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"Makumba" redirects here. For the Makumba framework, see Makumba (framework).

Macumba (Portuguese pronunciation: [maˈkũᵐbɐ]) is a word meaning both "a musical instrument" and "magic". It was the name used for all non-Abrahamic religious practices in Brazil during the 19th century. In the 20th century, these practices re-aligned themselves into what are now called Umbanda and Quimbanda. The term "macumba" became common in Brazil and it is used by non-practitioners as a pejorative term meaning "witchcraft".

In Brazil[edit]

A black hen sacrifice as a Quimbanda ritual in a graveyard in Florianopolis, Brazil

Macumba is practiced in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. There appears to be a relationship with the concept of the Boto (the fresh-water porpoise found in the Amazonas River and its tributaries) having shape-shifting abilities and then while in the form of a human male having sexual relations with young women. This belief was noted in several Indigenous American villages along the Amazonas (Solimões) River, Rio Negro, and Rio Japurá.

Macumba is widely practiced throughout the Southern Cone. Many practitioners continue to practice their traditional religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism, etc.) but also practice Macumba.

Some practitioners purport to use Macumba to inflict harm, financial failure, illness, death, etc. on other people for various reasons. Commonly, a Macumba spiritual leader will ask for a picture of the person on whom retribution is sought, with the name of the person written on the back of the picture.

See also[edit]


  • Kelly E. Hayes, "Black Magic and the Academy: Macumba and Afro-Brazilian “Orthodoxies," History of Religions, 46,4 (2007), 283–315.

External links[edit]