Pagan Cults: The ancestral Mother Goddesses of Brazil

Di Rafael Noleto

Brazil is a huge nation full of spirituality. In particular, the Piauí is a state located in the north-eastern part of the country, in the Sertão region. The State is rich in archaeological sites, including the Capivara National Park, where the remains of prehistoric Amerindian civilizations are preserved. Today the park has a dense concentration of rock paintings and carvings in rock shelters, attributed to hunter-gatherer populations.

The other sites are camps, farmer-ceramist villages, funerary sites and paleo-archaeological sites. These places have led some South American and American archaeologists to question or at least to review Clovis’s theory that homo sapiens first reached the American continent across the Bering Strait 10,500-13,000 years ago but they hypothesize a local human presence. At the time of European contacts, indigenous peoples were traditionally mostly semi-nomadic tribes who lived by hunting, fishing, harvesting and agriculture. Many of the approximately 2,000 nations and tribes that existed in the 16th century suffered extinction as a result of European settlement and many were assimilated into the Brazilian population. It is among these ancient populations that we find an indigenous all-Brazilian spirituality. This article is a study on three ancient Brazilian female divinities. These deities have great magical power, extremely linked to Brazilian indigenous descent and, therefore, they deserve our attention. The most important, by age, is YANUBÊRI represented as a “grandmother”.

She is a very powerful indigenous goddess, priestess and commander of flute parties. It is she who allows access to the mysteries of Jurupari, the Brazilian god of magic and the “Enchanted”. According to a myth of Mundurukú, Yanubêri had two younger brothers: Marimarabê and Mariburubê, to whom he gave permission to enter “Ekca”, a house of worship where the sacred village flutes were kept. Earlier, Ekca was inhabited only by women, and it was forbidden for men to enter. From the entry of the two brothers into the house and the theft of some flutes began the sharing of power even with men. Despite this, the “women’s society” did not disappear. In the Piaganism, the religion of Piuaì, Yanubêri is evoked for questions related to the opening of vision and paths. It makes accessible what is inaccessible to those who are worthy. As an offering, he receives bamboo flutes, whistles, bowl (cuia) with macaxeira (Manihot esculenta), honey, fish wrapped in banana leaves. In local religion another “grandmother” is present. It is YEBÁ BELÓ, considered the “Grandmother of the Universe”.

It is what helps us develop maturity, the wisdom to make the right choices, to find solutions to the problems that afflict us. According to the myth, Yebá Beló was created by the invisible world through magic tools. After it emerged, it created light, through three thunders. From the first thunder came Emeko, an invisible being who used the energy of the other two thunders to create the Sun, the Man and the animals. It is Yebá Beló who created the Earth using the seeds of his left breast and fertilizing the earth with the milk of the right breast. The settlement of this new world takes place when two natives, Curu and Rairu, sent by Tupã, drag the people with an extended rope, which leads them to inhabit the earth. In Piaganism, Yebá Beló accepts bowl (cuia) with natural milk, cooked corn, cereals and seeds, as well as songs and prayers.

Then there is the goddess “Shaman”, the witch goddess who has the gift of curandeirism (healing). Known as “The Purple Woman”, Yushã may have been a deified ancestor, as she was responsible for teaching healing magic to the Kaxinawás shamans.

With the help of Yushã Kuru’s advice the first remedies and poisons were created, with the help of leaves and natural elements. She is the connoisseur of leaves that cure all ills, both the bites of poisonous animals and the diseases of men and animals. According to the myth, Yushã Kuru decided that he would teach his knowledge of herbs to his nephew, with whom he shared all his secrets, starting it in the mysteries of the forest. Perhaps this is the birth of the first shaman. With the wisdom of Yushã, it is possible to bless and curse, bewitch or take the person’s evil spirits. In the Piaganism, Yushã Kuru helps in healing and spiritual cleansing. You receive as a cigar offering or tobacco rings, bundle of herbs, herbal incenses and songs.

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