Espiritismo (Portuguese and Spanish for "Spiritism") is a term used in Latin America and the Caribbean to refer to the popular belief that good and evil spirits can affect health, luck and other aspects of human life.
The phenomenon and broad range of beliefs defined as "Espiritismo" originated with the ideas of Spiritism defined by Allen Kardec. His Spritism would become popular in Latin America and influence existing religions as well as forming Africanized traditions of Espiritismo itself. It would become especially prominent in Cuba and Puerto Rico. Scientific White Table Espiritismo would develop from a loose understanding of Kardec's philosophy. During the Ten Years War in Cuba much of the population was in panic and grieving from the loss of loved ones. White Cubans where able to alleviate some of their emotional pain by turning to Espiritismo which allowed them to commune with dead loved ones. White espiritistas would ask their Congolese slaves to guide them in Espiritismo de Cordon ceremonies. In the early 1800s Espiritismo would gain popularity in Puerto Rico because of the populace's rejection of Spanish hegemony and Spiritism's condemnation by the colonial Catholic Church. Originally brought to the country from Puerto Ricans studying in Europe the White Table Espiritismo practiced by the upperclass would help evolve a more creolized Indigenous Espiritismo among the underclass. Researcher Marta Moreno Vega suggests Puerto Rican Espiritismo became popular as a way to mimic ancestor veneration in Kongo religion.
Espiritismo in Cuba would eventually mix with other local African elements and produce Espiritismo Cruzao which would gain in popularity in the early 1900s. By the Cuban Revolution espiritisa practices became banned and pushed underground but still retain a presence in Cuban society to this day. Cuban Americans and Puerto Rican Americans residing in New York and New Jersey began to meld the beliefs of Santeria and Espiritismo which became Santerismo. This was first noticed by religious anthropologists in the 1960s. 
A tenet of Espiritismo is a belief in a supreme God who is the omnipotent creator of the universe. There is also a belief in a spirit world inhabited by discarnate entities that can gradually evolve intellectually and morally. Espiritistas believe these beings can influence the corporeal world in various ways and that the espiritistas, in turn, can also influence the actions of the spirits.
Espiritismo has never had a single leader nor center of practice, and as such its practice varies greatly between individuals and groups. In all cases, Espiritismo has absorbed various practices from other religious and spiritual practices endemic to Latin America and the Caribbean, such as Roman Catholicism, Curanderismo, Afro-Brazilian Macumba, Santería, Vodou, Shinto, and Neo-Pagan cults like Antinous.
An example of this syncretism is a magical spell that involves asking Saint Martha to exert one's will over that of another person by burning a specially prepared candle, saying certain prayers, and wearing an amulet tied with a red ribbon around one's waist.
In other cases, the goals and methods of the Espiritista are less obviously in the realm of magic and might be considered a form of folk medicine or alternative medicine. Whatever the desired effect, the equipment and materials used for Espiritismo may often be purchased at a botánica within the practitioners' community.
Espiritismo shares many of its fundamental concepts with 19th century Spiritualism as was practiced in the United States and Europe. During this period, several books on mediumship and spiritual practices became available in the Caribbean and Latin America. As many Native Americans and people of African descent had long standing traditions of ancestor worship and trance possession, Spiritualism was readily absorbed into and adapted to these pre-existing belief systems.
Many espíritas or espiritistas (Espiritismo practitioners) communicate with spirits in a gathering of like-minded believers known as a misa (mass, in Spanish). Most practitioners will have an altar called a mesa (table, in Portuguese) ou mesas brancas (white table, in Portuguese). These sessions are somewhat akin to the séances of American-style Spiritualism of the 19th to the present. Many Espiritistas' practices, however, have elements of magic ritual which are not traditionally found in mainstream Spiritualist denomimations, but are often found in Spiritualist denominations associated with the spiritual church movement.
The Espiritismo differs from the Spiritism as the first consist of the syncretic religious practices described above while the second is the established religion-doutrine itself, directly based coding Allan Kardec's and other mediums' books, such as those from Francisco Xavier and Divaldo Franco.
