Public Figure Profiles

Lydia Cabrera

Lydia Cabrera (May 20, 1899, in Havana, Cuba – September 19, 1991, in Miami, Florida) was a Cuban independent ethnographer.

Cabrera was a Cuban writer and literary activist. She was an authority on Santería and other Afro-Cuban religions. During her lifetime she published over one hundred books; little of her work is available in English. Her most important book is El Monte, which was the first major ethnographic study of Afro-Cuban traditions, herbalism and religion. First published in 1954, the book became a "textbook" for those who practice Lukumi (orisha religion originating from the Yoruba and neighboring ethnic groups) and Palo Monte (a central African faith) both religions reaching the Caribbean through enslaved Africans. Her papers and research materials were donated to the Cuban Heritage Collection - the largest repository of materials on or about Cuba located outside of Cuba - forming part of the library of the University of Miami. A section in Guillermo Cabrera Infante's book Tres Tigres Tristes is written under Lydia Cabrera's name, in a comical rendition of her literary voice. She was one of the first writers to recognize and sensitively publish on the richness of Afro-Cuban culture and religion. She made valuable contributions in the areas of literature, anthropology, art, ethnomusicology, and ethnology.

In El Monte, Cabrera fully described the major Afro-Cuban religions: Regla de Ocha (commonly known as Santeria) and Ifá, which are both derived from traditional Yoruba religion; and Palo Monte, which originated in Central Africa.

Both the literary and anthropological perspectives in Cabrera's work assume that she wrote about mainly oral, practical religions with only an “embryonic” written tradition. She is credited by literary critics for having transformed Afro-Cuban oral narratives into literature, which is, written works of art, while anthropologists rely on her accounts of oral information collected during interviews with santeros, babalawos, and paleros, and on her descriptions of religious ceremonies.

There is a dialectical relationship between Afro-Cuban religious writing and Cabrera's work; she used a religious writing tradition that has now internalized her own ethnography.

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Some of their strengths

Lydia Cabrera has many admirable traits.

Based on spiritual traditions from around the world, they are someone who can be described as Energetic, Intellectual, Analytical, Strong, Physical, Generous, and Bold.

Strong and Diligent

According to Mysticism’s Astrology tradition, Lydia Cabrera is someone who is a strong, diligent, and trustworthy person who approaches life with honesty and perseverance, but who is also physical, sensual, and artistic. A person who is known for being diligent and strong.

Adaptable and Versatile

Based on Daoism’s Ba-Zi or ‘Chinese Zodiac’ tradition, people who know Lydia Cabrera well know them as someone who can be adaptable, flexible, and polite, like a flower or a sapling.

Ambitious and Forceful

According to Hinduism’s Jyotisha or ‘Vedic Astrology’ tradition, many would also describe Lydia Cabrera as someone who is ambitious, hard-working, determined, and intelligent.

A person who has a knack for identifying opportunities, has amazing concentration and focus, who can work independently, who likes starting new things, and who is somewhat of an intellectual.

Inquisitive and Progressive

Based on the Mayan Tzolk’in or ‘Mayan Astrology’ tradition, Lydia Cabrera is someone who is an eternal student who is always interested in learning new things, and who has a desire to shake things up and change things.

They are also someone who is altruistic, tolerant, and sophisticated, and who tends to be a perfectionist who is always working to try and make everything and everyone better.

Patient and Compassionate

According to Judaism’s Kabbalah tradition, Lydia Cabrera tends to be someone who approaches life with grace and compassion, and who has a powerful and commanding personality. Who can be analytical, patient, and deliberate, avoiding risks and seeking out stability instead.

Some of Lydia Cabrera's challenges

While Lydia Cabrera has many strengths, nobody is perfect. They also have some challenging traits they need to manage.

For example, Lydia Cabrera can be Stubborn, Idle, Rebellious, Emotionally Distant, Impulsive, Careless, and Relentless.

Stubborn and Idle

One of Lydia Cabrera's key challenges is that they are someone who can be seen as stubborn and, at times, lazy.

Lydia Cabrera must also exercise caution as they can be excessive and unrealistic.

Relentless and Inflexible

Lydia Cabrera is someone who can be relentless, obsessive, and inflexible, who can be confrontational with work colleagues, can have difficulty communicating feelings and be somewhat reclusive, and who can be self-destructive, overindulgent, and extravagant.

Materialistic and Aggressive

Finally, Lydia Cabrera also can be materialistic, emotional, aggressive, stubborn, inconsistent, and be prone to big temper outbursts.

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