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Nature's Ancient Religion: Orisha Worship & Ifa Paperback – 16 Oct 2008

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About the Author

Mr. King is the Cuba expert who has spent at least three months a year on the forbidden island since 1993. He's an author and lecturer on Cuba who specializes in Cuban culture, history, religion and US- Cuban relationships. He holds the rank of Babalawo with Wanaldo in the Afro - Cuban religion of Orisha worship. Literary offerings include: "Traveling Lite" an 88 page travelogue of a father and son golf trip to England and Wales in 2000. The pair plays 22 fine courses with no lodging, golf or transportation reservations over their five week trip."Fidel's Story" is a screenplay for theater or film with Fidel Castro talking to the American public in his trademark fashion. This history lesson is quite an eye opener. Fidel's Story is currently optioned to a major Hollywood production house. "Nature's Ancient Religion" is a unique look at the Afro - Cuban religion. It is unique in that it is an autobiographical narrative, sharing the nuts and bolts of the world's seventh largest religion. Unlike most offerings in its category, it is written for those outside the religion. NAR chronicles Mr. King's spiritual journey from skeptic to high priest. It is full of humor, discussions and observations about Orisha worship and IFA. 328 packed pages include a 22 page discussion on major offerings by contemporary authors of Orisha worship. Abundant original artwork, glossary and an index provide easy referencing. Orisha worship is Nature's original "green" or environmentally friendly religion. "Havana: My Kind of Town" is a 300 page offering that shares the true flavor of Havana and Cuba in general. Much like a streetwise travel journal, it provides insight from an insider's viewpoint. Humorous stories, discussions and experiences reveal Cuba's rich cultural history. Havana: My Kind of Town is not a travel guide, but it is the second book anyone should buy before visiting the island. Release date: December 2008 Spencer is an avid and approachable Blogger on, India's largest website (Sulekha means "good writing" in Hindi). He is a native Chicagoan who now lives in Nogales, Arizona and Havana, Cuba. He's an avid golfer with a handicap of 9 who plays out of the Havana Golf Club. He is divorced and available for lectures or appearances. Spencer can be contacted on Facebook or through his Blog on Sulekha where his handle is "bilingual". He is currently working on the Spanish and Portuguese editions of Nature's Ancient Religion.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 14 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Great read 8 Feb. 2009
By Awo1 - Published on
Format: Paperback
Books written by Lukumi Babakawos are a rare event but this book makes for an even rarer event due to the fact that the author's first language is English. The great irony is that the author's great paternal grandfather was Head of the Orange Order in Northern Ireland!

This book is informative in a variety of ways but principally in the semi autobiographical manner that it discusses the stages of evolution from the author as a disinterested Aleyo to his initiation, as a Babalawo. The basics of Orisha worship are covered in a competent and interesting manner that is good for beginners.

Along the way we get glimpses into the current state of affairs in Cuba leading up to his initiations. As a "Yuma" (Virtually expatriate American living in Cuba), he is writing with a degree of inside knowledge into the current state of affairs that many expatriate Cubans no longer have access to. The author is at pains to state throughout that he is a new Babalawo that is repeating aspects of his elder's teachings but makes a decent effort to introduce the orisha from a standpoint that only a Babalawo can truly make. Unfortunately here lies my only criticism is that I disagree with the gender assigned to certain orisha such as Odudua for example, but if this agrees with the teaching of his house then so be it. The essence of the underlying message in the Pataki quoted, for me remains intact.

The final chapter is a frank discussion on the popular current books available in the USA on the religion.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
The Odu of a Maverick Babalawo 8 Dec. 2008
By Priyanka Kadam - Published on
Format: Paperback
Natures Ancient Religion is a book that discovers and discusses one of the most ancient Religions, Orisha Worship or IFA that was born in Africa and later pollinated to various parts of the world where Black slaves travelled along with their captors. IFA is a religion that worships nature in various elements. Being a nature lover and a Hindu whetted my interest to pick up this book and learn some more about this religion which is quite similar in some philosophies to Hinduism.

