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From a letter by poet D.H. Lawrence, "To anyone else who reads this remember, 'The Dead don't die. They look on and help'"

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Espiritismo Real Answers From the Dead

Espiritismo Answers From the Dead

A New Orleans woman possessed by the Guédé spirits of the dead.

In the Southern United States and other parts of the world communication with those that have died before us is a common everyday occurrence.

Espiritismo (Spanish for "Spiritism") is the Latin American and Caribbean belief that good and evil spirits can affect health, luck and other elements of human life. Today many persons with this empirical approach avoid the label of "Spiritualism", preferring the term "survivalism". Survivalists eschew religion, and base their belief in the afterlife on phenomena susceptible to at least rudimentary scientific investigation, such as mediumship, near-death experiences, out-of-body experiences, electronic voice phenomena, and reincarnation research. Many Survivalists see themselves as the intellectual heirs of the Spiritualist movement.

Séances are carried on as a part of the regular practice of Spiritism. Although the organization of Spiritist centres may vary wildly from place to place Country to country and group to group, mostly there is one basic core of elements shared by them. Seeking out the dead to communicate with. The are called in spanish "La sesión de espiritismo."

 

Spiritist séances are quite different from the most frequently pictured scene mostly because they do not involve one medium, but several of them, and the conditions do not allow any of them to show-off more than the others. Moreover, it is often thought that it is the centre that is "strong", not a given medium.

Santería is famous for its "magic." This magic is based on a knowledge of the Spirits and how to interact with them to better our lives and the lives of those who come for help. Followers live under the premise that this world is a magical one. This knowledge seems "supernatural" only to those who don't understand it, but it really is quite natural.

 

BY PAULO ESPOSITO

Its shares many fundamental concepts with Spiritualism as popularized in 19th century and early 20th century United States. 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. Ancestor worship or ancestor veneration is a practice based on the belief that deceased family members have a continued existence, take an interest in the affairs of the world, and/or possess the ability to influence the fortune of the living. All cultures attach ritual significance to the passing of loved ones, but this is not equivalent to ancestor veneration. The goal of ancestor veneration is to ensure the ancestors' continued well-being and positive disposition towards the living and sometimes to ask for special favors or assistance. The social or non-religious function of ancestor veneration is to cultivate kinship values like filial piety, family loyalty, and continuity of the family lineage. While far from universal, ancestor veneration occurs in societies with every degree of social, political, and technological complexity, and it remains an important component of various religious practices in modern times.

"Many often wonder why others seek or hunt out a way to openly call out the dead to communicate with them." "Setting aside the usual questions of: "Are you alright?" "Or do you need our help to make your journey a happy one." " The dead seem to be able to answer questions and give us truths that we as living beings cannot see or truly ever really comprehend."

... The Great American Necromancer ~ Lisa Lee Harp Waugh

Evocation of spirits, especially those of recently-deceased people, was frequent in the beginning, but nowadays most Spiritists regard this practice as bothersome both to spirit, who is most likely still suffering, to his family, who may share some of the anguish experienced by him, and to the medium, who will probably face a much worse conflict and power loss. Another problem with evocation is that there is no safe way to tell whether the spirit communicating is who he purports to be.

Sources close to espiritism include Voodoo- Hoodoo, Necromancy and some believe even the practice of popular ghost hunting.

Necromancy (pronounced /ˈnɛkrəmænsi/; Greek νεκρομαντία nekromantía) is a form of divination in which the practitioner seeks to summon "operative spirits" or "spirits of divination", for multiple reasons, from spiritual protection to wisdom. The word necromancy derives from the Greek νεκρός (nekrós), "dead", and μαντεία (manteía), "divination".

However, since the Renaissance, necromancy (or nigromancy) has come to be associated more broadly with black magic and demon-summoning in general, sometimes losing its earlier, more specialized meaning. By popular etymology, nekromantia became nigromancy "black arts", and Johannes Hartlieb (1456) lists demonology in general under the heading. Eliphas Levi, in his book Dogma et Ritual, states that necromancy is the evoking of aerial bodies (aeromancy).

An Encyclopedia of Occultism states:

The art is of almost universal usage. Considerable difference of opinion exists among modern adepts as to the exact methods to be properly pursued in the necromantic art, and it must be borne in mind the necromancy, which in the Middle Ages was called sorcery, shades into modern spiritualistic practice. There is no doubt, however, that necromancy is the touchstone of occultism, for if, after careful preparation the adept can carry through to a successful issue, the raising of the soul from the other world, he has proved the value of his art.

In modern time necromancy is used as a more general term to describe the art (or manipulation) of death, and generally implies a magical connotation. Modern séances, channeling, Spiritism and Spiritualism verge on necromancy when the invoked spirits are asked to reveal future events. Necromancy may also be presented as sciomancy, a branch of theurgic magic.

Necromancy is extensively practiced in Quimbanda and is sometimes seen in other African traditions such as voodoo and in santeria. In these religions, spirits (called Egungun or Orishas) can be sent out to attack a person or they can be asked to take possession of someone. Once a person is possessed by a spirit in the yoruba tradition he cannot rise to a higher spiritual position such as that of a babalawo tough, but this should not be regarded as a modern tradition, in fact it predates most necromantic practices.

As a consequence of the difficulties experienced in the past, Spiritist mediums will not evoke whom whose identity they can't be sure of and will not invoke vaguely some presence, which can be evil. They instead remain receptive to any spirit willing to communicate and will then incorporate those who wish to speak to the living attendants. Evocation may be sometimes done, in special meetings, but only when a medium "feels" that a given spirit may be willing to communicate.

"Incorporation" is done for charitable reasons. Such reasons include bringing relief to the family of a recently deceased person, sending away some evil influence that is lurking about someone and, quite usually, helping spirits of people that died an unfortunate or unexpected death and are unaware of their state. Often such meetings include the presence of suffering spirits, blind with pain and full of wrath, rebel spirits that do not want to heed the "rules", or spirits that seek vengeance against those they feel did them wrong. In all cases, the approach is to listen to the spirits' complaints, pray for them, try to instruct them and invite them to come around frequently to share the benefit of friendship.

A mediunic meeting is usually held in a windowless room around a square or rectangular wooden table (round tables are not widely used anymore, but may be found in some places) and consist mostly of evoking or incorporating spirits. Some people (the workers) take seats around the table, with the president at one end. The rest sit on stools or benches close to the walls, usually to merely watch and listen.

The meeting is carried on with dim light so that spirits eventually willing to manifest in visible form will not find it too hard (bright light apparently makes materialisation more difficult, as the spirit requires much more of energy to become visible against it), as Katie King said.

There is also a "Book of Prayers" where visitors write the names of people (alive or not) they want to send prayer intentions for.

A Ghost or spirit calling séance (pronounced /ˈseɪ.ɑːns/) is an attempt to communicate with spirits or the dead. The word "séance" comes from the French word for "seat," "session" or "sitting," 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 spirits of dead people 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.

Spiritualism is a monotheistic belief system or religion, postulating a belief in God, but the distinguishing feature is belief that spirits of the dead can be contacted, either by individuals or by gifted or trained "mediums" "witches,"Sorcerers", Necromancers", who can provide information about the afterlife. For most of the cultures, ancestor practices are not the same as the worship of the gods. When a person worships a god at a local temple, it is to ask for some favor that can be granted by the powerful spirit. Generally speaking, however, the purpose of ancestor veneration is not to ask for favors but to do one's filial duty. Some people believe that their ancestors actually need to be provided for by their descendants. Others do not believe that the ancestors are even aware of what their descendants do for them, but that the expression of filial piety is what is important. Whether or not the ancestor receives what is offered is not the issue.

 

Therefore, for people unfamiliar with how "ancestor worship" is actually practiced and thought of, the use of the translation "worship" can be a cause of misunderstanding and is a misnomer in many ways. In English, the word "worship" usually refers to the reverent love and devotion accorded a deity or divine being. However, in other cultures, this act of "worship" does not confer any belief that the departed ancestors have become some kind of deity. Rather the act is a way to respect, honor and look after ancestors in their afterlives as well as possibly seek their guidance for their living descendants. In this regard, many cultures and religions have similar practices. Some may visit the grave of his parents or other ancestors, leave flowers and pray to them in order to honor and remember them while also asking their deceased ancestors to continue to look after them. However this would not be considered as "worshipping" them.

