Palo, Santería, Vodou and other ATRs: Religions or Cults?

It pays to read a dictionary when you practice an ATR!

I promise you a quickie here. I was reading a post done by Amigos del Palo Mayombe y Conocedores de la Briyumba Congo (Friends of Palo Mayombe and people who know about Briymba Congo) where the question of cult vs. religion was raised. The post asked, what are Paleros, a cult or a religion?. However, I think the question has been applied at one time or another to many other African Traditional Religions.

The answers did not surprise me. They show at large several things:

1. Some have never stop to ponder what a religion is, yes, as in pull out your dictionary.

2. Others have never wondered why they should be defined by those who want to denigrate us.

Outsiders who see us as secretive, occultist and therefore, a ‘cult.’ I think they should likewise examine the meaning of the word ‘cult’ its context and how it should or not apply to African Traditional Religions.

It is important not to just have a passion for our religious practices but to also take the time to reflect, analyze and then express informed opinions in public forums. After all, the way in which we express our inner core beliefs helps to shape the way in which we are perceived and understood by outsiders and by our very own brethren, no matter what ATR you follow, or not.

A friendly and enlightening research is in order. Look up the words “religion”, “cult”, “occult”, then write what you understand of each as they relate to your practices and come to your own conclusions which you are kindly welcome to share below, this is after all an open forum. Have fun!

Oní Yemayá Achagbá

Article reference:!/pages/Amigos-Del-Palo-Mayombe-y-Conocedores-De-La-Briyumba-Congo/111153688912316

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One Response to “Palo, Santería, Vodou and other ATRs: Religions or Cults?”

  1. Bozanfe Bo Oungan says:

    Years ago, Isaac Bonewits created the link above, the Culd Danger Evaluation Frame, as a wonderful separator between Cult (like, cult of Isis, or cult of the Virgin Mary) and Cult (like, Jonestown or Heaven’s Gate). Its a wonderful tool, and one that should continue to be spread and used.

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