Padilha, Maria

In the sixteenth century, Portugal was the first nation to deport Gypsies (Roma), first to its colonies in Africa and then to Brazil. Maria de Padilla traveled with them. (SEE ALSO:
Maria de Padilla.) She underwent a sea change, emerging in Brazil as the foremost Pomba Gira, Maria Padilha. As Exua, she is the bride of Exu, who in Catholic-influenced traditions is identified with Satan. (SEE ALSO:
Exu; Pomba Gira.)

Just like her Spanish alter-ego, Maria Padilha evokes powerful reactions:

• Some worship her as a queen and goddess.

• Others identify her as Satan in the guise of a sexy woman and warn that invoking her leads to disaster.

• Other devotees adore this diabolical persona and venerate her even more.

Maria Padilha’s behavior may depend on how she is perceived and invoked. If you think she’s the devil in disguise, she may have fun living up to expectations. However, she is potentially a protective spirit of tremendous power and generosity. She is volatile and expects to be consistently treated like a queen. Whatever rage the original Maria de Padilla sublimated when denied her proper title is freely and vigorously expressed by her Brazilian alter-ego. Now called Rainha Maria Padilha (“Queen Maria Padilha”), she has assumed her rightful place.

Padilha is the Portuguese spelling of the Spanish Padilla. They are pronounced identically: pa-DEE-yah.

She is a sex goddess, a Tantric goddess, a goddess of sex for pleasure, not procreation, although she is capable of blessing devotees with fertility. Maria Padilha is a crossroads goddess who provides direction and opportunities for devotees. She breaks through obstacles, no matter how challenging, and is invoked for love, sex, money, and protection. She is also invoked to provide protection from pregnancy, venereal disease, and sexual abuse.

She may be venerated at domestic altars but offerings are traditionally brought to three-way crossroads (T or Y shaped) after dark. Most modern crossroads are traffic intersections, so offerings are usually left at the side of the road. Offerings for her may also be left at the foot of the large cross in traditional cemeteries. This is the traditional method of offering:

1. Lay a black cloth on the ground, covered by a red cloth. (Colours may be reversed. It doesn’t matter which is on the bottom but these cloths effectively become her altar. Home altars should be draped with fabric, too.)

2. Light seven red taper candles for Maria Padilha while invoking her.

3. Give her a bottle of champagne or anisette. Open it for her. Pour her a glass, ideally a champagne flute or other elegant glass. Leave the rest in the open bottle.

4. Give her cigarettes or cigarillos. Open the pack; pull out one a little bit for her. Make sure you leave her fresh matches (a book, pack, or box—not just a match) or a nice lighter.

5. Give her seven beautiful long-stemmed roses from which you have removed the thorns by hand. If the only roses available are dethorned, don’t worry about it; but if not, don’t let anyone remove them for you. You do it. If roses are beyond your budget, she may accept red carnations.

This ritual traditionally accompanies petitions for Maria Padilha. Tell her exactly what you desire. (She can deliver virtually anything.) The standard promise is to return with more lavish offerings when your desire is received. In other words, you will return with better champagne, more expensive cigarettes, or more luxurious gifts. Tell her precisely when to anticipate receipt. She is not patient.

In Brazil, traditionally offerings including burning candles are just left beside the road, but this is not necessarily feasible or socially (or legally) acceptable elsewhere. Either find or create a place where this is possible or stay until candles burn out—use small candles, not long red tapers—or, if necessary, pinch out the candles, deferentially explaining to Maria Padilha why this is necessary. Bring the candles home or to a safe place and relight them for her.


Maria of the Seven Crossroads




Women, cross-dressers, prostitutes, sex workers


A beautiful, glamorous woman. She may be crowned or in various states of undress.


Maria Padilha is portrayed as a beautiful Gypsy or a naked, red-horned devil-woman.


Officially Exu, but she is often paired with the orisha Ogun, at least in magic spells.


Black pigeon ideally with red legs


Monday, Friday


Black, red


Dragon’s blood




Seven red roses, seven red carnations, anisette, champagne, cigarillos, Nat Sherman red or black cigarettes, perfume, ornaments and hand mirrors fit for a queen, sex toys


  • Exu
  • Ogun
  • Maria de Padilla
  • Pomba Gira


Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses – Written by Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.