Thursday, 18 February 2010


Farewell Recife.  Thank you for all you have taught me.

I’m on a bus to a small town called Cachoeira. I’ll arrive in about 20 hours I think.

Cachoeira is reputed to be the soul of the Brazilian Candomble religion, the place where the practice is at its purest and most intense.

(thanks emilio for the pic)

I’m going in the hope that Candomble can teach me something about peaks.

I have found no peaks in Carnaval.

Graham, my boss, wants peaks.

I like peaks.

European festivities lost their peaks, says Barabara my historical oracle, when they lost their original ‘ritual’ form, were kicked out of the new Christian churches, and turned into more secular 'festivities' in the streets and taverns.

Candomble remains a ritual form, with music and dancing that goes on late into the night until dancers reach ecstatic trances which are felt and reported to be divine.

thanks Jucafil for the pic

“Sure, it’s a practice of collective joy,” Jon Hardeman told me when I called, “but no-one would ever call it that, no-one would ever say it’s about the joy." Jon's a British musician and a Candomble initiate. "It’s about a social get-together, it’s about cultural preservation, it’s about feeling a pure connection, to nature, to yourself, to the community, to spirit. Historically it was about African slaves brought to Brazil preserving their animist religious practices by cloaking them in Catholic regalia, allowing them to come together and support each other without the slave masters breaking it up."

(thanks judester for the pic)

Julianne, My German friend, is scared of Candomble she says, for it seems too foreign, too intense.

I think Graham, my boss, is looking for something intense.

His thinking is always, if he wants it, probably other people do too.

He wants to run around and be silly and free and let it all go.

But when that’s all it is, he’s not satisfied.

He wants a feeling of spiritual upliftment as well, and a peak.

I'm hoping Candomble, and the small Bahian town of Cachoeira, can teach us something about that.

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