Saturday, October 20, 2018

Espiritismo Cruzado: Cuban Spiritism

In Cuba there are multiple espiritismos, schools or denominations of espiritismo, if you will. Though all of them may bear some similarities to Kardecism, and most likely have derived certain aspects of their traditions, doctrines, or practices from Kardecist sources, most often, their dissimilarities to Kardecist practices outweigh their similarities. Though these differences may bother Kardecists, they don't seem to bother those who practice these other espiritismos.

So what are these other espiritismos and how do they differ from one another? The following is meant to give a brief overview, a synopsis, of the forms found in Cuba.

Kardecist Espiritismo is known in Cuba as Espiritismo Científico or Espiritismo de Mesa. Heavily grounded upon the writings of Kardec, there is no appreciable difference between these and Kardecism practiced elsewhere in the world.

We will note, without real description, Bembe de Sao, which has been identified by José Millet, but for which little information is available.

Espiritismo de Cordón, also sometimes referred to by the term Oríle, for a word often appearing in Cordonista songs, is quite distinct from Kardecism in several ways. Cordón maintains certain elements from Kardecism, notably a belief in reincarnation, the search for goodness, and the purification of souls. It also has acquired multiple elements from popular Catholicism, and African influences above all related to its efforts to combat negative magic sometimes found in African practices.

Cordón practices magic through extatic methods, and is enriched through syncretization. This is not a uniform or consistent process as Cordón has no centralized authority. For these reasons, we may characterize Cordón as a form of popular Espiritismo, somewhat organic and not consistantly institutional in practice or structure.

Another, and not wide spread Espiritismo is that called Espiritismo de Caridád. This form of Espiritismo differs little from Cordón, and its differences are structural and ritualisic. Most notably, while Cordón requires an assortment of assistants - mediums, other participants as well as the director of the acción, Cardidad requires at its minimum, two people - the medium and the person seeking "la caridad." Espiritistas de Caridad function independently, mostly out of their own homes, some Cordoneros work in a similar way, so boundaries between Cordón and Caridad may be viewed as porous.

Espiritismo Cruzado or "Cruza'o" is more idiosyncratic than these others. It may or may not evince the same elements from Kardecist dogma that we find in Cordón, and while misas are common, there are many Espiritistas Cruzados who work through solo consultation as do the Espiristas de Caridad. The only element in Cruzado that is universal, is their involvement in African derived initiatic traditions, and their use of Espiritismo in relation to those traditions.

All of these Espiritismos except for the strict Kardecist form share a loosely structured set of spirit pantheons. These pantheons are less uniform than that of Oricha traditions or even than the more flexible pantheons encounted in Palo.

In the context of the work I do within Esperitismo, I do readings which in part examine situation, uncover which commissions are actively available to aid the inquirer, and offer guidance on how to move forward to develop ones own solutions and practice. If that is something an individual wants to pursue, they can contact me privately.

Espiritismo Cruzado, a product of Afro-Cuban culture's adoption and adaptation of the Kardecist Spiritism which became popular in the 1850s and 1860s is a uniquely Cuban phenomenon and distinct from forms of spiritism found elsewhere such as in Puerto Rico and Brazil.

While a lot of attention is focused on Afro Cuban initiatic traditions, far less is given to the different variants of Espiritismo. Yet Espiritismo, especially the form referred to as Cruzado, often is the entry point for involvement with all of these traditions. What is more, being non-initiatic, it is accessable to all. A basic awareness of those spirits who walk with an individual and how to mount and work with a boveda or altar, allows the person begin to develop the spiritual life.

Espiritismo Cruzado does retain typical elements of European and North American spiritism, but also nurtures significant aspects of all the African spiritual practices brought to Cuba, and that combination is found nowhere else in the new world, because even in Brazil, there is no Abakua. Cruzado however, has made itself, literally the glue that connects all Afro-Cuban religions, in part because it contains elements of the spiritual pantheons of all Cuban faiths, but also because it is non-initiatory and openly welcomes all people. It also tends to be for those reasons, where most develop their spiritual gifts first.

If you are interested in investigating which spirits make up your spiritual court in Afro-Cuban Cruzado, and want a reading as I was taught a quarter century ago in Cuba, Contact me by email at or on messenger: Eoghan Craig Ballard for details.

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