The Indivisible Invisible: Inside Brazil's Spirit World - OZY | A Modern Media Company

WHY YOU SHOULD CARE

Because sometimes you need all the help you can get.

By Zakee Kuduro

Somewhere in Rio de Janeiro, 28-year-old Krysllah Mendoca closes her eyes and lifts her arms in reverence.

Dressed in all white, Mendoca is paying homage to spirits and the spirit world during an Umbanda ceremony. Umbanda, which emerged from Rio in the 1930s, is a mix of the region’s religions, including African traditions of worship, Catholicism and a variety of indigenous beliefs.

Umbanda once boasted more than 30 million followers, but as pressure from the Catholic Church increased, the number of declared followers has decreased to 432,000. Mendoca, though, doesn’t let outsiders’ opinions get to her. As other practitioners surround her in song and dance, Mendoca finally feels that she has a reason to live. Through Umbanda, Mendoca learns that she has the power to control her own destiny.

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