Santería was brought to the United States in two principle waves, one in the early 1960s after the Cuban Revolution and later by the Marielitos who escaped from the island in the 1980s. Since then it has spread to the larger Hispanic community, to the African American community, and to other segments of society as well. Today, practitioners can be found in every state, and interest in Orisha and related traditions has gained popularity. As the number of practitioners has grown so has public awareness. In this compelling introduction, Clark answers such questions as where did this religion come from? What do practioners believe? Is it a cult? What takes place at a ritual event? How does it view death and the afterlife? Is there ritual sacrifice? Clark, a practitioner as well as a scholar of the faith, dispels the myths that surround this religious practice, and brings readers to a better understanding of this growing faith in America.
Mary Ann Clark is both a scholar and practitioner of Santería. In addition to teaching in the Religious Studies Program at the University of Houston and the School of Human Sciences and Humanities at the University of Houston Clear Lake, she is the coordinator of the Council of Societies for the Study of Religion. She is the author of Where Men are Wives and Mothers Rule: Santeria Ritual Practices and their Gender Implications as well as several articles, book chapters, and book reviews.