This form of Espiritismo was largely contained to the urban areas of Cuba. Its followers would study the writings and concepts of Kardec. It would also be popular in the Puerto Rican upperclass and eventually evolve into Puerto Rican Indigenous Espiritismo. This form of Espiritismo would also become noticeable among the Olmos and Paravisini-Gerbert: 179</ref> During the rituals, its members are seated around a white linen covered table in an attempt to connect with spirits within a séance. The spirit usually enters the body of the medium that is present at the table. At this time, those individuals seated around the table have the ability to ask questions to spirits who have entered the world through the mediums. Furthermore, the spirit(s) is seen as a source to possible solutions to problems that are plaguing people. In addition, the spirit will manifest itself in a variety of ways dependent on the level of intensity of the spirit.
Those participating in the rituals have certain duties they must fulfill prior to and during the ritual. They must remain in a mediated position and will most likely use prayers, hymns and music from Kardec's works. Many times, these rituals involve a small group of people, but private rituals do exist.
The origin of this branch of Espiritismo is derived from its ritual. The ritual associated with Espiritismo de Cordon is physically, mentally and emotionally difficult. Those participating in the ritual stand in a circle holding hands while walking in a counterclockwise fashion. At the same time, they are chanting and beating the floor with their feet and swinging their arms forcefully until they fall into a trance. The heavy breathing and stamping serve one specific purpose. The noises that are made create a hypnotic noise that leads the medium into a trance. Upon reaching this particular state of mind, the medium can contact the spirits for solutions to problems or aliments.
The main focus for this particular branch of Espiritismo is healing. The ranking of the mediums that are required in the rituals is rather simple. Their achievements to solve problems and heal people will allow them to have a higher ranking. There is no clergy found within Espiritismo de Cordon. The Head Medium is generally in charge of the ritual space, but does not always participate in the ritual chain itself. Instead, the Head Medium acts as the guide during the actual ritual. The altar, which is used in Espiritismo de Cordon, takes up a rather large area. The space is usually purified to drive out any evil spirits and welcome good spirits. The entrance is protected by a large bowl of water and all who enter must wash their hands to prevent the spread of evil spirits. Espiritismo de Cordon is different from other religions in the sense that it does not have a set doctrine of beliefs. The religion is open to everyone and does not require new participants to partake in an initiation process.
Some have said that Espiritismo de Cordon has three influences on its practices and doctrines: folk Catholicism, Kardecian Spiritism and African creeds, but the most recent investigations have determined that what was thought to be African roots are in fact the remaining of Taíno religious rituals and dances called "areítos".
Espiritismo Cruzao (which means Espritismo Crossed in English) is a form of Cuban Espiritismo with influences from folk Catholicism and Palo religion. It is one of the more popular Espiritismo variants on the island. It contains the practices of Scientific Espiritismo and Espiritismo de Cordon but also includes the use of Palo cauldrons, Elegua artifacts, animal sacrifice, the representation of Catholic saints, offerings of fruit and sweets, and tobacco use to induce a trance state. A common spirit that is called upon will be a deceased slave who will speak Bozal.
An important ceremony in Espiritismo Cruzao is the Misa Espiritual which inducts new Regla de Ocha novices to the practice. The Mass for the Dead carried out by devotees involves a table with a white cloth, herbs, and pictures of ones deceased relatives. Lit candles will encourage the spirit of the dead ancestor to go on to the afterlife and on occasion the family will try to commune with the spirit if the spirit has given a family member dreams of wishing to communicate.
Puerto Rican Espiritismo shares many similarities in its origins to Cuban Espiritismo. The religious movement encountered many setbacks in its early years in Puerto Rico. Those who were caught practicing it were punished by the government and ostracized by the Catholic Church. Allan Kardec's books made their way into the country and were received well by the educated class. The movement did not despite all the roadblocks, which had been set up to prevent its spread in the country. There were two divisions within Puerto Rican Espiritismo. The first division was a middle class movement, which utilized the Kardecian methods in an attempt to enhance the development of the country. The other division applied towards to lower classes in both the rural and urban settings. This division is known as "Indigenous Espiritismo" and is synonymous to Puerto Rico and is the most popular in the country.