In the United States and Canada, flowers, wreaths, and grave decorations and sometimes candles, are put on graves year-round, as a way to honor the dead. In the Southern United States, many people honor deceased loved ones on Decoration Day. Times like Easter, Christmas, Candlemas, and All Souls' Day are also special days in which the relatives and friends of the deceased gather to honor them with flowers and candles. Some Latinos of Mexican origin celebrate Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) on or around All Saints Day (Nov. 1), this being a mix of a native Mesoamerican celebration and an imported European holiday. Ofrendas (altars) are set up, with calaveras (sugar skulls), photographs of departed loved ones, marigold flowers, candles, and more. Some Americans may build a shrine in their home dedicated to loved ones who have died, with pictures of them. Also, increasingly, many roadside shrines may be seen for deceased relatives who died in car accidents or were killed on that spot.

Ancestor worship is very prevalent throughout Sub-Saharan Africa and serves as the basis of many religions. Ancestor veneration is often augmented by a belief in a supreme being, but prayers and or sacrifices are usually offered to the ancestors who may ascend to becoming minor deities themselves. Ancestor veneration remains among many indigenous Africans despite the adoption of Christianity (as in Nigeria among the Igala) and Islam (among the different Mandé peoples and the Bamum) in much of the continent.

Candomblé (pronounced /kɐ̃dõˈblɛ/) is an African-originated or Afro-Brazilian religion, practiced chiefly in Brazil by the "povo de santo"(people of saint).The religion was largely originated in the city of Salvador, the capital of Bahia. Although Candomblé is practiced primarily within Brazil, it is also practiced in other countries like Uruguay, Argentina, Venezuela, Colombia, Panama and Mexico. In Europe: Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain. The religion is based in the anima (soul) of Nature, therefore being also known as Animism. It was developed in Brazil with the knowledge of African Priests that were enslaved and brought to Brazil, together with their mythology, their culture and language, between 1549 and 1888.

vOODOO-HOODOO- SANTERIA MONKEY AND COCK

In the Yoruba language, God, the Supreme Being, has various names such as Olodumare, Eleda, Olofin-Orun, Eledumare and Olorun. God is worshipped along with the veneration of the orishas. The Orishas are said to "mount", or possess the participant during rituals. The religion that came to Brazil is derived of certain practices in the Yorubaland in West Africa. Today, this is in the area of the countries of Nigeria, Republic of Benin and Togo. This was not a single group, but several, united by a common language and culture. Their indiginous spiritual practices were mostly brought over during the Atlantic slave trade by those dedicated to the veneration of the orishas.

Oyotunji African Village is a village located near Sheldon, Beaufort County, South Carolina that was founded by the late Oba Efuntola Oseijeman Adelabu Adefunmi I in 1970, as part of a "New World Yoruba" initiative. It covers 27 miles, and the population is rumoured to fluctuate between 5-9 families as of the last 10 years. It is promoted as an authentic Yoruba village and as a successful example of Pan-Africanism in the New World, and receives tourists from time to time, many of whom are African-American.

The Yoruba slaves were referred by various names in the Americas such as Anago, O Lukumi and Nago. In many parts of the Latin America, Orishás are now referenced with Christian saints, most commonly Catholic. This religion, like many African religions, is an oral tradition and therefore has not been put into text throughout the years. Only recently have scholars and people of this religion begun to write down their practices. The name Batuque is also used, especially before the 19th century when Candomblé became more common. Both words are believed to derive from a Bantu-family language, mainly that of Kongo Kingdom.

Although originally confined to the slave population, banned by the Catholic church, and even criminalized by some governments, Candomblé thrived for over four centuries, and expanded considerably after the end of slavery in the late 1800s. The idea that the Candomblé church is a unit is incorrect, however. The original Candomble temple, terreiro, was established in early 19th century Bahia. It developed from three freed African women, Iya Deta, Iya Kala, and Iya Nasso, and many call it a true matrilineal society. They first established the Candomble headquarters in Bahia called Engenho Velho. However, this was not meant to last, and after dispute after dispute candombles split from one another; therefore, this established hundreds of different candombles. These different candombles mixed ideas and practices with local Afro-Brazilians and created distinct attributes for certain candombles. The different candomblés, today, are known as nações, or nations, including Candomblé de Ketu, Candomblé de Angola, Candomblé de Jejé, Candomblé de Congo, Candomblé de Ijexa, and Candomblé de Caboclo. It is now a major, established religion, with followers from all social classes and tens of thousands of temples. In recent surveys, about 2 million Brazilians (1.5% of the total population) have declared Candomblé as their religion. However, in Brazilian culture, religions are not seen as mutually exclusive, and thus many people of other faiths participate in Candomblé rituals regularly or occasionally. Candomblé deities, rituals, and holidays are now an integral part of Brazilian folklore.

Candomblé may be called Macumba in some regions, notably Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, although Macumba has a distinct set of practices more akin to European witchcraft. Candomblé can also be distinguished from Umbanda, a religion founded in the early 20th century by combining African elements with Kardecism; and from similar African-derived religions such as Quimbanda, Haitian Vodou, Cuban Santería, and Obeah, which developed independently of Candomblé and are virtually unknown in Brazil.

There are 2 million Candombles worldwide. Candomblé is a polytheistic religion and worships a number of gods, derived from African deities:

* the Orishas of Yoruba mythology (Ketu nation), spelled Orixás in Portuguese;
* the Voduns of the Ewe and Fon (Jejé nation); and
* the Nkisis (Minkisi) of the Bantu (Angola nation and Congo).
* Tabela_Orixas-Voduns-Nkisis

These deities were created by a supreme God: Olodumare, Olorun etc of the Yoruba, Zambi or Zambiapongo of the Bantu, and Nana Buluku of the Fon.

Candomblé deities have individual personalities, skills, and ritual preferences. Following the African belief systems from which Candomble is derived, every person is born with a "patron" deity. Usually after a reading with cowry shells by a priest such as a Babalawo (father or master of the mysteries), skilled in divination, or from having been possessed by the deity, the person undergoes initiation into the mysteries of that deity. The deities (except God, the Supreme Deity) manifest themselves by possession trance on the priests during Candomblé rites, when the initiate's body is used by the god to dance and communicate with the humans in attendance.

Altogether, the various nations of Candomblé retain a number of the deities still venerated in Africa. There are many similarities between some deities of different nations: e.g. Bantu Kabila, Ketu Oxósse and Jejé Otulu are all hunters and have the same symbolic colors. In Candomblé, however, they are considered different deities.

On the other hand, deities from one nation may be acculturated as "guests" in houses and ceremonies of another nation, besides those of the latter. Some nations assign new names to guest spirits, while some retain the names used in the nation of origin.

The rituals involve the possession of the initiated by Orishas, offerings and sacrifices of the mineral, vegetal and animal kingdom, healing, dancing/trance and percussion. Candomblé draws inspiration from a variety of people of the African Diaspora, but it mainly features aspects of Yoruba orisha veneration.

The Candomblé ritual (toque) has two parts: the preparation, attended only by priests and initiates, which may start a week in advance; and a festive public "mass" and banquet that starts in the late evening and ends around midnight.

In the first part, initiates and aides wash and iron the costumes for the ceremony, and decorate the house with paper flags and festoons, in the colors favored by the Orixas that are to be honored on that occasion. They also prepare food for the banquet. Some domestic animals are slaughtered; some parts reserved for sacrifice, the rest is prepared for the banquet. On the day of the ceremony, starting in the early morning, cowrie-shell divinations (jogo de búzios) are performed, and sacrifices are offered to the desired Orixás, and to the messenger spirit (Exú in Ketu).

