There is a common conception, it seems, that Kiumbanda is an evil and degenerated approach towards the kingdom of Exus and Pomba Giras that is ‘void of doctrine’, as it is not in conformity with the ‘Law of Umbanda’. The law of Umbanda is largely understood to be rooted in an universal idea of the reality of a Christian karma. Consequently we have here some inconsistencies that is helpful to point out, these being related to ‘doctrine’, ‘karma’ and ‘divine order’. I believe these three factors break down quite nicely the objections some ‘Umbandistas’ have with kiumbanda.
Firstly, of course kiumbanda possesses a doctrine and even a hierarchy. This hierarchy will, after what I have seen, surprise quite a few practitioners by its simple and stunning doctrine. Faith without doctrine does not make much sense. Karma, represent a complicated term, and has since the coming of the New Age movements been used uncritically to refer to cause and action on quite mechanistic (and modern) grounds and thus become a linguistic symbol emptied for its original meaning. Karma must be seen in relation to dharma, ‘law’, or more correctly the law given by your cast and destiny that will ultimately bring meaning and fulfillment to your life. Karma, simply means ‘action’, and is strictly speaking related to ‘ritual action’, as such karmic actions are in a different category altogether than the ‘good acts/bad acts’ idea. The New Age take on karma as we find in Umbanda is, as in so many modern fractions, severed and disjointed from source and tradition. After the amputation the severed concept starts to take on a life of its own, limited to personal opinions and what ‘feels right’. To a certain extent this also influences Umbanda, in various degrees from centre to centre – as this modern fragmentation influences all forms of modern faith to some extent. I am simply speaking of a global disintegration of traditional doctrine, the Greek gift, called ‘modernity’, and not Umbanda per se. But as the misconceptions are largely rising from this angle, it benefits clarity to address the issue from whence the voices of critique are more loud.
Let me here at the commence first take hold of the idea of ‘kiumba’, which is a kikongo word from the larger linguistic group of Bantu, signifying ‘skull’. Kiumbanda will then render its meaning to be ‘the way of the skull’. As far as I am aware ‘kiumbanda’ was first used as designating a more complete system of Kimbanda/Quimbanda, by myself, in 2006, than was usual. This idea however was born from conversations with Exu, my padrinho upon questioning comments concerning ‘kiumbas’ made by Fontenelle and Alves between the 40s and 60s in their published books.
The doctrine of ‘Kiumbanda’ is the same as for Quimbanda, there is no difference as such, even if there is a growing amount of opinions seeking to make a distinction between Kiumbanda and Quimbanda. It seems that ‘kiumbanda’ is about to replace to some extent the term ‘macumba’, by making a distinction where Quimbanda is a work with ‘negative entities’, but kiumbanda is to work with evil obsessive spirits. The Portuguese Wikipedia entrance even comments that these ‘kiumbanda’ are the same as Egum, or Egun, just to underscore the ignorance of the author of this entry.
Egun is a Yoruba term that reveals the complex metaphysics of death and ancestry and is related to our personal blood lineage. This means that the author is simply assuming that we all come from a long line of evil obsessive nasty ‘entities’. In the same breath we find in the blog of one Baba Egbé D’Oyafuna the following comment:
“Não podemos confundir a Quimbanda com a Kiumbanda (popularmente conhecida como magia negra). Isso porque a Kiumbanda não respeita os princípios fundamentais da Umbanda. Uma vez sem doutrina e uma linha de comando, muitas vezes realizam trabalhos que não trazem crescimento espiritual para aquela entidade, inclusive tirando a vida de pessoas.”
Yet again the profane perspectives are clouding spiritual truths, in this absurd observation adding that ‘kiumbanda’ might kill you – and sure, life is mortal…. The greatest killer is life and nature. Well, I can agree that it is better to walk carefully within the domains of lares and larvaes, because this is actually what differs ‘kiumbanda’ from Quimbanda, the honesty towards the spirit types we might risk to encounter in the realms of night and shadow. I find it more interesting that this fellow insist on kiumbanda, which is the same as black magic for him, is condemnable because it does not follow the divine principles of Umbanda. For him this means that ‘black magic’ is void of doctrine and line of command, and worst of all it does not bring spiritual growth to people. The issue of spiritual growth is actually interesting, as the complexity of their nature actually makes spiritual growth difficult, while spiritual knowledge is easily enabled.
My truck with the recent opinions is that everything is measured against Umbanda as possessing and effectuating the ‘divine law’ upon earth. In this we find a concern with the heterodox, the idea of karma and spiritism. What I find quite curious in this to see the idea of Egum being relegated to something nefarious and creepy, while ‘Egum’ is certainly at the cornerstone of Umbanda. Again, by returning the linguistic origin of Egum, the Yoruba Egun, ones ancestors are called as ‘ara orun’, ‘heaven dweller’. In light of Umbanda being organized on basis of Zelio channeling healing and knowledge from a caboclo (the spirit of a dead native Indian) I believe it is reason to understand Umbanda as an Egun cult in its own right. I believe it is the understanding of what ‘egun’ and’ kiumbas’ really are which must be reappraised on traditional premises.
Traditionally this represents ancestry and the spirit of people once alive, now dead. These spirits, depending on several factors can be n’kulu (a positive ancestral force) or n’kuyo (a negative ancestral force). Assuming these Bantu terms carrying significance it opens a crossroad burning with the mystery of the goes, the priestly class in charge of funeral rites, who possessed the secrets of Necromancy.
It is at this crossroad ‘kiumbanda’ unfolds itself, and it is at the very same crossroad, ‘kiumbanda’ meets ‘kimbisa’ or Palo Mayombe. Herein lies the traditional doctrine informing this particular work, but nowadays, this seems to be a legacy, obscure and for many forgotten in the whims of modern theosophical reconstruction