Puerto Rican White Table Espiritismo follows the same ritual practices as found in Cuba. The attempt to achieve spiritual communication through a medium was widely practiced all over the island.
The practice of Indigenous Espiritismo would eventually begin to form in the lower classes of Puerto Rico. Unlike White Table Espiritismo this practice incorporates Taino healing methods. A medicine man known as a bohique can pray to spirits, and use tobacco, massages, and magic to cure ills. The folk medicines of Spaniards and African peoples are also incorporated.
This religious practice is a result of the merging of both Espiritismo and Santería. There are distinct African influences found within this religion though the orishas that are used to communicate to the spirit world. During the rituals, the mediums have the ability to communicate with spirits but are possessed by the dead who are messengers of the orishas. Who many mistake to be the orishas themself.
In Santerismo, the leader is known as the Godfather (padrino) or Godmother (madrina) as seen in the Santería religious practices. The leader prays at the altar before taking his or her place beside the medium at the table. The leader is present when the possession takes place while religious music or Afro-Cuban chants are played to praise the orishas. Before to the ceremony, there is a religious cleansing of the area to remove any evil spirits. A prayer is said to Elegua to protect the entranceways from any unwelcome or evil spirits. Shortly after, prayers are recited to attract good spirits for the ritual. The ritual may end with an exorcism which can be acquired a number of ways. One way to achieve purification is through a sahumerio. A sahumerio requires the burning of charcoal, garlic, incense and herbs to extract evil spirits from the place as well as a washing with holy water.
Afro-American religion (also known as African diasporic religions) are a number of related religions that developed in the Americas in various nations of Latin America, the Caribbean, and the southern United States. They derive from traditional African religions with some influence from other religious traditions, notably Christianity.Allan Kardec
Allan Kardec (French: [kaʁdɛk]) is the pen name of the French educator, translator and author Hippolyte Léon Denizard Rivail ([ʁivɑj]; 3 October 1804 – 31 March 1869). He is the author of the five books known as the Spiritist Codification, and is the founder of Spiritism.Amalia Domingo Soler
Amalia Domingo Soler (Seville, November 10, 1835 – Barcelona, April 29, 1909) was a Spanish writer, novelist, and feminist, who also wrote poetry, essays, short stories, as well as an autobiography, Memorias de una mujer. She is known for her involvement in the Spanish spiritualist movement. Her writings are characterized by poetic and delicate style. She is remember for her book "Memories of Father Germano". She also founded and edited a spiritist weekly, La Luz del Porvenir, characterized by its radical views and feminist orientation.Anjo de Mim
Anjo de Mim is a Brazilian telenovela produced and broadcast at the time of 18 hours by Rede Globo, September 9, 1996 to March 28, 1997 in 173 chapters (episodes).Written by Walther Negrão, with collaboration of Elizabeth Jhin, Ângela Carneiro and Vinícius Vianna, counted on the direction of Ary Coslov, Roberto Naar, Edson Spinello and Alexandre Avancini and general direction and nucleus of Ricardo Waddington.
It counted with Tony Ramos, Helena Ranaldi, Herson Capri, Vivianne Pasmanter, Elias Gleizer, Paloma Duarte, Márcio Garcia, Françoise Forton, Milton Gonçalves, Cláudia Alencar, Otávio Augusto, Tássia Camargo and Carolina Kasting in the main roles.Belie Belcan
Belie Belcan is a very popular loa within 21 Divisiones (Dominican Vudú).Benito Alazraki
Benito Alazraki (27 October 1921 – 6 June 2007) was a Mexican film director and screenwriter. He directed 40 films between 1955 and 1995. He was the grandfather of director Gary Alazraki.Botánica
A botánica (often written botanica and less commonly known as a hierbería or botica) is a retail store that sells folk medicine, religious candles and statuary, amulets, and other products regarded as magical or as alternative medicine. They also carry oils, incense, perfumes, scented sprays (many of which are thought to have special properties) and various brand name health care products.