In the public part of the ceremony, children-of-saint (mediunic priests) invoke and "incorporate" Orixás, falling into a trance-like state. After having fallen into trance, the priest-spirits perform dances symbolic of the Orixá's attributes, while the babalorixá or father of saint (leading male priest) leads songs that celebrate the spirit's deeds. The ceremony ends with a banquet.

Candomblé music, an essential part of the ritual, derives from African music and has had a strong influence in other popular (non-religious) Brazilian music styles. The word batuque, for instance, has entered the Brazilian vernacular as a synonym of "rhythmic percussion music".

Some Well Known Temples in Salvador, Bahia
See also: Olga de Alaketu

* Ketu, Efon and Nago nations

Nago/Yoruba tradition

o Ilé Axé Iyá Nassô Oká (Casa Branca do Engenho Velho)
o Ilé Iyá Omi Axé Iyamassê (Terreiro do Gantois)
o Ilé Axé Opô Afonjá
o Ilé Maroialaji (also known as Alaketu)
o Ilé Axé Oxumarê (male or female leadership)
o Terreiro do Cobre
o Asé Yangba Oloroke ti Efon (male or female leadership)
o Casa de Nago (in São Luís, state of Maranhão)
o Ilé Axé Obá Ogunté (Sítio do Pai Adão - in Recife, state of Pernambuco)

* Jeje nation

Ewe-Fon tradition

o Zoogodô Bogum Male Rundó (Terreiro do Bogum)
o Casa das Minas (in São Luís, state of Maranhão)
o Kwe Ceja Unde (Roça do Ventura - City of Cachoeira, state of Bahia)
o Rumpame Runtoloji (City of Cachoeira, state of Bahia)

* Angola/Congo nation

Bantu tradition

o Manzo Banduquenqué (Bate-Folha)
o Unzo Tumba Insaba Junçara
o Unzo Nkisi Tombensi

Upon the death of an ialorixá, the successor is chosen, usually among her "filhas-de-santo", usually by means of divination using consecrated cowrie shells that are considered to be the mouthpieces of the Orixa cowrie shell. However the succession may be very disputed or may fail to find a successor, and often leads to splitting or closing down of the house. In some terreiros (like Gantois, Alaketu, Terreiro do Cobre and now, the Oxumarê), the leadership is inherited by a late ialorixá's female blood relative (usually one of her own daughters). Only a handful of houses in Brazil have seen their 100th anniversary. Among the oldest that are still existent are Ilé Axé Iyá Nassô Oká (literally, "White House at the Old Sugarmill"), in Salvador, Bahia, and the Casa das Minas in São Luís, Maranhão (ca. 1796).

Obeah (sometimes spelled "Obi") is a term used in the West Indies to refer to folk magic, sorcery, and religious practices derived from Central African and West African origins. Obeah can either be a form of 'dark' magic or 'good' magic. As such, Obeah is similar to Palo, Voodoo, Santeria, rootwork, and hoodoo. Obeah is practiced in Suriname, Jamaica, Haiti, the Virgin Islands, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Belize, the Bahamas, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados and many other Caribbean countries. Obeah bears some similarity to Voodoo which is found in former French colonies and Santeria which is found in former Spanish colonies. All of these practices have a blend of African and European myths and beliefs regarding spiritual and mystical unknowns.

During the mid 19th century the appearance of a comet in the sky became the focal point of an outbreak of religious fanaticism and Christian millennarianism among the Myal men of Jamaica. Spiritualism was at that time sweeping the English-speaking nations as well, and it readily appealed to those in the Afro-Carbbean diaspora, as spirit contact, especially with the dead, is an essential part of many African religions.

During the conflict between Myal and Obeah, the Myal men positioned themselves as the "good" opponents to "evil" Obeah. They claimed that Obeah men stole people's shadows, and they set themselves up as the helpers of those who wished to have their shadows restored. Myal men contacted spirits in order to expose the evil works they ascribed to the Obeah men, and led public parades which resulted in crowd-hysteria that engendered violent antagonism against Obeah men. The public "discovery" of buried Obeah charms, presumed to be of evil intent, led on more than one occasion to violence against the rival Obeah men.

Laws were passed that limited both Obeah and Myal traditions, but due to the outrages perpetrated by the mobs of Myalists, the British government of Jamaica sent many Myal men to prison, and this, along with the failure of their millennialist Christian prophesies, resulted in a lessening influence for Myalism, while Obeah remained a vital form of folk magic in Jamaica. By the early 20th century, Myalism was considered a thing of the past, and Obeah dominated.

 

Obeah is associated with both benign and malign magic, charms, luck, and with mysticism in general. In some Caribbean nations Obeah refers to African diasporic folk religions; in other areas, Christians may include elements of Obeah in their religion. Obeah is often associated with the Spiritual Baptist church. In Jamaica, slaves from different areas of Africa were brought into contact, creating some conflicts between those who practiced varying African religions. Those of West African Ashanti descent, who called their priests "Myal men" (also spelled Mial men), used the Ashanti term "Obi" or "Obeah" -- meaning "sorcery" -- to describe the practices of slaves of Central African descent. Thus those who worked in a Congo form of folk religion were called "Obeah men" or "sorcerers." Obeah also came to mean any physical object, such as a talisman or charm, that was used for evil magical purposes. However, despite its fearsome reputation, Obeah, like any other form of folk religion and folk magic, contains many traditions for healing, helping, and bringing about luck in love and money. And the act of asking the dead to assist in getting it.

It is in that sense that the translation "ancestor veneration" may convey a more accurate sense of what practitioners, such as the Chinese and other Buddhist-influenced and Confucian-influenced societies, see themselves as doing.

The Ghost Festival (simplified Chinese: 中元节; traditional Chinese: 中元節; pinyin: zhōngyuánjié) is a traditional Chinese festival and holiday, which is celebrated by Chinese in many countries. In the Chinese calendar (a lunisolar calendar), the Ghost Festival is on the 15th night of the seventh lunar month.

In Chinese tradition, the fifteenth day of the seventh month in the lunar calendar is called Ghost Day and the seventh month in general is regarded as the Ghost Month (鬼月), in which ghosts and spirits, including those of the deceased ancestors, come out from the lower realm. During the Qingming Festival the living descendants pay homage to their ancestors and on Ghost Day, the deceased visit the living.

A REAL Story of Spiritual Possession (Ghost Buster Exorcist)

 

On the fifteenth day the three realms of Heaven, Hell and the realm of the living are open and both Taoists and Buddhists would perform rituals to transmute and absolve the sufferings of the deceased. Intrinsic to the Ghost Month is ancestor worship, where traditionally the filial piety of descendants extends to their ancestors even after their deaths. Activities during the month would include preparing ritualistic food offerings, burning incense, and burning joss paper, a papier-mache form of material items such as clothes, gold and other fine goods for the visiting spirits of the ancestors. Elaborate meals would be served with empty seats for each of the deceased in the family treating the deceased as if they are still living. Ancestor worship is what distinguishes Qingming Festival from Ghost Festival because the latter includes paying respects to all deceased, including the same and younger generations, while the former only includes older generations. Other festivities may include, buying and releasing miniature paper boats and lanterns on water, which signifies giving directions to the lost ghosts and spirits of the ancestors and other deities.

The Ghost Festival shares some similarities with the predominantly Mexican observance of El Día de los Muertos. Due to theme of ghosts and spirits, the festival is sometimes also known as the Chinese Halloween, though many have debated the difference between the two.

In the animistic tribes of the Northern Philippines worshiping the ancestors as very prevalent until the arrival of the Americans in the 1900. However, unlike the other places where the images of the folk gods were burnt, the American Missionaries allowed these images to be preserved as a memoial of the rich cultural heritage of the different Northern Tribes.

Many of these carved woodend ancestors, known as the bulul' arr preserved in the musemums and serves as a reminder of the sophisticated history of the Mountain Tribes.

Spiritualism developed in the United States and reached its peak growth in membership from the 1840s to the 1920s, especially in English-language countries, By 1897, it was said to have more than eight million followers in the United States and Europe, mostly drawn from the middle and upper classes, while the corresponding movement in Latin speaking countries is known as Spiritism.

