Sunday, November 16, 2008

Gantois, uma vez mais…festaramos Iroko, Iewa, Ossain e Oxumare

Sleeping at E’s. October 23
Thursday evening after the opening, Tracy and I shared a friend’s apartment. She was on a short trip out of town. Her life was, is in flux as she begins a period of redefinition. This new spot, a sublet was serene and tender a perfect refuge for someone in between experiences.

I found enough of her other existence in evidence to create the appropriate snuggle up cozy feeling. Tracy took the bed, and I the sofa cum floor. The sofa was a little too tight and the latter a bit hard, but I could freely toss and thrash about. As usual in a new sleeping space I slept poorly and awoke early. We had an abbreviated breakfast and I set out for the bus to Cachoeira. I made my connections without a hitch, and you know the rest since this entry is a flashback from previous entries. FAST FORWARD….

I ran into several Yield signs this time in Cachoeira, including the fact that I did not have my own keys to Francisca’s apartment. After missing a connection with the bus let me back off at the Rodoviaria, Sunday evening. I made my way to the Engenho Velho/Federação bus to attend my final ceremony at Gantois. I had left an email with Zeno, so I was not sure that we would connect this time. I had to be mindful that I might need to find a room at midnight if there were any glitches.

I grabbed a seat on the crowded bleachers to park myself and my gear. I reflected on how much had happened over these last couple of months, since my first ceremony in August. I had altered my sense of the environment and my relationship to it. I had enough sense to decode aspects of what was occurring before me. Once more I felt comfortably alien as the service began. The repetitive and meditatory nature of the Bainas gathering energy and spirits in their Reza de Roda, intoning praises to each Orixá, choreographing the essence of each deity was now familiar in the way it both lulled my conscious mind and incited my spirit. Often the ceremonies are dedicated to one major Orixá, though each one always gets their due and honorifics. Ancillary Orixá, Nana the mother of Omulu may be fêted on his day to strengthen the power and presence of Omulu in the Terreiro.

Tonight Iroko, Iewa, Ossain and Oxumare were being engaged.

Iroko- A major figure in the Candomblé of Salvador, represented by the tree of the same name, alternatively the Strangler Fig or Ceiba. The seeds of the Iroko take flight and alight in the boughs of their hosts, strangling them to begin their own life. Often they leave a sacred room where the host had once been. Iroko is the tree that grows from heaven into the earth, in opposition to the cycle of every other tree. An archetype of time, symbolic of a person who is rigorous, malicious, and open in their views, imbued with graciousness and an empathic heart.

Iewa-Is synonomous with Iemanja. She is that manifestation of Iemanja that lives in the foam of the rushing breakers. She is effervescent, connoting change and flux.

Ossain-is the divinity of leaves, medicines and the liturgy. He brings power through the leaves, sun and rain to heal and share with those who understand his gifts.

Oxumaré-Father to both Nanã e Obaluaiye,(or Omulu),the spirit of mobility and activities, the one who directs movement.

Ossain and Oxumare were presented in several of their manifestations. They had golden, green, brilliant hued costumes, staffs, crowns and powerful. The mounted and costumed celebrants filled the room with more than fifteen Orixá giving praise, humbling themselves and dancing in tempo to the Atabaque. The food I saw was simple, some sweets and fruit. I did not stay through to the end of the ceremony. Late in the evening I looked out the window and saw Zeno heading up the hill towards his car. I called to him, and we went home together. We had our final discussion of place and spirit. He related to me some of the details of the ceremony at Castro Alves last week that had honored the tenth anniversary of his mother, Mae Cleusa. We discussed my work, and his attempts to arrange an interview with the woman who is the Chef of Gantois. That would have to happen on my next visit. The spiritual season was in full swing, so he was overloaded and spirited.

I slept in, a little too late. By the time we left the house in the morning it was nearly eleven. I watched João ham it up for my camera as I ate my café da manha while Zeno showered. He had found a tender spot in my heart. I knew that in all likelihood based upon his age, I would be a stranger upon my return to his world. Youth and aging have so many parallels.

Zeno dropped me off at a Federação bus stop on his way to the Terreiro. I missed both of the ferries I was shooting for. I had made arrangements to have lunch at Sacatar and meet the new fellows. The twelve thirty Lancha arrived at Mar Grande close to one forty and I encountered my first female moto tax driver, Mery. It seemed appropriate that one of the last trips would be unique. She was careful and quick. I felt comfortable enough to shoot some pics from my perch in the rear. I made sure that Luis took her name and number, she could be a good contact for some of the fellows, especially this new crop of women fellows.


I was immediately swarmed and information was drained like a Vulcan Mind Meld. This time there were six fellows and one had a collaborator who was staying in Salvador. Film, photography and writing were the disciplines. I was quite impressed with the group. They appeared to have created some strong primary bonds from the jump. I was glad to share what knowledge I had. They were all curious about the Eguns. It seems that Halloween, Day of the Dead has resonance for them as well. Within 20 minutes I was exhausted and famished. Slowly they went to their studios and left me in the courtyard, hungry. Something was off in this scene. Michelle the writer and journalist had continued to engage me after the others had departed. Out of the corner of my consciousness I saw and felt the presence of the team from Capoeira União. Good. One of my main reasons for coming back to Sacatar was to officially say goodbye to Augusto and Luis, but mainly to try and connect to Junior. He really had my heart and my second attention. Now as I write this, two weeks later he still is in my mind several times a day. I want so much for him to find a way through the loss of his mom and what could be a poor, working class existence. He has so much to offer.I hope that he can keep moving on; move forward or in place until he can find himself.

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