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Difference Between Santeria and Voodoo

Difference Between Santeria and Voodoo

Santeria followers practicing their religion

Santeria vs. Voodoo

Santeria and Voodoo are religions practiced by people who believed in one God that is served by several spirits. Both religions also believe in possession of the spirits—called ‘orishas’ in Santeria and ‘loas’ or laws in Voodoo—through song and dance. In both religions, the loas or orishas and ancestors are identified with the Catholic saints.

Santeria means ‘honor of the saints’ or ‘way of the saints’. It is also known as ‘La regal de Lukumi’ or ‘Lukumi’s Rule’. On the other hand, Voodoo is an African word that means “moral fiber.”

Santeria and Voodoo also share a similar beginning in African traditions and rituals that originated in Nigeria. The two were brought to the Western Hemisphere by slaves from North Africa, specifically Nigeria. Since African traditional beliefs and other pagan activities were outlawed and banned in the Western Hemisphere, the slaves infused their pagan beliefs with Christianity to avoid persecution and death.

The Christian influences are another difference between Santeria and Voodoo. Santeria is infused with Spanish Catholic elements, while Voodoo is characterized by French Catholicism. Even the primary African beliefs are different: Santeria is based on the Yoruba belief system, while Voodoo is rooted in Fon and Ewe beliefs.

Since Santeria is heavily influenced by Spanish Catholicism, it developed in the culture of Spanish-speaking countries and colonies, and by extension – Spanish-speaking people. The focal point for the growth of Santeria is in Mexico and Cuba.

Difference Between Santeria and Voodoo-1

Haitian Voodoo in Haiti

Voodoo developed similarly in New Orleans, but with the influence of French and American culture. Voodoo originated primarily in Haiti.

The Hispanic people are more familiar with Santeria, while the people of Haiti are more immersed in the worship of Voodoo.

There is also an organized hierarchy of spirits in the Santeria and Voodoo traditions. Santeria has seven Principal Orishas (in Spanish: Las Sietes Potentials Africanus), while the Voodoo religion has twelve principal loas.

Slaves who brought Santeria and Voodoo to America are also different. The slaves who brought Santeria were indoctrinated to Catholicism, while those who brought Voodoo were not.

Compared to Voodoo, Santeria uses a lot of animal sacrifices, sometimes on a daily basis. Conversely, Voodoo believers practice their animal sacrifices on a smaller scale.

Santeria is not an official religion and is less popular and well known than Voodoo, which is the official religion of Haiti and has been depicted in media and popular culture, albeit often inaccurately and in a bad light. Voodoo is also considered a native practice.


  1. The main difference between Santeria and Voodoo is the Spanish influence of Santeria and the French influence of Voodoo.
  2. Santeria means ‘way or honor of the saints’ and is mostly a Spanish word, while Voodoo has an African etymology and means “moral fiber.”
  3. Santeria is based on Yoruba beliefs, while Voodoo is based on Fon and Ewe beliefs.
  4. People who practice Santeria call their spirits orishas, while voodoo practitioners call the same spirits loas or laws.
  5. Santeria has seven principal orishas, while voodoo has twelve principal loas.
  6. Santeria came to America by way of Cuba and Mexico, while Voodoo arrived via Haiti.
  7. Santeria is mainly influenced by Spanish traditions, while Voodoo is derived from French and American culture.
  8. The people who practice Santeria use a lot of animal sacrifice, while Voodoo uses such practice on a lesser scale.
  9. Voodoo is considered an official religion and is popular, while Santeria is not very popular or well known. The latter is also not considered an official religion.


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  1. Voodoo came from Africa and then went to haiti. It was not started in haiti.

    • Actually voodoo started in Haiti. What you are referring to is Vudon (vodun, voodun, vodou) the Yoruba religion from Nigeria and the vudon religion from Benin or Ghana was brought to the Americas and Caribbeans. Once in the Caribbean the vudon or Yoruba religion made a slight change in its name and practice. In my hometown of Louisiana it became hoodoo by name, Jamaica it became obeah, in Brazil it became candomble, it became Santeria in Mexico, in Cuba it became La Regla de Arara. That all have different names with different numbers of spirits in the pantheon and different ways it’s is practiced. However they all share the west African origins. Because there is slightly differences once it came to the Americas it was given different names. Slaves were not allowed to maintain their African religion so they masked their vision gods with a catholic saint. However if it’s not enough saint to cover the many voduon gods a big part of the practice is missing because each gods serves a distinctive and unique role that another can’t substitute which gives it a new practice and a new name. So yes voodoo started in Haiti which came from the African version of voduon

      • Everything that you said is wrong lol. Stop acting like you know what you are talking about.

      • Unfortunately 95% of what LousisanaNative has said about Santeria and Yoruba is wrong (or very much jumbled up).
        So, whoever is doing their research, looks elsewhere for a more accurate info.

      • In need of a ceremonie of protection do you know were I can get one done from the babalawos

    • Africa is the birthplace of religion. Period.

