Balancing Human and Spirit Worlds

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:
Balancing Human and Spirit Worlds

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This chapter, as the final line of the ponto cantado, suggests that the aim is to balance without falling, to exploit the resources of both the human and the spirit worlds simultaneously in order to maximize health, wealth, and well-being and to minimize suffering. This is the delicate dance of survival, and it depends on a zelador's ability to negotiate competing demands and obligations to the best of her ability. The logic of balançando is that one must be both flexible and firm, defensive and offensive, oscillating between different strategies as the situation warrants. In some senses Maria Nazaré de Souza Oliveira's life story is an example of balançando, fluctuating between periods in which her identity as a zelador took greater precedence and periods in which her identity as a wife and mother was foremost, moving in and out of these roles in response to events in her life.

Keywords: ponto cantado; balance; human; spirit worlds; health; wealth; suffering; balançando; Maria Nazaré de Souza Oliveira; zelador

Chapter.  10039 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology of Religion

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