Social Life of Spirits, 9-11



A Caboclo in Brazilian Umbanda

Emerson Giumbelli


p. 183 Umbanda

"Umbanda's origins will note ... a legacy from civilizations that once occupied Egypt, India, Lemuria, and so on."

[p. 255, n. 9:5 : "On the debates about Umbanda's distant origins, see Bastide ([2007] 1971)".]

Bastide 2007 = Roger Bastide (transl. by Helen Sebba) : The African Religions of Brazil. Baltimore : Johns Hopkins Univ Pr.

p. 184 caboclos

"caboclos are a specific genre among the entities who provide advice and guidance in Umbanda, and who can also be found in ... Candomble` (... Boyer 1999). In Umbanda, however, their presence is obligatory".

[quoted from Ortiz 1978, p. 65 :] "The arrival of the Caboclo is always accompanied by a strong cry {yell}, denoting this spiritual entity's energy and strength ... . In the trance, the mediums{'s bodies while occupied by this spiritual entity} ... walk with their heads held high, with a proud and arrogant attitude".

[quoted from Thomaz 1992, p. 207 :] "Dark in colour, usually with an athletic gait indicating physical strength, he has a fixed and authoritarian look. Many ... have the attitude of a true chief".

Boyer 1999 = Ve`ronique Boyer : "O paje` e o caboclo". MANA 5.1:29-56.

Ortiz 1978 = Renato Ortiz : A Morte Branca do Feiticeiro Negro : Umbanda ... . Sa~o Paulo : Brasiliense.

Thomaz 1992 = Omar Ribeiro Thomaz : "Xeto, Marromba, Xeto! : ... i`ndio nas religio~es afro-brasilieras". In :- Grupioni Luiz (ed.) : I`ndios no Brasil. Sa~o Paulo : Secretaria Municipal de Cultura. pp. 205-16.

p. 185 preto-velhos

"the preto-velhos ... : their principal characteristics are piety, humility, and availability. ... These manifestations suggest an old person, hunched due to the weight of work and suffering. The images portray black men or women, with grey hair ... and carrying a walking stick, normally seated; in fact, it is common to see the female counterpart, preta-velhas, once again in contrast to the caboclos, among whom the female gender rarely appears."

p. 186 divine lineages

Umbanda is configured "around "seven white lines," each commanded by an Orixa` ... . The lines groups entities according to their functions and affinities, which are integrated ... "against elements from the Black Line, that is, the Exu, to the people of the Crossroads" ([Leal de Souza] 1933, 58). ... In reality, ... the last of the White Lines is distinct from the rest; there is no single, commanding Orixa`, and with workers ... the "Black Line's egresses" (1933, 62) : caboclos and pretos that have already been exus.

Some exus are scoundrels, others {viz., the females} are prostitutes, still others incarnate as gypsies, sailors, seamen, ... and country bumpkins." [p. 256, n. 9:8 : "For general presentations of Umbandista cosmology, see ... Brumana and Martinez ([1989]).]

Leal de Souza 1933 = Anto^nio Eliezer Leal de Souza : O Espiritismo, a Magia e as Sete Linhas de Umbanda. Rio de Janeiro.

Brumana & Marti`nez 1989 = Fernando G. Brumana & Elda G. Marti`nez : Spirits from the Margin. Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis.

p. 187 initial historical phases of Umbanda

"the first collective event organized by the new religion's adepts, in 1941, was called the Congress of Umbanda Spiritism, the same name given to the Umbanda federation, created two years previously in 1939."

pp. 188-91 the Caboclo of the 7 Crossroads

p. 188

"Accounts about the Caboclo das Sete Encruzilhadas (Caboclo of the Seven Crossroads) are strongly associated with events that took place in Ze`lio de Moraes's {'zealous of morals'} life (1891-1975), especially one specific moment in 1908. ...

p. 189

An entity manifested through Ze`lio calling itself the Caboclo das Sete Encruzilhadas, for whom "there will be no blocked paths." The entity ... invited them all to Ze`lio's home on the following day, which was in what is now called the municipality of Sa~o Gonc,alo, in the metropolitan area of Rio de Janeiro. The Caboclo manifested once again during this second session, accompanied by a preto-velho, proclaiming the creation of a new center, called the Tenda Espi`rita Nossa Senhora da Piedade (Spiritist Tent of Our Lady of Mercy), and a new religion

called Umbanda. ...

