The Santeria necklace and bracelet are the bridge into the realm of the saints and orishas. It is a personal shrine that grants the wearer protection, communion, and control over spiritual affairs. As a sacred emblem of the Santeria religion, these beaded jewels represent a connection to the Orishas that guide us in our daily lives. They are the banner of the saints themselves, so they can be called whenever you need them.
Initiation With The Elekes
Receiving this necklace, or eleke, is a ceremony very similar to baptism. It is an initiation into the religion of Santeria or The Way Of The Saints/Orishas. It is a purification ritual, like the shedding of old skin, where you start your new journey into the world of the sacred. The eleke is blessed by your godparents, bathed in holy water and herbs, and anointed to you, the godchild. This is the only way that one can receive a eleke.
Upon induction, the receiver of the eleke bows over a tub to have their head washed in holy water. From this point on, the godchild is under the supervision of their godparent, either a padrino or matrina. It is the godparent's responsibility to ensure the spiritual, emotional, physical, and even financial well-being of their godchild.
Types of Elekes And Orishas
Collares can be necklaces or bracelets. The type of eleke you receive depends on which saint is your guardian angel. Traditionally, the orichas are our ancestors who have passed into the spirit world. With the mingling of Catholicism, the orichas became known as saints and guardian angels. Regardless of what you call them, they are supernatural entities that frequent both the physical and spiritual realms. They serve as mediators and messengers for the Supreme Being.
Each eleke has a specific color and bead pattern that represents a different oricha. The most common elekes represent the five most powerful, influential, and popular Orishas: Elegua, Obatala, Yemaya, Shango, and Oshun. Each Orisha has a unique position in the supernatural realm, and which one you receive depends on what you need the most. The 7 African Power eleke is a well-rounded necklace or bracelet used to petition for peace, love, opportunity, power, money, and protection.
The Rules And Taboos of The Eleke
The collare is a sacred item to be revered, appreciated, and, above all, respected. These necklaces should be worn with purpose and devotion, for they have special rules for wearing and handling them. Here is a list of taboos that should be followed in order to keep the sanctity of the eleke intact.
- It should be kissed every time you take it off and put it on.
- When you have more than one eleke, they should be handled one at a time in the order that you have received them.
- It should never be worn while bathing or swimming.
- It should never be worn while partying or drinking alcohol.
- It should never be worn by women on their menstrual periods, and it should not be worn by anyone when participating in activities where blood is involved, such as a sacrifice.
- It should never be worn during sexual activities.
- It should never be worn while sleeping unless you are sick or have direct permission from your godparent.
- It should never be touched by anyone but you or your godparent.
- To store your eleke, it should be placed upon an altar or carefully wrapped in a white cloth.
These rules are designed to protect you and your eleke. It is not that partying and drinking alcohol is wrong, but these activities resonate energies that don't mix with the orisha's energy. The same goes for menstruation or sacrifice: Blood has a heated energy that will negatively affect the cooling nature of the eleke except under specific circumstances.
What Does It Mean When Your Eleke Breaks?
In the event that all the rules have been followed and your eleke breaks suddenly, it means that your eleke has shielded you from some negative energy. Be grateful, for a bad situation was about to happen, such as an attack or accident, and you have been protected from it. If you can, gather as many loose beads as possible and contact your godparent right away. They will look into the situation for you and decide if any further action should be taken. Usually, nothing else needs to be done except fixing the broken eleke or obtaining a new one.
The eleke is the meeting point between worlds. Many people construct altars, shrines, temples, and churches, but those following Santeria, take their church with them. This gives the wearer the benefit of staying in contact with their guardian at all times. The collare is the point where every moment becomes holy; every single thing becomes sacred.