History, Principles & Pantheon

Voodoo History

Basic Principles Background

Today thousands of places worship African religions and the communities now dominate religious life in Brazil, especially in big coastal areas such as Recife, Salvador and Rio de Janeiro, also in Sao Paulo. Salvador da Bahia is the 'cradle' of Afro-Brazilian religions, commonly referred to as Bahia. For three centuries, from the beginning of the slave trade in the first half of the 16th Century until its gradual abolition in the 19th century, the city was the most important South American port of entry for the displaced African slaves. The first slave convoy was in 1538 in Brazil, 38 years after Pedro Alvares Cabral landed and took possession of the land in Portugal on the north-eastern Brazilian coast.

The Cradle of Candomble (Voodoo)

Supported by the slave and sugar trade, the capital city, Bahia experienced rapid growth in the 18th century. The Northeast, thus became the economic center of the colony. At the end of the 18th century there was a crisis in the sugar industry. Nevertheless, the discovery of gold in the Minas Gerais and Goias prompted a gold rush and led to the misalignment of the economic center, in favor of the South. The political administration also took these developments into account and moved the capital of Salvador da Bahia to Rio de Janeiro. The implantation of African religions in Brazil might have begun with the start of the slave trade. However, the establishment of Voodoo, in Brazil, is not documented until the early part of the 19th century, as practicing Voodoo was prohibited. At that time three freed slaves from the nation of Nago-Ketu began worshiping at Casa Branca do Engenho Velho (White House's old mill) in Bahia, which is still there today, it is the oldest Candomble temple (Voodoo) in Brazil due to its long prestigious history.

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Candomble voodoo

Candomble Voodoo

In Candomble (Voodoo), Orixa (gods and spirits) refers to the African deities, adapted from the Portuguese phonetic spelling of yorubian Orixa (gods and spirits). Many of the revered Orixa in Brazil are the same as the ones in Yoruba in Nigeria and Benin, but there are also fundamental differences.
Common to the three sister religions (Voodoo, Santeri, Candomble), among other things, is the notion of a "supreme" deity that stands above the Orixa.
The highest power in Candomble is called Olorun (Creator God). Under the Orixa, Oxala occupies a special place due to his role in the creation of man. Oxala appears both as an old man symbolising peace and tranquility as well as a belligerent young man. Oxala, in Afro-Catholic beliefs, is often compared to Jesus, which is associated with the colour white, and Friday, the day he is to be worshipped by his followers, but also many non-initiated sympathizers, dressed in white.

Ache/Axe- is the name of the spiritual energy which dwells in the different areas of nature, gods, apparitions and can be transferred to human beings. Axe is the mystic power of existence. Axe is found in material substances and symbolical deeds, in animals and the plants, also in inorganic material. In some rituals you can boost the Axe and the Orixa so that it can be transferred to human beings. In a particularly concentrated form, axe, is contained in the intestines of animals, especially in their blood. That explains the importance of animal sacrifices and points out why animal blood is used to dampen ritual objects and specific body parts of believers during the festivity in Candomble (Voodoo). At the end of the festival everyone gets a meal which is also made with the meat of the sacrificed animals. This meal is as important as the drums, the dances, the songs and the Orixa, because all of these things are full of Axe, full of vitality.

Recommended reading:

J. Lorand Matory - Black Atlantic Religion - Tradition, Transnationalism, and Matriarchy in the Afro-Brasilian Candomble
Inger Sjorslev - Glaube und Besessenheit - Ein Bericht über die Candomble-Religion in Brasilien
Heike Owusu - Voodoo Rituale - Hintergründe, Praxis und Schutzmaßnahmen
Papa Shanga - Praxis der Voodoo - Magie
Papa Shanga - Voodoo Praxis - Neue Techniken, Rituale und Praktiken des Voodoo
Papa Nemo - Der Weg des Voodoo - Von den Grundlagen zur Praxis
Astrid Reuter - Voodoo und andere afroamerikanische Religionen
Gert Chesi - Voodoo in Afrika

The Pantheon of Candomble (Voodoo)

We are going to explain the Deities in the ay we work with them and understand them. Another priest or practitioner can have also different experience or explanation. Take also into consideration, that Deities are very complex and have many faces, so they cannot be described easily with several words…

Oxala (Obatala): Buschido

Oxala was also born as Rama, Bhrigu, Confucius, Guru Nanak, Sai Baba of Shirdi and many other religious personalities. He can be called by all of these names and he should be invited to every ritual, because he is the gate keeper to every other dimension and the gate to the enlightenment. His current incarnation is called Buschido

Yemanja: Mother Mary

Yemanja symbolizes a motherly love - which explains the analogy to Mary, the mother of Jesus, but at the same time she is coquettish and vain. As the goddess of  the sea she is, very often, represented as a mermaid. She is one of the most popular Orixas at festivals that are celebrated by thousands of people. This is why the annual festival in Bahia is held at the beach. Numerous boats with presents (flowers, cosmetics, jewellery, sweets, petitions) are launched into the sea as sacrifices for her. Yenmanja is not only offered sacrifices on this specific day, but the whole year you can see people bringing gifts to the beach for her. In Brazil there are sacrificial offerings everywhere: on waysides, road junctions, under trees, at the sea and on the riverbank.

Loco: Jeremias

Enables communication with crops and trees. Loco is also the mediator between the worlds. For every single healing ceremony he has to be invoked, especially for botanical strength and healing. Loco was the first voodoo-priest who was ennobled by a Loa (Orixa). You can see him in the shape of a man with a long gnarled stave, standing next to his servant, smoking a pipe. His student, in the later part of his life his servant, was Xango who accompanies him in different incarnations. Loco was born as Raja Janaka, Parabrahm Bhagwhan Sri Deep Narayan Mahaprabhuji, as Brahma in India, Balarama and as Prometheus and many more well known religious personalities.


Erzulie is often compared to Aphrodite and like Loa (Orixa) stands for love and the power of creation. She is represented as a tempting young lady who rules the arts and thus symbolizes the strength of Venus. When called on she can cure ailments and bring wealth. Adequate sacrificial offerings are red roses. She was born as Shiva in India (there she was adored as the goddess of love) and mostly as the wife of Oxala. Thus this great goddess was born as the wife of Buddha, of Krishna, of Rama and as Mary Magdalena. She was also very often born as a man to assist with Xango.

Legba: Abraham

Legba was incarnated for example as Socrates. His second last incarnatoin was described in the book of Dan Millman as a book character Socrates.

Ogun (Ogum, Ogu): Merlin

Merlin was born as Bodhidharma (When the first Zen patriarch, Bodhidharma, who came from India to China to spread Buddhism there.), as John the Baptist, Merlin, Upasni Maharaj, Mahavatar Babaji, Agastya, Vyasa and many other well known religious figures.


Xango is very strong, justice-loving personality. He is aware of his own powers and is connected with a double axe symbol. In this world, our world, he was born as Hercules, Lakshmana (the brother of Rama), Arjuna (the student of Krishna), Ananda and Ramana Maharshi.

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