From González-Wippler, an anthropologist and initiate in Santeria: a vivid exploration of that mysterious and misunderstand religion. Aided by learned santeros and the testimony of modern initiates, González-Wippler elucidates the basic practices and beliefs of an African religion that cloaked itself in the saints and rituals of Catholicism in order to survive. Brought to Cuba by Nigerian slaves, Yoruba--which in the New World transmuted into Santeria--involves the worship of a pantheon of gods, or orishas, that correspond to profound human archetypes: e.g., the god Eleggua, the Gatekeeper, corresponds to playful, outrageous, variable fate (the author speculates that Mozart was a child of Eleggua); Chango, the god of fire and thunder, is fiery, passionate, fearless energy (Beethoven, who died in a thunderstorm, was probably a true son of Chango). Theorizing that possession--when the god comes down and "mounts" an initiate--has to do with a believer tapping into a collective archetype, González-Wippler details the advanced initiations of asiento, and goes on to lovingly and lavishly detail the intricate arts of herbs, prediction, and magic in Santeria that allow people to talk to their gods, face to face. A fascinating book, valuable for its rare close-ups. Less scholarly but more seasoned and comprehensive than Joseph Murphy in Santeria (1988), González-Wippler acts as a protective but enthusiastic guide to this ancient religion of the African saints.