The religion flourished for a half century without canonical texts or formal organization, attaining cohesion by periodicals, tours by trance lecturers, camp meetings, and the missionary activities of accomplished mediums. Many prominent Spiritualists were women. Most followers supported causes such as the abolition of slavery and women's suffrage. By the late 1880s, credibility of the informal movement weakened, due to accusations of fraud among mediums, and formal Spiritualist organizations began to appear. Spiritualism is currently practiced primarily through various denominational Spiritualist Churches in the United States and United Kingdom.

Many Espiritistas (Espiritismo practitioners) communicate with spirits in a gathering of like-minded believers. Called misas, these sessions are somewhat akin to the séances of American-style Spiritualism of the 19th and early 20th century. Many Espiritistas' practices, however, have elements of magic ritual which are not traditionally found in Spiritualism.

A tenet of Espiritismo is the 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 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 epicenter 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, Santeria, and Vodou.

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 lamp, 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 of alternative medicine. Whatever the desired effect, the equipment and materials used for Espiritismo may often be purchased at a botánica within the practitioners' community.

Ancestral veneration in some cultures (such as Chinese) (敬祖, pinyin: jìngzǔ), also ancestor worship (拜祖, pinyin: bàizǔ), seeks to honor the deeds and memories of the deceased. This is an extension of filial piety for the ancestors, the ultimate homage to the deceased as if they are alive. Instead of prayers, joss-sticks are offered with communications and greetings to the deceased. There are eight qualities of De (八德) for a Chinese to complete his earthly duties, and filial piety (孝) is the top and foremost of those qualities. The importance of paying filial duties to parents (and elders) lies with the fact that all physical bodily aspects of one's being were created by one's parents, who continued to tend to our well being until one is on firm footings. The respect and the homage to parents, i.e. filial piety is to return this gracious deed, to them in life and after, the ultimate homage. In this regard ancestral veneration in China is a fusion of the teachings of Confucius and Laozi rather than a religious ritual.

Sacrifices are sometimes made to altars as food for the deceased. This falls under the modes of communication with the Chinese spiritual world concepts. Some of the veneration includes visiting the deceased at their graves, making offerings to the deceased in the Qingming, Chongyang, and Ghost Festivals. All three are related to paying homage to the spirits. Due to the hardships of the late 19th and 20th century China, when meat and poultry were difficult to come by, sumptuous feasts are still offered in some Asian countries as a practice to the spirits or ancestors. However, in the orthodox Taoist and Buddhist rituals, only vegetarian food or fruit would suffice.
Burning offerings

For those with deceased in the netherworld or hell, elaborate or even creative offerings such as toothbrush, comb, towel, slippers, and water are provided so that the deceased will be able to have these items after they have died. Often, paper versions of these objects are burned for the same purpose, even paper cars and plasma TVs. Spirit money (also called Hell Notes) is sometimes burned as an offering to ancestors as well for the afterlife. The living may regard the ancestors as "guardian angels" to them, perhaps in protecting them from serious accidents or guiding their path in life.

The Ghost Festival is celebrated during the 7th month of the Chinese Lunar calendar. It also falls at the same time as a full moon, the new season, the fall harvest, the peak of Buddhist monastic asceticism, the rebirth of ancestors, and the assembly of the local community.During this month, the gates of hell are opened up and ghosts are free to roam the earth where they seek food and entertainment. These ghosts are believed to be ancestors of those who have forgotten to pay tribute to them after they had died, or those who have suffered deaths and were never given a proper ritual for a sendoff. They have long thin necks because they have not been fed by their family, or it is a sign of punishment so they are unable to swallow. Family members would offer prayers to their deceased relatives and would burn joss paper. Such paper items are only valid in the underworld, which is why they burn it as offering to the ghosts that have come from the gates of hell. Like in the material world, the afterlife is very similar in some aspects, and the paper effigies of material goods would provide comfort to those who have nothing in the afterlife. People would also burn other things such as paper houses, cars, servants and televisions to please the ghosts.

Families would also pay tribute to other unknown wandering ghosts so that these homeless souls would not intrude on their lives and bring misfortune and bad luck. A large feast is held for the ghosts on the 15th day of the 7th month, where everyone brings samplings of food and places them on the offering table to please the ghosts and ward off bad luck. In some East Asian countries today, live performances would be held and everyone was invited to attend. The first row of seats are always empty as this is where the ghosts would sit. The shows were always put on at night and at high volumes as the sound would attract and please the ghosts. Some shows include Chinese opera, dramas, and in some areas, even burlesque shows. These acts are better known as "Merry-making".

For rituals, Buddhist and Taoists alike would hold ceremonies to relieve ghosts from suffering, many of them holding ceremonies in the afternoon or at night (as it is believed that the ghosts are released from hell when the sun sets). Altars are built for the deceased and priests and monks alike perform rituals for the benefit of ghosts. Monks and priests often throw rice or other small foods into the air in all directions to distribute them to the ghosts.

During the evening, incense is burnt in front of the doors of each household. Incense stands for prosperity in Chinese culture, so families believe that there is more prosperity in burning more incense. During the festival, some shops are closed as they wanted to leave the streets open for the ghosts. In the middle of each street stood an altar of incense with fresh fruit and sacrifices displayed on it.

15 days after the festival, to make sure all the hungry ghosts find their way back to hell, people flow water lanterns and set them outside their houses (a practice mostly found amongst the Japanese). These lanterns are made by setting a lotus flower-shaped lantern on a paper boat. The lanterns are used to direct the ghosts back to the underworld, and when they go out, it symbolizes that they found their way back.

Chūgen (中元) Japan, also Ochūgen (お中元), is an annual event in Japan on July 15th when people give gifts to one's superiors and acquaintances. One of the three days that form the sangen (三元?) of Daoism, it is sometimes considered a Zassetsu in the Japanese calendar. Originally it was an annual event for giving gifts to the ancestral spirits.

O-bon, or simply Bon, is the Japanese version of the Ghost Festival. It has since been transformed over time into a family reunion holiday during which people from the big cities return to their home towns and visit and clean their ancestors' graves.

 

Traditionally including a dance festival, it has existed in Japan for more than 500 years. It is held from 13th of July to the 16th ("Welcoming Obon" and "Farewell Obon" respectively) in the eastern part of Japan (Kantō), and in August in the western part (Kansai).

Vietnam: "Tết Trung Nguyên". This festival is the chance for pardoning guilty ghosts which are homeless and not be taken care of. People worship ghosts and liberate animals, such as birds or fish.

Influenced by Buddhism, this holiday is also the Vu Lan festival,the Vietnamese transliteration for Ullambana. The festival is also considered Mother's Day. People with living mothers would be thankful, while people with dead mothers would pray for their souls.

In Korea, ancestor worship is referred to by the generic term jerye (hangul: 제례; hanja: 祭禮) or jesa (hangul: 제사; hanja: 祭祀) Notable examples of jerye include Munmyo jerye and Jongmyo jerye, which are performed periodically each year for venerated Confucian scholars and kings of ancient times, respectively. The ceremony held on the anniversary of a family member's death is called charye.

Vietnam Ancestor worship is one of the most unifying aspects of Vietnamese culture, as practically all Vietnamese regardless of religious denomination (Buddhist or Christian) have an ancestor altar in their home or business.

In Vietnam, traditionally people did not celebrate birthdays (before western influence) but the death anniversary of a loved one was always an important occasion. Besides an essential gathering of family members for a banquet in memory of the deceased, incense sticks are burned along with hell notes, and great platters of fruit and food are made as offerings on the ancestor altar, which usually has pictures of the deceased.

These offerings and practices are done frequently during important traditional or religious celebrations, the starting of a new business, or even when a family member needs guidance or counsel, and is a hallmark of the emphasis Vietnamese culture places on filial duty.

In India Ancestor worship is predominant in India among Hindus. In India, when a person passes away, the family observes 10 day mourning period, generally called shraddha. Six month and a year hence they observe the ritual of Tarpan in which the family offers tributes to the deceased. During these rituals, the family prepares the food items which the deceased liked, offers food to the deceased. They offer this food to cows and crows as well. They are also obliged to offer siddha to eligible Bramhins. Only after these rituals the family members are allowed to eat.