These stores are common in many Hispanic American countries and communities of Latino people elsewhere. As such:
Botánicas now can be found in any United States city that has a sizable Latino/a population, particularly those with ties to the Caribbean. The number of botánicas found outside of New York and Miami has grown tremendously in the last ten years.
The name botánica is Spanish and translates as "botany" or "plant" store, referring to these establishments' function as dispensaries of medicinal
herbs. Medicinal herbs may be sold dried or fresh, prepackaged or in bulk.Botánica almost always feature a variety of products used in Roman Catholic religious practice such as rosary beads, holy water, and images of saints. Among the latter, the Virgin of Guadalupe and other devotional figures with a Latin American connection are especially well represented. The Catholic Church allows herbal medicine but prohibits magic and other religions. However, most botánica have products associated with other spiritual practices such as candomblé, curanderismo, espiritismo, macumba and santería.Alternative medical treatments found in botánicas are used to treat such varied conditions as arthritis, asthma, hair loss, menstrual pain and diabetes. There are also products that are designed to attract love, bring good luck and financial prosperity, deflect jealousy and so on.According to researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago:
Most Latin American (Latino) immigrants to the United States participate in the dominant health care system. [...] Oftentimes, while utilizing this health care system, they continue to use their own culturally appropriate health care practices [...] In curanderismo, santería, and espiritismo, the practitioners assess the patient and, depending on diagnosis, prepares a healing remedy or a variety of healing remedies. A remedy is any combination of medicinal herbs, religious amulets, and/or other products used for the prevention, treatment, or palliation of folk and somatic illnesses. It is usually administered by the practitioner and may involve several sessions. In other cases, a curandero, espiritista, or santero will provide his/her client with a list of herbs and/or religious amulets needed for the remedy. The client will go to the botánica with this "shopping list," purchase the product(s), and return to the healer for preparation and administration of the remedy. If the remedy is to be administered over a long period of time, he/she may be instructed to administer the remedy at home.
Besides being merely a place to obtain goods, "Botánicas serve as unique sites for the performance of religious culture. … Botánicas create a highly visible cultural gathering place in the public sphere."In some cases, stores without a direct connection to Latin American spiritual and alternative medical practices, such as a shop catering to the practice of Vodou or to New Age beliefs, will use the term botánica as well.Candomblé Bantu
Candomblé Bantu (also called Candomblé Batuque or Angola) is one of the major branches (nations) of the Candomblé religious belief system. It developed in the Portuguese Empire among Kongo and Mbundu slaves who spoke Kikongo and Kimbundu) languages. The supreme and creative god is Nzambi or Nzambi Mpungu. Below him are the Jinkisi or Minkisi, deities of Bantu mythology. These deities resemble Olorun and the other orishas of the Yoruba religion. Minkisi is a Kongo language term: it is the plural of Nkisi, meaning "receptacle". Akixi comes from the Kimbundu language term Mukixi.Carlos Kloppenburg
Carlos Kloppenburg, O.F.M. (born November 2, 1919 – May 8, 2009) was a German-born Brazilian bishop of the Roman Catholic Church.
Carlos Kloppenburg was born in Molbergen near Oldenburg, Germany, on November 2, 1919. His parents were Bernard and Josephine Kloppenburg who immigrated to Brazil with their family of 9 in 1924.
Carlos Kloppenburg was ordained a priest of the Roman Catholic Church on January 6, 1946 in the religious order of the Orders of Friars Minor under the name Boaventura (in English and German, Bonaventure). He was ordained as a bishop August 1, 1982 and appointed auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of São Salvador da Bahia as well as Titular Bishop of Vulturaria on May 22, 1982. On August 8, 1986 Pope Paul II appointed him to the Diocese of Novo Hamburgo. He retired as Bishop emeritus of the diocese on November 22, 1995.