{named after Mbanda on the north coast of Angola; with a praefix /U-/ indicating a political state, as in the nation-name /U-ganda/.}

According to these accounts, the Caboclo manifested himself again on other subsequent occasions to determine the creation of new Umbanda temples and a federation. ...

p. 190

On could say that ... Leal de Souza

inserts the Caboclo in the Ogum line,

{intending to suggest that iron-forging, with iron-smelting (whereof Ogun/Ogum is patron-god) was eventually adopted by indigenous AmerIndians from African slaves)}

diverging from other accounts that mention Oxossi.

But ... Orix`a Mallet ... is equally present in ... accounts about Ze`lio de Moraes.

{This "mallet" is evidently that an an ironsmith, so that "Oris^a Mallet" must certainly be Ogun.}

According to Leal de Souza, in this case [of Oris^a Mallet] we are dealing ... with ... the Caboclo's assistant,

{In other words, Ogun is Os^ossi's assistant.}

whose last incarnation was as a "Malay" on

a "beautiful Oriental island" (1933, 74).

{Sumatra, as the island adjacent to Malaya, must surely be intended.}

p. 191

... Leal de Souza himself defines exu as leader of the "people of the Crossroads." ... In other words, the Caboclo das Sete Encruzilhadas is a type of everted exu. It is significant that the account that narrates the Caboclo's terrestrial life begins with a warning against confusing him with the Exu Rei das Sete Encruzilhadas (Exu King of the Seven Crossroads). ... After graduating in law in the capital, he worked as a defense attorney for slaves that were being accused by their owners, but this did not prevent him, "as chief of his indigenous community," from leading incursions

to liberate slaves and take them to a secure location.

{cf. the "Underground Railroad" (largely operated by the Religious Society of Friends) which (before the U.S. Civil War) liberated slaves, transporting them to Canada}

This account ends ... : "Following his disembodiment, he returned through Z`elio de Moraes['s] mediumship, in November 1908, as a messenger spirit who placed Umbanda's foundations in Rio de Janeiro.""

p. 191 the Forest

"another entity ... is linked in this case to the Unia~o do Vegetal, a religious variant with ... Spiritist elements, constituted around the consumption of ... daime or ayahuasca (Melo 2010). Joa~o Gabriel, who founded the Unia~o do Vegetal, was an Umbandista who migrated from Bahia to Amazonia in the mid-twentieth century, accompanied (... guided) by a caboclo called the Forest Sult[.]an. The Unia~o do Vegetal's mythic creation is combined with this entity's transfiguration ... illuminated with the tea's power ... . Or rather, this caboclo's journey to his origins in the forest results in his transfiguration".

Melo 2010 = Rosa Virgi`nia Melo : 'Beber na fonte' : adesa~o e transformac,a~o na Unia~o do Vegetal. PhD diss, Univ de Brasi`lia.

pp. 192-3 Malagrida

p. 192

"Statements attributed to Ze`lio de Moraes ... mention ... Gabriel Malagrida or Gabriel de Malagrida (Brown 1986, 39 ...). In the Caboclo's words, [while] incorporated in Ze`lio : "... I have foreseen what will happen, ever since the Lisbon earthquake in 1755 until now ..." (apud Cumino 2010, 326). ... "Gabriel de Malagrida ... was ... led to ...

p. 193

his premonition of the earthquake" (apud Cumino 2010, 130 and 326). Umbandistas speak of ... Gabriel Malagrida who lived between 1689 and 1761, was born in Italy, went to Brazil on two occasions, and

died in Lisbon ... burnt at the stake by the Inquisition."

