Pierre Fatumbi Verger recalled

A few days ago a person asked me in a serious manner if Pierre Verger really existed or if was another Bahian invention. Who knows, maybe it was an effort to explain the syncretism of our culture no longer through divinities but instead through a human being.

Pierre Verger was born in France, he came from an aristocratic family, he was a citizen of the world, a photographer of world frontiers, from Peking to Havana, a young adventurer amidst the pathway of knowledge and emotions. He was also a doctor in science at the Centre de Recherches Scientifiques in France, alongside the wise Roger Bastide.

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Verger & Gil: The Last Encounter

Recorded by “Conspiração Filmes” in Salvador, February 9th, 1996.Full transcription, divided in five parts.

Part 1

G – So master, how are you? And here, how is the house?

V- So-so

G- Was the whole Foundation sent here?

V- I don’t know, there are books down there. I’ve got lots of things recorded, but I don’t have the equipment to listen to the things..(laughing)

G- Your recordings of Africa?

V- They’re things I did in Africa.

G- When you were in Ibadan?

V- Yes. I stayed there for about 15 years.

G- Did you stay at the university when you Read more

Pierre Verger in the memory of Zélia Gattai

Zélia Gattai, Brazilian, niece of Italian emigrants, memorialist and “Contadora de Historias”, as she likes to define herself, today is 88 years old. She lived 56 years of her life with the great Brazilian writer Jorge Amado sharing everything: love, friendship, work, politics and that bitter exile that forced them to live in Europe from 1948 to 1952. She shared with him even the adherence to the candomblé and the friendship with great figures like Pablo Neruda, Nicolas Guillén, Pablo Picasso, Jean Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and Pierre Verger. Pierre Verger was a great friend of theirs, and Zélia remembers him with affection: “He was an extraordinary person and I had great admiration for him. Think,” she tells me on the phone during a dialogue that almost transformed into an interview “we can say, in a certain way, that he came to Brazil thanks to Jorge. Pierre read the book “Jubiabà” by Jorge Amado and was enchanted by the description of Bahia and its nature. He became curious to the point that he wanted to see with his own eyes that nature that was so out bursting. So he Read more

Interview with Balbino


The interview between Claudio Neri and Balbino was carried out in dialogue form, this is of great importance, as not only does it provide significant information on the therapeutic ritual, but above all it shows the comparison-meeting between two cultural modes of thinking, as for example the function of dreams in human relations and their interpretation. It’s a meeting that allows to keep hold of the ‘differences’, but exchanging ‘mental forms’ of different ‘knowledge’: hence, a ‘mestizo’ context that François Laplantine defines as follows “ it’s a never Read more

Comments to the interview with Balbino


The interest that such an interview brings about is in comparing an interpretative system of dream that is different to the model proposed by psychoanalysis and that was initially elaborated around the clinical individual cure. The interview poses questions that we must solve using other analytical systems, such as that of group analysis or family therapy: Who dreams in the dream? How can telepathic dreams be understood, the shared and mutual dreamlike space? The practice of shaman dreams, the different traditional therapeutic practices used via the means of dream, the dreamlike journeys of the Pumé of the Andes, all these issues that have been highlighted and analysed by numerous anthropologists Read more

An encounter with Mestre Didi

I’m persecuted, with its ups and downs, by the existence of God. Years have gone by and this could be my last position. I was a handsome boy, a little stupid, contemplative. My mother would take me to mass everyday. I would remain absorbed in the silence of the cathedral under the effect of that mystical drug which is incense. I would raise my gaze and see myself in the sky, together with my Madonna. This deistic folie a deux lasted for several years. Once adolescent I moved to the opposite side, in a radical and hot-tempered way, burning sacred images instead of incense and “eating” priests. This extremism didn’t last long, it couldn’t last, I’m a tranquil type; enough so to not keep hitting at the same nail. Throughout the years I declared myself agnostic.My agnosticism is today, with some oscillations, still in force. In the last ten years the chances of a possible God have increased. The discoveries in the field of genetics have brought about a frightening biological complexity. Everything starts in 1953, when Watson and Crick discover the DNA’s double helicoidal structure. Then, between 1961 and 1964, the genetic code is completely deciphered. The complexity and beauty of this quaternary code makes Rosetta Stone seem like a joke. The prodigious structure of haemoglobin, with its sequence of 574 intertwined amino acid molecules, Read more

Cultural syncretism


The author  would likes to displace the concept of multi-culture from it’s simplistic, conscientious spreading, a sort of tranquillizing summation between cultural diversities, thus allowing one to live harmoniously. It’s not this way: insertions between cultures, rather than pacification, spread conflict and innovation Read more

Unitas Multiplex The therapeutic function of a rite in group psychoanalysis and traditional treatment. Convergence and diversity