His principal life work was that of a Professor of Theology. He studied at the Antonianum University, Rome (D.Th., 1950). During the decade of the 1950s he made a study of Spiritism in Brazil. For that purpose he also studied parapsychology at Duke University, U.S.A. under Dr Charles S Rhyne.
Bishop Kloppenburg was a prolific writer. He wrote and published extensively on the theology of the Roman Catholic Church. In the 1950s and into the 1960s he wrote on Spiritism in Brazil.
Bishop Kloppenburg was a Peritus of the Brazilian Bishops at Vatican II. He wrote the leading analytical work on Vatican II, The Ecclesiology of Vatican II. On August 12, 1980 Bishop Kloppenburg was appointed as a member of the International Theological Commission (Acta Apostolicae Sedis)
While at Vatican II and before he was closely associated with then Bishop Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI. They had known each other from the time Bishop Kloppenburg was the doctoral thesis supervisor of Dom Leonardo Boff, a Brazilian Liberation Theologian, also of the Franciscan order (Leonardo Boff left the Catholic priesthood after criticism from then Father Kloppenburg directed at Boff's liberation theology). The relationship of Bishop Kloppenburg to Bishop, and then Cardinal Ratzinger is described in Pope Benedict XVI, a biography of Pope Benedict XVI by John L. Allen (Continuum, 2000).
Bishop Kloppenburg in the 1970s and 1980s was engaged in doctrinal battles with the proponents of liberation theology.
Bishop Kloppenburg wrote and spoke extensively on the subject of spiritism during the decades of the 1950s and the 1960s including:
Nossas Superstiçoes (Our Superstitions; 1959);
O Espiritismo no Brasil (Spiritism in Brazil; 1960);
O Reencarnacionismo no Brasil (Reincarnationism in Brazil; 1961);
A Maçonaria no Brasil (Masonry in Brazil; 4th ed., 1961);
Pamphlets, including As Sociedades Teosoficas (The Theosophical Societies; 1959); O Rusacrucianismo no Brasil (The Rosicrucian Society in Brazil; 1959); Astrologia, Quiromancia e Quejandos (Astrology, Chiromancy and the Like; 1960)
Source: Helene Pleasants (1964) Biographical Dictionary of Parapsychology with Directory and Glossary 1946-1996 NY: Garrett Publications
Bishop Kloppenburg's theological works include:
De Relatione inter Peccatum et Mortem (The Relationship Between Sin and Death; 1951);
The Peoples Church translated from the Spanish, Iglesia Popular 1977, on the subject of liberation theology, and the Catholic Church and socialism
Christian Salvation and Human Temporal Progress translated from the Spanish work, Salvacion Cristiana y Progresso Human Temporal 1978 on the subject of Christian salvation, progress, and liberation theology.
Pastoral Practice and the Paranormal Translated by Paul Burns. Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1979
The Ecclesiology of Vatican II the leading analytical work on Vatican II,Kongo religion
Kongo religion is a broad set of traditional beliefs from the KiKongo speaking peoples. The faith bases itself in the idea of a main creator god named Nzambi Mpungu who made the world and spirits who inhabit it. Priestly doctors known as Nganga try to heal followers minds and bodies. Mediatory roles like being a Nganga require legitimization from the other world of spirits and ancestors. The universe is split between two worlds, one of the living (nza yayi) and a world of the dead (nsi a bafwa), these worlds are split by a body of water. Humans continually pass through these worlds in cycle.Kumina
Kumina is an Afro-Jamaican religion and practices that include secular ceremonies, dance and music that developed from the beliefs and traditions brought to the island by BaKongo enslaved people and indentured labourers, from the Congo region of West Central Africa, during the post-emancipation era. It is mostly associated with the parish of St. Thomas in the east of the island. However, the practice spread to the parishes of Portland, St. Mary and St. Catherine, and the city of Kingston.Kumina also gives it name to a drumming style, developed from the music that accompanied the spiritual ceremonies, that evolved in urban Kingston. The Kumina drumming style has a great influence on Rastafari music, especially the Nyabinghi drumming, and Jamaican popular music. Count Ossie was a notable pioneer of the drumming style in popular music and it continues to have a significant influence on contemporary genres such as reggae and dancehall.The Kumina riddim is a dancehall riddim produced by Sly & Robbie in 2002. It has featured in recordings of over 20 artists including Chaka Demus & Pliers and Tanya Stephens.Myal
Myal is an Afro-Jamaican spirituality. Irt developed via the creolization of African religions during the slave era in Jamaica. It incorporates ritualistic magic, spiritual possession and dancing. Unlike Obeah, its practices focus more on the connection of spirits with humans. Over time, Myal began to meld with Christian practices and created the religious tradition known as Revivalism. Today, the term "myal" is commonly used to describe the state of possession by a spirit.Nganga
Nganga is a Kikongo language term for herbalist or spiritual healer in many African societies and also in many societies of the African diaspora such as those in Haiti, Brazil, and Cuba. It is derived from *-ganga in proto-Njila, an early branch of the Bantu family. The verb form related to it, -gang- relates to wisdom, knowledge and skill.