{with the origin of Umbanda from Gabriel Malagrida (a martyr for the faith), cf. the origin of FreeMasonry from Jacques de Molay (likewise burnt at the stake under the charge of hairesy)}

Brown 1986 = Diana DeGroats : Umbanda : Religion ... in Urban Brazil. Ann Arbor : UMI Research Pr.

Cumino 2010 = Alexandre Cumino : Histo`ria da Umbanda. Sa~o Paula : Madras.

p. 193 don~a Maria de Padilla

"Maria Padilha is the name given to certain [female] entities that that appear in Umbanda terreiros ... . ... Padilha appears in sixteenth-century Portuguese novels, in African-influenced invocations ... in Brazil in the eighteenth century, and in Umbanda books that describe the female exus (or pomba-giras) in the twentieth century. ... Meyer suggests that a certain line brings them together (1993, 124)."

Meyer 1993 = Marlyse Meyer : Maria Padilha e toda a sua Quadrilha : ... Pomba-Gira de Umbanda. Sa~o Paulo : Duas Cidades.

pp. 195-6 visionary manifestations of the Caboclo of the 7 Crossroads

p. 195

"in accounts about the Caboclo das Sete Encruzilhadas, ... the drawing used to invoke him (his ponto riscado) is "an arrow crossing a heart," ... for Leal de Souza ... (1933, 77)."

"the Caboclo das Sete Encruzilhadas ...

p. 196

on special occasions, announces his presence silently, in a form already evoked by Leal de Souza (1933, 80) : "A blue vibration shines in the air and a light of the same colour hovers in the ambient.""



Fieldwork with the Dragon

Susan Greenwood


p. 199 terms for 'dragon' (Jones 2000, pp. 2-3)






kelekona or mo>o

























Jones 2000 = David E. Jones : An Instinct for Dragons. NY : Routledge.

p. 199 composite bodily features of the dragon, in Chinese and Japanese cultures (De Visser 1913, p. 70)

the __

of a __



















De Visser 1913 = Marinus Willem de Visser : The Dragon in China and Japan. Amsterdam : J. Müller. (reprinted 1969 Wiesbaden : M. Sa:ndig; reprinted 2008 NY : Cosimo)

p. 202 hemisphaires of the brain

"Both hemispheres are involved with all the brain's functions ..., but they have different orientations (McGilChrist 2011, 1068-69 ...)."

McGilChrist 2011 = Iain McGilchrist : "Paying Attention to the Bipartite Brain". LANCET 377 (9771):1068-9.

McGilChrist 2009 = Iain McGilchrist : The Master and His Emissary : the Divided Brain and the Making of the Wetern World. New Haven (CT) : Yale Univ Pr.

p. 204 a meeting of minds (that of mortal with that of spirit)

"during an experience of magical consciousness {amongst other occasions} spirits share a degree of corporeal materiality

{Each divinity is at times locatable in a body, but not (except while occupying that of a mortal) in a material one.}

and possess minds,

{A mind is a limiting factor, but even divinities must undergo limitations on occasion.}

then the minds of entities -- in whatever form -- and ours can meet in a wider consciousness (Greenwood 2009, 139-41)."

Greenwood 2009 = Susan Greenwood : The Anthropology of Magic. Oxford : Berg.

p. 207 visited by non-human spirits at a waterfall

"by the side of a rushing stream coming directly down from Mount Snowdon ..., I was visited by elemental spirits of the river, the trees, the earth, and beings that were so totally nonhuman ... with the waters of the place as they crashed down the mountainside".

{Cf. how Michael Harner was consecrated as a shaman at a waterfall in Ecuador, "the cacophonous roar of the cascading water ... leading him into an altered state of consciousness." (HW)}

HW = Ian A. Baker : The Heart of the World : a Journey to the Last Secret Place. Penguin Bks, 2004.

p. 208 participatory (mortal with spirit) consciousness

"I had come to understand the dragon as a source of a participatory perspective on life. ... I had nine component themes that acted as ... I had come to recognize as the dragon. ... .

