XIRÊ OF THE ORIXÁS

BY

CARLOS BUBY

Templo Guaracy

Umbanda is a thousand year old song which speaks of Love. A Christian Love, filled with tenderness and compassion, like that expressed in Tibetan Buddhist philosophy. An unconditional love such as what we can envision in universal Motherhood. And as in every song, it can be played by different instruments, interpreted in different ways, arranged by different teachers while, nonetheless, remaining the same song.


It would be good if all Umbanda practitioners, and particularly the writers who speak of the Afro-Brazilian culture, concentrated their efforts in presenting their work, without attempting to belittle other lines of thought. It is important to consider this. It is regrettable when we are searching for the Light and encounter someone trying to impose their truth upon us. Recently a publication with very interesting content attracted our attention. It dealt with an essay on some themes relevant to Umbanda. Shortly, however, we began to perceive a posture of discrimination against temples which use drums. These unfortunate positions do not invalidate the intellectual contribution offered by their authors. However, the misinterpreted ritualistic differences cause unnecessary conflicts and consequently the fragmentation of a greater Unity. History has demonstrated that, throughout the centuries, religious intolerance has promoted wars and destroyed countless lives.


There are so many controversies about the origin of Umbanda that we prefer to focus upon its natural teachings. Nevertheless, from the moment that a temple adopts certain terminology, such as Ogum, Iemanjá, Xangô, etc. it cannot deny the presence of African culture in its structure. Although terminology does not represent the totality of a tradition, once it is used as a form of representation, denying it as part of the tradition's roots, it at the very least, incoherent.


The Orixás, according to Templo Guaracy, are forces and energies manifested in Nature which, through their interaction, create the "Dynamic of Odudua," or the energetic Life, its multiplicity and mutations in our planet. Through the effect of anthropomorphism, a phenomenon that gives human attributes to things, they acquire forms and behavior similar to those of humans. In this function, it is not uncommon to find legends, which refer to the Orixás, giving them moral, emotional, psychological and mythological connotations. The personification of the Orixás, not to be confused with the personality of their mediums, can contribute to illustrating theories, which approach the different energetic planes and their vibratory frequencies. Xirê is a term, which refers to the sequence in which the Orixás are revered, or invoked, during the rituals directed toward them. It is common to use the word Xirê as a synonym for Gira. It is also called the Circle of the Orixás. So that we can better understand the Xirê of the Orixás set forth by Templo Guaracy, we will begin with the principle that everything is constituted by the combination of the four basic elements and their sixteen qualities. When represented in the form of a quadrant, the four basic elements occur in specific positions with relation to the geometric quadrant.


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