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We still struggle for empowering spaces to hear the voices of Black women of the African diaspora, including those part of powerful spiritual traditions outside of the typical Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism). But during this month, CCCADI has hosted a few events honoring specifically Brazilian women of the Candomble religion and their struggle to continue these traditions onto the next generations despite persecution from those in power.
First was “Spirituality and Justice in Brazil” featuring a conversation with Candomble priestess and activist Iyalorixa Valinizia Pereira and translator Lorelei Williams at La Casa Azul Bookstore. From one of the most well-known terreiros (ritual temples) in Bahia, Brazil, Terreiro do Cobre, Pereira is responsible for the preservation of sacred rites, ritual music and dance, medicinal knowledge and liturgical African languages passed down to her for seven generations. Candomble is a West African-derived (or an African-Matrix religion as Pereira and Williams described) syncretic religion. The primary purpose of Candomble is to cultivate a connection to nature and spirit because we cannot do anything without the elements of nature, like the energy of water or the plants and greens that nourish and heal us (early morning usually include herbal baths). Candomble members believe in one main God, Oludumare, who is served by or is dispersed into numerous smaller deities, the Orixas, like Chango, Yanson (Oya), Omulu, Osain and Oshun, who are responsible for different aspects of nature. Pereira described this as universal connection to nature even if one is not religious.