{"Vietnam’s watery delta region ... is named the Nine-Tailed Dragon." ("HMR")}

... I knew that the book was being written while I was in a participatory state of magical consciousness. I had intuited the chapter themes ... that "something" was writing through me, I eventually saw the reasoning behind it."

"HMR" = "Healthy Mekong River".

p. 212 historic Cymry labor-union

"the Taf Fawr and the Taf Fechan meet in Cefn Coed-y-Cymmer, just below Merthyr Tydfil, ... the place that gave birth to the Labour movement -- the Merthyr Rising of 1831 ... under the red flag".

p. 214 white spiral & red dragon

"I was taken into a white spiral and a red dragon emerged strongly ... . The dragon took me down blue smoke tendrils deep into the ... caverns of the earth. I could follow them down ... to experience the roar of the dragon ... . ... The ivy tendrils grow once more."



Cajon pa'{ra} los Muertos

Stephan Palmie`


p. 219 source of /cajon/

"a novel ritual formation known as "cajon pa'{ra} los muertos" (after the characteristic use of the box drum ... on spirits of the dead) ... emerged in Havana ... -- and it

has finally broken down ... boundaries internal to a heterogenous formation of ... long interwined streams of religious tradition."

{hath syncretically locally merged various diverse religious cults of traditional African provenience}

pp. 224, 259-60 appearing in spiritist se'ances : historical personages as authors of post-mortem texts

p. 224

"Ben Franklin, Tom Paine, George Washington, John Quincy Adams, Napoleon, Mark Twain, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Albert Einstein (to name just a few) have not only continued to communicate with the living, but have ... continued to author copious writings".

p. 259, n. 11:14

"Cf. Post (1852) for examples. The secondary literature on their posthumous

p. 260, n. 11:14

exploits is large and rapidly growing. See for example Palfreman (1979), Sollors (1983), Cox (2003), Porter (2005), or Vasconcelos (2008).

Post 1852 = Isaac Post : Voices from the Spirit World : being Communications from Many Spirits. Rochester (NY) : Charles H. McDonell.

Palfreman 1979 = Jon Palfreman : "A Study of Victorian Scientific Attitudes to Modern Spiritualism". In :- Roy Wallis (ed.) : On the Margins of Science : ... Rejected Knowledge. Univ of Keele. pp. 201-36.

Sollors 1983 = Werner Sollors : "Dr. Benjamin Franklin's Celestial Telegraph". SOCIAL SCIENCE INFO 22:983-1004.

Cox 2003 = Robert S. Cox : "Spiritualism and George Washington's Postmortem Career". EARLY AMERICAN STUDIES 1:230-72.

Porter 2005 = Jennifer E. Porter : "Paradoxical Positivism as Religious Discourse among Spiritualists". SCIENCE AS CULTURE 14:1-21.

Vasconcelos 2008 = Joa~o Vasconcelos : "Modern Spirtualism, Psychical Research and the Anthropology of Religion in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries". In :- Joa~o Pina-Cabral & Frances Pine (edd.) : On the Margins of Religion. Oxford : Berghahn Bks. pp. 13-38.

p. 227 Is the sense of personal identity generated by responsibility for past actions?

"It is our capacity for reflexive self-identification coupled with, or rather upheld by, our sense of responsibility for our past actions that generates the sense of biographically coherent individual identity."

{This conjecture is obviated by the metaphysics of (1) ascription of all responsibility for past actions to deities (who control us mortals, whether we may be consciously aware of that fact or not); combined with (2) co-haerent individual identity as a deity-controlled functional mechanism within the divinely-arranged system of the universe. [written Feb 14 2015]}

{Both these factors (all responsibility belonging to deities only; individual identity anyway, unrelated to responsibilities of deities themselves) are compatible with universal teleology. The contrary notion that there is no divine responsibility (which is tantamount to rejecting the metaphysics of universal teleology) is possible only in a system of pure materialism, which must perforce lack any meaning, any purpose, and therefore any "responsibility"! The author (S.P.) is irrationally self-inconsistent. [written Feb 14 2015]}

p. 227 sublunary coinjecture

""when the secrcts of all hearts shall be laid open," {cf. 1st Korinthioi 4:5} ...

