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Spiritualism in African Diaspora Religions

To: alt.lucky.w, alt.religion.orisha, alt.magick.tyagi
Subject:    Spiritualism in African Diaspora Religions
Date:       Mon, 28 Aug 2000 (ToBeAMaster666):
> who is Alan Kardek exactly? I have seen candles by his name but  
> wonder how such an obvious "non-cubano" name has anything to do 
> with a congo or cuban religion? 

Kevin Filan :
> > Kardek (I've also seen it spelled as Kardec) is the
> > founder of modern Spiritualism.  

Eoghan Ballard :
> Alan Kardec is the name which Hippolyte Leon Denizard Rivail 
> claimed he had in a former life as a Breton Druid. 

Kardec was French. He wrote several books on Spiritualism during
the 19th century. He was by no means the "founder of modern
Spiritualism"! -- he was simply a European writer on the subject.
Despite its echoes in Europe, the majority of the theorists and
practitioners of Spiritualism have always been Americans. Kardec's 
works were popular in the Caribbean and, to a lesser extent in the US. 

Spiritualism as a religion got its start in the US in the 1840s and
reached its greatest peak in membership in the 1860s. Originally
Spiritualism was allied with radical political goals, including female
suffrage and the abolition of slavery. As a new religion, it drew its
first membership in large part from members of various Universalist,
Unitarian, and Transcendentalist denominations of Christianity. 

Originally, the major focus of Spiritualism was on trance mediumship, 
contact with the dead, and the development of spirit guides. During the
1870s a series of scandals that exposed the workings of fraudulent
"materialization" mediums caused some Spiritualists to abandon the
religion and others to retreat from the wilder claims of
"materialization" and to reaffirm their interest in working with spirit
guides through trance-possession. 

Because of the obvious linkages between Spiritualist beliefs and the
beliefs of indigenous people from Africa and the Americas regarding both
the existence of ancestral spirits and the efficacy of trance-possession
-- as well as Spiritualism's early and spectacular history of support
for human rights in the political arena -- Spiritualism remains a
popular religion among the descendents of Native Americans and African
slaves. Doctrinally, churches expressing a Spiritualist-Christian
"blend" make up the bulk of the Spiritual Church denominations active

Kevin Filan :
> > His [Kardec's] ideas were a
> > huge influence on what later became Santeria and Palo,
> > although, interestingly, they seem to have been less
> > influential in Francophone (more or less) Haiti...

Eoghan Ballard :
> Huh? I think you have the time frame backwards here. Palo (and Orisha
> worship for that matter were around long before Kardec -- forgive my
> spelling). Also, while some of the techniques of Kardecist 
> spiritualism were adopted or adapted by some branches of Palo, they 
> can hardly be viewed as a "huge".

I agree with Eoghan here -- Kardec's writing was popular in
Afro-Caribbean Spiritualist circles and thus had an influence on
Santeria and Palo, but the degree of that influence is moderated by the
amount of African-derived material each group retains, and in any case
the Kardecian or Spiritualist influence is mere garnishing, not the core
Eoghan Ballard :
> Some branches of palo (the term paleros use is ramas) use espiritismo
> but keep it strictly separate from their palo practices. Some borrow
> some techniques from espiritismo (although this is relatively rare in
> real palo) and there are some which refuse to have anything to do with
> influences from either Orisha worship or espiritismo.

The same is true of Christianity -- some Christian denominations adopted
Spiritualism to such a great extent that they now identify as Spiritual
Churches, while other Spiritualists work outside the Christian framework
entirely, and yet a thrid group of Christians (the majority of them,
obviously) refuse to admit ANY Spiritualist influences. '

Eoghan Ballard :
> In point of fact, palo has had a greater influence on the practice of
> espiritismo in Cuba than the reverse. One of the most popular forms of
> espiritismo is what is called espiritismo cruzado (usually pronounced
> "cruzao"). This is a form of religious practice which evolved out of
> espiritismo but which has picked up the large part of the Congo 
> pantheon and has adopted the creation of prendas or ngangas from  
> Congo practice.

The same retention of Congo elements in an ostensibly
Spiritual-Christian church can be seen in those New Orleans Spiritual
Churches in which Black Hawk figures as a spirit guide. Often, a bust
statue of Black Hawk is kept in a bucket (equivalent to a Congolese
nganga). Photos of two busts of Black Hark kept in buckets can be found
in Jason Berry's book on Spiritual Churches in New Orleans, "The Spirit
of Black Hawk, a Mystery of Inidans and Africans." 

cat yronwode 

Hoodoo in Theory and Practice --

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