Mãe Stella’s YouTube Channel: A First Look

by Iya Melissa

mc3a3e-stella-1024x682Just the other day I shared news of Mãe Stella’s YouTube channel launching on September 25th.  To my surprise, I woke up this morning to see that there were already a few videos available.

In the digital age where everyone is online, it may not seem like a big deal that Mãe Stella has created this channel. However, and true to Ile Axé Opo Afonja’s history of being groundbreaking, this is a huge moment for Candomblé.

Although many priests share helpful videos, and I’ve even posted some here, there’s always been a certain mystery surrounding the oldest terreiros in Bahia. Information is guarded and practices are severely protected in traditional terreiros. This YouTube channel is breaking the boundary and removing a little of that mystery.

By no means should we interpret this channel to mean that Mãe Stella will suddenly become accessible to us all. Don’t hop in her inbox just yet. You also shouldn’t expect to learn fundamento, or awo (secrets) of the religion online.

However, in creating this channel she’s saying, in many ways, that while Candomblé must maintain its traditional practices it’s also important that we develop modern solutions to modern problems.

The problem? Far too many practitioners without a solid foundation for worship. When we don’t have a solid foundation, it becomes nearly impossible to discern new information and determine what applies and what doesn’t when we speak to others or read books. With her channel, Mãe Stella hopes to reach the younger generation – often starving for information – in order to keep Candomblé from becoming something we no longer recognize due to some changes that take place over time.

A preview of the channel is below, and I’ve interpreted what she presents; unfortunately, there are no subtitles:

“There are a lot of invented and created practices going around,” Iya Stella begins, speaking of the present state of Candomblé.  Often, people open terreiros without having a solid theological or practical foundation. Instead of leaning on their elders for support, they stray from traditional teachings and incorporate foreign elements or simply make things up. Iya Stella says that if nothing is done to combat this reality, Candomblé, “will become another religion.”

She continues, “I like to stay up to date and my objective with this channel is that people will have access to it, and – like throwing out a seed, as a form of solidifying everything about the Yoruba culture.  I want to do a mixture that combines the truth with knowledge of wisdom that will always be a part of our common sense.”

Mãe Stella goes on to say that the purpose of the channel is to share, “in a general sense, the Orisha beliefs – in other words, Candomblé – our history of how Candomblé arrived and spread in Brazil, how we able to secure the strength to maintain patterns of initiation without modifying anything, and for the younger generation to have access, in the right way, in order to not misrepresent [the religion]. They’ll be able to strengthen our faith, and I believe that with this I’m providing a public service. My dream is to see Candomblé represented seriously…and in this way it can be respected.”

The only way we can seriously represent our religion is if we have concrete knowledge and cultivated wisdom.

She ends the preview by telling us that, “with faith in the divine, this channel will be a success.” Axé, may it be so!