Afro-American religion

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Example of Louisiana-Tradition Voodoo altar inside a temple in New Orleans.

Afro-American religions (also diasporic religions) are a number of related religions that developed in the Americas among enslaved Africans in various countries of Latin America, the Caribbean, and parts of the southern United States. They derive from African traditional religions (especially of West and Central Africa) and Indigenous American traditions and beliefs.


These religions involve ancestor veneration and a pantheon of divine spirits, such as the orishas and loas. In addition to mixing these various African traditions, many New World religions incorporate elements of Christian, Indigenous American, Kardecist, Spiritualist, Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic, Judaic, and European traditions. This mixing of traditions is known as religious syncretism.

List of traditions[edit]

Afro-American Religions
Religion Location Ancestral roots Also practiced in Remarks
Candomblé Brazil Yoruba Argentina, Colombia, Uruguay, Venezuela Some elements of Dahomey Vodun, Kongo nkisi, Indigenous American beliefs, and Roman Catholicism. Also called Batuque.
Umbanda Brazil Yoruba Argentina, Uruguay
Mixture of Yoruba Orisha with the veneration of Bantu's ancestral spirits (Preto Velho) and Indigenous American's ancestral spirits (Caboclos and Caciques), Spiritism, and Roman Catholic syncretism.
Quimbanda Brazil Kongo, Witchcraft, Shamanism Argentina, Uruguay Veneration of spirits called Exu and Pomba Gira.
Santería Cuba Yoruba Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Panama, Puerto Rico, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela Indigenous American and Roman Catholic syncretism.
Regla de Arará Cuba Fon Puerto Rico  
Regla de Palo Cuba[1] Kongo nkisi Brazil, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, United States, Venezuela Also called Las Reglas del Congo.
Abakua Cuba Ekpe   society of the Annang, Efik, Ibibio, Ekoi, and Igbo.
21 Divisiones Dominican Republic Fon, Yoruba, Kongo United States
Haitian Vodou Haiti Fon Canada, Dominican Republic, United States  
Obeah Jamaica Igbo Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Virgin Islands, United States Related to Hoodoo folk magic. Derives from the Igbo 'obia' (or dibia, Igbo: doctoring) traditions.[2]
Kumina Jamaica Kongo  
Winti Suriname Akan Guyana
Spiritual Baptist Trinidad and Tobago Yoruba Bahamas, Barbados, Canada, Jamaica, United States Protestantism syncretism.
Orisha Trinidad and Tobago Yoruba United States Catholicism syncretism.[3]
Louisiana Voodoo Southern United States Fon United States

Other closely related regional faiths include:

New religious movements[edit]

Most new religious movements are void of these traditional pre-Abrahamic African beliefs. A first wave of such movements originated in the early twentieth century:

A second wave of new movements originated in the 1960s to 1970s, in the context of the emergence of New Age and Neopaganism in the United States:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ For an extended discussion on Palo's history, see: Dodson, Jualynne E. (2008). Sacred spaces and Religious Traditions in Oriente Cuba. UNM Press.
  2. ^ Eltis, David; Richardson, David (1997). Routes to slavery: direction, ethnicity, and mortality in the transatlantic slave trade. Routledge. p. 88. ISBN 0-7146-4820-5. 
  3. ^ Houk, James (1995). Spirits, Blood, and Drums: The Orisha Religion in Trinidad. Temple University Press. 
  4. ^ Xango de Recife

External links[edit]