Generally, the transportation is done using music, to the beat of a drum. As the beat of the drum increases in intensity and the chorus of believers shouts "strength… strength… strength," the spirit enters the person who is ready to receive the spirit and be transported. Traditionally, the person ingests a glass of pure rum before being transported and at the end of the process shows no sign of being drunk, and the breath does not smell of liquor. The transported person recommends the treatment the patient needs.
This treatment could include taking baths with certain herbs or lighting candles of various colors, such as yellow, blue, red, black and purple. The follower who guides the person is called "banco" (and can be a man or a woman) and has the knowledge to lead the spirit into and out of the body of the transported. To bid the spirit to leave, the spirit is shown the way out of the body. This is done by the faithful saying goodbye to the spirit and the banco beginning the process of guiding the spirit by blowing in the ear of the transported person. The person comes back to the real world and has no memory of what has happened.
Organization of María Lionza spirits
The María Lionza spiritual practice is characterized by a series of indigenous, African, and colonial white spirits, especially those who participated in the resistance to conquest and colonization and in the war of independence by
The courts are a kind of sub-pantheon of spirits under the omnipresence of María Lionza. The Indian Court consists of those indigenous people who fought mightily against the Spanish and did not submit to the conquest. Guaicaipuro was the main figure among them. He defeated the Spanish several times and assassinated the Spanish ruler, feeding him to a pack of hungry dogs. There are two indigenous figures who are favorites among the believers, however, and are turned to for the possession. The first is the feminine divinity called
India Rosa you are worshipped with great fervor.
You who can bring about peace and understanding
I implore you
to fulfill my request.
Traditionally, outside of possession, the devotee of India Rosa makes a specific request, prays a credo and a Hail Mary daily and lights a red candle for seven days. To ensure fulfillment of the devotee’s wishes, he or she does not reveal the prayer made to the image of India Rosa.
Paramaconi is the other spirit most often invoked among the Indian court. The following prayer is used:
to your subjects.
You who protects the beings
who inhabit the earth, which grants riches
to those who beseech you at the altars.
Oh Chief Paramaconi, today I call
on your heart to grant me this favor.
The second court is the African Court, which includes another greater fighter on behalf of independence for
Black Felipe is the head of the African Court. When he possesses a person, he usually asks for a red turban to be placed on the person’s head. The following prayer is said to Black Felipe:
Oh great brother, omnipotent Black Felipe
exemplary in life, kind but with great courage
who, in battle after battle, defeated our
enemies and who showed nothing but kindness
from your great heart for your friends, and gifts
for the ill and the fallen, I ask in this hour of distress
and sorrow that you lend me the power that you owned in life
to repay the evil of my enemies and to turn them away
because I do nothing wrong to anyone and wish harm to no one.
Another black woman who plays an important role in the African Court is known as Black Matea (Negra Matea), who in life was the wet nurse for liberator Simón Bolívar. She rarely takes possession. Both Black Matea and Black Felipe are important figures in
The third court is called the Celestial Court and included a young doctor who was known in life as José Gregorio Hernández, "God’s servant." He was born in Isnotu, a town in western
The first miracles attributed to José Gregorio Hernández began to occur in
Today, the María Lionza spiritual practice is the highest religious expression of the Venezuelan people that has spread beyond the country’s borders.
Autor: Jesús García
Published: March 08, 2012.
Version: 12020307 Rev. 1