An Introduction to Queen María Lionza, Goddess of Witches, along with a Wealth Drawing Ritual in Her Honor
Have you heard about the goddess María Lionza? In this enchanting article, astrologer, dowser, and professional shaman Elhoim Leafar introduces us to Queen María Lionza, takes us on a sacred pilgrimage to Cerro María Lionza Natural Monument in Venezuela, and offers a traditional good luck and fortune ritual you can do at home.
Elhoim Leafar is the author of Manifestation Magic: 21 Rituals, Spells, and Amulets for Abundance, Prosperity, and Wealth and The Magical Art of Crafting Charm Bags.
Come along with me on an esoteric journey to a magical night in the mountains.
Give me your permission to momentarily transport you to another place. This place may be outside of your comfort zone: a place where your status doesn’t depend entirely on your power. Here, witches help each other even when they’re in different places, following different esoteric paths, and belonging to different traditions. In this place, the Wiccan witch and the Santera sit together at the edge of the river with a spiritist teacher. One brings the candles, the other the tobacco, and the other a jar full of water with honey… And sometimes sweet brandy.
This place is the Cerro María Lionza Natural Monument, also commonly called Montaña de Sorte. It is the mountain of a powerful spirit that once walked the earth with mortal feet: her beauty was so dazzling that the natives and the conquerors surrendered to her. Now, from the wind that blows in the mountains and the noise of the water that walks in the rivers, she finds herself. She is now considered throughout Venezuela as the “Queen of Witches,” and goddess of nature and forests.
María Lionza, the powerful spirit that gives her name to this mountain, belongs to everyone equally regardless of their skin color, social position, or esoteric path. She teaches everyone dignity and protects all who worship her. María Lionza embodies all the virtues of the mortal woman (learning, growing, valuing, and giving life) as well as all the virtues of a deity, meaning she is powerful, immortal, and wise.
Her power is such that no one doubts her. And for that reason everyone travels in large caravans to venerate her in the mountains, although she has altars in so many rivers, lakes, and natural waterfalls, as well as in homes and shops throughout the country. Because all the requests and prayers in honor of her are always fulfilled, her followers gather money to travel together to the Venezuelan state of Yaracuy to venerate her.
Yaracuy was once the magical land where the strong tribes of Jirajaras, the coyones, the guayones, the chipas, the noaras, the ayamanes and the caquetíos once inhabited. Mostly tribes of farmers and hunters; the latter well known in Venezuelan folklore for hunting with their long poisoned arrows, their combat songs, and for the sacrifices of fish and meat that they used to offer in honor of the divinities of the forest.
In modern Yaracuy, the entirety of the mountains are inhabited by the souls of these native warriors. These warrior spirits appear at night with their faces painted red and orange, or sometimes green and brown. Their songs are heard at night and they make a choir for the songs that the sorcerers and priests raise to heaven in honor of the goddess María Lionza.
On this night of our journey, in the nooks and crannies of the mountain, there are multiple small camps of witches and wizards. Large cauldrons for soup and asado boil on long metal grills, carefully positioned on rocks stacked around a bonfire that keeps the soup warm for guests.
When you arrive here, it is common to find many of these huge old “abandoned” cauldrons with their lids on piles of stones and new garbage bags inside the cauldrons, left over from other witches from a previous caravan who knew there would be other witches visiting who would be happy to put them to use.
In these small camps there are witches of all currents and religions working, dancing, and eating together. Some bring bags full of fresh vegetables already peeled and cut, others bring their bags of vegetables and meats just bought from the market, and all wield their machetes and knives as they cut and work together. Everyone comes here with a greater purpose: not to ask the goddess for favors, but to dance, drink, eat in her name and exalt faith in the goddess.
María Lionza receives everyone’s prayers and requests equally, as long as they are made outside the mountain, because the mountain is a place of rejoicing for her, where witches come to dance and create connections in honor of the goddess.
There is something that everyone brings to share as a religious principle: those three elements that can never be missing. Even the knife can stay at home, but all witches go to war with the same elements in their bag: water, tobacco, and candles.
A pitcher with frozen water to drink along the way, is that same pitcher that you will fill with the water you buy along the way.
A box of Cuban cigars – the kind that in Venezuela are cheaper than food – one of those $20 boxes that contains about 100 cigars.
The box of white candles, it is almost a fatal mistake not to bring. After all, in a country where botanics are in practically every corner, the box of candles is not even expensive.
During the day, there are only preparations: bowls of food passed from hand to hand, pitchers of water and liquor in every corner, and jokes and loud laughter. The witches are of all colors and from all cities, all dressed in white and light colors. Nobody dares to dress in black in the home of the goddess, except those who after midnight think of entering the most hidden caves of the mountain to carry out work as dark as the night itself.
At dusk the drummers arrive with their beautiful costumes: they put sequins on them – small natural pearls from the island of Margarita. And drums sound until dawn.
The witches dance and smoke tobacco all night, pray prayers that come from their hearts to give thanks to the goddess and exalt her name so high in the sky that it seems to reach the stars.
