Quimbanda is not a religion and Exu is not everyone’s friend: an interview with Alexander Escuro

MAGREB decided to shed light upon some aspects of Quimbanda — a secret magical tradition gets more popular in Russia. In searching for the answers we turned to the most authoritative of all available sources, Alexander Escuro, the man who brought a seed of Quimbanda to Russian land and cultivated it successfully.

M: Hello, Alexander!

A: Boa noite, MAGREB!

M: Tell us, how did you come to the tradition of Quimbanda? What had you practiced before it changed your life?

You know, there is an occult law: opposites attract. If you want to attract something, start searching for something extremely opposite. I was opposite to the magic as it is. I had my business, my mind was interested with Derrida and Lacan, and I was really sceptic and strange to supernatural things. I had an intellectual acquaintance with theosophy, astrology, tarology and even been visiting a Masonic lodge, but my actual purpose was defending materialistic concepts and propagating dialectics.

But my level of skepticism seemed to be so high, that reality decided to show me its reversed side. During my traveling to South America I got to the Quimbanda followers’ gathering that looked like another side-show in a sequence of endless impressions… Then I met my Teacher. After a half-hour-long talk to him I threw out my return ticket for I realized I must stay. And I realized that everything I ever knew didn’t worth anything, and I really didn’t have to clutch at chimera of the past. After that “former me” has gone. I’ve got new name and new life.

M: And how do you feel now?

A: It looks like if I were caged in a grave of my own, but I could break free, see the sun and breathe fresh air after closeness and suffocation of existence under the ground of my illusions.

M: What are you working at now and what are your plans for the time immediately ahead?

A: For the last three years I released two projects. The first and the main was Quimbanda Temple, that was created for everyone who wants could get primary experience of touching Quimbanda. Just kind of introduction.

First I describe about thirty spirits of the pantheon, translated base techniques, elaborated method and program for beginners, accommodated some methods of our school to individual requests. It was a really great job, but now it’s done.

I confess that during the process of learning and communication I was looking for the interested people who could help me with the project in CIS. The most talented and congenial person was invited in Brazil for the initiation ceremony. Now Matias is the head of the Moscow temple Terreiro da Noite and he is going to continue my work.

We are planning to open the temple in Minsk.

The second project was private. It was directed to consulting and supporting business with some occult techniques that bring wealth and success. There are my students who are involved with, it is a team of diverse workforce who can effectively solve different business problems: prognosticators, analysts, practicing magicians and so on.

M: How is Quimbanda getting acclimatized in Russia?

A: It feels quite organic, I believe. We have enough cross-roads and cemeteries here. Since Voland has walked in Moscow streets, the territory looks like a desert. The official confession can’t satisfy people’s spiritual needs and all of these motley new-age movements are mess. Another matter that Quimbanda is not a religion and Exu is not everyone’s friend.

M: How do the local mental and cultural peculiarities match with this stream? What kind of people does it attract?

A: I can recall a story about Peter the Great’s jester who came in church and put out one candle to an icon, but he also put another one to a picture of devil. What are you doing? — asked the tsar. “You never know where you go after you die, so it’ll be nice to have friends on either side”. Russian person is a person of contradictions. He can integrate them into an organic whole. I always imagined him as dual, two-faced, differently ambivalent. Today he asks if Exu is evil or not, and tomorrow he is ready to sell him the soul. Now he is worried about the dangers of magic, but then he tears off a shirt upon his chest, screams “Go to hell!” and starts dancing with demons.

There are a lot of people who are being attracted. A lot of them were rejected because of conflicts with the rest of the stream. Some people realized that it is not the way for them to follow and said goodbye. But we are glad to have many concerned and candid students who will represent this tradition in our country.

M: How wide is the spectrum of opportunities in collaboration with spirits of Quimbanda? What do these opportunities depend on? And what percent of them is really used by practicing magicians?

A: It’s wide. The system is characterized by the effective “subtle plane” influence upon material world. In another systems it takes years to achieve such results. The specific of Quimbanda is easy for understanding, but as it were any other magic system, these opportunities are available only after serious work. The principle is universal: do you wanna master a lot of things? Μολὼν λαβέ! People who want get it for free are not welcome here.

M: Can I understand without your help who is my kindred Quimbanda spirit? How can I do it? If I find him, should I work with him or should I find anyone else with contrary properties to get balanced?

A: The significant factor is spiritual compatibility principle. This accordance can lay beyond logic and all the rational. It is determined by the priests who asking spirits and finding the one who will be companion and teacher for a neophyte.

We don’t recommend to practice Quimbanda on your own in case of Exu who may be perfidious, vindictive and dangerous, and if you’re mistaken once, you will fall very quickly.

M: How would you say, what properties must possess a practicing magician to start working with Quimbanda? What things must he get rid of? What are the most common hidden dangers?

A: The most important thing is your deep and sincere sympathy for Exu, your wish to be sealed with him blood, breathe and soul. The way of Quimbanda isn’t easy, macumba is a sharp double-edged knife so you may cut yourself and Exu can close the door as he tests your strength.

The most common hidden danger is unclear purpose. It’s easier to find a new job, to get a date, start studying psychoanalysis but not to give half a lifetime for sorcery. Instead of easy actions you must go a compass, and your path will be hard and thorny.

M: The first thing comes to my mind is fear of obsession that originates from Christian idea of the soul. What is the soul on Quimbanda and what’s the process of obsession technically?

A: You should just go and try it (laughs).

Generally speaking, it is the great act of mercy and grace when spirit condescends to a human. As for fears, I must disappoint you: the human soul is very often so miserable and ridiculous, so nobody needs it except its owner. You should remember: if there is no crowd of people who want to get something from you, it means that you’ve got nothing to give.

M: There is a point of view that Exu’s nature is acausal. From here follows a question about similarities and differences between Quimbanda and the streams of so-called anti-cosmic satanism and Qliphoth (one can get impression that Quimbanda is interesting mostly for people who follows the Left-Hand Path).

A: Especially with that end in view, we conducted some experiments, namely goetic work fulfilled by masters, for making an authoritative statement: there are no reasons to identify Christian demons with the pantheon of Quimbanda.

M: Are there some streams and practices not compatible with Quimbanda?

A: We never faced it. Quimbanda is compatible with a lot of traditions, but more often it’s not compatible with a concrete person.

M: N. Frisvold underlines that Quimbanda is associated with fullfilment of different wishes, but first of all, material.

It doesn’t conflict with the essence of the sorcery/macumba. But unfortunately a lot of people want just to press the button to solve all their problems forever. It is the influence of fantasy books and TV-shows where magic is represented as kind of easy omnipotence. Few people who shortly practiced some things asked with disappointment, why they still didn’t get rich and couldn’t kill their enemies with one look.

M: How can Quimbanda help to transcend the material world (in a lifetime or after death)? Is there some limitations for spirits of Quimbanda? Do they act within the Tree of Life/Death or any other way? What is an ultimate aim about understanding the world and your place in it?

A: You enter the spiritual world beginning with your first time practicing. The essence of Quimbanda is interaction with spirits and the “subtle plane”. The advantage of this tradition is the possibility of direct contact with entities “from the beyond”. The main principle of the work is mediumship: you get information and knowledge from Exu.

We are not allowed to discuss the greatest achievements openly, but saying briefly, it is when the human soul becomes equal to the spirits of the pantheon.

And as for spirits’ opportunities… Just go and ask them! (smiles)


translated from Russian by Kasya