Spiritual traditions brought to the Americas by enslaved Africans during the 16th through 19th centuries are widely practiced today in the Northeast of Brazil in a religion called Candomblé, an ecstatic religion similar to other religions of the African Diaspora.

The Candomblé religion has many gods called orixás who practitioners believe take possession of the bodies of the faithful during religious ceremonies – causing them to fall into trance.


The orixás of Candomblé are gods identified with forces of nature and honored ancestors. Each orixá has particular colors, foods, greetings, and powers; and each member of Candomblé lives under the protection of a particular orixá to whom certain obligations are owed. For example, Xangô, ancient African king of Oyô, is the orixá of justice, fire, and thunder; his colors are red and white. Omolu, the god of healing and pestilence, can be identified by his cape of straw and colors of white and black.


Mãe Stella de Azevedo

Mãe Stella de Oxossi, the fifth leader and mãe-de-santo (Mother of the Saint) of an historic house of Candomblé in Salvador, has served as priestess there for more that thirty-five years. One of the most respected religious leaders of Brazil, she has worked to affirm the African roots of Candomblé.