The author has very engagingly explained the various Pataki's (stories) about the various Gods and the lessons learnt from them which makes it quite interesting even to a non-believer outside the faith. This religion is unique from the others since it involves mathematical calculations during the divination process to predict an individuals' Odu or path they would take in life.

There were a few Gods and their avatars that have been discussed in this book. Two of my favorites were Shango & Oshun.

Shango - He's the Orisha of thunder and has the power of the fire. He's enigmatic in looks, vibrant and full of fun and married to Oya the Orisha of the wind and a warrior goddess. Shango is also the orisha of dance and his female counterpart is Oshun.
Oshun - She is the goddess of the river, gold, copper and sexuality and sexual desires. A la Aphrodite! She's the most beautiful Orisha who has enchanted almost all the male Orishas when she was single. She's unpredictable coz at one hand she's playful and carefree and on the other hand she's selfless always putting others before her. The mighty wise Orunmila (another powerful orisha) finally managed to contain her robust energy.

One thing that leaves me cold however is the animal sacrifices to appease the various gods. One of the branches in Hinduism too has this practice that I stay away from. My argument is based on Logic. If God made animals and nature...why would he want man to kill his own creation to appease him?

Lastly, the author comes across as a well read individual who was claimed by the Orishas by a series of events that happened in his life and convinced him that his Odu (path) was to spread this religion's message far & wide. I'm hopeful that he takes this crusade to a higher level and interprets the true meaning of this beautiful religion. The environment and Nature need beliefs like these to encourage its followers to respect what we have and how fast we can lose it.

Pick up this book if you are interested in Religion and Anthropology. There are some great discussions that tickles the mind :)
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Nature's Ancient Religion... and then some. 16 Mar. 2009
By Jessica Soto - Published on
Format: Paperback
There are two Cuba's: the one we as Americans view based on media biases, and the Real Cuba- that which is based on "man on the street" accounts. Charles Spencer King's work is an excellent example of this type of reporting, and it is filled with not just the candor he offers from his time spent there, but with an insight that we Americans wouldn't normally receive on this side of the bay. King offers an amazing view into an otherwise secretive religion, and does so in a way which allows the reader a basic and yet accurate understanding of it's beauty. Nature's Ancient Religion is a great read for a variety of reasons: it's insightful, funny, a little bit of History and Theology, as well as a
great read. The style in which it is written is very whole hearted and honest, and one can rarely get a book written with so much love these days. I was glad to have been able to get such detail on a country who time seems to have passed by. I believe that this book serves as a remarkable telling of a place where although time seems to have stood still, the lives and attitudes of it's inhabitants have kept the very fire that is Cuba very much alive. All around, I highly recommend this book.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Very informative 25 Feb. 2009
By James L. Nammack - Published on
Format: Paperback
I have read a few other books on the Ifa religion, and there is much about that complex worldview that confuses me. Charles King writes about the religion of Ifa and the oracle of Ifa in a down-to-earth kind of way that makes for interesting reading as well as for a deepened understanding. I cannot say that I now have a firm grasp of what the Ifa religion is all about, but I understand more than I did before I read the book.

The only criticism I have is that sometimes the author gets too involved discussing things that have little or nothing to do with the main gist of what the book is about. But, that is a minor complaint.

I wish that Charles King would write a second book about Ifa, one consisting mostly of personal experiences and benefits by people who put the religion of Ifa to practice in their daily lives. I would be the first in line to buy such a book.

For anyone who has an interest in Ifa, I do not see how you could fail to profit from this extremely informative explanation of it.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A great introductory read 31 May 2011
By David Sosa - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
I didnt know what I expected from this book which was purchased for me April 16th for my Ocha birthday, a completion of my time as a new initiate into the Orisa priesthood of Oshun. I dived into this wonderful book written from a logical intelligent perspective and personal experience. The story telling is heartfelt and authentic and without diving into secrets of our process the book is still educational and inspiring.
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