The Ceiba, the Palma Real and the Siguaraya rise glorious in Cuban landscapes, all three are symbols of Cubanness, identity and religion and for that reason they are considered sacred trees today for the practitioners of the Rule of Osha (Santeria) .
La Ceiba and the spirits
Whoever plants a Ceiba tree has a lifelong commitment and how they care for it will depend on their joys and fortunes, and it is that in the Rule of Osha (Santeria) this tree of indecipherable secrets has magic and a sacred value.
La Ceiba, that immense tree that can be seen in many Cuban landscapes, houses the souls of all the dead and is not burned or cut without taking thousands of precautions.
In the Yoruba religion, the Ceiba represents a powerful Orisha called Iroko and in its conception is Aramú, or the Virgin of the Mercedes de los Ararás.
For this reason, in many cultures the Ceiba has a strong connection with the spiritual world.
La Ceiba guards the spirits of the deceased and around it offerings are deposited to feed the dead that reside inside.
At the foot of this majestic tree, many types of religious ceremonies are performed, including one called Itiambo, dedicated to the soul of a deceased person.
La Palma Real and the great Orisha Shango
La Palma, the identity symbol of Cuba and one of the trees that is most frequently present in the island's landscapes, is highly valued by African religious expressions.
In the practices of the Rule of Osha the palm is a tree that holds great spiritual meaning, communicates heaven and earth, and is seen as a column that provides support from the world.
For the Congolese or followers of the Rule of Palo Monte, it is known as Diba, Lala, Mábba and Dunkende, it is said that when a palm is struck by lightning, practitioners go there in search of the "lightning stone" to mount the ngangas, or spiritual vessels.
In the Regla de Ocha la Palma it is known as llé Changó Orissá, Iggi Opwé and Alabi and is the home of the orisha Changó, God of thunder and drums, Yoruba King of great strength and courage.
From the top of this immense Cuban tree, Shango You can protect your children, knowing everything that happens around you, from there you take care and protect them.
That is why in the Yoruba religion the palm is so important for the religious rituals linked to Shango and also for making the mariwó, curtain that divides the spiritual world from the social one, a sacred element that we usually see in the Ilé Osha (houses of the saint) and that represents the orisha of the mountain, Oggun.
They also value Abakua to the palm or as they call it, Ukano Mambre. Legend has it that at the foot of this imposing tree the sect was organized for the first time in Cuba, so its rituals and ceremonies are always connected to it.
La Siguaraya and the Orishas
The Siguaraya is also an iconic tree of the Cuban places, famous for its wood and its flowering beauty, because from the nectar of the flowers the bees produce an intense honey without equal in the whole world.
And there is no santero in Cuba who does not say that the Siguaraya contains the seven main orishas of the Yoruba religion.
This tree also belongs to the orisha Shango and opens the way for those who worship and venerate the Seven African Powers composed of the deities Yemayá, Elegguá, Ochún Obatalá, Orula, Oggún and Shango.
La Siguaraya, is also known as Seven Rays, in reference to Chango, God of thunder and lightning. This plant is highly respected by all practitioners of the Rule of Osha and has its part in the rituals and ceremonies dedicated to Shango and the 7 powers of the Yoruba pantheon.
All those who need the combined power of the seven Orishas come to pray and make offerings to give thanks and ask in desperate situations.
Siguaraya was sung by the great Benny Moré, a singer from Cuba and the world, his lyrics express the great power of this plant.
Lyrics of the song “Mata Siguaraya” by Benny Moré
In my Cuba a bush is born
That without permission you cannot lie down
you can not tumbaeee
because they are orishas.
That bush is born in the mountains
that bush has power
that kills eees Siguaraya
"That bush has Seven Rays,
Siete Rayos has that kills knight huh,
cannot be cut”
Siguaraya, you will see
with permission I'm going to knock down.
The Ceiba, the Palma Real and the Siguaraya, trees that rise to shelter the faith, are sacred symbols of religiosity in Cuba.
Three imposing, majestic trees that shade the faith of many religious. Treasures of the Afro-Cuban cult and veneration of the Orishas, a sacred site to perform ceremonies, rituals and works dedicated to the deities that take care of us and protect us.