There is a sweet-bitter taste of tobacco and liquor in the mouth. There is a smell of the campfires, soup that has been boiling all day, and smoke from coal and firewood. As you walk among the white-clad bodies of the witches, it is clear that some are possessed by spirits of light that come with messages of love and pain, omens of light and shadow. Among the shadows of the dancers appear the shadows of the warrior souls of the old mountain tribes.
At dawn, everyone sleepily walks to the river to brush their teeth and take a bath. We all make breakfast together, cut herbs from the mountain to take them home, and extract pretty stones from a hidden waterfall on the way to the road. We also collect the melted wax of the candles that were lit during the previous night to raise the souls of the fallen to the stars, but not before reading all kinds of forecasts in the wax of these candles.
When arriving home days later, the “Manso Amanso” is prepared. This is a large powdered milk can, filled with the wax collected from all the candles that were burned in the mountain, along with rosemary, white pepper, coarse salt, and dried chrysanthemum flowers. You must let it boil until it forms a huge liquid mass that takes on an interesting brown color. After letting it cool for several hours, a blessed knife is used to open a hole in the center of this huge candle.
It is then filled with more herbs and dry aromatic flowers, making a kind of magical potpourri. It is kept to later burn it in the river, after a long wick of wick is added in the center. Once on the riverbank, the candle is lit. A prayer to María Lionza the queen is then prayed seven times, as a thank you, and this magical preparation is left to burn for several hours on the shore.
When people from outside Venezuela visit the mountains and sacred places, this is the ritual in which we (members of the spiritualist court) invite them to participate:
Good Luck & Fortune ritual dedicated to Queen María Lionza
This ritual can be performed any day of the week and at any time of the day.
In an open space about six feet in diameter, draw a large circle with white chalk.
María Lionza ‘s works are always loaded with these four elements: mysticism, symbolism, light, and creativity. So, using the same chalk, draw in the circle (inside and in the surroundings) stars, moons, and all kinds of symbols, as well as words and magical elements that you relate to the wish of good fortune that you wish to request. For example:
As a symbol of the local currency, you can draw a big check with ten pointed stars instead of zeros. Make this check out to your name (it can be your magic name). Alternatively or additionally, you can write your name around the circle.
The most important thing is that the circle must have drawings of butterflies and flowers (the flowers of your choice).
Next, place and light twelve white candles (small thin candles) inside the circle. There must always be twelve: not less or more than twelve. Place these in the order and position that you intuitively perceive to be correct, as long as they’re inside the circle. For example, you can arrange them all around the circle (inside), or you can place them all together in the center.
After arranging the candles feels complete, spread the following throughout the inside of the circle as well: a bunch of red rose petals, a bunch of white rose petals, and a bunch of sugar. Then, sprinkle a little rose water or water Florida inside and around the circle.
Now, with a drum, maraca, flute, rattle, or really any musical instrument you have at home, start playing in honor of the spirits. You are inviting them and compelling them to come into your circle. You can even (if you don’t have a musical instrument), simply make a rhythm by hitting the thigh of the leg with the open hand while sitting on the side of the circle.
Close your eyes and visualize the light of the candles in your mind as you continue creating sounds with your instrument to make the spirits come. Because this circle was drawn in honor of the goddess, only the well-intentioned spirits of nature will hear the call.
After about five minutes, formulate from your own creativity a prayer dedicated to the queen goddess and the spirits of her court. Here’s an example:
Oh war goddess María Lionza, queen of witches and patron saint of spirits and fairies, you who overcome all obstacles and you who guide everyone equally, you who are claimed, adored and venerated by the spirits of the world and of the winds that blow in the four directions, you who accept this humble offering of light and time from me, invite your people to protect me, to open my paths, to honor and elevate my good fortune at all times, to open those doors that correspond to me, and to close those doors that keep me from my purpose and my own greatness.
O mysterious queen María Lionza, you who understand the most ancient languages, you who communicate with trees and fairies as well as with people and animals, give me your blessing today and always, and keep away from me all those who wish me harm. May it be so today and always.
You can extend this prayer as long as you want. You can keep it short or long. Personally, I like to pray until the last candle is out, and then proceed to give thanks and clean everything. But you can keep it short and dedicate yourself to making music or even to dancing around the circle. My mother likes to spray a little of her perfume inside the circle, while my godfather likes to drink sweet brandy and sprinkle a little of it around. As you see, each one of us brings to the ritual something that we consider ours. In the end, we just give thanks and collect everything with joy.
Elhoim Leafar is a fourth-generation witch who hails from a family of healers and old-time brujeria/espiritismo practitioners from Amazon’s, Venezuela. Leafar is an urban shaman, diviner, and dowser and has been initiated in different paths of Afro-Caribbean sorcery, including Espiritismo Tradicional Venezolano, Candomble, and Lucumi/Santeria. He is the author of The Magical Art of Crafting Charm Bags and Manifestation Magic.
Listen to Elhoim on Magic Monday Podcast here: