All quotations from interviews in this book are from interviews that I conducted in
Rio de Janeiro between December 1993 and March 1995.
1. The use of the term ‘‘Afro-Brazilian’’ presents some epistemological problems
because we ﬁnd, within the Afro-Brazilian religious ﬁeld, religions such as Kar-
decism, which is not recognized as a cult of African origin but is closely linked to
the other religions (‘‘African’’ Umbanda, Omolocô, and Candomblé) claiming
African heritage. We will see that mediums circulate from one modality to
another, in a religious continuum that runs from the pole considered least
African (Kardecism) to that considered the most African (Nagô Candomblé).
Despite the problems that using this term can lead to, I have chosen to follow
the accepted usage in literature about Candomblé and other cults known as
Afro-Brazilian. We will return to this issue at the end of the introduction.
2. Candomblé is divided into ‘‘nations’’: Nagô, Ketu, Efon, Ijexá, Nagô-Vodun, Jeje,
Angola, Congo, Caboclo. The concept of nation lost its original ethnic meaning
and now has a more ‘‘political’’ and theological meaning. For an in-depth discus-
sion of this concept, see Costa Lima 1976 and Parés 2006 (101–3).
3. A pai-de-santo is a Candomblé priest and leader of a cult house. The reli-
gious terminology refers to a ritual kinship: the initiator is the ‘‘father’’ (pai) or
‘‘mother’’ (mãe) of ‘‘sons’’ and ‘‘daughters-of-saint,’’ initiates to the cult. See
Costa Lima 1977.
4. The term ‘‘terreiro’’ deﬁnes both the cult house and the community of initiates.
5. The term ‘‘Nagô’’ is a contraction of the term used by the Fon of Dahomey (now
Benin) to designate the Yoruba who live in their country. According to Cornevin
(cited by Ceccaldi 1979, 178), this word derives from inagonu, a term used by the
Dahomians to designate their Yoruba enemies. This was later transformed into
Anagonu, then into Anago, which became Nagô in Brazil. Yoruba and Fon
mythologies were always much syncretized. This mixture, found prior to slav-
ery, is the basis of the Jeje-Nagô model, which for a long time was considered
predominant in Bahian Candomblé. The word ‘‘Jeje’’ refers to the enslaved peo-
ple from the Gbe-speaking area of Dahomey (Parés 2006, 47–52).