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Preparing for San Lázaro in San Luis, the Spiritist way

By Ariana Hernandez-Reguant, By Gisela Roeder, By Grete Viddal, Religion No Comments »

Gisela Roeder sends us pictures of the Casa Templo La Caridad, in the city of San Luis, in Santiago province, during the festivities leading up to San Lázaro. Founded by Antonio Nieves, this is a temple apparently devoted, among other religious practices, to the Spiritist faith (there is another temple in San Luis exclusively devoted to Spiritism; not so this one, which seems to be more eclectic).

Below see the schedule of events, as well as the “norms” posted at the temple’s entrance, and as all  norms, they say more about what people do than about what people do not do.  Also interesting is the fact that these norms are said to derive their legitimacy from the fact that the temple falls under the oversight of Cuba’s national Constitution, ergo visitors should not carry knifes, drink or show up nude.

Espiritismo (Spiritism in English) became popular in Cuba and much of Latin America during the mid 19th century as books on communicating with the deceased through mediumship by Hippolyte Rivail, a Frenchman who published under the pen name Allan Kardec, became popular. In Cuba, Spiritism mixed with other religious practices and today there are a number of variants including “cientifico,” “de cordon,” and “cruzado.” Some branches closely follow Kardecian teachings, others incorporate practices from Afro-Cuban belief systems. Although common throughout Cuba, Espiritismo is particularly associated with rural areas and the eastern provinces.

This is another picture taken by Gisela Roeder at La Caridad. It shows the December 16th mass for San Lazaro, according to the “espiritismo cruzado” practice. If you are interested, do not miss her 8 min video of this event, on youtube.

HERE you can watch a video of San Lázaro’s crowning (“coronación”) at this San Luis temple. The video is also authored by Gisela, who has been visiting this community for many years.

For more on espiritismo en Cuba, check out the chapter on spiritism included in the book Creole Religions of the Caribbean: an Introduction from Vodou to Santeria. Diana Espirito-Santo, a graduate of University College London and a professor at University of Lisbon has conducted fieldwork in Cuba on espiritismo. One of her articles, entitled “The Enactment of Self and the Nature of Knowledge Among Mediums in Cuban Espiritismo” can be downloaded HERE. Just this year she published “Spiritist Boundary-Work and the Morality of Materiality in Afro-Cuban Religion” in the Journal of Material Culture (March 2010).

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