This article has an unclear citation style. The references used may be made clearer with a different or consistent style of citation, footnoting, or external linking.(June 2010)
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".
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 people use Macumba to inflict harm, financial failure, illness, death, etc. on other people for various reasons. One request that a spiritual leader will ask if you want to inflict harm on a person is to bring a picture of that person and to write their name on the back of the picture.