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Quimbanda: Afrobrazilian "witchcraft" or Macumba

Quimbanda: Afrobrazilian "witchcraft" or Macumba

Postby WillowDarkWytch » Tue Apr 12, 2016 10:28 pm

Motumbá Àse

Today, as I promised, I'll be posting about Quimbanda. I'll try to be the most concrete and point at it's very roots, what is part of the tradition and what was added just and tainted by "white hands", something that tends to happen when occult dubblers or pseudo occultist get to glimpse a tradition that is "foreign" for them. They take it, make it theirs and deviate it.

From "what place" am I speaking? I'm initiated in Candomblé Naçao Ketu (Ketu-the Yoruba of actual Benin- Nation), medium of Umbanda and Quimbanda. I'm a step away from my "chefatura" (Chief degree-priest) in both Umbanda and Quimbanda, I have years of practice and sharing with elders of the different afrobrazilian traditions. What I know it's not just fruit of a trip to Brazil and share a couple of weeks with the natives. It's fruit of practice, of being medium of these "entidades" (entities-spirits) and of antropological studies guided by the elders of these cults.

To find the roots of Quimbanda we need to understand about sincretism, that didn't happened the same way in all the places, we need to think about the Bantu people (Angola and Congo), we need to think about indigenous beliefs and european "magico-spirituality" or "witch-folklore".

The first bunch of slaves to come Brazil were the Bantu people. They lived in "Senzalas" (places like stables or such where the black slaves were put). They already had a very sincretic belief system, because in the congo they already had a king that "added" some christian beliefs and adopted some imaginery. They already done that before with the arabs, etc. The bantu, specially the congo where very sincretic, and I feel they still are, their desendants. The Bantu have influenced various diasporas, for example Haitian Vodou, and all "vodous", Palo in all it's manifestations, the Obeah, some candomblés and even Santeria/Osha.

In senzalas there whee also some indigenous slaves, so basically they saw that between these two cultures shared a lot of similar thinking, specially the cult to the ancestors. Then, the black slaves continued their rituals but they thought they needed to pay respects to the ancestors of this new land, this land that was their new home, though they were their new ancestors. There they added worship to "Caboclos", indigenous ancestral spirits.

From that moment a new cult was born. "Cabula" which is the cult of the Nkisi, the African and Indigenous Ancestors, the practice of witchcraft, of healing and all african "supernatural" arts. After Cabula commenced it's changes, the "ritual" modified it self, the "nago" thinking begin to gain strength, the Bantu Nkisi where named after the Yoruban Orisa, and the cult transformed itself into the famous brazilian "Macumba".

The word Macumba has various meanings. Macumba was a name of an african tree/bush; was the name of a musical instrument made of the wood of that african tree/bush; was the name of the "drummings" for ritual and the "macumbeiros" were the drummers; was also the name of the cult developed in the Quilombos (agroupation of slaves that fled from the senzalas and lived in the jungle or the hills) and the macumbeiros where the practitioners of this cult. Today is used as a pejorative word from non "africanist" people or from "ultra whitened" umbandists whose say tha they're not macumbeiros, renegating from their cults roots.

In the "Belle Epoque" of Brazil, there was a growing amount of Scientific Spiritism (Allan Kardec's Spiritism) and the "people of society" was very interested in it. Then, a lot of middle class white people stated to atend the macumba's rituals and started to gain pristly degrees, and slowly starting to "whiten" the cult. White people, or the light skined people of Brazil, where not used to the tribal rituals of the black, the sacrifices and the blood, and started, maybe unconsciously, maybe not, to whiten it. It became more and more similar to the White's spiritism.

There was a split. You had the "whitened" macumba, that was known by Umbanda or Mbanda, and the more african macumba, that kept its black roots. Mbanda means in kimbundo "Magic" or "art of healing", "healing ritual". Also the Chief of the Terreiro (temple) was called Pai (Father) or Tata (father in bantu) and Embanda wa scalled the one in charge of the Ngira or Gira (seance or session).