Each year, on the particular date (as per the Hindu calendar), when the person had died, the family members repeat this ritual.

Apart from this there is also a fortnight long duration each year called "Pitripaksh" (fortnight of ancestors) when the family remembers all its ancestors and offers Tarpan to them. This period falls just before the Navratri or Durga Puja falling in the month of Ashwin. Mahalaya marks the end of the fortnight long Tarpan to the ancestors.

The Ghost Festival in Malaysia is modernized by the 'concert-like' live performances. It has its own characteristics and is not similar to other Ghost Festivals in other countries. The live show is popularly known as 'Koh-tai' by the Hokkien-speaking people, performed by a group of singers, dancers and entertainers on a temporary stage that setup within the residential district. The festival is funded by the residents of each individual residential districts.

SANTERIA

Santería

Santería is a syncretic religion of Caribbean origin, also known as Regla de Ocha, La Regla Lucumi, or Lukumi. From Spanish meaning "one who 'has', 'makes' or 'works' the spirit". The priests are known as Babaolorishas, "fathers of orisha", and priestesses as Iyalorishas, "mothers of orisha", and serve as the junior Ile or second in the hierarchical religious structure. The Babalorishas and Iyalorishas are referred to as "Santeros(as)" and if they function as diviners of the Orishas they can be considered Oriates. The highest level of achievement is to become a priest of Ifá (ee-fah). Ifa Priests receive Orunmila who is the Orisha of Prophecy, Wisdom and all Knowledge. Ifa Priests are known by their titles such as "Babalawo" or "Father Who Knows the Secrets." In the recent years there have been initiations of "Iyanifa" or "Mother of Destiny," but their role as Ifa diviners is not generally accepted per the Odu Ifa Irete Intelu which states women cannot be in the presence of Olofin or Igba Iwa Odu and therefore cannot be initiated as divining priestesses. Instead women are initiates as Apetebi Ifa and are considered senior in Ifa to all but fully initiated Babalawos. The most well known Orishas are; Elegua, Oggún, Oshún, Changó, Oyá, Obatalá, Yemayá and Orula. These are the most common Orisha names, especially in Cuba.

 

 

Santería is one of the syncretic religions. It is a system of beliefs that merge the Yoruba religion (brought to the New World by slaves imported to the Caribbean to work the sugar plantations) with Roman Catholic and Native American traditions. These slaves carried with them various religious traditions, including a tradition of a trance for communicating with their ancestors and deities, animal sacrifice and the practice of sacred drumming.

In Cuba this religious tradition has evolved into what we now recognize as Santería. In 2001, there were an estimated 22,000 practitioners in the USA alone,[5] but the number may be higher as some practitioners may be reluctant to disclose their religion on a government census or to an academic researcher.

Of those residing in the USA, some are fully committed priests and priestesses, others are "godchildren" or members of a particular house-tradition, and many are clients seeking help with their everyday problems. Many are of Hispanic and Caribbean descent but as the religion moves out of the inner cities and into the suburbs, a growing number are of African-American and European-American heritage. As the religion of Africa was recreated in the Americas it was transformed.

"The colonial period from the standpoint of African slaves may be defined as a time of perseverance. Their world quickly changed. Tribal kings and families, politicians, business and community leaders all were enslaved in a foreign region of the world. Religious leaders, their descendants, and the faithful, were now slaves. Colonial laws criminalize their religion. They were forced to become baptized and worship a god their ancestors had not known who was surrounded by a pantheon of saints. The early concerns during this period seem to indicate a need for individual survival under harsh plantation conditions. A sense of hope was sustaining the internal essence of what today is called Santería, a misnomer for the indigenous religion of the Lukumi people of Nigeria.

In the heart of their homeland, they had a complex political and social order. They were a sedentary hoe farming cultural group with specialized labor. Their religion based on the worship of nature was renamed and documented by their masters. Santería, a pejorative term that characterizes deviant Catholic forms of worshiping saints, has become a common name for the religion. The term santero(a) is used to describe a priest or priestess replacing the traditional term Olorisha as an extension of the deities. The orishas became known as the saints in image of the Catholic pantheon." (Ernesto Pichardo, CLBA, Santería in Contemporary Cuba: The individual life and condition of the priesthood)

As mentioned, in order to preserve their authentic ancestral and traditional beliefs, the Lukumi people had no choice but to disguise their orishas as Catholic saints. When the Roman Catholic slave owners observed Africans celebrating a Saint's Day, they were generally unaware that the slaves were actually worshiping their sacred orishas.In Cuba today, the terms "saint" and "orisha" are sometimes used interchangeably.

The term Santería was originally a derisive term applied by the Spanish to mock followers' seeming overdevotion to the saints and their perceived neglect of God. It was later applied to the religion by others. This "veil" characterization of the relationship between Catholic saints and Cuban orisha, however, is somewhat undermined by the fact that the vast majority of santeros in Cuba today also consider themselves to be Catholics, have been baptized, and often require initiates to be baptized. Many hold separate rituals to honor the saints and orisha respectively, even though the disguise of Catholicism is no longer needed.

The traditional Lukumi religion and its Santería counterpart can be found in many parts of the world today, including but not limited to: the United States, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Panama, Nicaragua, Argentina, Colombia, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Great Britain, Canada, Venezuela, and other areas with large Latin American populations. A very similar religion called Candomblé is practiced in Brazil, which is home to a rich array of other Afro-American religions. This is now being referred to as "parallel religiosity"[6] since some believers worship the African variant that has no devil fetish and no baptism or marriage and at the same time they belong to either Catholic churches or mainline Protestant churches, where there is a devil fetish.

Lukumi religiosity works toward a balance here on earth (androcentric) while the European religions work toward the hereafter. Some in Cuban Santería, Haitian Vodou or Puerto Rican spiritualism (Afro-Latin religions) do not view a difference between the saints and the orishas, the ancestor deities of the Lukumi people's Ifa religion.

There are now individuals who mix the Lukumí practices with traditional practices as they survived in Africa after the deleterious effects of colonialism. Although most of these mixes have not been at the hands of experienced or knowledgeable practitioners of either system, they have gained a certain popularity.

In 2007, the first Santería church in the United States was incorporated as the Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye.

Spiritism is a philosophical doctrine, established in France in the mid-nineteenth century.

Spiritism, or French spiritualism, is based on books written by French educator Hypolite Léon Denizard Rivail under the pseudonym Allan Kardec reporting séances in which he observed a series of phenomena that he attributed to incorporeal intelligence (spirits). His assumption of spirit communication was validated by many contemporaries, among them many scientists and philosophers who attended séances and studied the phenomena. His work was later extended by writers like Leon Denis, Arthur Conan Doyle, Camille Flammarion, Ernesto Bozzano, Chico Xavier, Divaldo Pereira Franco, Waldo Vieira, Johannes Greber[ and others.

Spiritism has adherents in many countries throughout the world, including Spain, United States, Canada, Japan, Germany, France, England, Argentina, Portugal and especially Brazil, which has the largest proportion and greatest number of followers.

Traditionally in Celtic and Germanic Europe, the feast of Samhain was specially associated with the deceased, and in these countries it was still customary to set a place for them at table on this day until relatively recent times. After Christianisation, most Catholic (and In Anglican England) countries in Europe, November 1 (All Saints' Day, also known as Day of the Dead) became the day when families go to the cemeteries and light candles for their dead relatives. This is a very ancient practice, already present long before the time of the Roman Empire. In the early Catholic Church honouring Christian relatives who had died was commonplace, and during the post-Apostolic period when the Church was forced underground by the Roman Empire the Mass was celebrated among the catacombs. The official day, according to Church, to commemorate the dead who have not attained beatific vision is November 2 (All Souls' Day).

In a British context, the autumn ancestor festival corresponds to halloween which derives from the Celtic Samonios. During Samhain in Ireland the dead are supposed to return, and food and light are left for them. Lights are left burning all night, as on Christmas Eve, and food is left outdoors for them. It is believed that food fallen on the floor should also be left, as someone needed it.

