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The ‘firmeza’ of Quimbanda

Quimbanda is a cult centred on the direct and head on interaction with spirit, hence developing mediumistic skills and capability in spirit trafficking is integral and vital to working Quimbanda. Possession is a phenomenon that intrigues and also scares. After all we have all seen movies like The Exorcist and other horror thrillers giving visual spectacles to how hostile spirits can take over the human body, mind and soul in intrusive and fatal ways. But possessions do find a counterpart in the shamanic rapture as much as in the prophet whose soul is filled with angelic light that makes him or her prophetic. Possession is not only about the full given over of your material vessel to a spirit that in turn uses the faculties of the medium to engage various forms of work. Inspiration, dream and to be ‘under the influence’ are potentially valid and worthy avenues for connecting with spirit. Yet another avenue for good spirit trafficking is the communion, or what Jake Stratton-Kent calls ‘a night in with the boys’ in defining this form of spirit congress performed with the ‘goetic’ spirits.

I have received lately so many correspondences asking the same question, namely, how to attend to one’s personal Exu and Pomba Gira, that I decided to write about this here as a reference for many.

First a distinction must be made given that many Quimbandeiros will advice against establishing a tronco/a seat of power in one’s home. This prohibition is largely due to the presence of graveyard dirt and other items inside a full assentamento (spirit vessel) that can bring hostile forces to be attracted and thus generate some turbulence in the life of the practitioner. Now there are ways of defining perimeters and eliminating this factor, but it is not full assentamentos I will speak of, but rather the private cult and work with one’s personal Exu and Pomba Gira, what is more properly know as ‘firmeza’.

My understanding of the relationship between your personal Pomba Gira and Exu is that they serve as mirrors of the soul and reflect your lack, debilities and your greatness at the same time. It is a mirror free from judgment and moral that set up something to aspire to as much as it challenges you. Much misunderstanding takes place in this field where some believe that just because the life story and attributes and character of one’s personal Exu is of a murderer and scoundrel that this give some sort of excuse to kill and cheat, like a Pomba Gira that lived as a prostitute on the darker strains of life will quicken such activity in the life of the practitioner. We must keep in mind that these spirits that bring the memory of human fortune and misfortune to us, as teachers, guides and friends. Hence it is crucial to first get to know your personal Exu and Pomba Gira, not only because it will bring knowledge of Self, but of the human condition itself. Through this knowledge we can understand how to move wind with water and shake the earth with fire. In addition to these two spirits we also have a ‘working spirit’. This working spirit is someone we can think of as representing a potency turned towards us in a benign manner and which is most likely to help us in the walk of life.

A private cult focusing on these forces should be simple and since these are spirits already being a part of you, there is really nothing stopping you from working with them, but it is of course advisable to know how to enter into a constructive relationship with these rather amoral spirits that reflects upon your soul in order to bring forth what is good.

The usual way to go about with this is to acquire some physical representation of these spirits that can be placed in a shrine. Most common is to use statues and these statues and even if they are crossed and charged it doesn’t mean they are assentamentos. Rather they represent what is known as ‘firmeza’. There is really no satisfying translation of this term, but the idea is of a strong bond, the final knot in a chain that secures all other beads and parts in the chain. So, a private cult with one’s personal spirits is to work ones ‘firmeza’ or stronghold with spirit and the ‘firmeza’ can be kept inside your house. Commonly you will keep them in a closed cabinet or arrange their space in such way that they can be covered when they are not worked.

The cult itself is fairly simple and straightforward. You will offer up candles, tobacco and liquor even thou flowers, pastries, meat, padé and other items can make part of the offering. But I will speak of the simple premise for a communion with your personal spirits, the very first step for someone who has no access to a terreiro or a Tata.

When starting a session stamp the ground with your left foot three times or knock on the shrine three times with your left fist and say:

Salve o povo de Quimbanda
Salve o Mairoal
Salve Rainha
Salve  o povo da Rua
Salve Exu (insert name)
Salve Pomba Gira (insert name)

Light the candles, which can be one, three or seven. Red for Pomba Gira and black for Exu or a mixture where a dominance of black candles is offered to Exu and a dominance of red candles is given to Pomba Gira.

Give liquor to the spirits, which can be simple as cachaça, rum or vodka for Exu and red wine, champagne or whiskey for Pomba Gira. For more precise attributes for specific spirits you find them in the books Exu and Pomba Gira. The liquor is given in glasses and a small portion is offered on the image itself.

Then light the cigar for Exu or cigarette/cigarillo for Pomba Gira in the same number as candles, one, three or seven. The cigar and cigarillo can be placed in an ashtray in front of the image and cigarettes can be placed with the filter down on the table as a candle.

At this point you will sing/recite the pontos cantados (sacred songs) for the Exu and Pomba Gira you are working wit and calling forth. The pontos make part of popular religiosity here in Brazil and many famous and wonderful pontos are found on youtube these days. There is of course also ‘heart song’, which is basically how these pontos came into being in the first place. That spirit moves you to sing pontos inspired and given from them. But in the beginning I would recommend that you learn a ponto or three.

Continue this, move your body if you wish, until you sense they are coming and simply sit down and pour yourself a drink and light a cigar, cigarillo or cigarette and even if you are not a smoker make the effort of a few symbolic puffs, leaving the reminder to spirit. Sing, talk, be in communion.

When you feel or seek the session to be at end say:

Obrigado povo de Quimbanda. Boa noite!
Salve Exu
Salve Pomba gira

You will then leave the shrine and allow the candles to burn out by themselves and you should watch your dreams and whatever changes that occurs in your life and take notice of it.

When disposing of the offerings you can do this in many ways. Tobacco and liquor can simply be disposed of in the garbage the morning after (Salve Mulambo). These items have been consumed by spirit and become rather void of virtue. I say, rather void, because naturally something is left and for those who seek to dispose of offerings in a more correct way it should be placed on the ground, in contact with earth or at the crossroad. This means, you can bring the residues of the offerings to any crossroad and dispose of it there as you can bring it to the woods and dispose of it at the foot of a tree.  When we work in given kingdoms we deliver the residues to the kingdom worked, but for all intent and purposes, the crossroad and the presence of earth is to be preferred, and always used, when something more than tobacco, candles and liquor is offered.  

Try to think about these first steps as getting to know yourself in honesty, using spirits gravitating to the streets and the human realms as your mirror and measure. Keep it simple and give attention to the personal nature of the communion. Try to avoid reading too much into nothing and try to not ignore clear signs of their presence and it should be fine. For most people this relationship with the spirits of Quimbanda will suffice.

This being said, Exu and Pomba Gira are spirits of earth and fire, Venus and Saturn burning in sulphuric dirt, so certainly some practitioners may experience the presence of what is commonly known as kiumbas or spirits of obsession. If this happens it is quite simple to get rid of it.

You can make fumigations of rue, sea salt and lavender and also make bath of the same.

You can burn sage and laurel leaves and you can make a habit of taking baths in sea salt and petals of white roses after the sessions if you are experiencing problems with anger, fixation of negative sorts or simply feel hostile energies around.

Naturally there is much more to Quimbanda than this, but this is a way safe, rewarding and good to work with them, a first step in establishing ‘firmeza’...

If you want statues of Exu and Pomba Gira or a consult to discover your personal spirits you can visit Sacred Alchemy Store  or for custom made commissioned statues visit Wolf & Goat and for those seeking to know more about Quimbanda you can get in touch with House of Quimbanda 

Illustration borrowed from: http://ocalafrio.blogspot.com.br/2013/04/deuses-e-entidades-assustadoras-exu.html

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