In this article, Lilith Dorsey (Voodoo Universe) writes about Beyoncé’s references to Santería by dressing as the Orisha of love and fertility, Oshun, and wonders whether she is honoring the goddess, pronouncing her devotion to the religion, or simply advancing her own brand:
The world is buzzing with Beyonce’s latest performance at the Grammys this week. I’ve heard her called everything from a Demon to a Goddess to a Crazy person. I even saw one article who just called her “Mammy.” In case you are out of the loop here’s what the commotion was all about- during her performance she donned herself in gold, a rosy crown, and spoke of the ancient mothers and women’s power. Many thought she was putting on the guise of the Virgin Mary, others thought it just looked religious, others… those familiar with Afro-Caribbean Religion, knew she was dressing as Oshun. Again for those who may not know Oshun also spelled Osun, Ochun, Oxun, or Oxum (depending on which tradition she is appearing in) is the Orisha of Love, Beauty, Money, Fertility, Gold, Dance, and much more.
Back in April I wrote about her Oshun imagery in the video Lemonade, you can read that post here: #Beyonce Pours Out Oshun’s Honey and Lemonade. As a native Brooklyn girl, I was proud to hear she and Jay-Z are expecting twins (we have to have pride in Brooklyn, many of us don’t have much else.) The Grammy performance and the latest video have brought Oshun, and the other Orisha into the spotlight. This is the first time many people have even heard of Oshun or Yemaya. I applaud her reverence for the ancestral mothers, and obviously support her powerful message of self-love. The fact that she is having twins draws the parallels between her and the Orisha Oshun (believed by many to be the mother of the sacred twins Ibeji,) even clearer.
However, Beyonce has opened a door here, and I’m not quite sure what will come through. How many people are taking the time and dedication to learn the true beauty and power of these religions? You can’t play in the fields of the gods… they must always be met with respect and honor. There is a Yoruba saying “you can’t get Awo (sacred knowledge) from a book.” You also can’t get it from watching a video or a Grammy performance.
La Regla Lucumi (more commonly known as Santeria) is a religion of teachers and students that operate as parents and children. Proper devotion involves years, if not a lifetime, of tribute and learning. There is still no clear word from the Beyonce camp about her participation, or initiation in the religion. No one in the community is claiming her, and many are not happy. [. . .]