The author is inspired by metaphor “Unitex Multiplex”, he thought that taking inspiration from this metaphor would be a good beginning in order to  produce a piece of work on groups from the psychoanalytical and anthropological points of view, using multiple approaches, and, at the same time be an attempt to come up with unitary parameters.So, will be further explained to the complexity of ideas that are relative to the therapeutic function in groups. One has also to pay particular attention to the mythical-ritual aspects and also take the contingent factors of the meeting that a small analytical group has into account. These factors possess elements of similarity but are also different from those that are specific to a social group that puts rite into play. The author  would now likes to enlarge upon the classical idea of Tarantismo by addressing Ernesto de Martino’s well known study and enlarge upon it with an experience of child group analysis. A common aspect regards a musical ritual that is a structuring element in the Puglia therapeutic rite, whilst in a group of children, it seems to establish a fluid, passionate element that opens up to a different group formation. In the last part the author  would now likes to try and express the idea around which the reflection on the “Gods’ Read more

“EWÉ”, Pierre Fatumbi Verger, Odebrecht / ed. Companhia das Letras, São Paulo, 1995, 758 pp.


In this artiche the author presents the last book written by Pierre Verger. This book, of which now there are only a few existing copies, offers precious information on Yoruba medicine and on the formulas used for the medical and magical trabalhos, this book is the result of the field research that Pierre Verger Read more

The Red and the Black: A Practical Experiment for Thinking about Ritual


In order to explore ritual action in its own right (“in itself and for itself” as Lévi-Strauss [1971: 598] advises), the author has subjected students and seminar participants to a bare-bones male initiation rite of his own invention: The Red and the Black. He proposes to describe this ritual and, in doing so, to suggest a number of recurrent Read more

A Samba for Pierre Fatumbi Verger


In 1998 the carioca School of Samba “União da Ilha”, In occasion of the great  Carnival parades in Rio de Janeiro, dedicated to Pierre Fatumbi Verger a whole bloco (group of costumes/masks) with the title “Fatumbi, a Ilha de Todos os Santos”. The bloco began with this presentation:
“It’s the deserved homage
that the União da Ilha
offers to the Bahian-African-French Pierre Fatumbi Verger Oju Obà”

The presentation was signed in Bahia by a group of distinguished personalities: Jorge Amado, Carybé, Dorival Caymmi, Estela de Oxossi, Ilê do Axé Opô Afonjà, Balbino do Ilê Agaujù. During Read more

Dream interpretation; from traditional cultures to group psychotherapy


It’ s not surprising that both in western societies and traditional societies, dream interpretation is contextualized socially and culturally. Dream is a human experience, that is filtered through the lenses of our language, our social values, and cultural symbolism. By focusing on how dreams have been used in traditional cultures: the creative potential of dreams, the role of guide and omen, the knowledge that is gained through dreams, the passage to other dimensions and worlds; all these functions that have been analysed by many anthropologists and they allow us to look at dreams from another point of view. A dream that is told in group therapy, can underline the need and the willingness of the group to face the shared unconscious and to develop a connection with the unthinkable. There is a difference between dreaming, that can be considered as intra-psychic event and narrating a dream which by definition is an interpersonal event. In Read more

The Group of Yoruba Gods


This contribution, based on the research carried out by Pierre Fatumbi Verger, intends to look into the following points: who are the Yoruba, the slave trade and syncretism and the Orisha pantheon Read more

Candomblé: A small glossary


Alapini: supreme high priest of the Egungun cult.

Axé: sacred energy, vital strength that can be found in man, animals and vegetables.

Babalaò: high priest of Ifà, the divination Orixà.

Babalorixà: same as pãe de santo, leader of the religious community.

Barracão: the room in which the public rituals take place.

Bùzio: shells that are used for divination.

Caboclo: divinity that represents an indigenous spirit, in Candomblé de caboclo and in the Angolan Umbanda.

Candomblé: Afro-Brazilian religion. Literally a Negro dance or musical instrument.

Ebo: offering, or sacrificed animal offered to the divinities.

Saint Son/Daughter: all those that have accomplished the initiation ritual.

Ifà: the Yorouban god of destiny.

Ialorixà: the leader of the Candomblé community, with most inner Axé. In Brazil this role is more commonly called mãe de santo.

Nago: ancient tribe originating from Nigeria.

Olorun: the supreme divinity of creation.

Roça: it’s the same as terreiro. An open space surrounded by trees.

Roda: the circle that is formed by the priestesses in dance.

Sapucaì: this is the name of the famous sambodrome “Merquès de Sapucaì”, that was built in Rio de Janeiro in 1984. The architect that planned the sambodrome is Oscar Niemeyer, this structure can hold a Read more