Sunday, November 27, 2011

Venezuela's Espiritismo Marialionza

Thanks to the Wild Hunt blog I stumbled on an article about the Maria Lionza religion of Venezuela today and found it fascinating! It's a Spiritism tradition that has many groups of spirits - including Indians, Doctors, Criminals, and even some Vikings - which are headed by their Queen, Maria Lionza who was believed to be a native woman long ago. It blends Catholicism with some African practices, and Espiritismo beliefs, and 1/3 of Venezuelans are said to participate in it - though it's not just limited to local Venezuelan devotees.

What really caught my eye is that Dr. Jose Gregorio Hernandez who I frequently work with for healing and finding appropriate treatments and practitioners, is one of the main figures in the Doctor family of spirits. This makes sense seeing as how he is Venezuelan!

I'd love to learn more about this, and especially in how the Blessed Dr. Hernandez is worked with in this tradition - and thought that perhaps other readers of my blog who hadn't heard of this current of practice might also find it interesting as I had. I especially liked this short video showing some of the practitioners and rituals associated with Espiritismo Marialionza:



  1. Maria Lionza is Queen of all spiritual courts in venezuelan espiritismo. She is also considered a Goddess, not just a spirit.

    Native practices are also blended in the cult. The 3 highest spirit are considered to be Las Tres Potencias (the 3 powers) headed by Maria lionza, El Negro Felipe and El Indio Guaicaipuro, each one representing one of the 3 races.

    Like most religions with ties to spiritism, most workings are done under a state of spiritual poseesion by a medium. The offers given to Dr Jose Gregorio will also be shared by the other doctors who belong to his same court, the medical court.

    Dr Jose Gregorio Hernández images can be found both in white or black, and mostly formally dressed and sometimes, but not too often, wearing his doctor robes.

    I have never heard of herbs associated to him. What I do know from accounts of people that knew him in life is that he enjoyed brandy. Offering a cup of coffee would also be very well received.

    I happen to be venezuelan. :)

  2. I would like to clarify, when i said that the offerings given to Dr Jose Gregorio are sheared by the other Doctors in his court what I mean is that they all accept the same things. Not that an individual offering is distributed among them.

  3. Ah, I was hoping Mister M would chime in! :-)

    Their practices resemble quite a bit the Umbanda practices of Brazil. It might worth examining the similarities and differences.

  4. Thank you for your input! Any ideas of good resources to find out more? For some reason this topic really grabbed me. :)

  5. In english? that's a bit difficult. Even in spanish there isn't much online and most of the material is repetitive. You will find mostly videos of celebrations performed on october 12, columbus day or how we used to call it here until a few years back Race Day, because it conmemorates the meeting of the 3 races (Native, Black and White). These celebrations are performed at a national park near the mountain of Sorte, which is considered to be the spiritual hot spot of the cult.

    Espiritismo marialioncero was a more popular practice a few years back, now santeria is more common and has sort of taken over and influenced many espiritistas that now mix and mingle both traditions.

    Is there any particular thing you are interested in Devi?

  6. I have two Marialionzeros that belong to my familia. They are both Venezuelean. I went to Venezuela with them, and yes the practices of the 3 Potencias are similar to Puerto Rican Sanse, Santerismo, Dominican 21 Division, and Brazilian Umbanda. Similar to ML 3 Potencias we have three Divisions within Puerto Rican Sanse. We have la Division Negra, Division India and Division Blanca. While in Venezuela they call the various groups of Spirits Cortes, we call them Comisiones. It is very similar because it has its roots not only in Africa but in Taino Indian belief systems. Note that the Taino people of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic have their origins from pre-Colombian Venezuela. They have similar spirits, similar prayers, songs, and beliefs systems. Most Espiritismo within Latin American countries have similarities. They venerate the Cacique Taino as we do in Sanse and Mesa Blanca. Also Dr Gregorio is highly respected in all Latin America as well as the Caribbean.
    The altars are similar, the structure of magic and prayers. One thing if you are an Espiritista from Puerto Rico, you will find many similarities in other Latino counties. Also in urban sections where Hispanics live, a Centro Espiritual or Templo will have Puerto Rican, Cubans, Dominicans, Venezuelan and Colombians all in a room venerating Spirits. We learn from each other and share similarities. It is a common occurrence amongst Caribbean Hispanics, including Venezueleans and Colombians. Also in our altars you will see the Peruvian Ekeko, the Guatemalean Hermano San Simon, the Mexican Santa Muerte sitting next to Yemaya and Santa Marta Dominadora. Indigenous Spirits, Saints, Loases and Orishas. Read my Sanse blog, it is not 3 Potencias Espiritismo but very similar. I will be posting pictures to of a Reunion Espiritual in which pictures will show Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Colombians, Cubans, and even an Irish couple comming together to honor spirit.

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  8. Mr M this mingle with Cuban Samteria has also happened amongst Puerto Ricans, we call it Santerismo. A mix of Cuban Santeria with Puerto Rican Mesa Blanca Espiritismo. Sance is a mix of Dominican 21 Division and Puerto Rican Espiritismo and Brujeria. Living in a predominant Hispanic community in the States, we Latinos come.together to celebrate and venerate Spirits. Its interesting to see a Spirot from la Comision de los Negros come down into a Bajada with a Misterio such as Anaisa or even Chango.

    Luz y Progreso a todos los Espiritistas de los Misterios.
    Sancista Hermano Brujo Luis

  9. With all due respect, alot of people become interested in the various traditions of Espiritismo of Latin America and the Caribbean. You can read and learn, but these traditions must be experienced first hand to feel its beauty and grasp its mysteries.

  10. Luz y Progreso Devi

    In my group I mentioned I had an Irish couple, the gentleman's name is Sean Noonan he is a Presidente de Mesa and was baptized into Sanse and Espiritismo. He is well versed in the prayers, and aids us in bringing the Spirits. He is well protected by Belie Belcan "Saint Miguel". He has been with us since 1996. Also I am not into Palo Mayombe but I know an Italian Palero and a Polish Palero and they are well respected. I noticed that in the late 1980s Cuban Santeria opened the doors to other traditions and now there is no stopping it. Here in my town with the wave of Brazilians came Umbanda and Candomble.