The most important types of practices within Spiritism are:

* Regular Meetings - with a regular schedule, usually on evenings, two or three times a week. They involve a short lecture on some subject followed by some interactive participation of the attendants. These meetings are open to anyone.
* Medium Meetings - usually held after a regular meeting, only those deemed prepared or "in need" of it are expected to attend.
* Youth and Children's Meetings - once a week, usually on Saturday afternoons or Sunday mornings, are the Spiritist equivalent to Christian Sunday schools.
* Healing
* Lectures - longer, in-depth lectures on subjects thought to be "of general interest" which are held on larger rooms, sometimes at theatres or ballrooms, so that more people can attend. Lecturers are often invited from far away centers.
* Special Meetings - special séances held in relative discretion which try to conduct some worthy work on behalf of those in need
* Spiritist Week and Book fairs.
* Church Services (in the case of The National Spiritist Church of Alberta - in Canada)

Exorcism (from Late Latin exorcismus, from Greek exorkizein - to abjure) is the practice of evicting demons or other evil spiritual entities from a person or place which they are believed to have possessed. The practice is quite ancient and part of the belief system of many countries.

The person performing the exorcism, known as an exorcist, is often a member of the church, or an individual thought to be graced with special powers or skills. The exorcist may use prayers, and religious material, such as set formulas, gestures, symbols, icons, amulets, etc.. The exorcist often invokes God, Jesus and/or several different angels and archangels to intervene with the exorcism.

In general, possessed persons are not regarded as evil in themselves, nor wholly responsible for their actions. Therefore, practitioners regard exorcism as more of a cure than a punishment. The mainstream rituals usually take this into account, making sure that there is no violence to the possessed, only that they be tied down if there is potential for violence.

 

Hoodoo is a form of predominantly African-American traditional folk magic. Also known as conjure, it is a tradition of magical practice that developed from the syncretism of a number of separate cultures and magical traditions.

Hoodoo incorporates practices from African and Native American traditions, as well as some European magical practices and grimoires. While folk practices like hoodoo are trans-cultural phenomena, what is particularly innovative in this tradition is the "remarkably efficacious use of biblical figures" in its practices and in the lives of its practitioners.

The word hoodoo first was documented in American English in 1875 and was listed as a noun or a transitive verb. In AAVE, it is often used to describe a magic spell or potion, but it may also be used as an adjective for a practitioner. Regional synonyms for hoodoo include conjuration, conjure, witchcraft, or rootwork.

They are not all synonyms, however. For example, witchcraft is problematic as a synonym in that it can imply a moral judgment regarding the practice of hoodoo (i.e. it is evil), or it can be confused with the contemporary Wicca religion. Moreover, a hoodoo practitioner is not to be understood as a rootworker if he or she does not use roots and herbs in their magical practices. Thus, rootwork can be understood as a subcategory or a "type" of hoodoo practice. The goal of hoodoo is to allow people access to supernatural forces to improve their daily lives by gaining power in many areas of life, including luck, money, love, divination, revenge, health, employment, and necromancy. As in many other folk religious, magical, and medical practices, extensive use is made of herbs, minerals, parts of animals' bodies, an individual's possessions, and bodily fluids, especially menstrual blood, urine and semen. Contact with ancestors or other spirits of the dead is an important practice within the conjure tradition, and the recitation of Psalms from the Bible is also considered magically effective in hoodoo. Due to hoodoo's great emphasis on an individual's magical power, its basic principles of working are generally felt to be easily adapted for use based on one's desires, inclination and habits.

Home-made potions and charms form the basis of much old-time rural hoodoo, but there are also many successful commercial companies selling various hoodoo components to urban and rural practitioners. These are generally called spiritual supplies, and they include herbs, roots, minerals, candles, incense, oils, floor washes, sachet powders, bath crystals, and colognes. Many patent medicines, cosmetics, and household cleaning supplies have been also aimed at hoodoo practitioners and have found dual usage as conventional and spiritual remedies.

Hoodoo and Voodoo are often mistaken for one another. Some believe that the terms may have a common etymology. Simply put, Voodoo is a religion, whereas Hoodoo is a group of magical practices.

The ancient African religion of Vodoun is an established religion with its ancient roots in West Africa. Its modern form is practiced across West Africa in the countries now known as Benin, Togo, and Burkina Faso, among others. In Haiti, Cuba, and other Caribbean islands, the worship of the Vodoun gods (called lwa or loas) is practiced in a syncretic form that has been greatly modified by contact with Catholicism. The Voodoo of Haiti and Louisiana Voodoo are better known to many English speakers; similar practices among Spanish speakers in Cuba are called Santeria.

Hoodoo shows obvious and evident links to the practices and beliefs of African folk magico-religious culture. The Hoodoo practiced in the U.S. by the enslaved Africans was brought from West and Central Africa, specifically, the area that is now known as the Congo and Angola, Togo, Nigeria and other West African regions.

Vodun or Vudun (Gbe pronunciation: [vodṹ] — that is, with a nasal u on a high tone) (so spelled in the Fon language of Benin and the Ewe language of Togo and Ghana; also spelled Vodon, Vodoun, Voudou,"Voodoo" etc.) is a traditional Polytheistic organised religion of coastal West Africa, from Nigeria to Ghana. It is distinct from the unorganised traditional animistic religions in the interiors of these same countries, as well as from various religions with often similar names of the African Diaspora in the New World, such as Haitian Vodou, the similar Vudu of the Dominican Republic, Candomblé Jejé in Brazil (which uses the term Vodum), Louisiana Voodoo, and Santería in Cuba, which are syncretized with Christianity and the traditional religions of the Kongo people of Congo and Angola.

Vodun or Vudun (Gbe pronunciation: [vodṹ] — that is, with a nasal u on a high tone) (so spelled in the Fon language of Benin and the Ewe language of Togo and Ghana; also spelled Vodon, Vodoun, Voudou,"Voodoo" etc.) is a traditional Polytheistic organised religion of coastal West Africa, from Nigeria to Ghana. It is distinct from the unorganised traditional animistic religions in the interiors of these same countries, as well as from various religions with often similar names of the African Diaspora in the New World, such as Haitian Vodou, the similar Vudu of the Dominican Republic, Candomblé Jejé in Brazil (which uses the term Vodum), Louisiana Voodoo, and Santería in Cuba, which are syncretized with Christianity and the traditional religions of the Kongo people of Congo and Angola.

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The word vodún is the Gbe (Fon-Ewe) word for spirit. When the word is capitalized, Vodun, it denotes the religion. When it is not, vodun, it denotes the spirits that are central to the religion. "Voodoo" is the most common pronunciation amongst English speakers. Vodun is practised by the Ewe, Kabye, Mina, Fon, and (under a different name) the Yoruba peoples of southeastern Ghana, southern and central Togo, southern and central Benin, and southwestern Nigeria.

Santeria, more properly called La Regla Lucumi (as the Yoruba were called in Cuba) or Regla de Ocha, is a system of beliefs, rites and practices derived from a merging of Roman Catholicism, Native Indian and African traditions maintained by the Yoruba priests and priestesses who were enslaved in Cuba at the end of the eighteenth and the first decades of the nineteenth centuries. This is all gelled into one in New Orleans Hoodoo-Voodoo Practice initiated by the great Voodoo Hoodoo Queen Marie Laveau.

In traditional Yoruba culture, Ifá refers to a system of divination and the verses of the literary corpus known as the Odú Ifá presented in the course of divination. Orunmila is the deity associated with Ifa diviniation. In some instances, the name Orunmila is used interchangeably with the word Ifa. Orunmila brought Ifa diviniation to the world.

(It should be noted that this article sometimes uses the word "Yoruba" to refer to the system of traditional spiritual belief and practices, as well as modern day practitioners. This should in no way be confused with the Yoruba people that primarily live in the southwestern region of Nigeria. Not all Yoruba people practice this traditional spiritual system, although the tradition primarily originates from their culture, history, and beliefs. The best descriptor would be "Ifa/Orisha tradition.")

