Holy Harlots: Femininity, Sexuality, and Black Magic in by Kelly E. Hayes

By Kelly E. Hayes

Holy Harlots examines the intersections of social marginality, morality, and magic in modern Brazil by means of reading the ideals and non secular practices on the topic of the Afro-Brazilian spirit entity Pomba Gira. stated to be the disembodied spirit of an unruly harlot, Pomba Gira is a arguable determine in Brazil. Devotees keep that Pomba Gira possesses an intimate wisdom of human affairs and the magical energy to intrude within the human global. Others view this entity extra ambivalently. Kelly E. Hayes offers an intimate and interesting account of the complicated dating among Pomba Gira and certainly one of her devotees, Nazaré da Silva. Combining Nazaré’s religious biography with research of the gender politics and violence that shapes existence at the outer edge of Rio de Janeiro, Hayes highlights Pomba Gira’s function within the rivalries, relationships, and struggles of daily life in city Brazil.

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41 Others perceive Exu through a Spiritist-influenced theological framework as a plurality of powerful and unruly “spirits of the shadows,” who represent the darker aspects of the human psyche. 43 Known as exus, these entities are described as the spirits of former human beings who, for a variety of reasons, remain linked to the world of the living (figure 3). They are connected especially with urban street life and its illicit desires—vice, lust, crime, and sensual indulgence—and are represented as prostitutes, hustlers, conmen, cabaret girls, and others forced by circumstance to Wicked Women and Femmes Fatales | 21 figure 3.

Today there are macumbas for any purpose. The work of syncretism knows no limits. Macumba has invaded all spheres. 35 Those who engaged in such adulterated and ignoble practices were dismissed as charlatans and sorcerers. By insisting on the dissimilarities among various traditions, whether rooted in categorical oppositions between religion and magic or in the different cultural origins of African slaves, this interpretive framework both overestimated the separateness of various traditions and oversystematized them to accord with various criteria of legitimacy.

In addition to these ceremonies, several times a week I visited with Nazaré and whoever happened to be at her terreiro that day. My regular and frequent presence offered opportunities for interviewing other community members and clients. Because Nazaré informed everyone that I was writing a book about her, these interviews felt forced in the beginning as my subjects, faced with such an important undertaking, became guarded and formal. With time these interviews became more relaxed and more informative.

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