Photo: Graciela Iturbide
Life is a beautiful condition of being – it can give all, poverty and riches - disgrace and grace – it is the playground of Fortune and Chance. The best teachers in giving value to this are of course those that understand death. Those that lived until Death gave them wisdom. Myth tells many stories of how the dead interacts with the living and give advice, they be ancestors in a blood line or a spirit line. The dead ones as teachers is something that is subject for great forgetfulness as the world rushes towards a greater materialism. Our world is a repetition of sameness that effectively eradicates the other as something that does not belong – like death that is now the other. The other as a teacher thrives well and good in those parts of the world deemed ‘primitive’ – the embarrassing backwaters of modernity that sustains vivid and pulsating tradition.
In the Halls of Hades Hell was everywhere and paradise was isolated islands of milk and honey - it spoke of and interaction between those who forfeited their destiny and those who made it. It is here I see Quimbanda takes shape and in particular the figure of Pomba Gira. We might say, for the sake of allegory that Exu is the king of Hades and Pomba Gira is the spirit of teaching, often restrained but upon awakening is sent out in the world to awaken us from our slumber. She comes in many forms and all these forms challenges you – by this alone. She is a denizen of the crossroads of the world that breaks open in a multitude of serpentine impulses that goes out in the world to infect us with consciousness of life. She, from beyond the grave teaches us about life because she has been there – but now she is the other that knows you. She is perspective from beyond the grave.
Knowledge and understanding is always in the realm of the other. Action and reaction, manifest beauty and the hatred upon it is about our world, the world of the living flesh. Pomba Gira defies this mock world of repetition upon the theme of sameness and challenges you to enter the other so you can become whole and complete.
Pomba Gira’s message of becoming complete is growing more and more in importance, especially for Woman and those that struggle with condemnation of their sexuality. In our world when sexuality defines and defies so much of modern men and Woman’s identity and worth she is so important that it is better to discard her as primitive, vile and lewd - improper. Because at the end of the line she is your mirror – she is you – and no contemporary potencies would like you to be you in your fullness and glory....
It is here we find Pomba Gira, the Free Woman, who knows life and death and if taken on as a muse and guide can teach you to release the truth about yourself. For modern man so much identity is locked up in shame and denial somehow related to desire and sexuality – she seeks to release this so she can aid in moulding you as a serpent moulds its victim, as a lover moulds the world around the beloved to make you strong. She seeks to make you strong, to mould your iron-spine of resistance and stubborn reluctance of acceptance in the fires of passion and desire.
This is Quimbanda and this is Pomba Gira’ role. She is not the answer to sleazy, lovelorn obsessions of your passions in spellcraft and mirongas - she knows these pitfalls to well and engage you only if a lessons are involved. She keeps the secret that can unbridle the acceptance of yourself; nothing less – even if you settle for less. She is fertile Death teaching you of passion as she sings in a whisper:
Shshshs I am She who makes your world turn
Shshshs I am She who you entreated with your world of desire
Take my hand and begin your metamorphosis - now burn!
Because transmutation and sulphur feeds my fire.
Saravá Pomba Gira!