4. A Trickster Menu: Food offerings for Eshu in Umbanda
Patricia Rodrigues de Souza [+]
Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo, Brazil
Eshu is the African trickster God, naturalized in Brazil after slavery. He is present in every Afro-Brazilian religion occupying different positions: guardian, master, god and trickster, some other religions even attribute him the post of Demon. His place and functions can be confusing, for this is part of his character. He transits across epistemological binarisms always taking devotees out of their comfort zone and that’s probably why it is so difficult for most cartesian minds to understand him or his advices. In addition, Umbanda is itself a religion that subverts many values, for devotees to get advised, in spiritual consultations, by spirits of former African slaves, native Indians, gypsies, mistresses and many who have been despised and oppressed in history. Umbanda has been a very decentralized and dynamic religion showing no pattern in its rituals, liturgic calendars or hierarchy of spirits, each Umbanda temple’s character is reflected on its food practices. Within this deconstructing context, preparing Eshus’ food offerings is no less tricky, there are not clear and “universal” principles for Eshu’s food preparation, whoever is designated to prepare their food has to learn it straight from the spirits, whom, incorporated in the mediums in trance, tell her/him what they want to eat, how it should be prepared, when and where it can be offered. In this chapter I seek to explore the preparation of foods to be offered to the Eshus of Templo da Liberdade Tupinambá, an Umbanda temple located in Rio de Janeiro.