Old new mythologies in everyday life
For a less Western Imaginary
When I was a little girl (because I am still a child), one of my favorite songs at school was that of the mermaid sung by Bia Bedran. “I lost my ring at sea, I don’t know how to find it. The sea brought me the shell as a gift to give me. Either it’s in the whale’s throat, or it’s in the mermaid’s finger, or it was a fisherman who found the ring with his love ”. This is my version, okay?
Isn’t it amazing (or bizarre) how we grew up believing in the humanization of animals, in the animation of the still and especially in mythologies that have been served to us since childhood?
Mermaids have always been in my imagination. Poseidon was in the name of one of my mother’s classic and favorite films. Witches were painted in a cruel way even too much to be true. Priests and alchemists — I always observed them — were only welcome in the stories, if they were there to please and empower kings… And worst of all, one day I believed that voodoo was just the name of a doll and ritual demonized by Hollywood, that growing up in a Jeje culture house — root of candomblé originating from the Kingdom of Daomé (present-day Benin) where Vodum is the main official religion in the country.
Now, imagine a world in which not only the sirens’ song, the beauty of Aphrodite, the intelligence of Athena and the fury of Ares were mythized and widely publicized? A childhood populated by legends about Oxum’s beauty, strategy, politics, domination and assertiveness? Drawings, books, bedtime stories that could form another narrative and awareness of the relationship with Nature, thinking of her as the greatest of the powers that we have guarded by Ossain and all the orishas? And, why not, a world in which painting and reading Exu in schools would help us to grow more loyal, communicative and expressive?
A world in which priests like babalorixás and ialorixás were respected as the powerful alchemists they are, those who in the flesh know how to use all the elements of nature and invoke the goddesses and gods of a southern mythology to strengthen queens, kings and people without going to the dungeon for that?
I’m talking about legends with African gods and goddesses that we know through candomblé. We could also grow up singing wheel songs and watching populated cartoons about Shiva and Ganesha.
Understand that Ares is for Western culture just as Ogum is for Afro culture and Murugan for Hindus, but who is demonized?
Until they discovered yoga, right? And this is now allowed, appropriate and very well monetized here.
The fact is that we can go as far as our eye reaches Westernized cultures, taking the North as a reference because if we look at mythology and legends originating in the East and South, we are adrift like fishermen enchanted by the siren’s ring and song .
In this fake Western world (because Brazil is not considered “they”) colonized, we were allowed to close every year only by revering Iemanjá. And at the turn of the year, what do we wear? White. White, in spite of Western fashion culture, painting basic black as the color that empowers, respects, makes you get hired and excludes both skin color and mourning. It is the white in the clothes that becomes the color that means and attracts good things at the turn of the year. And it is an African proverb that teaches us that anyone who wears white does not sit on the grease. Where does your teaching to wear white come from? Why ritualize the act of dressing in a color expecting good things at the end of the year? It is with Oxalá that we learn the power that white people have (as clothes, not people, please). And its seven waves, its seven grapes, its seven white palms?
When the white people discover the power contained in these “new” deities, energies, narratives, rituals, leaves, colors, sayings, they give themselves the right not only to allow them — since they can no longer fight against them — as to take ownership of them. Like the mermaids, Iemanjá has also hovered in my imagination since I was a little girl, but rather revered more and more by everyone, in a freedom almost without demonization that allows everyone to deliver a boat to the sea on New Year’s Eve. That is, until we covered a black and not a white statue of the deity. Then the conversation changes.
They are afraid. First they marginalize, rape, exclude, erase … Then, they discover the power contained in that experience and take ownership.
And therein lies the danger, fear and protection of so many of our ancestors in protecting our sacred. But that remains for the next text. I’m already writing part II, III, IV …
If you like my content, comment, share, discuss on the virtual wheels of friends.
I made this beautiful art with photos from a profile called “African Roots” on Instagram. Go there.