What Does Candomblé Believe in, Anyway?

by Melissa Most people who find their way to Candomblé are already at least slightly familiar with Orixá or Yoruba culture and religion.  As Candomblé grows in the United States, however, many people are learning about the religion through exposure to Afro-Brazilian culture; samba, capoeira, music classes, etc. without a religious connection.  Candomblé doesn’t have aContinue reading “What Does Candomblé Believe in, Anyway?”

Folhas Encantadas: a Documentary

Unfortunately, this documentary is in Portuguese and doesn’t have subtitles.  In it, Mãe Stella and other mães from Ilê Axé Opô Afonjá discuss the importance of herbs within Candomblé and share songs and myths associated with specific herbs.  The documentary is an extension of sorts of the book O Que as Folhas Cantam published byContinue reading “Folhas Encantadas: a Documentary”

Basket of Ideas: Why not me?

Mae Stella reflects on suffering, 12.07.2012 Maria Stella de Azevedo Santos http://mundoafro.atarde.uol.com.br/balaio-de-ideias-por-que-nao-eu/ Translated by Melissa McHenry Suffering isn’t “my beach,” but it’s impossible to deny that this painful feeling plays a part of the existence of absolutely every human being.  Normally, when a person sees themselves as being forced to live through intense painful moments,Continue reading “Basket of Ideas: Why not me?”

Inside a Terreiro: Ilê Aganã Axé Laburè Candomblé Documentary with English Subtitles

I always get excited when I find videos that have subtitles.  This documentary takes viewers through a terreiro in Sao Paulo.  The terreiro itself looks elaborate, but is also in an urban setting.  You get the chance to meet some members of the ile who actually live in the terreiro.  The Babalorixa makes an amazingContinue reading “Inside a Terreiro: Ilê Aganã Axé Laburè Candomblé Documentary with English Subtitles”

Getting Involved in Candomblé VII: The Importance of Sacrifice 

by Melissa It’s no secret that there is animal sacrifice in Candomblé. However, there are many types of sacrifices that we make when we decide to follow Candomblé (or any other religious belief system). The biggest sacrifice that I think is understated is that of time. Once you enter an Ile, you will be expectedContinue reading “Getting Involved in Candomblé VII: The Importance of Sacrifice “

Mãe Stella: Presence, yes! Presents, no! – a Translation

Maria Stella de Azevedo Santos | Iyalorixá do Ilê Axé Opô Afonjá opoafonja@gmail.com http://atarde.uol.com.br/opiniao/noticias/1734286-presenca-sim-presente-nao Translated by Melissa McHenry I’m ready to sleep, not so early as the elderly sleep.  I’m 90 years and 7 months old, but my filha throws the 90 away.  She’s of Iyemanjá.  As her essence is that of a mother, she coversContinue reading “Mãe Stella: Presence, yes! Presents, no! – a Translation”

Candomblé & Christmas

  Often when people learn about African religions, their curiosity pushes them to answer questions that they have about the religions with which they’re already familiar.  Who is God? Where’s the holy book? Which day of the week is sacred for worship and praise? When are the holidays? Each branch of Orixá religion (Regional Nigerian, Afro-Brazilian,Continue reading “Candomblé & Christmas”

Sign the Petition Protecting Animal Sacrifice for Afro-Brazilian Religions

That religious intolerance is alive and well in Brazil is no news.  The latest development is that the Brazilian Government is making moves to remove language from the law that protects Afro-Brazilian religious leaders in their right to ritually sacrifice animals.   Please add your name to the petition below (started by Babalorixá Junior deContinue reading “Sign the Petition Protecting Animal Sacrifice for Afro-Brazilian Religions”

Orixá Dance Class in NYC – August 2016

One of the most frequent inquiries that I receive is whether or not I know of any Candomblé dance classes.  There don’t seem to be any regular classes in NYC, but here’s one to look out for in a couple of weeks. Just remember that this is theatrical Orixá dance which focuses on rum movements,Continue reading “Orixá Dance Class in NYC – August 2016”

Candomblé, Ifá and the Diaspora

Here’s a short documentary where Chief Elebuibon draws comparisons between Candomblé and the way the religion is practiced in Nigeria. The interview begins with a discussion about sacred music and some differences between Candomblé and Yoruba religion. I think this is mostly the fault of being lost in translation (as both the interviewer and intervieweeContinue reading “Candomblé, Ifá and the Diaspora”

Sacred Journeys: Oshun-Oshogbo

The Oshun festival takes place every year in Oshogbo, Nigeria during mid-August.  Millions of people travel from around the world to participate in the festival, to bathe in the sacred Oshun river, to make offerings and ask for blessings.  In Candomblé, Oxum (and the other female Orixas) are celebrated in December.  It’s a nice coincidenceContinue reading “Sacred Journeys: Oshun-Oshogbo”

The Importance of Family & the Terreiro in Candomblé

I was reading Jacqueline Woodson’s Op-Ed in the NYT last month.  Her opinion piece had nothing to do with religion, much less Candomblé, but the message of resistance in her words reminded me of the shared narrative between African-Americans and Afro-Brazilians. To know that we African-Americans came here enslaved to work until we died butContinue reading “The Importance of Family & the Terreiro in Candomblé”