Warning: Contains material some readers may find offensive.
A journey through the hands of a maker of magical items, discovering not only the secrets of Sacred art, but also the history and preservation of disappearing forms of Artisan work.
An Open Answer To Anne
Last week, editor Anne Niven asked me what was my opinion on this article from The Guardian (LINK), which speaks of Maria Lionza's cult reaction to the death of Hugo Chavez. We exchanged a few comments and she suggested that it would be a very interesting topic for a post, so here it is.
First of all, I would like to make very clear that Maria Lionza's cult is what is called a “horizontal religion” - that is, a religion with no hierarchy or structure, where all Portals (that's how we call our communities) operate independently. So, this is just MY opinion, and I do not speak for anyone but myself. I know this is a very touchy subject for many people, and it is not my intention to start any discussion or to hurt any feelings – what I intend is just to answer as a Spiritist and as a daughter of Maria Lionza.
I would also like to add, before giving my answer, that I am not a supporter of Hugo Chavez. Although I do not deny the good he did for Venezuela, I do not deny the bad either, and there's plenty of both. Those who attack him have very strong reasons to say what they say and to feel how they feel, and the suffering he may have caused does not stop with his death, because such personality leaves, for good or bad, a lasting legacy. I have nothing but respect for those who suffered his often extreme view of society.
Having said this, here is my answer. As a Spiritist and a daughter of Maria Lionza, I have the firm belief that absolutely every Spirit has the right to change and repair what they have done wrong in their lives, and that there is hope for even the worst human being ever to exist. We (Spiritists) are not here to judge, but to emanate Light both for the living (through healing and counselling) and for the Dead (through prayer and energy work).
What I think the Guardian's article is missing is the fact that prayer and devotion, for us, are ways of empowering and cleansing the Spirits that have just parted, so they go through their purification properly. We do NOT worship Spirits, we work along with them. Every Spiritual Court (group of Spirits associated by ethnic origin, profession, religion, etc.) contains Spirits of all levels of Light, from the highest to the lowest.
When a Spirit is asked for work, that work cleanses and empowers the Spirit gradually. In the article, Chavez is presented as "worshipped", and I think there lies the biggest misinterpretation of our work. Now, he is just a man, who has to go through his purification just like any other. As a Spirit, he has no special permits, and has to work his way as any other, because Maria Lionza gives no privileges that one has not earned by his/her own rights. What he has done wrong, he will have to face.
One of the clearest examples of our view on this moral debate is the Corte Malandra (could be translated as Court Of The Bad Ones), which is formed by Spirits who were criminals. In order to redeem their mistakes, they must work very hard helping living humans whom have lost their way in life to gain back their own power and straighten their lives. As they help and guide others, they clean their own mistakes and gain enlightenment, becoming more able to help more, and help better, in a constant feedback of energy between human and Spirit. If that applies for the Corte Malandra, whose Spirits were mostly poor, disenfranchised, illegal people with often no choice to do better, that applies to Chavez as well.
The last thing I would like to add is that no Spiritist is forced to work with any particular Spirit, besides the higher ones of course, as there is a strong element of personal affinity in the group of Spirits that work with each practitioner. While we have regularly pray for all Spirits in the process of purification as a whole, Maria Lionza would never force a practitioner to have a Chavez statue on his/her altar – only those who want to do so willingly, will do it.
The Spirit Courts are growing constantly, as this is a very young religion that by definition cannot reach a status quo, since people die every day and join the Courts, so who gets altar space is a very personal matter. One can work for years with the same three Spirits, whom are completely unknown to the “public list of famous Spirits”, as long as the Tres Potencias and the Courts are respected and honoured as they should. Thus, Chavez's death does not necessarily affect all the practitioners of the cult, but just those who choose to work with him.
So, this was my answer. I hope it has brought some light on this matter, and that it helps claryfying the, in my opinion, misinformed article from The Guardian.
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