Santeria

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First and foremost, I respect all religions. What I’m revealing today is only about my own experience. I’m not saying it’s everyone’s experience.

My father, like many Cubans, practiced Santeria, which has its roots in Yoruba, a religion that slaves brought from Africa. Because they weren’t allowed to practice their religion, it was hidden behind, and eventually influenced by, Roman Catholism. However, in my many homes growing up, there were no signs of the Christianity. No Bibles or pictures of Jesus.

There were, though, many symbols of Santeria. In the kitchen on top of the cabinets were vases and jars full of sugar, honey and coins, to bring in money. Behind the front door were a brown coconut with a cigar half smoked and an expresso coffee cup on a plate. (I have no idea why.)

In the freezer next to the food were coffee cans that had little pieces of paper with names written on them. When I asked my father about the cans in the freezer, he said, “Those individuals are being cooled down.”

My father was a career criminal and I guess he needed all the help he could get.

As I was connecting to the Colombia cartels, I knew the consequences would be great if I got caught. I didn’t have a crystal ball per se, but I had Maria.

She was pretty famous tarot reader in Miami with a background in Santeria. Her claim was that she could prevent or fix any problem, and her client list included an executive secretary from the White House, whom I met, lawyers, doctors, high ranking Miami city officials, and, she said, priests. She also saw a number of drug dealers.

Drug dealers all have the same problem: “I want it Now!” They’re impatient, always looking for short cuts, and that’s what Maria seemed to promise. Whether the client wanted LOVE, MONEY, a JOB, or help with a LEGAL PROBLEM, she could get it for them, she said. But as I learned the hard way, short cuts don’t work.

I saw Maria a few times and she always told me that my road was clear but that a tall women with long brown hair would get me into trouble, so stay away from her. Then she gave me a protector to always carry with me.

Since The Golden Rules that Pedro taught me said don’t do drug business with women, I thought I was in the clear on that. But desperate circumstances got the better of me, and it was a female confidential informant who brought me down.

The complete story of my experiences with Santeria and getting busted will be in my forthcoming memoir.

P.S. My own beliefs have always been Christian. As soon as I could drive a car, I went to church to open that channel with the Lord because I knew in my heart it was the right place for me to be.

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19 Responses to Santeria

  1. risinghawk says:

    I really enjoy reading of your experiences, and the courage that it takes to lay it out there – no apologies. Everyone has a “right place” to be . . . I’m glad that you found yours. Peace . . .

  2. I would like to learn more about Santeria. Do you have any suggestions for where I could get started?

    • charlypriest says:

      I do. Wikipedia. I actually saw a documentary on either History channel or National Geographic about Santeria, strange, but I also find most religions strange. As long as those people find good and feel better and stronger by following whatever religion, (without blowing themselves up, Alahhh akbar!) more power to them. Stay Frosty

  3. jdeangelis79 says:

    great story and there is no need to respect all religions, respect all people sure until they disrespect you.

  4. Really we should all understand that we have up-to a thousand other religions in the world apart from the popular ones we all know. nice post thanks for posting

  5. lumar1298 says:

    Enjoyed the story… It hit home…

  6. Peg Brantley says:

    I’m finishing up my third novel. In this one Santeria and drug cartels play prominent roles. I’ve learned a lot. As you do, I respect all religions, but understand that any religion can be corrupted for personal gain.

    You’ve given me some interesting details to use. Thank you.

  7. Judy says:

    I did not know what I would find coming here and clicking on Santeria but you account is very interesting and very real. I look forward to more reading. Keep safe.

  8. lisa's world says:

    Awesome post, love coming to a site and discovering it’s nothing like you expected…
    I am an (ex) addict, so (as always) still very interested in stories such as these… look forward to your memoirs (book? – I’d buy it…) and reading more of your blog!

  9. herbork says:

    Handler, first, thanks for following. By the way, my wife, Elena, es muy Cubana. You and I also share, as writers, a background in street action and arrest, So I wish you major success with your bio. I write for men, especially men like us, and you might appreciate the authenticity as well as the action in my new novel, Piece of Resistance. http://www.scribbcrib.com/products-page/books/drama/piece-of-resistance/ By the way, as one author to another, ScribbCrib is a viable and valuable e-publishing house. Meanwhile, I look forward to reading more of your work, brother. Thanks again.

  10. Marisa says:

    Firstly, thanks so much for the blog follow! Secondly, as a santera myself, this was fascinating reading. I was crowned Yemaya 4 years ago. To me the religion is all about my relationships with the orishas; magic and spells are way way WAY down on the list. I’ve always considered myself a witch, but since being crowned I find that I simply have little interest in that sort of thing anymore. Yemaya is Queen of the Witches; I let her handle all that kind of thing now! Espiritismo interests me far more these days, and I do still practice African-American hoodoo-rootwork style magic that focuses on positive outcomes and utilizes the Psalms and the saints. A drug dealer or a gang-banger would get laughed out of my house! Get yourself outta here, ain’t nobody got time for that! 🙂

  11. jjspina says:

    Thanks for the follow. Interesting blog! Best Wishes!

  12. floridaborne says:

    Sounds like the crime brought you down. There’s a great book behind that story. Within each of us is our own personal religion, regardless of what sect we may ascribe to belong.

  13. Lisa Alber says:

    Thanks for checking out my blog today. You’re blog is bloody awesome.

  14. Thanks for following my blog. Your story and your writing are compelling. I’m personally interested in Santeria in terms of comparative religion so I really wanted to read more!

  15. I know you’re gone, but I think I’ll keep reading. Thanks, JJ.

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