The Candomblé people of Brazil represent a rich and diverse religious tradition with roots in Africa, specifically among the Yoruba, Fon, and Bantu ethnic groups. Candomblé emerged in the early 19th century as a syncretic faith that blended African beliefs with elements of Catholicism. Today, it remains an important cultural and religious practice in Brazil, especially in the northeastern region of the country. This article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the Candomblé beliefs, mythology, and rituals, focusing on deities, their personalities, stories, and unique aspects of the culture.


The Candomblé religion is a polytheistic faith with a pantheon of deities known as Orishas. These Orishas serve as intermediaries between the human and the divine world, playing important roles in the daily lives of the Candomblé people. Central to the belief system is the concept of axé, a life force or spiritual energy that permeates everything in the universe. It is through the Orishas that axé is channeled, enabling them to influence and guide their followers.

Candomblé adherents believe in reincarnation and the existence of a spiritual realm known as Orun, where the ancestors and Orishas reside. The connection between the living and the spiritual world is maintained through rituals, offerings, and possession ceremonies.


Candomblé mythology is vast and complex, with countless stories and legends about the Orishas and their interactions with humans. These myths are typically passed down orally and are intrinsically linked to the rituals and ceremonies of the religion.

Some of the most important Orishas in the Candomblé pantheon include:

  • Olodumare: The supreme god and creator of the universe. Olodumare is often considered distant and unreachable, entrusting the Orishas to manage earthly affairs.

  • Oxalá: The son of Olodumare and a symbol of purity and morality. He is responsible for creating human beings and is associated with the creation of the world.

  • Yemanjá: The goddess of the sea, motherhood, and fertility. She is the mother of all Orishas and is revered for her nurturing and protective nature.

  • Ogum: The god of iron, war, and labor. He is a skilled blacksmith and warrior, ensuring the stability and protection of the community.

  • Oxóssi: The god of hunting, forests, and animals. He represents the connection between humans and nature and is a provider of sustenance and guidance.

  • Xangô: The god of fire, lightning, and justice. He is a powerful and commanding figure, enforcing divine law and punishing wrongdoers.

  • Oxum: The goddess of love, beauty, and rivers. She represents sensuality, wealth, and femininity, and has the power to heal emotional wounds.

  • Iansã: The goddess of wind, storms, and transformation. She is a fierce warrior and a symbol of change and rebirth.


Rituals play a central role in the Candomblé faith, connecting followers with the Orishas and allowing them to harness axé. These rituals can range from simple offerings to elaborate ceremonies that involve music, dance, and possession. Some of the key rituals and practices in Candomblé include:

  • Offerings: Devotees make offerings to the Orishas in the form of food, drink, and other items associated with a specific deity. These offerings are believed to strengthen the bond between the devotee and the Orisha, ensuring protection, guidance, and blessings.

  • Candomblé Ceremonies: Often held in a terreiro (a Candomblé temple), these ceremonies involve singing, dancing, and drumming to invoke the Orishas. Participants dress in the colors and symbols associated with the deity being honored, and the energy of the ceremony is believed to draw the Orishas closer to the earthly realm.

  • Possession Trance: During ceremonies, some participants may enter a state of possession, in which they are believed to be inhabited by an Orisha. The possessed individual, known as a medium, may dance, speak, or perform actions as the deity, offering guidance and blessings to the community.

  • Initiation: Becoming a Candomblé priest or priestess, known as a Babalorixá or Iyalorixá, requires a lengthy process of initiation. This involves spiritual training, learning about the Orishas and their rituals, and establishing a personal connection with a specific deity who will act as a spiritual guide.

  • Ancestor Worship: Candomblé followers also honor their ancestors, who are believed to exist in the spiritual realm and provide guidance and protection. Ancestor worship may include rituals, offerings, and the creation of altars to pay homage to the deceased.

Unique Beliefs

While Candomblé shares some similarities with other Afro-Brazilian religions, it also possesses some unique beliefs and practices. One of the most distinctive aspects of Candomblé is the close relationship between the devotees and the Orishas, with each follower having a particular Orisha who serves as their protector and guide. This personal Orisha is determined through a process known as Bori, in which the individual's head is consecrated to the deity.

Another unique aspect of Candomblé is its strong connection to nature, as many of the Orishas are associated with natural elements such as rivers, forests, and storms. This link to the natural world is reflected in the religion's rituals and ceremonies, which often involve the use of plants, herbs, and other natural materials.