Verónica Rivas

 Maria de Padilla: from the Castilian Court to the Quimbanda Kingdoms

In the Alcazar of Seville a dying woman gave her last breath. She was a woman of great beauty and intelligence who played a very important role in the life and reign of Don Pedro I of Castile. Her name was Maria de Padilla and her life story would give birth to a myth about a Queen of Witches, a Guide of the Souls, the very Queen of Hell and Lucifer's wife -- as some would call her. And, in Brazilian lands, a whole cult would rise in her name, a cult born of denial and resistance, a cry for the survival of the ancestral that we know today as Quimbanda.

We are talking about a woman considered to be the courtesan of the King, the mistress, the favourite of an insatiable and ruthless man. For many she was an ambitious woman who would be the indirect cause of several dark events of the reign of Don Pedro. A century later, the Bishop of Palencia Don Rodrigo would say that she was given "to the evil arts" since -- according to the cleric's own words -- the disagreements between Don Pedro and Blanca of Bourbon (supposedly his first and legitimate wife) "came from a curse, requested by Doña Maria de Padilla, his concubine and given through a Jewish man, whom she soon found ready to the evil" (Florez, 1751). To the Alcazar she came as a courtesan, but in the very end, after her death, she was declared to be the first and legitimate wife of Don Pedro, a Queen to whom the nobility had to pay a posthumous tribute.

This event, together with others of which we will mention only the most relevant, would give birth to a Maria de Padilla with power in Hell, with a privileged position in the world of the dead, commanding legions of spirits, and that would be mentioned in spells, especially love spells. That same Maria de Padilla would become a name that would cross the ocean and reach Brazilian lands, carried by witches exiled by the Portuguese Inquisition. There she would become the great queen of a new cult: the Quimbanda, occupying the highest place in the hierarchical scale of its female spirits. She was added to the category of "Pombagira", being a "Pombagira Queen". The African influence, especially the Bantu element of the Quimbanda, would give Maria de Padilla the characteristics that the Western demonology was incapable of giving: an amoral position of command beyond good and evil.


Verónica Rivas

Verónica Rivas is a Uruguayan author and researcher based in Brazil. Her cosmological and anthropological studies in magical practices among ancient cultures (such as Eastern and Mesoamerican) led her to become interested in healing techniques. When she became a Reiki Master she started to research about the possibilities of integrating Reiki techniques with other ways of working with Energy, using her academic training in Philosophy. It was in this way that she developed the system called Rei Kia. She is also an initiated in the Vajrayana Buddhism and Quimbanda.