draft notes for paper...
Palo Meyombe Palo is another of the syncretic religions, but is decidedly more African in flavor. Therein, the Exu do not get syncretized near as deeply. They keep their traditional names. And moreover, much of the fetishistic! practices remain more or less intact. "or example Earth #haker! is still the same entity that he $as back in the African mainland. %t developed out of &entral African 'antu customs ()))* $hich $ere imported to the +e$ orld, most importantly colonial &uba $here it took root the strongest before flo$ering out$ard through the &arib region $here it-s maximal extent appears to be enezuela and the /uyana shield ()))*. 0espite this rather confined point of origin, given the histories of the islands related by the /arifuna, it $ould not be unreasonable to posit that this practice flo$ered out of the interaction of various African groups alongside Amerinds of all stripes, be them the &aribs $hich already populated the island or any number of enslaved populations across linguistic and cultural barriers. The &arib islands then become something of a melting pot or crossroads for populations on the move, be them colonial or colonized. There $ould also be a high likelihood of understanding or perhaps integrating some of the darker Amerind myth cycles alongside African concepts like the village of bone cosmology, placing a higher ritual importance on human remains than $ould other$ise be extant. hat makes Palo stand out is the inherent implied transgressive violence that is often associated $ith 1uimbanda. Palo Meyombe has a fairly standard method of ritual item construction. As mentioned the central focal point of the practices is an nganga! (interestingly, nganga! simply means an herbal healer in 'antu* or a cauldron in $hich has been placed various remains, often human, lined $ith machetes and other sharp or bladed tools, then decorated in various forms and capacities ()))*. 2ften these are adorned $ith feathers and locked do$n $ith chains. %t is thought that the nganga becomes a home of sorts, or the seat of, ancestral spirits $hich besto$ their po$ers on the practitioner ()))*. %t also becomes a repository into $hich dangerous or violence spirits can be channeled and bound!, locked a$ay for use in this or that rite of vengeance or harm. Assault #orcery and 3itual iolence Perspectives on ritual violence can run from the literal through the metaphorical, from historical to psychological. "or the purposes of this examination $e shall vie$ it through the lens of motif and culturally transgressive aesthetic. ))) 4anaima have already been mentioned as the traditional opposing force of the Aleluia faith, and this seems to dovetail nicely $ith 1uimbanda-s 1uimbanda-s relationship to 5mbanda. ))) #ome ethnographic materials have posited that ())), )))* that the cannibalistic aspects of Tupian culture, be them real or ascribed, extended into notions of transformation of and mastery over the dead. %n this sense the essence of the other is subsumed into the devourer. ))) 1uimbanda chants as relplicatory, chiasmatic, and phrase6repetative. 5nnamed Exu and the $andering hostile missionaries.
3itual violence as cultural compression. 3eclaimation. &ontrol. 2$ning the accusation. /arden of bone and blood!. 777 1uimbanda in &ultural "unction 1uimbanda consists of a complex of rites and practices to favorably influence a number of spirits kno$n as Exu. These Exu are syncretized $ith identifiable alterities in the est8 for example, 9ucifer makes an appearance here, melded alongside the African spirit kno$n as 9ucero ()))*. These entities are offered songs, chants, dra$ings and sigils, as $ell as sacrifices of libations and animals ()))*. here the counterpoint saints in 5mbanda are intercessors to the social and spiritual benefit of the practitioner or their client, the entities of 1uimbanda appear to be some$hat more utilitarian. They $ill intercede to attack the practitioner or client-s foes, they can besto$ favor, or bad fortune. The utilitarian aspects are confirmed by the position of 1uimbanda as a system popular for business consultations in the 3io de :aniero region ()))*. Perhaps one of the more fascinating aspects of the practices are the purpose of the mysterious unnamed Exu. Alongside entities that can easily be tied to Eurpoean or African cultural understandings there are a number of entities that are only kno$n under the identity of Exu of the "orest! or Exu of the 3iver!. These exist outside the normative lists of #aint6bound spirits in 5mbanda or the other ;uasi6 demonic < ))). Their songs and chants are an interesting case. Practitioners of multiple Afro6sycnretic traditions often take note of features that $ould not exactly be unfamiliar $ith sung verbal forms among the )ingu. 'y this % mean the prominence of short, repeated phrases, replication, duplication, and tonal features $hich are in stark contrast to Macumba or Palo-s more rhythmic and melodic chants or the place of /arifuna drumming in feasts and oblations to the spirits. 1uimbanda as #ocial "unction. As $ith other forms of $hat could be construed as assault sorcery, 1uimbanda may $ell be thought of as both a cultural outlet for channeling socially destructive violence, as $ell as contextualizing colonial pressures and influences. As a synchretic system it sits as the =uxtaposition of colonial, enslaved, and indigenous values and concepts. As a 'razilian system it rests as emblematic of the sociocultural realities of the nation. &learly, the Portuguese and #panish systems of racial casta! or caste ()))*, are at play here. The system of constructed racial stratification $hich became more emphasized in the $ake of the 3econ;uista prioritized the social state of $hites and peninsulars $hile compartmentalizing and devaluing the African and indigenous populations for the purposes of sociocultural control. #ince these populations became othered so extensively, intercontact $ould have to be sublimated into ne$ and novel forms. /iven the segregation and dehumanizing social space occupied by these populations, the offspring of various pairings $ere further stratified, resulting in designations such as >mestizo- or >pardo- or >mulatto-. Each of these designations often had to form enclaves and communities of their o$n, as evidenced by expansion, retreat, and stabilization of populations such as the /arifuna ()))*. %t is my assertion that 1uimbanda is an inherently pardo expression of the three streams of cultural identity that inform it. %t seeks to reappropriate and stake a claim on the aspects of spiritual practice
demonized by colonial forces, as $ell as integrating $hat aspects of the estern esoteric currents that had access to. %t incorporates Amerind notions of