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Spirituality, a mountain goddess and African traditions
One long night every year in a mountainous rain forest in Venezuela, hundreds gather to dance on red-hot embers, enter trance-like states, and worship an ancient goddess known as Maria Lionza.

Those who travel to the mountain known as Sorte in central Venezuela are practitioners of a cult that is built on local indigenous traditions. Followers say its rituals heal pain and can even cure disease.
VENEZUELA-RELIGION/
RTX2JSYL
July 05, 2016
A man lies on the floor during a ritual at the Sorte Mountain on the outskirts of Chivacoa, in the state...
CHIVACOA, Venezuela
The Wider Image: Spirituality, a mountain goddess and African traditions
A man lies on the floor during a ritual at the Sorte Mountain on the outskirts of Chivacoa, in the state of Yaracuy, Venezuela.One long night every year in a mountainous rain forest in Venezuela, hundreds gather to dance on red-hot embers, enter trance-like states, and worship an ancient goddess known as Maria Lionza.



REUTERS/Marco Bello
VENEZUELA-RELIGION/
RTX2JSZT
July 05, 2016
A couple lies on the floor during a love and fertility ritual at a camp in the Sorte Mountain on the...
CHIVACOA, Venezuela
The Wider Image: Spirituality, a mountain goddess and African traditions
A couple lies on the floor during a love and fertility ritual at a camp in the Sorte Mountain on the outskirts of Chivacoa, in the state of Yaracuy, Venezuela. Those who travel to the mountain known as Sorte in central Venezuela are practitioners of a cult that is built on local indigenous traditions. Followers say its rituals heal pain and can even cure disease.