You have the opinion of that both Umbanda and Quimbanda were contemporary, and the vision that Quimbanda came FROM Umbanda in an atempt of reviving the more african ways of the afrobrazilian people. In either way, the cult of spirits, Caboclos, Preto Velhos and Exus, existed way before the "official" dates of birth of Umbanda (of Zelio F. de Moraes) and of Quimbanda (in the 70's).

Umbanda was founded (in "official" records, as a religion, because before that the word was used in many ways to point various cults and macumbas) in 1908 by th Caboclo das Sete Encruzilhadas ("indian of the Seven Crossroads") through his medium, Zelio de Moraes. Quimbanda, even if its "format" already was known, the name "Quimbanda" was just known as a cult in the 70's, after the cult of Exu and Pombagira was seprated from Umbanda Branca (White Umbanda or Umbanda of White Line, is practiced without blood). Quimbanda comes from the kimbundo word "Kimbanda" or "ki Mbanda" which was the name of the "Witch Doctor", the priest in charge to get in trance and being possesed by the ancestors, by the spirits of former witches and healers.

There is people that says that Umbanda and Quimbanda have nothing to do, that's plain wrong, they are part of the same cult. Two sides of the same coin. We still have Umbandas that work with exus and pombagiras, and we have Umbandas that are completely seperated from them.

Now, where does it come from the idea of "sincretism" between Goetic Demons and Quimbanda spirits? That was the work of several umandist writers who where all about the whitening of their practices. The compared them to demons, and actualy not even in an esoteric way, actually they did it in the very christian way, as evil doers. There is Exu Lucifer and Exu Belzebú (Beelzebub), but that is just sincretism and is in no way comparing Him with the actual Lucifer or Beelzebub.

Exus and Pombagiras are EGUN, are spirits of the dead, that echanted themselves or were "united" to a single symbol. They become part of a colective entity and lose their "indivialism". They are not just "dead people", they're part of a hierarchy of spirits that are part of a single ritual, independet of the line of macumba or Quimbanda practiced, and that is A Lei de Exu (The Law of Exu). There are things they do, there are things they don't. That's it.

Most of us, macumbeiros, do both. Many umbandists don't, but they're part of the "whitened" Macumba. Most of us macumbeiros or quimbandeiros (practicioners of Quimbanda) practice both Umbanda and Quimbanda because we understand that they are part of an equilibrium, the healing and wisdom of Umbanda/the strength and blood of Quimbanda.

Era meia noite quando minha banda chegou
Era meia noite quando minha banda chegou
Corre e gira, corre e gira
Vai chegar a madrugada
Salve Exu Salve Exu
Rei das Sete Encruzilhadas!

Saravá o Povo da Encruza! Salve Exu!
Idansinají

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"Kosi Ewe Kosi Orìṣà"
- Yoruba Tradition

"Water which is too pure has no fish"
- form the Ts'ai Ken T'an

"No enunciation of the Truth will ever be complete, no method of training will ever be suitable for all temperaments..."
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Re: Quimbanda: Afrobrazilian "witchcraft" or Macumba

Postby WillowDarkWytch » Wed Aug 17, 2016 6:29 pm

Motumbá

To any moderator, could we get this thread moved to ATR and Diaspora religions?

This is a explainatory thread so I guess it could be got to have it there. I'm gonna make a new one on Umbanda and Caboclo cults.

Saravá
Idansinají
"Kosi Ewe Kosi Orìṣà"
- Yoruba Tradition

"Water which is too pure has no fish"
- form the Ts'ai Ken T'an

"No enunciation of the Truth will ever be complete, no method of training will ever be suitable for all temperaments..."
- Dion Fortune
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Re: Quimbanda: Afrobrazilian "witchcraft" or Macumba

Postby Nahemah » Thu Aug 18, 2016 2:09 am

Certainly, I'll do it now.

And thank you for the informative posts, they are most welcome.
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Re: Quimbanda: Afrobrazilian "witchcraft" or Macumba

Postby fraterai » Thu Aug 18, 2016 2:19 am

Thanks for bringing this back up so I could read it! Thanks again WDW for your insights and experiences!

