I spent the first 27 years of my life in Brazil, where the cultural influence of Africans brought in as slaves by the Portuguese colonialists has always been very strong and permeates every aspect of the culture.
It was accepted and mixed with the Catholic rituals and lore, in an attempt to dissipate its importance in the African slaves and their descents. The African deities took the statues of Catholic Saints and given their African names. The African rituals, ceremonies and practices was and is known as Macumba. Its practice is ritualistic, with elaborate offerings to each entity for answers to prayers and requests, and the location of the offerings is very important to them.
On Fridays, the people got together for dancing and receiving the spirits, usually for healing requests of the participants and the audience.
I was always intrigued by the offerings I came across on the streets of Rio de Janeiro, and my Grandmother, of course, was very afraid of it. I found them very pretty, with flowers, candles and food, ribbons and shells. By the time I was 18, I started going to the Macumba de Umbanda with a friend, just to watch. Even though I never participated and did not know much about what was going on, I could sense who was really receiving the Deities and who was faking it. The energy was intense.
What impressed me the most was this young woman that was brought into the room in a wheelchair, unable to speak or move. When the Mediums received a particular Doctor Spirit, he would work through the Medium on that woman, and eventually she would get up and stand without assistance. We were told that every time the Spirit Doctor worked on her, the changes were permanent, and she was getting better.
Now, what is "receiving the Spirits"? It is a form of trance mediumship, where the Deities or other healing spirits come into the bodies of the Mediums and can now speak, heal and perform extractions of negative entities through the Medium.
Smoke from special herbs fill the room, and group members sing and pray in a circle to call up a particular spirit. It’s the mediums that often go into a trance and are able to talk with the spirit on behalf of the group.
Each African Deity has its own "calling" song, where the group sings in hopes that he/ she will choose a Medium in the circle to be its vessel and answer the prayer request.
On New Year's Eve, practitioners of Macumba take their offerings to the beach to send them in small boats to Iemanja, the Queen of the Sea. Candles and singing accompany those offerings in the hopes that the New Year will bring wealth, health, a new job, a husband, a wife or children to a newly wed couple.
I am Amayah. Here you will find the story of an amazing being that became trapped in the cycle of incarnation on Earth. I hope that my experiences inspire you to discover your story.