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São Paulo, A Thriving Hub of Heathenry?

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The Heathen community in São Paulo is younger than its US counterparts but it seems to be thriving, growing incredibly quickly in this dense urban hub of Brazil. In many respects the community there would be familiar to Heathens from the US or the UK, with philosophies falling into many of the same conflicts over ‘Folkish’ or ‘Universalist’ practice. There are some more subtle differences though which give São Paulo Heathenry its own unique flavor. Unlike here in the USA where Wicca dominated the Pagan scene for decades before many other polytheist communities emerged, Heathenry, Wicca, Druidism, and Celtic Reconstructionism caught on in Brazil more recently and more concurrently. So where as many Heathen communities in the Western World have been tending to separate themselves more and more from the general ‘Pagan Umbrella’, these various communities in São Paulo are much more prone to work together. The community also has a much younger demographic with most of the members being in their 20’s-30’s, many of whom are just starting families of their own.

Kindred Covos De Pedra (The Stone Raven Kindred) is one of the more active Kindreds in their area and has a background that’s common among many Kindreds in Brazil. According to Carlo Marcello, one of the organizers behind Corvos De Pedra, Brazilian culture places an important emphasis on the extended family unit and this attribute has served the Heathen community there well.

“Depression and loneliness are big problems around here. Many Heathens end up having family problems for abandoning their parent’s Christian faith […] in big cities like São Paulo, the everyday stress can easily make one feel alone even in a crowd. So the Kindreds often end up filling in for this role in society, and bringing us closer together.” – Carlo Marcello

Like Corvos De Pedra, many Kindreds were already tight-knit groups long before they decided to form an official Kindred. It is this attribute which seems to account for the community’s apparent stability, as opposed to the rather transient nature of many local Heathen or Pagan groups in the USA for example. So while it’s rare for any one group to grow particularly large, more of these smaller, tight-knit Kindreds are developing every day.

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São Paulo recently saw one of it’s largest annual Heathen Gatherings, a festival called ‘União Folk’ (Folk Union) at Ibirapuera Park. Together with the Druids of Ramo de Carvalho (Oaken Branch), the Heathens of Alces da Floresta (The Forest Elk), and a number of small families, groups like Corvos De Pedra worked together to host this fun and educational festival. Along with the feasting and the music members of the local community held classes and lectures, teaching about their crafts, traditions, and Lore. The festival was also a kind of informal charity event, with participants bringing pet food to be delivered to local shelters as the admittance ‘fee’ and helping to clean up the park afterward.

Picture by Camila Garcia

Brazil is still a predominantly Catholic society, and with polytheism comes the all too common stigma of ‘satanism’. Truly embracing the philosophy of WhatsApp Image 2016-09-26 at 18.24.44“We are our deeds”, the Heathen and Pagan communities of São Paulo work hard to present their best face to society. Many Kindreds participate regularly in community service activities, like cleaning up the Ibirapuera or Pirituba parks (No small feat, given their size).  Corvos De Pedra also recently worked with a number of other groups to deliver blankets to the homeless before Winter, while other Kindreds helped make and deliver food. Many of these activities are small, unofficial actions, without the backing of major charities and the accompanying support that the normal media attention would bring.

In a time of great civil unrest in Brazil, the Heathen communities of São Paulo are doing their best not only to provide much-needed stability but also to inspire an ethic of hospitality that can bring people together in a time and place where it’s so easy to feel alone and divided. Not only are our fellow Heathens in São Paulo growing fast and going strong, they bring honor our traditions with their actions.

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