Can you expand more on the Goetic part? I found this really interesting, but I'm not entirely sure what you mean. Are you saying that some believe that the Goetic Demons are actually certain spirits from your tradition, and that you disagree? That through syncretism they use the Goetic entities as deific-masks, so to speak, and that this is a misunderstood practice by a few writers? I may have what you are saying completely wrong, which is why I ask :) Please expand on this! Thank you so much
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Re: Quimbanda: Afrobrazilian "witchcraft" or Macumba

Postby WillowDarkWytch » Fri Aug 19, 2016 12:20 am

Nahemah wrote:Certainly, I'll do it now.

And thank you for the informative posts, they are most welcome.


Thank you, Nahemah ;)

fraterai wrote:Thanks for bringing this back up so I could read it! Thanks again WDW for your insights and experiences!

Can you expand more on the Goetic part? I found this really interesting, but I'm not entirely sure what you mean. Are you saying that some believe that the Goetic Demons are actually certain spirits from your tradition, and that you disagree? That through syncretism they use the Goetic entities as deific-masks, so to speak, and that this is a misunderstood practice by a few writers? I may have what you are saying completely wrong, which is why I ask :) Please expand on this! Thank you so much


Fraterai, don't thank me. I love to set "straight" the information about african diaspora, specially about afrobrazilian cults which are my "area" of working/worship.

I'll explain it this way: in the diaspora we have the thing about "syncretism". for us, african diaspora, the sycretisation doesn't mean that the catholic saint is the actual african deity/spirit, it's just that they were related in a certain moment to cover their cult, out of need of adaptation, etc, there are many theories about it the reason why syncretism exists, many explanaition made by antropologists and sociologists, but what really matters in the practice is that when we say "Saint George is Ogum" (Umbanda syncretism) it doesn't mean that we believe that they're one being, it's just that we asociate them because they do have "similar caracteristics" we use its image (the saint's image) descriptively. Erzulie Freda is not Mater Dolorosa, but it's the virgin's image that is used to represent her.

The same with exus and pombagiras. Exus and pombagiras are spirits of dead people that after dying the joined a spiritual current, a spiritual hierarchy. Just like spirits of light are asociated to saints, these spirits are asocieated with "demons" because of their darkness. So someone made a relation between goetic demons, that you might understand that comparison because exus and pombagiras are "wicked", "devils", little tricky, but they are not demons, they are not THOSE actual energies. Today there's people working with exus and using goetic sigils. That's not right, exus and pombagiras have their own sigils called "pontos riscados" (drawings, drawn points) which are given by the speccific exu/pombagira through rthe manifestation in a medium, and confirmed by another higher level exu/pomvagira that's also manifested in a medium that is "Chefe" (chief) of that house. So if you use goetic sigils you are just calling goetic spirits demons, not exus nor pombagiras.

The catholic saint that "rules" over the "linha" (line) is Santo Antonio (Saint Anthony) and they are considered "devils", that's why they're depicted with horns and sometimes with red skin. They might appear in astral form and being seen as such, horns, fur and such, but that's their new astral vestment, atral coat. But, the comparison to the actual devil is because Orisa Esu of the yoruba. in the translation of the bible to yoruban linguage, they used the name Esu to say the Devil or Satan. For us it is something more folkloric than "fact".

Saravá
Idansinají
"Kosi Ewe Kosi Orìṣà"
- Yoruba Tradition

"Water which is too pure has no fish"
- form the Ts'ai Ken T'an

"No enunciation of the Truth will ever be complete, no method of training will ever be suitable for all temperaments..."
- Dion Fortune
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Re: Quimbanda: Afrobrazilian "witchcraft" or Macumba

Postby fraterai » Fri Aug 19, 2016 12:26 am

Thank you again and I will continue to thank you! I think I had the proper idea of how your tradition's views on syncretism, which is why i said "deific-masks", I understand that they are choosing to represent their original entity through a corresponding image, and not saying they are one and the same, and you have made it clear. I see how that can lead to errors and I agree with you, I know the Goetic entities stand on their own and that these individuals would be contacting them through their errors. All in all I would say that employing "syncretism" in practice takes a skillful and experienced individual, or group even, to be effective or have any sort of genuine link. Thanks again [grin]
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