Tag: raul canizares

Sacred Sounds of the Female Orishas, collected by Raul Canizares

By Mike Gleason | November 12, 2013 | Leave a comment

Sacred Sounds of the Female Orishas, collected by Raul CanizaresSacred Sounds of the Female Orishas: Rhythms of the Goddess, collected by Raul Canizares
Destiny Recordings, 1-59477-071-9, 60 mins., 2005

Raul Canizares, who collected and produced the recordings which are the basis for this CD was the head of the Santeria Temple Orisha Consciousness Movement in Manhattan, and the author of Cuban Santeria, as well as the producer of another CD , The Sacred Sounds of Santeria.

The emphasis of this collection is the female aspects of divinity. It helps to know some of the stories associated with these strong female images, although it isn’t absolutely necessary. The liner notes give a little sense of the strength of these goddesses. There are no shrinking-violets in this collection. Even the orishas associated with love are strong, independent figures. Their songs convey this as well. The rhythms are forceful and compelling. You can feel their presence and power as their songs are sung. Continue reading


Review: Cuban Santeria, by Raul Canizares

By Mike Gleason | April 24, 2004 | 1 comment

Cuban Santeria, by Raul Canizares
Destiny Books, 0892817623, 138 pages + colour insert, 1993, 1999
Raul Canizares offers a truly unique perspective in this book – that of not only an active member of the religion of Santeria, but of a high-ranking member of that religion. There have been other books by members of the religion , but none by someone with the academic background and training which Mr. Canizares brings to this work. Add to that the length of his active involvement and you have a perspective which would be hard to duplicate.

This is a reissue of a work which was aimed at an objective, academic audience, as a part of the research in order to complete a master’s thesis. It has been expanded by the addition of anecdotal stories and appendices.

On a personal note, I would like to recommend that, if possible, you obtain a copy of the CD Sacred Sounds of Santeria, which is a collection of traditional Santeria rhythms, as well as a few other songs collected in Cuba by Mr. Canizares. It offers a real feel for the rhythms which are such an important part of this religion. Having the CD playing in the background as you read this book will certainly enhance the experience of both for you.

This book, unlike those by such authors as Migene Gonzalez-Wippler, is less concerned with the workings of the religion and more concerned with the “relational” aspects. It delves into the use of Catholic iconography from a previously unexpressed point of view, as an example. It also focuses on the changes occurring in Santeria as a result of the large influx of non-Hispanic followers. As one of those non-Hispanic followers myself, it was a welcome change to see a discussion of this type in print.

Mr. Canizares is capable of presenting information regarding a seldom-understood religion in a way which is enlightening, non-threatening and, most importantly, entertaining way. I would hope that others will be inspired by his writing to continue this effort, as well as his effort to collect songs and chants “in the field.”

As a follower of a Wiccan path as well as a necklace-wearing member of the Lucumi, I applaud this books and highly recommend it to all the Pagans I know as a way of gathering further knowledge and dispelling prejudice. The more we understand other points of view, the less prejudice, distrust and hatred will hold sway in our world.

This book should be in the library of every religious educator, I know it will have a prominent place on my own library shelves.


Review: Sacred Sounds of Santeria, by Raul Canizares

By Mike Gleason | April 24, 2004 | 2 comments

Sacred Sounds of Santeria: Rhythms of the Orishas, by Raul Canizares
CD: Destiny Recordings, 1594770026, 60 min, 2004

This CD is a reissue of a previously issued cassette tape. It is not likely to appeal to a large audience, since it consists of songs to the orisha of Santeria (or Lucumi as it is sometimes called). There are no translations provided.

The liner notes provide a bit of background and recommendations from a Cuban high priest on who could benefit from each of the songs included in this collection.

The songs are divided into two sections – those recorded in the studio and those recorded “in the field.” The recordings, therefore, vary in quality. The studio versions have much more polish and consistency, while the field recordings are not as crisp and sharp. For all of that, the field recordings come across with a certain level of power and immediacy that the studio sessions just cannot convey.

For those who have an interest in this faith, who have never actually attended a ceremony, these songs and rhythms can begin to give a feeling for the energies involved. For those who are occasional participants in the ceremonies, these recordings can serve as a reminder between attendances.

Because these songs were recorded in Cuba, and are primarily in the language of the orisha (various African-derived dialects), they can be used as a meditation tool without distracting the conscious mind by easily understood lyrics. One can allow the sounds and rhythms to carry one along.

One word of warning may be appropriate with reference to these songs. They are designed to invoke the orisha, so they may “ride” their followers. The orisha expect to possess their followers, and even when they don’t do so, the power of their presence may be unsettling (and/or overwhelming) if you are not used to it.

This disk is a welcome addition to an all-too-small group of readily available recordings of “traditional” or “indigenous” music. There is a need to preserve these songs and rhythms, and the technology available today should make this easier to accomplish. Field recordings offer a better feel for the culture they come from.

Mr. Canizares has added a few non-Lucumi songs, also recorded in the field. These are from faiths which are related to Lucumi, and share the same sense of power. There is an instance of a song in Spanish (after all, Cubans do speak Spanish in their daily lives), but most of the songs are untranslatable to the average listener.

The CD is enjoyable on several levels – as an example of Afro-Cuban music, as a sampling of the power and majesty of Afro-Cuban religious expressions, and as background when reading material relating to the Lucumi faith (such as Mr. Canizare’s excellent Cuban Santeria). While it isn’t for everyone, it can certainly by an eye-opening experience if you allow it to be.