I've seen recently an interest being taken up in the religion of Santeria and see it mentioned various times as well as culturally appropriated within the Forums. So I thought I should make a post to clear up any misconceptions about the religion.
Many people believe that Santeria can be taken up immideatly simply because they have a "calling" to it, this is wrong. Santeria is an initiatory religion, meaning that do be able to know or do anything within the religion you MUST be initiated; there are no special "but" or "why". You are, however, allowed and even encouraged to pray to the Orishas but anything related to doing workings with them is considered cultural appropriation. The two divination systems used within the religion(Diloggun: The sacred shells; Ekuele: The chain of Orula) are reserved only for those that have passed initiation. Throughout the internet, you can most likely find every single secret and practice within Santeria; is this correct to do? NO
It is considered disrespectful to the Orishas and the religion itself to research "more than you should know"; if you are ever considering initiation, you should come "clean" to the Orishas. Many people that go and search extensively in the religion to later go for initiation can be barred by certain orishas as well as receive various taboo restrictions. The most an Aleyo(someone who is a beginner of a religion/has no initiation) can learn is who the orisha are, a bit about the religion and it's history, and certain other things; apart from that, everything is considered secret which is only revealed to those who are initiated.
Another thing I've seen around are things called "Santeria love spell" or "Curse of Oya"; this is all cultural appropriation and a disrespect to the deities they are related to. Although Magick is enterwined with Santeria, it does not form the basis of it; there are many or better said most initiates do not practice Magick. If you are not initiated, these deities will not work with you in Magick workings; meaning that whatever spell you've thought up is anything but a "Santeria spell".
Animal sacrifice is a necessity within Santeria, no matter how many people try to change it to vegan. Many people do not clearly understand what this sacrifice is or believe it to be some type of horrible cruelty. This is incorrect. It is part of the intiations done within the religion and without it, you will not have the presence of the Orishas. It is an ancient practice that has been upheld by the ancestors/elders of the religion and cannot be excluded. It is an act of communion with the spirits, the Orishas eat the blood and the community eats the meat; nothing is gone to waste.
There are, of course, many, many other misconceptions about the religion but hopefully this post will enlighten those that are interested. Any questions, feel free to drop them down below.