Ifá originated in West Africa among the Yourba ethnic groups. It is also practiced among believers in Lucumi, (sometimes referred to as Santería), Candomblé, West African & Diaspora Vodou, and similarly transplanted Orisa'Ifa lineages in the New World. In Togo, it is known as Afa, where the Vodou deities come through and speak. In many of their Egbes, it is Alaundje who is honored as the first Bokono to have been taught how to divine the destiny of humans using the holy system of Afa. The Ifa Divination system was added in 2005 by UNESCO to its list of "Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity".

The Yoruba divination system enabled diviners to invoke the word of God through the teachings of Orunmila, the Yoruba deity of wisdom, prophecy and ethics. Esu (Eshu), who is in charge of spiritual justice, as well as the god directly in charge of transportation of ebos, lends his authority or ase to the oracle for the purpose of clarifying the issues at hand and providing direction to those seeking guidance. Ifa divination rites provide an avenue of communication between the spirit world and that of the living.

Performing Ifa divination is called idafa (or dida owo and ounte ale). Idafa is performed by a Babalawo or Iyanifa (an initiated priest). Babalawo can be translated as "father of the secrets". The babalawo provides insights about the current circumstances impacting the life of a person requesting this information and provides any necessary information to aid the individual. Awo is a reference for devotees in Orisa worship. It includes Babalawos, Babalorishas, Iyalorishas and even uninitiated devotees.

Initiation into Ifa requires rigorous study. An aspiring Babalawo must learn AT LEAST four verses from each of the 256 chapters (Odu) of Ifa. The minimum of four verses will of necessity include ebos and ooguns (medicine) that are embedded and relevant to each of the verses, plus other issues that complement divination. An accomplished Babalawo must know about ten verses of each of the 256 chapters of Ifa (256 Odu Ifa). Regardless of gender, whoever aspires to practice Ifa must have this qualification. In essence, Ifa practice does not preclude a woman provided such woman acquires the required qualification. Odu—a special Orisa—can only be received by a Babalawo who decides to perform the special initiation that will allow him access to Odu. In essence, initiation into Ifa is the first step into initiation into Odu. A woman cannot be initiated into Odu. Character Traits of a Babalawo: Orunmila demands humility from his priests, therefore, a Babalawo should be an embodiment patience, good character, honesty, and humility. Apetebi is the term for a Babalawo’s wife. No initiation is required for apetebi title because it comes with being married to a Babalawo. Iyanifa is a title and not the opposite term of Babalawo.

In Haitian Vodou, the Guédé (also spelled Gede or Ghede, pronounced [ɡede] in Haitian) are the family of spirits that embody the powers of death and fertility. Guédé spirits include Ghede Masaka, Guédé Nibo, Guédé Plumaj, Guédé Ti Malis, and Guédé Zaranye. All are known for the drum rhythm and dance called the "banda". In possession, they will drink or rub themselves with a mixture of raw rum or clairin and twenty-one habanero or goat peppers.

Ghede Nibo is a psychopomp, an intermediary between the living and the dead. He gives voice to the dead spirits that have not been reclaimed from "below the waters".

Ghede Masaka assists Ghede Nibo. He is an androgynous male or transgendered gravedigger and spirit of the dead, recognized by his black shirt, white jacket, and white headscarf. Ghede Masaka carries a bag containing poisonous leaves and an umbilical cord. Ghede Masaka is sometimes depicted as the companion of Ghede Oussou. Both are bisexual. Ghede Oussou is sometimes also linked with the female Ghede L'Oraille. Ghede Oussou wears a black or mauve jacket marked on the back with a white cross and a black or mauve headscarf. His name means "tipsy" due to his love of white rum.

Papa Ghede is supposed to be the corpse of the first man who ever died. He is recognized as a short, dark man with a high hat on his head, a cigar in his mouth, and an apple in his left hand. Papa Ghede is a psychopomp who waits at the crossroads to take souls into the afterlife. He is considered the good counterpart to Baron Samedi. If a child is dying, Papa Ghede is prayed to. It is believed that he will not take a life before its time, and that he will protect the little ones. Papa Ghede has a very crass sense of humor, a divine ability to read others' minds, and the ability to know everything that happens in the worlds of the living and the dead. Ghede Bábáco is supposedly Papa Ghede's less known brother and is also a psychopomp. His role is somewhat similar to that of Papa Ghede, but he doesn't have the special abilities of his brother.

The Guédé are closely associated with the loa Baron, whose aspects are Baron Samedi, Baron La Croix and Baron Cimetière. Depending on the tradition followed, Baron is:

* one of the Guédé
* their spiritual protector, who has raised them from the dead with the help of Baron Samedi's woman, Maman Brigitte
* or an aspect of the Guédé

In any of these configurations, Baron, Maman Brigitte, and the Guédé rule death, the cemetery and the grave.

New Orleans Voodoosant celebrate Christmas Day, New Year's Day, Carnival or Mardi Gras, All Saints' Day, and All Souls' Day on the days that are traditionally celebrated in other parts of the world. Flag and University Day is the most celebrated national holiday and is held on May 18. Other important holidays are Ancestors Day (January 2), Twelfth Night Day (January 6), St. Johns Eve (June 23) the Anniversary of Dessalines' (1) Death (October 17), and Discovery of Haiti Day (December 5). All these are important times when it is said the Seven Voodoo gates to hell are wide open and should not be sought out. Some in New Orleans say there is only one gate others say seven and still others say nine.

New Orleans Voodoosant celebrate Christmas Day, New Year's Day, Carnival or Mardi Gras, All Saints' Day, and All Souls' Day on the days that are traditionally celebrated in other parts of the world. Flag and University Day is the most celebrated national holiday and is held on May 18. Other important holidays are Ancestors Day (January 2), Twelfth Night Day (January 6), St. Johns Eve (June 23) the Anniversary of Dessalines' (1) Death (October 17), and Discovery of Haiti Day (December 5). All these are important times when it is said the Seven Voodoo gates to hell are wide open and should not be sought out. Some in New Orleans say there is only one gate others say seven and still others say nine.

The exact location of the haunted cemetery gates isn't really ever told to outsiders of the Secret Societies. New Orleans Tour Guides and Haunted Cemetery or ghost tours will skirt around the issue, or just look at you like they don't know what your talking about, so never mention it (seriously). They say just to talk about the accursed cemetery gates spells doom to those that ask or search for it or speak of it openly to anyone. Those who know feel it is inviting them , "The Ghede" to take you away. Only someone pure of heart with only one burning question to be answered by the dead is ever told the whole truth. A unnamed New Orleans Voodoo priestess says quite bluntly, search and you shall find them rusted shut, or worse they will certainly find you and be wide and opened. Its primary goal is to both enlighten and bridge the worlds of the dead and the living, considered the most sacred and the profane.

Some believe that the X crossed tomb of Marie Laveau (2) is this hidden legendary portal. And truly believe it is not wise to visit her tomb all alone. They will warn you that you may be pulled into the after world with no hope of escape. A person can instantly die and be taken back to the afterworld. Still worse you or taken there alive!

Those who practice Voodooism believe in a pantheon of gods who control and represent the laws and forces of the universe. In this pantheon, there is the Supreme Deity, the master of all gods, the loa who are a large group of lesser deities, and the twins known as marassas. Twins are believed to have special powers and once a year special services are held for them.

Ghede' is a very wise man for his knowledge is an accumulation of the knowledge of all the deceased. He stands on the center of all the roads that lead to Guinee, the afterworld. To find these mysterious gates in the city of New Orleans might take a little detective work. Some Locals say if their open when you find them... beware! If you then enter you will never return to the real world.
To find these gates, they say is to find the way to communicate openly with the dead. And not just the spirits of those that have died in New Orleans. Local Voodoo followers of Marie Laveaus' Secret Society profess that anyone can come to these gates of Guinee if you can find them.

To find the gates one need only listen... Deep within the gates there can be heard a distant sound, the pulse of the rhythmic beat of dancing drums beckoning you to come closer.

