ESPIRITISMO, Theater and Trance
Espiritismo, the practice of communication with spirits through trance possession, is found throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. In Venezuela, a mythological goddess figure of ancient indigenous legend -Maria Lionza- is the focal point for gatherings within the jungle of sacred Mount Sorte. This religious movement, still regarded by many as a cult, is composed as a perfect reflection of Venezuela's own multicultural history. It is a syncretic, mestizo mix of the Spanish and Indian, as well as African traditions and beliefs. Theatrical healing ceremonies and colorful pageantry blend wildly to bring forth a knowledge of the esoteric passed down through spiritual caravans; the pilgrims known as Marialionceras. Each caravan worships at the altar of its chosen spirits and saints. From American Indians to African deities, Latin American liberators and Venezuelan folk heroes, even the court of the Vikings exists here. All of these, however, lay at the feet of the "Queen mother of Venezuela", the earth goddess figure whose beauty and majesty is the source of the mystical powers that are said to reside only on this mountain. The pilgrims come to take part in her abundance and seek guidance, connecting through their mutual faith, a diverse history unified by a human desire that seeks connection with the mystery of life.