REUTERS/Marco Bello
VENEZUELA-RELIGION/
RTX2JSY3
July 05, 2016
People take part in rituals at the Sorte Mountain on the outskirts of Chivacoa, in the state of Yaracuy,...
CHIVACOA, Venezuela
The Wider Image: Spirituality, a mountain goddess and African traditions
People take part in rituals at the Sorte Mountain on the outskirts of Chivacoa, in the state of Yaracuy, Venezuela. REUTERS/Marco Bello
VENEZUELA-RELIGION/
RTX2JSZA
July 05, 2016
People cross a river at a hamlet in the Sorte Mountain on the outskirts of Chivacoa, in the state of...
CHIVACOA, Venezuela
The Wider Image: Spirituality, a mountain goddess and African traditions
People cross a river at a hamlet in the Sorte Mountain on the outskirts of Chivacoa, in the state of Yaracuy, Venezuela. REUTERS/Marco Bello
VENEZUELA-RELIGION/
RTX2JSY4
July 05, 2016
People take part in rituals at the Sorte Mountain on the outskirts of Chivacoa, in the state of Yaracuy,...
CHIVACOA, Venezuela
The Wider Image: Spirituality, a mountain goddess and African traditions
People take part in rituals at the Sorte Mountain on the outskirts of Chivacoa, in the state of Yaracuy, Venezuela. REUTERS/Marco Bello
VENEZUELA-RELIGION/
RTX2JT0H
July 05, 2016
A woman receives a purification bath at the well of San Juan of the Money at the Sorte Mountain on the...
CHIVACOA, Venezuela
The Wider Image: Spirituality, a mountain goddess and African traditions
A woman receives a purification bath at the well of San Juan of the Money at the Sorte Mountain on the outskirts of Chivacoa, in the state of Yaracuy, Venezuela. REUTERS/Marco Bello
VENEZUELA-RELIGION/
RTX2JSYX
July 05, 2016
A man removes bones from the head of a goat during a Santeria ceremony in Caracas, Venezuela. REUTERS/Marco...
Caracas, Venezuela
The Wider Image: Spirituality, a mountain goddess and African traditions
A man removes bones from the head of a goat during a Santeria ceremony in Caracas, Venezuela. REUTERS/Marco Bello
VENEZUELA-RELIGION/
RTX2JSYN
July 05, 2016
The remains of a dead chicken, liquor, and other items used in Santeria rituals are seen in a corner...
Caracas, Venezuela
The Wider Image: Spirituality, a mountain goddess and African traditions
The remains of a dead chicken, liquor, and other items used in Santeria rituals are seen in a corner at a house in Caracas, Venezuela. REUTERS/Marco Bello
VENEZUELA-RELIGION/
RTX2JSXX
July 05, 2016
A man smokes a cigar during rituals at the Sorte Mountain on the outskirts of Chivacoa, in the state...
CHIVACOA, Venezuela
The Wider Image: Spirituality, a mountain goddess and African traditions
A man smokes a cigar during rituals at the Sorte Mountain on the outskirts of Chivacoa, in the state of Yaracuy, Venezuela. REUTERS/Marco Bello
VENEZUELA-RELIGION/
RTX2JT0L
July 05, 2016
A man walks on his knees as he arrives at the Maria Lionza shrine in the Sorte Mountain on the outskirts...
CHIVACOA, Venezuela
The Wider Image: Spirituality, a mountain goddess and African traditions
A man walks on his knees as he arrives at the Maria Lionza shrine in the Sorte Mountain on the outskirts of Chivacoa, in the state of Yaracuy, Venezuela. REUTERS/Marco Bello
VENEZUELA-RELIGION/
RTX2JT0G
July 05, 2016
The remains of a statue of Pedro Camejo, Venezuelan independence hero known as "Negro Primero", are seen...
CHIVACOA, Venezuela
The Wider Image: Spirituality, a mountain goddess and African traditions
The remains of a statue of Pedro Camejo, Venezuelan independence hero known as "Negro Primero", are seen at the Maria Lionza shrine in the Sorte Mountain on the outskirts of Chivacoa, in the state of Yaracuy, Venezuela. REUTERS/Marco Bello
VENEZUELA-RELIGION/
RTX2JSZC
July 05, 2016
People take part in rituals at the Sorte Mountain on the outskirts of Chivacoa, in the state of Yaracuy,...
CHIVACOA, Venezuela
The Wider Image: Spirituality, a mountain goddess and African traditions
People take part in rituals at the Sorte Mountain on the outskirts of Chivacoa, in the state of Yaracuy, Venezuela. REUTERS/Marco Bello
VENEZUELA-RELIGION/
RTX2JT0A
July 05, 2016
People pray, smoke cigars and light up candles at the Maria Lionza shrine at the Sorte Mountain on the...
CHIVACOA, Venezuela
The Wider Image: Spirituality, a mountain goddess and African traditions
People pray, smoke cigars and light up candles at the Maria Lionza shrine at the Sorte Mountain on the outskirts of Chivacoa, in the state of Yaracuy, Venezuela. REUTERS/Marco Bello
VENEZUELA-RELIGION/
RTX2JT07
July 05, 2016
People take part on a "Dance on Glass" ritual at the Sorte Mountain on the outskirts of Chivacoa, in...
CHIVACOA, Venezuela
The Wider Image: Spirituality, a mountain goddess and African traditions
People take part on a "Dance on Glass" ritual at the Sorte Mountain on the outskirts of Chivacoa, in the state of Yaracuy, Venezuela. REUTERS/Marco Bello
VENEZUELA-RELIGION/
RTX2JSZ8
July 05, 2016
People smoke cigars next to Venezuelan National Guards at the Maria Lionza shrine on the Sorte Mountain...
CHIVACOA, Venezuela
The Wider Image: Spirituality, a mountain goddess and African traditions
People smoke cigars next to Venezuelan National Guards at the Maria Lionza shrine on the Sorte Mountain on the outskirts of Chivacoa, in the state of Yaracuy, Venezuela. REUTERS/Marco Bello
VENEZUELA-RELIGION/
RTX2JSZ1
July 05, 2016
A woman lights a cigar at a camp at the Sorte Mountain on the outskirts of Chivacoa, in the state of...
CHIVACOA, Venezuela
The Wider Image: Spirituality, a mountain goddess and African traditions
A woman lights a cigar at a camp at the Sorte Mountain on the outskirts of Chivacoa, in the state of Yaracuy, Venezuela. REUTERS/Marco Bello
VENEZUELA-RELIGION/
RTX2JSXO
July 05, 2016
A girl walks with flowers on her way to the Maria Lionza shrine at the Sorte Mountain on the outskirts...
CHIVACOA, Venezuela
The Wider Image: Spirituality, a mountain goddess and African traditions
A girl walks with flowers on her way to the Maria Lionza shrine at the Sorte Mountain on the outskirts of Chivacoa, in the state of Yaracuy, Venezuela. REUTERS/Marco Bello
VENEZUELA-RELIGION/
RTX2JSXV
July 05, 2016
A man (R) shakes during rituals at the Sorte Mountain on the outskirts of Chivacoa, in the state of Yaracuy,...
CHIVACOA, Venezuela
The Wider Image: Spirituality, a mountain goddess and African traditions
A man (R) shakes during rituals at the Sorte Mountain on the outskirts of Chivacoa, in the state of Yaracuy, Venezuela. REUTERS/Marco Bello
VENEZUELA-RELIGION/
RTX2JSYW
July 05, 2016
Altars are seen on the way to the Maria Lionza shrine at the Sorte Mountain on the outskirts of Chivacoa,...
CHIVACOA, Venezuela
The Wider Image: Spirituality, a mountain goddess and African traditions
Altars are seen on the way to the Maria Lionza shrine at the Sorte Mountain on the outskirts of Chivacoa, in the state of Yaracuy, Venezuela. REUTERS/Marco Bello
VENEZUELA-RELIGION/
RTX2JSY1
July 05, 2016
People take part in the celebration of the Day of the Dead in a Paleros religious ceremony in Los Teques,...
Los Teques, Venezuela
The Wider Image: Spirituality, a mountain goddess and African traditions
People take part in the celebration of the Day of the Dead in a Paleros religious ceremony in Los Teques, in the state of Miranda, Venezuela. REUTERS/Marco Bello
VENEZUELA-RELIGION/
RTX2JT0B
July 05, 2016
A man prepares a purification liquid with liquor, essences and flowers petals at a camp at the Sorte...
CHIVACOA, Venezuela
The Wider Image: Spirituality, a mountain goddess and African traditions
A man prepares a purification liquid with liquor, essences and flowers petals at a camp at the Sorte Mountain on the outskirts of Chivacoa, in the state of Yaracuy, Venezuela. REUTERS/Marco Bello
VENEZUELA-RELIGION/
RTX2JSXQ
July 05, 2016
Men walk on embers during a ritual at the Sorte Mountain on the outskirts of Chivacoa, in the state of...
CHIVACOA, Venezuela
The Wider Image: Spirituality, a mountain goddess and African traditions
Men walk on embers during a ritual at the Sorte Mountain on the outskirts of Chivacoa, in the state of Yaracuy, Venezuela.
REUTERS/Marco Bello
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