Difference Between Santeria and Voodoo

Religion is a sacred belief and morals that humans have on superhuman controlling power. Different people have beliefs in their personal superhuman often referred to as God.


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Different people from different countries believe in different religions and two such religions are Santeria and Voodoo.

Key Takeaways

  1. Santería is an Afro-Cuban religion blending West African Yoruba beliefs with Roman Catholicism, focused on worshipping Orishas, or spiritual beings.
  2. Voodoo, or Vodou, is an Afro-Caribbean religion mainly practised in Haiti, incorporating West African spirituality and Roman Catholic elements, venerating spirits called Lwa.
  3. Santería and Voodoo share African diaspora roots and similarities in syncretism, but they have distinct spiritual beings, rituals, and regional influences.

Santeria vs Voodoo

The difference between Santeria and Voodoo is that Santeria religion is influenced by Spanish culture whereas Voodoo is influenced by French and American culture. Also, Santeria is a Spanish word meaning, ‘way or honor of the saints’ whereas Voodo is an African word meaning ‘moral fiber’.

Santeria vs Voodoo

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Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonSanteriaVoodoo
InfluenceIt has a Spanish influence.It has a French influence.
BeliefsIt is based on Yoruba beliefs.It is based on Fon and Ewe beliefs.
Origin of NameThis name is originated from a Spanish word.The name is originated from a French word.
Name of SpiritsPeople who practice this religion call their spirits orishas.People who practice this religion call their spirits loas or laws.
Animal SacrificeIn large scaleOn a lesser scale
PopularityThis religion is not so popular and is not official as well.This religion is very popular and is official as well.
Arrival in AmericaIt came to America via Cuba and Mexico.It came to America via Haiti.

What is Santeria?

Santeria, meaning ‘The way of the Saints’ is a common tradition that was developed in Cuba and later spread through Latin America and The United States of America.

It is also known as La Regla de Ocha or La Religion Lucumi. This religion was brought to Cuba by the people from Yoruban nations of West Africa, who were enslaved in the 19th century(1st decades). 

The name santeria derives from the correspondences between the orishas(Yoruba deities) and the saints of Roman Catholic piety. The main basis of this religion is to create personal relationships through divination, sacrifice, initiation, and mediumship between the orisha deities and the practitioners of the religion.

The orisha deities provide their devotees with wisdom, protection, and success and also help them during a crisis.

Santeria followers have the belief that one greatest divine, God created the whole universe, and the lesser divine beings, called orishas take care of the world. These orishas represent various forces of nature along with some human characteristics which are quite similar to Greek mythology. 

The orishas are sometimes thanked for performing miracles and sometimes blamed for the unfortunate occurrences. If a devotee is having bad luck consistently, they must seek help from their orisha to achieve peace and harmony.

Also, there are no official churches or temples in this religion and the rituals or ceremonies are generally performed in public or at home. In this religion, the whole faith is passed down orally because of a lack of scriptures and monuments therefore ceremonies are important.

santeria 1

What is Voodoo?

Voodoo is a religion which was originated in Africa. In certain parts of the world like America and the Caribbean, it is thought to be a combination of many African, Catholic, and Native American traditions and cultures.

Though the countless number of people practice this religion and the people who practice it are known as Voodooists.

Voodoo is basically a community that supports an individual’s empowerment, experience, and responsibility without any scripture or world authority and is practiced by imperfect people who use religion to benefit themselves. It is also different in different parts of the world and also varies community-wise.

The people who practice Voodoo, that is, Voodooists believe that there are two worlds, a visible one and the other one which is invisible, and these two worlds are interconnected. The one in which we live is visible and the one in which the spirits of dead people live is invisible.

So, according to them the spirits that exist in the invisible world are still with them and they watch them from there and also inspire them. In addition to the ancestors, Voodooists believe that Lwa, which are the archetypes of human personalities also exists there and Voodooists develop a relationship with the Lwa to seek help and guidance from them.


Main Differences Between Santeria and Voodoo

  1. The Santeria religion has Spanish influence whereas the Voodoo religion has French and American influence.
  2. The basis of Santeria is Yoruba beliefs whereas that of Voodoo is Fon and Ewe beliefs.
  3. The word Santeria is a Spanish word which means ‘way or honor of saints’ whereas the word Voodoo is an African word which means “moral fiber”.
  4. People who practice Santeria call their spirits orishas whereas Voodooists call their spirits loas or laws.
  5. The sacrifice of animals is practiced on a huge scale in Santeria whereas it is practiced on a lesser scale in Voodoo.
  6. In terms of popularity, Voodoo is very much popular and is official as well whereas Santeria is not so popular and is unofficial as well.
Difference Between Santeria and Voodoo
  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=elc5YDyY4eoC&oi=fnd&pg=PA9&dq=santeria+and+voodoo&ots=z86VHHTj54&sig=k-320nt7RfPkt8lTVED91zXyIIo
  2. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=EvOEdueU4GkC&oi=fnd&pg=PP9&dq=santeria+and+voodoo&ots=m2xUJtvkQ3&sig=oSaNcwSYGsUm_AW5eXigduLpG_M
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