Secrets, Gossip, and Gods
The Transformation of Brazilian Candomble
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persecuted, and marginalized - to a public religion that is very much part of Brazilian culture. Johnson traces this historical shift and locates the turning point in the creation of a Brazilian public sphere and national identity in the first half of the twentieth century. His major focus is on the ritual
practice of secrecy in Candomble. Like Vodou and Santeria and the African Yoruba religion from which they are decended, Candomble features a hierarchic series if initiations, with increasing access to secret knowledge at each level. As Johnson shows, the nature and uses of secrecy evolved with the religion. First, secrecy was essential to a society that had to remain hidden from the authorities. Later, when Candomble became known and activily persecuted its secrecy became a form of resistance
as well as an exotic hidden power desired by elites. Finally, as Candomble became a public relirion and a vital part of Brazilian culture, the debate increasingly turned away from the secrets themselves and towards their possessors. It is speech about secrets, and not about the content of those
secrets, that is now most important in building status, legitimacy and power in Candomble. Offering many first hand accounts of the rites and rituals of contemporary Candomble, this book provides insight into this influential but little studied group, while at the same time making a valuable contribution to our understanding of the relationship between religion and society.