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No leaf, no orixá: solutions based on ancestry

The mythical vision says that Candomblé is composed of Kings, Queens, Princes, Princesses, Warriors, Healers and Wanderers, but little is said about what, in fact, it is. The nature! This happens because of Itans. Sacred stories that give religious guidance to priests and people from the diaspora.

Each Orisha represents a natural element. Earth, water, fire and air are given sacred names and are worshiped by followers of the cult from Africa. It's no wonder that the waters of Oxum and Iemanjá receive constant offers from Candomblé and Umbanda fans. Water is life from gestation and therefore needs to be contemplated.

The word Orisha itself says a lot about the connection between us and nature. Orí has the Yoruba meaning of head. So when we emit the word Orisha, we are referring to the God or, energy, of the head of a certain person.

During the slavery period, the relationship between Indians and fugitive blacks strengthened this union even more. The offerings made at the crossroads fed and guided the enslaved in their escapes, leading them to the quilombos. 

Another convergent point is Yoruba and indigenous medicine, which give full meaning to the phrase KOSI EWÉ, KOSI ORIXÁ. The meaning of the maxim most used in Candomblé is NO LEAF, NO ORIXÁ. This proves the importance of the forest for the Afro-Brazilian cult and its followers.

What needs to be understood is how religion will be able to adapt to this real understanding of the necessary zeal with which, in fact, connects the Orisha with its children. Yes, according to dogmas, every human being is a child of a natural energy. 

The fact that the body of every existing being is connected to an energy of nature is the starting point of this conversation. Even because, you can't kill what keeps you alive, according to the belief you profess, right? The people who manage Candomblé and Umbanda must find a way to work better with the environmental issue so that the sacred is increasingly unified in the idea of preservation and religious zeal.

This sense that we, human beings, are nothing more than the very extension of nature and not something that is apart or that is superior, as society insists on putting us, is the primordial point of understanding for us to think in what ways sustainability it can cross our life and become constant in all aspects. 

There needs to be a resumption of what our ancestry used to do, what technologies based on nature that our elders already used. For example, the use of baskets made from leaves, to avoid polluting our water resources, the use of dolls made from corn on the cob to put in baskets. Technologies are diverse, it is only necessary to connect with the principle. 

In addition, there is also a need for a training process as a way of internally strengthening our religious community regarding the socio-environmental problems we face and understanding how united peoples can fight against this situation that has been imposed on us. 

It is important to emphasize here that this more environmentally critical movement is a journey that has already been thought of by our elders since before the ECO-92, as well exposed in the training process that took place at the end of May called: Path of the peoples of Terreiro – Rio Summit + 30. 

We need to talk about what is happening in the world and strengthen ourselves, we need to occupy all decision-making spaces and no longer allow others to take our technologies and ways of managing that are functional and effective and appropriate them, as is the case of agroforestry , placed today on platforms as one of the greatest technologies based on nature at the time, but which had already been practiced for millennia by the original peoples, for example. 

True technology is ancient.

Joaquim Azevedo
Joaquim Azevedo is Babalorixá of Ilê Àse Meji Omi Odara, Socio-religious Activist, Writer, Photojournalist and founder of the movement to take back Quem Axé.
Lorena Froz
Lorena Froz is Abian from Ilê Àse Meji Omi Odara, offspring of Complexo da Maré, Environmental Technician and Environmental Educator, Technical and Communication Director at Faveleira, Climate activist and member of the Young Climate Leaders network in RJ.