  2. this is a bit innaccurate. because the official religion of haiti is catholiscm. and many hatiains exlusivly practice catholiscm with no voodoo. but in cuba…. of the 80 percent catholics probaly 70 percent are santeria catholics. the 10 percent (probably less) are exlusivly catholic. which is extremely rare. its more common for someone to be pentecostal or protestant (converts from santeria)….. the remaining 18 percent reject all things catholic and are exclusivly santeria. santeria has nothing to do with catholicism. they are 2 completely different religions. with different beliefs. sometimes santeria only appears catholic. but this is only to outsiders. santeria is the official religion of cuba. most demographics wont tell u that because the people who say there catholic also practice santeria. most cubans are free thinking and spiritual people, who arent afraid to incorperate multiple faiths and ideas, and usally have ther own beleifs about things. its not uncommon for a cuban to be unexlusive with there religion unless ur one of those afrocubans (like me), who follows the religion in a more african style. voodoo is more popular becuase it exist in new orleans, and is technically american. but santeria by far has more followers. candomple is extremely similar to us to so were often grouped together. many foreiners, latin americans and non latins alike practice santeria abroad. its an extremely popular relgion among latin celebs and throughout the world

    • Haiti is 90% catholic and 100% voodoo. However it’s not a good idea to allow people to know you practice voodoo. Because of this you would think catholic is the primary religion but it’s not. Voodoo is. Voodoo is practiced under the guise of Catholicism by masking voodoo gods with saints. so even when Catholicism is being practiced at the surface voodoo is also being practiced covertly at the same time. It was voodoo that gave the Haitian rebellion the victory in defeating the European colonialists. In fact defeating one of the worlds largest and strongest armies the French at the time with a few black slave causing the French to sell the Louisiana purchase due to lost in money and lost in a battle against voodoo practicing Haitian slaves. The punishment for this still continues. The European western conquerers are still making Haiti suffer because of defeating them in the past and they also give voodoo a bad name through Hollywood and media because it was voodoo that gave the slaves supernatural help. So today voodoo is shunned although practice covertly.

    • Cuba doesn’t have antes oficial religion. But it’s true that the most practice religion is santería, and then pentecostal.
      I’m cuban and live there. I’M talking from personal experience.

    • What is up with your spelling, capitalizations, and sentence structure?

  3. Why is Santeria capitalized and Voodoo not?

    • Because voodoo is a broad term describing various aspects of the religion, while Santeria is the actual name of a form of voodoo. It’s like if I say I am a man, I won’t capitalize man. If I say I am a man named Todd I would capitalize Todd. Although Todd and man are one of the same.

      • One of the Catholic Churches in New Orleans has a Sunday voodoo/catholic service . Also u didn’t mention whodo. i probably spelled it wrong! Whodo is the same as voodoo but when u use the power to do something someone else may view as bad or evil to someone.

  4. @Dante – it’s more than just a little inaccurate. It’s completely inaccurate. Obviously some little housewife with too much time on her hands that thinks because she has some potential Hispanic blood she knows what either is. Makes me laugh. Tell ya what puta ask your grandmother or an older woman what either is… they’ll know far more than you.

  5. The photo you use is of Madeline and his spiritual community as they do a public “folkloric” performance of how they do ritual reverence for Ancestors. They are a community of Muertera practitioners and they don’t practice “Santeria”. The photo was taken at Festival del Caribe probably in 2016. I was there and know them well.

  6. It’s mentioned Yoruba’s practice the Santeria religion. Most Yoruba’s are Celestials. What’s the difference between Santeria and Celestial

  7. This article is very shallow, and leaves me with a list of superficial “facts” , many of which have been called into question by previous people who commented, every one on the list gives me no actual information as to the effect the point has on the belief systems, or everyday lives of the adherents, or anything tangible at all.
    It’s about as useful as saying, of two similar houses, one has been painted yellow and one blue.
    ‘One uses a French influence and the other a Spanish’ .
    This is obviously true, but what does that actually mean. I would think French Catholicism is much different to that of Spain.

  8. @LouisianaNative: thank you for the info. I recently had the privilege to visit New Orleans FrenchQuaters, learned a little about Marie Laveau or Queen of voodoo @ the voodoo museum. It’s a beautiful city… God Bless…

  9. Define “official religion”

  10. What is the source of the power experienced by practitioners of Voodoo and Santeria? Is it supernatural from God, supernatural from the devil, or natural explanation?

  11. Whoever wrote this article has no idea what they’re talking about. If you want to know the Santería way, get a godparent. And for the record, Santería might not be an “official” religion but it’s been around for thousands and thousands of years; way before Jesus or Muhammad were conjured up.

  12. No, turn away from these works. Repent all of you, and be baptized in the name of YHWY, Yahushua Hamashiach and the Ruach HaQudash. These things that are being spoken of is an abomination to the Creator, and should be an abomination to everyone. These things are works of the familiar spirits whom are ascended from the earth and are evil. Don’t you know that all that are dead are in their graves without knowing nor having consciousness? Repent from these works of the wicked and trust in YHWY and in his son Yahushua Hamashiach.

  13. Interesting. Planning a trip to New Orleans

  14. Would like to learn more of santeria and voodoo.

  15. Obeah is a little different from Voodoo. It’s not exclusive to Jamaica, it exists all over the Caribbean, including places such as Haiti which is already known for Voodoo. Unlike voodoo Obeah is not exactly a system but a collection of practices having their origins from various types of West African shamanism whether Ashanti, Igbo etc. these are all different customs brought together by a displaced people who simply adapted and syncretized in order to suit the conditions in which they found themselves.

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