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One of the great discoveries of this year for me has been learning about Afro-Brazilian religions.

During my stay in Brazil I spent time with people whose spiritual practice is a syncretism of various dogmas: On the one hand, the ancient African religions, brought to the American continent by enslaved people, with the Yoruba tradition (Angola) having special importance.

On the other hand, the indigenous traditions of the natives of the continent, whose source is the connection with their natural environment where everything acquires a sacred and symbolic connotation.

And finally, the religions brought from the West such as Christianity, which during the years of colonialism was imposed and sought points of coincidence with previous doctrines to ensure its prevalence.

A curious fact is that spiritism, or the path of communication with spirits, which was very successful in Europe in the 19th century and not so much today, has gained great importance in Brazil, establishing many centers throughout the country.

The combination of all these beliefs and practices make up the religions of Candomblé and Umbanda in Brazil and Colombia, or Santería in Caribbean countries, to give some examples.

In both the Candomblé and Umbanda religions, entities called Orishás are venerated. One of the things that caught my attention the most is that these Orishas are a representation of universal aspects of nature.

The entities are invoked to receive useful information and advice from the consulting person. During ceremonies there are those who 'incorporate' entities, that is, certain messages are dictated through their bodies by a force external to themselves, as if something possessed them, changing the sound of their voice and their behavior.

Yemayá is, according to some sources, the most important of the Orishás. It is in charge of ruling over the water, the sea, and the oceans. Called the 'Mother of Fish', she is the divinity of fertility par excellence, the Great Mother.

She is represented as a woman with black skin and large breasts, who wears turbans and seven skirts-seas. It is drawn with the color blue because of its obvious connection with the ocean. Sometimes it is painted with a mermaid tail.

Yemayá (unknown artist).

Every year on February the 2nd, a tribute is celebrated to this orishá where marine objects, flowers, and statuettes are offered to her, and in general blue tones are used for the rituals in her honor, which are carried out near the sea or a river. An important part of these religions are songs and dances, with the essential presence of drums and fire. It is about imitating the natural movement of water. People who are immersed in these religions establish a very special relationship with the different instruments since it is believed that the orishá manifests itself through the drum, voice, and dance.

As Yemayá is a divinity that represents the entire marine ecosystem, its devotees defend the ocean and waters by joining environmental campaigns and the protection of flora and fauna.

The potential of belief and faith can be relevant when we talk about a new culture of care and love for planet Earth.

The indigenous belief that every living being has a soul and a sacred purpose makes the communities established in the jungle consider their lifestyle much more, limit the use of natural resources, and organize themselves in such a way that allows the forest to regenerate. after their passing.

Cosmic Fish. Obra Silvia Cored. 2017. Suiza

From ecological ethics, there has been a lot of talk about how we communicate the situation of climate and socio-environmental crises.

We have observed that to demonstrate scientific precision in speeches, purely intellectual communication based on numerical data is used which few people connect with; this is abstract information that the brain can barely interpret. In this way, only a few people feel challenged enough to transform their behavior concerning their daily consumption actions and waste management.

What communication strategies can we use to inspire and activate significant and impactful changes in people, facing a new culture of global love and respect between us and the rest of the beings on Earth?.

In his book 'Dark Green Religion', author Bron Taylor tells us how by contacting the emotional part, the part of us linked to belief and faith, we can strongly feel the connection with the ecosystems that we are (our bodies). and the ecosystems that we are part of, starting with our nearby landscapes and expanding the framework to the entire planet Earth.

Considering that nature is sacred, that it has intrinsic value, and that the living beings that make it up are interdependent, could trigger an attitude of automatic care and responsibility. Starting with how I eat and treat my macrobiota, what individual consumption choices I make, and continuing with the treatment of everyone else, who are extensions of myself.

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