6. Will you consider as well that once you have children he has as much right to raise the children in the orisha community as you would in the Catholic Church? How would you solve this? These are some simple questions that you need to consider. It is really important that you talk about this with him and that you have a good relationship with the santeria people who surround him. You do not want other folks creating a divide between you too if you decide to continue on together but you are not perceived in the community as not supportive. I am here to help you tease out answers if you need a sounding board. Good luck, Omimelli
Mommyof3boys says:September 30, 2013 at 3:28 pmDear Lovebug26 My husband practices Santeria and I am Christian. We’ve been together for 16 years and although this may seem like a long time it’s been a VERY bumpy road. Two religions that completely contradict one another brings a lot of disagreements. From my perspective two people should have the same faith so they are able to have strong marriages by worshipping once a week, praying with each other and talking about the word. We find ourselves on two seperately paths always trying to meet at the end of the day. We love each other deeply but love alone won’t help you spiritually just speaking from experience. I hope you find my comment not as discouraging but as someone who has and is living with someone of a different religion. There is a lot that isn’t considered when love is the only thing you are considering when deciding to marry. I recommend you find someone with the same beliefs or else you may just find yourself drifting apart as you get older trying to find peace in your life. Religion means a lot more as you get older with kids and family. May God bless you in any decision you make.Reply
Lily says:September 15, 2013 at 7:30 pmBendicion Omimelli, I’ve had a question on my mind for some time. I’ve finally decided to ask it here because I feel a relatively high degree of trust in the information you provide on this blog. I have been living with my partner for almost 6 years now and we have a son together. My partner is initiated to Obbatala and I received Los Guerreros and Olokun in the same casa de santo where he was coronated, from his Padrino. In my last consulta, it was determined that in about 5 years time I would also have to be initiated for health reasons. From my understanding, a couple’s orishas may not be born from the same otanes as it constitutes an incestuous relationship. My question is the twofold, to what extent is this true? And can a couple belong to the same casa de santo? I would really appreciate your opinion on this topic.
Omimelli says:September 15, 2013 at 9:05 pmLily Here is the most important consideration. Does your health really requires that you get kariosha? I have seen so many people doing this for the wrong reasons or because they are convinced to do so for ‘health’ reasons. I mean there is so much we can do to improve our health, for example, drink 8 glasses of water per day. That helps the body function better, get rid of impurities, assist in weight loss and more. You may think I have gone off on a tangent, but I have not. Make sure you are taking this step because it completes your spiritual development and because it makes you happy as a human being. Do not go to this initiation seeking to obtain tangible benefits from it or you will come out disappointed. This is not about tid for tad. Ok so going to the other question. There are different schools of thinking. I happen to think that it is not wise to have the same godparents. Let say that in the future you happen to be at odds with your significant other. Who is going to support you and be your spiritual advisor? The same godparents will see to both of you with the same level of loyalty? What if you find out that your significant other is doing workings against you? Who will the godparent choose to defend? And yes, being born fro. The same pot is equivalent to spiritual incest. Consider your options carefully. Consider your needs as individual and then, consider that your partner is already a senior member of that house because he was initiated many years ahead of you. I hope this helps. Omimelli
ro says:January 17, 2014 at 8:56 pmHi all, I stumbled across this blog because of the title. I am not initiated YET..still at the very beginning stages of this journey. However, and I am hoping someone can give advise and insight. I met someone who is in the religion in fact he is an oriate/italero and for many many years. He is also many year older than I. I went to him for a reading and did an ebo to Oshun and other stuff that he advised me on..as I started to form a relationship with him and trust him I wanted him to be my padrina..long story short he could not be because he confessed that he was attracted to me and that it would be taboo. I agreed because I soon had the same feeling. Things were moving along in the relationship and he kinda had two reasons in my life being my man and guiding me through this religion, educating me and so forth.. Cut to the chase, for whatever reason the relationship started to fade ( I think he started to get insecure about the age and what he would be able to be/do for me as a man) so right now it is a BIG stall in the relationship and I have not seen him..My anxiety now is continuing with my journey with the possibility that I may have seek another house, seek other peoples to be padrinos..I fear that I will not be guided correctly. I have learned so much from him that I put in prayer to the orishas (which omg they are powerful) especially Oshun!!! So now that I am not with him but know for sure that I am taking this journey Im a bit cautious about seeing/dating men who are not in the religion, fearing that this may cause an issue for them, even me. I still love the other man but am not sure if our relationship will return and flourish..Any advise is welcomed.. Ro
