Many times we have witnessed how many santeros blow tobacco smoke and drinks at the Orishas, while praying or greeting them.
In fact, it is common in Cuba between devotees and non-devotees when a bottle of brandy or rum is opened, to spill a few drops on the floor, "for the dead and for the saints," they say.
Drinks, like other types of Addimú (offerings) must be given according to the pleasure of the deity, as some may be prohibited or represent a taboo for a particular orisha. The brandy, for example, is used to venerate the Warrior Orishas (Eleguá, Oggún and Oshosi).
These casual rituals demonstrate the strength of both ingredients, tobacco and brandy, in the ceremonies of the practice of Santeria in Cuba.
Tobacco and brandy as ceremonial elements in Santeria
In any offering, veneration or ritual, blowing drinks (Otí) on the deity to be venerated is part of the ceremonial process. This is a common element for all Orisha, as long as it is a permitted offering for the saint.
Tobacco is also an element that establishes a powerful spiritual connection, its smoke allows to channel a communication with the spirits, the Eggun and Orishas.
Its power is widely used to perform cleansings, purifications, and rituals to open the paths, ward off bad spirits and attract good energy. Its use is ancestral, and in Santeria ceremonies it is a fundamental element.
But why is it essential to use drinks like schnapps to attend the Orisha?
The Patakí on Otí: “Blow with Ashé to the Orisha"
The legend indicates that when the Orishas were going to come down to earth, Elenini, the deity of the obstacle, wanted to come with them, and thus hinder the work of each one.
Therefore before going down, orunmila, the great fortune teller, recommended to them to do ebbó (cleaning) with Otí or drink and that each one venerate their secret with that Otí.
Afterwards, each Orisha took their course to earth, but Elenini was not used to Otí, so she got drunk and fell asleep. Upon awakening, he could no longer hinder the mission of the Orishas on earth.
Therefore, sprinkling the Orisha with three small mouthfuls of drink is a symbolic reminder that the deities defeated Elenini and managed to descend to earth.
"Blow me a little, but with Ashé", so the Orishas told the provider of Otí from heaven when they wanted to go down to Earth.
Liquor and tobacco for Elegguá
One of the characteristic rituals to venerate the Orisha Eleggua, is to offer tobacco and brandyWell, as a good warrior, that's what it takes to enjoy victory.
For this ritual, two glasses of brandy are placed before Elegguá starting on Monday and the tobacco is lit and its smoke is inhaled.
And the little giant is told:
"I share with you Elegguá, brandy and tobacco. Grant money and development to my life, opening paths of prosperity ”.
Then a glass of brandy is sprinkled on the otá (stone) or Eleguá and from the other a single sip is taken.