{This situation, when all information in anyone's mind can be read by all other persons, is available in circumstances of unrestricted universal telepathy. This situation must imply, of course, a universal communism. [written Feb 14 2015]}

all sublunar juridical conjecture about subjective states of mind would become moot."

{All praesent-day court-judgements (which are based on the scandalously blasphemous notion of "private property" to be controlled by a ruling class subjugating a working class) are likewise illegitimate, even if forcibly imposed by an illegal, ungodly, blasphemous political state.}

1st Korinthioi 4:5 "will make manifest the counsels of the hearts : and then shall every man have praise of God." {Everyone will then be divinely praised for voluntarily allowing his or her mind thoroughly to be read by all other persons, "neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad" (Markos 4:22). It is assumed that none will resist having one's mind read by all, for all persons at that time are abiding in perfect communism, freely sharing everything. For, then that which was only secret whispered in closed chambres [namely, secret about the soul-redeeming grace inhaerent in communism] "shall be proclaimed upon the housetops." (Loukas 12:3; cf. Matthaios 10:27)}

Markos 4:22

Loukas 12:3

p. 230 Santal Hool

"Chakrabarty ... devotes a whole chapter of Provincializing Europe (2000) to ...

the Santal Hool, a nineteenth-century Bengali {movement} ...

{This local tribal movement of 1855 immediately praeceded the more widespread Sepoy movement of 1857.}

under divine command ... predicated on a {divine} will other than their own".

{"God (thakur) himself appeared before them, he was of fair complexion but dressed in native fashion. He ... held a white book in his hand" ("SR1B").}

Chakrabarty 2000 = Dipesh Chakrabarty : Provincializing Europe. Princeton Univ Pr.

"SR1B" = "Santhal Rebellion, Part I : The Beginning".

p. 231 functional fictions

"One need not attend Afro-Cuban possession rituals to see that "individuals" and their "wills," "agency," and "responsibility" all highly functional fictions ... . This is an order animated

by a particular

{by a ruling-class-motivated}

rather than a universal

{rather than by a communism-based}

type of agentive subject ... . ... To be sure, Marx never tired of denouncing individuality, free will, and contractual liberty as ideological figments serving materially specifiable class interests and productive of characteristic forms of individual and

collective self-estrangement."

{alienation of ownership of means-of-production}

p. 231 failures of saecular "historical" materialism

"Marx is not the best of allies in gaining a purchase on the puzzles posed by [spirit-possession], and I doubt if many of us would take the above considerations

beyond the point of ideological criticism."

{The "ideological criticism" referred to is a merely saecular characterization of capitalism; in order to go beyond that, psychic/spiritual factors must be considered.}

"But who would dare to ... say that historicism weighs on our brains like a nightmare?"

{The delusion of saecular materialism is more mentally and morally debilitating than is any supposedly oppressive dream.}

p. 234 "anthropology or nothing"

"a curious reversal of Evans-Pritchard's famous misquote of Maitland -- that "by{e} and by{e} historywill have the choice of being anthropology or being nothing.""

[p. 262, n. 11:32 : "Though Marshal Sahlins (1985, 2004) has come close to such an argument."]

Sahlins 1985 = Marshal Sahlins : Islands of History. Univ of Chicago Pr.

Sahlins 2004 = Marshal Sahlins : Apologies to Thucydides. Univ of Chicago Pr.

p. 236 usefulness of cajon

"The mediums in turn cultivate lifelong relations with the dead, periodically lending their bodies ... when a spirit mounts (montar) them ... .

Some of the attendees will expect spirits to to offer advice in regard to personal problems or difficult decisions".

p. 238 to ritualize history

"to historicize is to ritualize ... Joan of Arc's angels,

or, indeed, the Franklins, Washingtons, Einsteins, or Jeffersons dictating their posthumous messages to their mediums".


Ruy Blanes & Diana Espi`rito Santo (edd.) : The Social Life of Spirits. Univ of Chicago Pr, 2014.