ScorpSpirit says:January 21, 2014 at 5:45 pmJanuary 17, 2014 at 8:56 pm Hi all, I stumbled across this blog because of the title. I am not initiated YET..still at the very beginning stages of this journey. However, and I am hoping someone can give advise and insight. I met someone who is in the religion in fact he is an oriate/italero and for many many years. He is also many year older than I. I went to him for a reading and did an ebo to Oshun and other stuff that he advised me on..as I started to form a relationship with him and trust him I wanted him to be my padrina..long story short he could not be because he confessed that he was attracted to me and that it would be taboo. I agreed because I soon had the same feeling. Things were moving along in the relationship and he kinda had two reasons in my life being my man and guiding me through this religion, educating me and so forth.. Cut to the chase, for whatever reason the relationship started to fade ( I think he started to get insecure about the age and what he would be able to be/do for me as a man) so right now it is a BIG stall in the relationship and I have not seen him..My anxiety now is continuing with my journey with the possibility that I may have seek another house, seek other peoples to be padrinos..I fear that I will not be guided correctly. I have learned so much from him that I put in prayer to the orishas (which omg they are powerful) especially Oshun!!! So now that I am not with him but know for sure that I am taking this journey Im a bit cautious about seeing/dating men who are not in the religion, fearing that this may cause an issue for them, even me. I still love the other man but am not sure if our relationship will return and flourish..Any advise is welcomed.. ScorpSpirit(ro)
Omimelli says:January 30, 2014 at 3:12 pmDear Scorp There is a fundamental reason why we do not fish on our own peer. You have found out that spiritually we cannot be subordinate or guided by our partners. I am glad the oriate was clear about his feelings and you received no initiations from him. Did I get this part right? I do hope so. My suggestion is, take a cooling down time, pray to the orisha and they will indeed mark the way for you to find suitable godparents. Yes, Oshun is indeed powerful. :-). Omimelli
ScorpSpirit says:January 30, 2014 at 3:40 pmGood Morning, Than you for your reply..No I was never going to be initatied by him, it would have been by someone else. I don’t want to repeat my story again..but the “cooling down time” you suggests, I have done that and Maferefun Oshun..she answered my petition and prayer and I think elegua ( lil too)he was listening ;-)..I think He(oriate) and I have some sorting out and communicating to do..And by being still, I know that this journey will happen sooner than later…
Sakina says:January 29, 2014 at 11:37 pmI’m a Caribbean student and i am doing a reasearch on Santeria and i have come to finding out about the wedding and i have been coming up empty handed do you think you can tell me how the wedding is conducted for my project please and thank you
Omimelli says:January 30, 2014 at 3:06 pmSakina I have never seen a Santeria style wedding. I have seen other rites of passage, but not one like this. Omimelli
Mara Horseford says:July 12, 2014 at 1:17 pmBetween me and my husband we’ve owned more MP3 players over the years than I can count, including Sansas, iRivers, iPods (classic & touch), the Ibiza Rhapsody, etc. But, the last few years I’ve settled down to one line of players. Why? Because I was happy to discover how well-designed and fun to use the underappreciated (and widely mocked) Zunes are.
Barbara says:August 5, 2015 at 8:26 pmHi . I am a christian and husband is of this religion. But he does not “practice” it. He has his osun, elegua, and guerrero set by the door for the past 20 years that we have been married but does not take care of it. Occasionally he might. In the 20 years that we have been married its been rocky and we have almost gotten a divorce 3 times for financial reasons. In those 3 times, that we have been separated i have seen a glimpse of personal advance. When we get back together he seems without passion to “move forward” and has no personal goals. His health is also deteriorating. He suffers from gout and kidney stones, he has medication, follows a compliant diet, but nothing seems to help him get better. I see him stuck in his personal life, which hinders our family life and any future goals we might be able to obtain as a family. He was consulted about two years ago and was told someone from his past more than 20years ago has put a hex on him ( a young girls mother) when he left cuba. He was cleansed and so was I and he said he felt better after that. And his health temporarily improved after he took care of his elegua. He has stopped doing that. I do not know if I am over reacting or if what I am thinking could even be possible, since we do not share the same faith. I do know that this religion is powerful and some people do not do good things as in all walks of life. I respect his belief and want to help him get out of his rut. What do you suggest I do to help him ? Please advise and thank you any info would be helpful.