Animal Sacrifices

Animal Sacrifices (Dylan Alvarez)

Title: Animal Sacrifices to invoke Orishas

General Information about Item:

  • Ritual, Sympathetic Magic
  • Language: English
  • Country of Origin: Nigeria
  • Informant: Professor Hafiz Shabazz
  • Date Collected: 3/1/18

Informant Data:

  • Hafiz Farel F. Shabazz- Master drummer and Director of the World Music Percussion Ensemble, is an ethnomusicologist, percussionist, performer, and lecturer. He is an initiated member of the Ancestral Shrine of the Ashanti Nation in Ghana, West Africa. Professor at Dartmouth College.

Contextual Data:

  • Cultural Context: The ceremony to invoke Orishas includes several rituals. One of the most important of these rituals is to sacrifice an animal prior the ceremony starting. The bata drummers believe that in order to successfully invoke the Orishas, you need to offer the spirits blood from a freshly sacrificed animal.
  • Social Context: This ritual is something that is discussed and passed among those that subscribe to the IFA religion and take part in Bembe ceremonies.


  • Prior to starting the Bata drumming ceremony to invoke Orisha spirits, the drummers decapitate an animal, usually a chicken, in order to provide the Orisha with blood to feed on.

Associated file (a video, audio, or image file):


  • “Worship these Orishas… they make sacrifices of water, sacrifices of alcoholic spirits, sacrifices of food such as a chicken. They will sacrifice a live chicken, cut the head off, spill the blood.”

Informant’s Comments:

  • The practice of making a sacrifice for the Orishas is crucial to awaking the spirits, and without it the Bembe (ceremony) will often not successful in invoking the spirits. This is something that originated in Nigeria and has been passed down for generations.

Collector’s Comments:

  • I found this item very interesting as the idea of slaughtering an animal for a ceremony is not something that is often practiced in more modern cultures.

Collector’s Name: Dylan Alvarez


  • Ritual
  • Sympathetic Magic
  • Orisha