Chapter

Pomba Gira and the Religious Imagination

Kelly E. Hayes

in Holy Harlots

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780520262645
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520949430 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520262645.003.0002
Pomba Gira and the Religious Imagination

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This chapter focuses on the psychosocial dimension: the all-too-human relationships, rivalries, and longings dramatized within and by the phenomenon of Pomba Gira. Like any other figure of religious devotion, Pomba Gira is the subject of a well-developed popular mythology, a diverse and open-ended repertoire of stories, songs, prayers, ritual formula, and other narrative forms through which devotees understand and interact with the spirit. Despite great variety, these narrative forms share a recurring set of themes that establish Pomba Gira's unique characteristics and skills and shape how devotees like Maria Nazaré de Souza Oliveira craft their own stories about this entity's role in their lives. While Pomba Gira may appear in multiple guises, the spirit's most salient attribute is her seductive allure. Pomba Gira is invariably a woman of ill repute, sometimes a prostitute or courtesan, sometimes a dangerous enchantress or feiticeira.

Keywords: human relationships; Pomba Gira; mythology; ritual; spirit; Maria Nazaré de Souza Oliveira; feiticeira

Chapter.  10036 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology of Religion

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