Mary Ann has been on her life journey for over fifty years. She was born and raised in a devout Roman Catholic family. Her mother still attends Mass almost every day. Both her only sister and she attended Catholic grade and high schools and graduated from Creighton University, a Jesuit institution, in the early 70s. She considered herself a good Catholic and was married in the Catholic Church. In the mid 80s she began to read some of the feminist theologians and became disillusioned with the church’s treatment of women. About that time her husband and she moved from Oklahoma to the Houston area and began attending a local Unitarian Universalist Church. As a Unitarian she was challenged to develop and articulate her religious ideas and beliefs and she became intrigued with the feminist branch of contemporary Paganism. She lead a small group of link-minded women at the church and eventually self-initiated as a witch.
In the early 90s she began taking religious studies classes through the continuing education program at Rice University. After a couple of semesters she was accepted into the Religious Studies graduate program. Not too long after beginning her graduate studies she was introduced to the religion that is commonly called Santería and the community of practitioners here in Houston. After visiting Cuba in 1995 with a group of scholars studying the African-based religions of the island, she changed her research topic to the study of these traditions. In 1996 she was initiated into the tradition she was studying and became a priest of Yemaya within Regla de Ocha (Santería). Although Santería is the common name of this tradition, many practitioners find it to be derogatory. There have also developed several variant strands. She prefers to refer to the tradition as a whole as “Orisha tradition” The Orisha are the principle deities of this tradition and it is to them that practitioners look to for help in their lives.
She continues to be a scholar-practitioner of Santería while maintaining her membership in the Unitarian Universalist church. She loves to talk about religion and religious topics and look forward to discussing these issues with the participants of this project. Although she draws on the ideas and mythology of Orisha traditions, this is a tradition of practice rather than doctrine, so her theological musings here are her own and may not (certainly do not) represent any canonical statements with which other practitioners of the Orisha traditions would agree.