What Washes Up at the Bay


Isabella Black

Washed up totem, found at ILS bay, which is assumed not to have ties to Santeria.

Isabella Black, Features Editor

Miami is a place of diversity. There is cultural variety as well as religious. The right, as stated in the U.S Constitution, to practice any religion is one that has flourished in Miami.

Santeria, meaning all saints, is an Afro-Caribbean religion which stemmed from the primeval, African religion Yoruba. In Cuba, practitioners tied their original totems or symbols of their deities to those of Catholicism. These Catholic saints became part of their religion. Practitioners would place the Catholic saints outside of their homes and keep their other totems inside. This benefited the believers, who were kidnapped and brought to Cuba, by leading their kidnappers to believe that they were practicing Catholicism. While these saints are Catholic and adopted by Santeria, they are a part of the religion.

Various totems that have found their way to the ILS bay, collected by Mr. Eric Beltran who teaches a course in World Religions. As well as an article about Santeria in Miami: published by the Miami Herald in 1987. (Isabella Black)

In Santeria, Our Lady of Charity is known as Ochun: deity of waters and sex. Our Lady of Charity is a symbol for Ochun. La Ermita de la Caridad is a shrine to Our Lady of Charity, making it a place of worship for practitioners.Other deities that have been tied to Catholic saints are, Babluayé (St. Lazarus) and Chango (St. Barbara). 

 It is common in Santeria to place totems and give them offerings: usually fruits, vegetables (animal sacrifices are not as common). Totems are also given back to the ocean when practitioners decide to stop following the religion.

Stone totem previously relinquished into the ocean. (Isabella Black)

These rituals are very significant to Santeria and they are seen at many places of sanctuary, like La Ermita de la Caridad. 


Immaculata-La Salle (ILS) is surrounded by different sanctuaries: Vizcaya, Saint Kieran Catholic Church and La Ermita de la Caridad (La Ermita). Because of ILS’s close proximity to La Ermita, many of these totems and offerings wash up at its bay. ILS’s bay is very significant to Ochun because it is a place where freshwater and saltwater meet.