As this term is a multiple reflex of a Proto-Bantu root, there are slight variations on the term throughout the entire Bantu-speaking world.Nzambi a Mpungu
Nzambi a Mpungu is the Kongolese name for a high creator god. The idea of such a god spread from Central Africa into other Kongo related religions.Organized religion
Organized religion (or organised religion—see spelling differences), also known as institutional religion, is religion in which belief systems and rituals are systematically arranged and formally established. Organized religion is typically characterized by an official doctrine (or dogma), a hierarchical or bureaucratic leadership structure, and a codification of rules and practices.Palo (religion)
Palo, also known as Las Reglas de Congo, is a religion with various denominations which developed in Cuba among Central African slaves and their descendants who originated in the Congo Basin. It is completely different from Santería and Ifa. Denominations often referred to as "branches" of Palo include Mayombe (or Mallombe), Monte, Briyumba (or Brillumba), and Kimbisa. The Spanish word palo "stick" was applied to the religion in Cuba due to the use of wooden sticks in the preparation of altars, which were also called la Nganga, el caldero, nkisi or la prenda. Priests of Palo are known as Paleros, Tatas (men), Yayas (women) or Nganguleros. Initiates are known as ngueyos or pino nuevo.Santería
Santería, also known as Regla de Ocha, La Regla de Ifá, or Lucumí, is an Afro-American religion of Yoruba origin that developed in Cuba among West African descendants. Santería is a Spanish word that means the "worship of saints". Santería is influenced by and syncretized with Roman Catholicism. Its sacred language is the Lucumí language, a remnant of Yoruba language that is used in rituals but no longer spoken as a vernacular and mostly not understood by practitioners.Séance
A séance or seance () is an attempt to communicate with spirits. The word "séance" comes from the French word for "session", from the Old French seoir, "to sit". In French, the word's meaning is quite general: one may, for example, speak of "une séance de cinéma" ("a movie session"). In English, however, the word came to be used specifically for a meeting of people who are gathered to receive messages from ghosts or to listen to a spirit medium discourse with or relay messages from spirits. In modern English usage, participants need not be seated while engaged in a séance.
One of the earliest books on the subject of communication amongst deceased persons was Communication With the Other Side by George, First Baron Lyttelton, published in England in 1760. Among the notable spirits quoted in this volume are Peter the Great, Pericles, a "North-American Savage", William Penn, and Christina, Queen of Sweden. The popularity of séances grew dramatically with the founding of the religion of Spiritualism in the mid-nineteenth century. Perhaps the best-known series of séances conducted at that time were those of Mary Todd Lincoln who, grieving the loss of her son, organized Spiritualist séances in the White House, which were attended by her husband, President Abraham Lincoln, and other prominent members of society. The 1887 Seybert Commission report marred the credibility of Spiritualism at the height of its popularity by publishing exposures of fraud and showmanship among secular séance leaders. Modern séances continue to be a part of the religious services of Spiritualist, Spiritist, and Espiritismo churches today, where a greater emphasis is placed on spiritual values versus showmanship.
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