No conversation about Quimbanda nor Pomba Gira is complete without discussing the famed Maria Padilha. Known as the Queen of Candomble`, Maria Padilha is sometimes considered to be the ultimate proto-type of Pomba Gira. In Brazil, she is one of the most famous of spirits called upon and over the years her ability to come through for her devotees has increased her fame.
The historical root of Maria Padilha can be found in the mistress of Dom Pedro; a woman of humble origins she combined sorcery with enchanting beauty to ensnare the affections of the king. Though the king was married to another, the mistress soon became highly popular and the mother of his illegitimate children. Though she did not wear the crown, she became a power in her own right, even controlling who had accesss to the king. Other legends mention that she made a trip into the heart of Africa to learn the sorcery of the Angolan Muslims and the Congo Ngangas and therefore mingled the power of seduction with sorcery and divination.
Therefore, Maria Padilha is the ultimate manifestation of Pomba Gira: a spirit with historical and legendary roots, tied to the powers of seduction, European witchcraft, and the sorceries of Africa. She is the irresistible seductress who emobdies the free woman, rejected by society for her unabashed acceptance of her sexuality and the threat she poses to male-dominated society, she is a witch and force of nature who offers power and wisdom to those who seek her out.
In Brazil, there is no spirit more famed than Maria Padilha. Her fame springs from her ability to effectively carry out spells, especially those of love. Like all the Pomba Gira, Maria Padilha is legion and under her name are hosts that form the various roads of manifestation that contain her force. Maria Padilha’s power is irresistible and she can swiftly resolve any matter. To the heart broken woman yearning for her wandering lover, she offers solace and the swift return of the lover, to the man competing for love, she ensures victory.
But the most important lesson she teaches is the majesty that is womanhood. She is the victory of beauty, love, and Woman over all the forces that attempt to restrain, define, and control her. Society treats her like a whore and marginalizes her, but her force cannot be restrained, her power cannot be denied, and her lessons cannot be ignored. Though called the wife of Exu and the Devil, she belongs to no one, but herself.
But not all the lessons of Maria Padilha are so easy or light, for she also represents the power of obsession and the decent into the darker strains fo sexuality. Indeed, like many of the spirits o fQuimbanda, Maria Padilha, while certainly not the devil she is made out to be, is neither a fluffy spirit to be trifled with. To those who do not respect her, she has harsh lessons, but to those whom she walks with, she can offer great bounties.
Among the many things Maria Padilha is given as her offerings, she takes anisette, champagne, lipstick, perfume, red/black candles, ribbons, jewelry, thornless roses, and fruits.
Maria Padilha is one the Pomba Gira that we call upon to carry out our spells and works of macumba. We honor her for all she’s done for our House, for the wisdom she offers us, and hope to continue to spread her name.