Speak the name of the deceased you wish to speak to aloud five times through the bars, and they will come and speak to you from the other side. One real warning though, if the rusted shut heavy gate opens do not enter. For you will be one of the living trapped in the world of the dead forever. If you arrive and the Guinee gates are open turn and walk away crossing yourself three times as fast as you can and don't look back.


In New Orleans voodoo-religion, Guinee is the legendary place of origin and abode of the voodoo gods. It is here that the souls of the deceased go after their death. On their way to Guinee, they first have to pass the eternal crossroads which is guarded by Ghede.

" Although one is pure of thoughts and in heart, searches for the gates of the truly dead. You never know when the winter winds (November) blow, If the cursed gates are searching for you too."

"If you enter the gates backwards you might have a small chance, to flee with your life all intact. But if your motives are untrue then the living death calls your name , then there is nothing you can do."

Attributed to Madame Marie Laveau, 1800's New Orleans

Attributed to Madame Marie Laveau, 1800's New Orleans

Ghede is represented as an undertaker, dressed completely in black wearing dark glasses. His followers disguise themselves as corpses and they dance the Banda Mardi Gras Day. Other members of his retinue are Baron la Croix (Baron of the Cross) is the mystical Baron responsible for the reclamation of souls, and Baron Cemetière a spirit of the dead. And they say he loves nothing more then a slice of King Cake left for him at any cemetery gate. Waiting to possess people gathered to watch, the Ghede can be considered very dangerous. If touched by these powerful deities, a person can instantly die and be taken back to the afterworld.

Umbanda is an Afro-Brazilian religion that blends African religions with Catholicism and Spiritism (Kardecist Spiritualism).

Umbanda is related to and has many similitudes with other Afro-Brazilian religions like Candomblé, Batuque, Macumba, Quimbanda, Xambá, Egungun, Ifá, Irmandade, Confraria, Xangô do Nordeste and Tambor de Mina, but also has it own identity.

Although some of its beliefs and most of its practices existed in the late 19th century in almost all Brazil, it is assumed that Umbanda originated in Rio de Janeiro and surrounding areas in the early 20th century, mainly due to the work of a psychic (medium), Zélio Fernandino de Moraes, who practiced Umbanda among the poor Afro-Brazilian population. Since then, Umbanda has spread across mainly southern Brazil and even to foreign countries like Uruguay and Argentina.

Umbanda has many branches, each one with a different set of believes and practices. Some of the Umbanda's basic beliefs are the existence of a One Supreme Creator God (the Orixá Olorum); deities called Orixás related to Catholic Saints that act as God's energy and plain power expansions; spirits of deceased people that counsel and guide believers through troubles in our material world; psychics called mediums who have a natural ability that can be perfected to bring messages from the spiritual world of Orixás and guiding spirits, reincarnation and spiritual evolution through many material lives (Karmic Law) and the practice of Charity.

The information here presented is just a general view of all Umbanda branches, so some beliefs and practices here described could be different from those observed in a specific place.

Most followers of Umbanda believe that there are three distinct levels of spirits.

Pure Spirits

This level includes the angels, archangels, cherubim and seraphim, spirits that reached spiritual perfection[1]. They are equated to the Biblical entities that communicated with the prophets and the Virgin Mary.

Good Spirits

This level includes the spirits that possess mediums (psychics) or initiates during the Umbanda public ceremonies and act as Guias (guides) giving counseling to the believers. It includes the following spirits:
Caboclos (Half-breed Native Brazilian Peasants)

Those are spirits of deceased Native Brazilians or Half-breed Native Brazilinas. They are highly knowledgeable about medical herbs, often prescribing inexpensive remedies to ill people.

Preto Velho (Old Black Man)

Those are spirits of old slaves who died in captivity or after being beaten or flogged by their masters. They are wise, peaceful and kind spirits that know all about suffering, compassion, forgiveness and hope. They also often prescribe herbal remedies. The female counterpart of this spirit is the Preta Velha ("old black woman") who demonstrates maternal compassion and concern. In the beginning of Umbanda, Preto Velho introduced himself as an old slave who died after being flogged for some unjust accusation; today, Pretos Velhos introduce themselves as old slaves who died in persecution after they run away from the plantation.

Crianças (Children)

Those are the spirits of deceased children, generally characterized as being pure and joyful[1].

Baianos (People from Bahia State)

The spirits of people who were learned in Umbanda, also considered as the spirits of deceased ancestors.

Boiadeiros

The spirits of deceased cowboys who lived a hard life in the sertão, the arid hinterlands of Northeastern Brazil.

Darker Spirits

This level comprises spirits like the Exus and Pomba Giras of Quimbanda.
Some umbanda believers fear and avoid the spirits of this level, considered dark incarnations. To invoke, petition or worship these spirits is considered witchcraft, a dangerous practice made only by Quimbanda followers. However some Umbanda branches have practices which seek to appease these evil spirits with material offerings to avoid their interference in the believer's life, while in other umbanda houses such as Umbanda Sagrada the practitioners look upon Exu as a karmic enforcer. Sometimes an impure spirit can possess a psychic and cause many annoyances in a cult where he or she was not welcomed. So, priests and priestesses should know how to treat and send back these evil spirits to their world.


Exu

Exu

He is equated to the Biblical Devil, the source or originator of Chaos. However, some Umbanda branches have another interpretation of Exu closer to the original African belief: they believe that he is just a troublemaker spirit that needs to be appeased with material offerings specially when someone starts a new enterprise. It is stated that there is more then one Exu, comprising a whole heriarchy of spirits referd to as linhas. According to most practitioners there are seven linhas of Exu and Pomba Gira with several subdivisions, the seven linhas sometimes beings associated either with the seven divine rays or the seven infernal rays in more metaphysical branches of Umbanda and Quimbanda. The spirits of each linha are assigned to a certain task, for example the linha de almas (line of souls) works in high altitudes places and hospitals. The leaders of the Exu and Pomba Gira are the nkisi Omulu and Kalunga.

Pomba Gira (Female Dove that Turns Around)

She is a devilish spirit with female beauty and insatiable sexuality, frequently represented in Quimbanda with the image of a beautiful prostitute, yet this is only one of the many representations of the Pomba Gira line of spirits.

 


2012 PREDICTIONS FROM THE DEAD

 

Brad Steiger Official Web Site Visit It Here Now: "www.bradandsherry.com"

Brad Steiger: Official Web Site

Of all the forlorn, countless souls awash in time, none reach out to us more than those of the dead at Gettysburg. They were young men, mostly, with hopes for a bright future and moved by sincere patriotic dreams, caught up and cruelly thrown down again, in the great, hot whirl of mortal combat.

GHOSTS OF FREDERICKSBURG TOURS

Kenneth Deel

Kenneth Deel is a Demonologist of the Catholic faith, a Spiritual Warfare Counselor, and often a Catholic faith adviser (Catechism). He has over 28 years of research / experience on these topics, with his first experience occurring when he was about seven years old. He is near completion of his book which should be in print by 2009. And will begin a producing an educational documentary as a companion to his book, after the book is completed. Currently host and producer for his new radio show: “Demonology Today”, along with co-host Alan Glatzel, and Deborah (Glatzel) Johnson (“The Devil in Connecticut” Haunting survivors). He is also currently a Staff member of the IAMHAUNTED.com online paranormal community, and will also lend a hand as a contributing writer and art director for the upcoming IAMHAUNTED magazine.

Ken is also a graphic artist, and has provided high quality professional banners, logos and other media for PTF and other organizations.

Ken has returned to the MPR/PTF family after a brief absence. Ken has been an invaluable resource for both MPR/PTF team members and numerous clients in the past with closure brought to many of our cases. We are very proud to have him back as part of our family and am sure our current and future clients will also benefit greatly from his return.

 

 

Patti Starr

Certified Ghost Hunter

atti Starr, Certified Ghost Hunter, Ghost Chasers International, Inc.Patti Starr, Certified Ghost Hunter


 

Gina Lanier

Also read: Is It Really Paranormal? Questioning The Unknown Side Of Ghosts And Demonic Possession - With tales of being raped or beaten by ghosts, to stories of even a ghost giving a person a loan of some cash. I ask myself do these things really happen? -- Ginalanier.com

 

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