Orixa is one of the arts of human mode of life represented on Earth through one of the 16 powers (sometimes 12, depending on the branch). These in turn are qualities of the unified force of Olodumare which are present in the cultures of the Yoruba and the Candomble. The art of knowing Orixa is identified with the art of knowing one’s own purpose and place on Earth.
Candomble is an Afro-American religion practiced chiefly in Brazil and its neighboring countries. This religion was brought to South America by the African priests and clerics as well as the large number of enslaved Africans in the period spanning between 1549 and 1888. This religious movement was also known under the name Batuque used mainly up until the beginning of the 19-th century.
Today this is one of the basic religions of Brazil. In some regions (for example in Rio de Janeiro) Candomble is known as Macumba, although Macumba has a different set of practices that resemble more the European tradition of witchcraft. Candomble can also be distinguished from Umbanda – a religious trend founded in the beginning of the 20-th century as a mixture of some African elements with Kardecism (a religious and philosophical spiritualist doctrine named after Allan Cardec who lived in France in the mid 19-th century) and other similar religious practices derived from the African continent and transferred to other countries of the New World (for example religions like Vodou, Santeria, Obeah, etc.).
Umbanda was founded in Brazil in the beginning of the 20-th century. It combines beliefs and rituals of the Catholic and the Afro-Brazilian traditions, plus others based on Kardecist spiritualism. Originally this religious trend appeared among the lower classes of the Afro-Brazilian population of Rio de Janeiro but today it has spread throughout the whole territory of Brazil. The word ‘umbanda’ comes from the Angolan term ‘kimbundu’ and translates as ‘religious followers’.
Umbanda is a monotheistic syncretic religion based on the worship of Angolan spirits whose representations appeared in Brazil in the colonial period together with the African slaves. The god Orixás of the Yoruba pantheon possesses a symbolic power over the whole legion of spirits who were correlated to specific Catholic deities (so as not to enter in conflict with the Catholic Church) who were believed to guide the work of these spirits.
The Orixa dances represent a practice that aims at understanding one’s own personal Axé.