Maria Lionza
Travel notebook

Maria Lionza

Maria Lionza
Medium in Maria Lionza ritual (Sorte mountain)

Recovery ritual (Quibayo)

     Medium predicting her future

                                                               Throughout the month of October an estimated forty-thousand Maria Lionzeros, practitioners of Venezuela's fastest-growing and most widespread alternative and syncretic religion,  
                                                               make their way to El Sorte Mountain and Quibayo, the spiritual epicenter of the Cult of Maria Lionza, where it is said that Maria Lionza's spirit resides. They come to connect to the spirit
                                                               of Maria Lionza, "La Reina", but also to perform Velacions, theatrical-healing rituals, which can be seen around the clock on Sorte Mountain and Quibayo .......

                                                             Many venezuelans venerate Marķa Lionza. According to legend, she was the daughter of a spanish conquistador and a princess from one of the indigenous tribes. She is sometimes portrayed
                                                              as a beautiful woman riding an animal called a tapir, sometimes as a young girl wearing a crown. Her followers claim that she can heal people and perform miracles. She is also believed to
                                                              protect animals and the natural environment. Every year many venezuelans make a pilgrimage to her shrine, Montanas de Sorte de Marķa Lionza and Quibayo, in the state of Yaracuy.....
                                                             Through a medium, these spirits provide guidance, healing and relate messages to the next world. The Cult of Maria Lionza took these teachings to its core, and today, an estimated third of

                                                              the country’s population practice the Cult of Maria Lionza, making it the second
most widely practiced religion in the dominantly Catholic country. The cult is not meant to replace Catholic
                                                              practice, but merely supplement it; by day practitioners will go to
church, but by night they will perform velacions, and summon spirits to the hidden altars and sheds in the backs of their
                                                              own homes. While the spirits’ presences are felt strongest on Sorte Mountain, spirit-possessions are practiced throughout the country, year-round ......

                                                      Mediums work in pairs, a partnership allowing one, the materia, to become possessed, while the other, the bonco, deciphers the spirit’s message. Once possessed,
                                                      mediums act as they please, liberated from the normal social taboos in Venezuelan society. Mediums spit and swear, smoke and drink and often strip naked.
                                                      Some engage in self-mutilation, goring themselves on blades and glass, but always take care not to harm any pilgrims under their counsel.....


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