Central to the hierarchy of Quimbanda is the Maioral, a controversial figure whose mysteries are often not disclosed to those outside of the cult. While all the spirits of Quimbanda give reverence to Nzambi the creator, it is the Maioral who is the Chief of Quimbanda and the celestial fiery root of the cult. While many have attributed demons and devils to the figure of the Maioral and indeed there is great confusion regarding who the Maioral is exactly, what is clear is that the Maioral is the divine fire that rules over the cult. Therefore Saint Michael the archangel is The Maioral of Quimbanda.
The archangel Michael was adopted along with many other saints into the cosmology of the Congo during the colonization of the Portuguese where his fiery nature was familiar to the Bantu-speaking people and he took on the role of first child of Nsambi. Indeed one may say that the root of the Maioral in Quimbanda is the nkisi Aluvaia (known also as Bombojila) merged with Saint Michael in a unique flash of spirit.
This makes the Maioral the solar force associated with necromancy and the crossroads. This is the fire of the creator sparking forth as a primal divine fire found in the heavens.
Exu Rei is then the reflection of the heavenly fire of the Maioral as found on Earth. In terms of hierarchy if the Maioral is overlord of the creator holding his fire in the heavens, then Exu Rei is the warlord of the Maioral and therefore the God of the Earth who brings the fire contained in the Maioral down to creation. He is the bridge between heaven and Earth and as such the crowned power of all Exu.
What is seen in Exu Rei is the infernal fire of the chthonic that finds its impulse and is contained within the divine fires of the Maioral. The relationship between the Maioral and Exu Rei is one of the deeper mysteries of Quimbanda and can be compared to a similar relationship found among the Bakongo people of the Congo; that between Kadiempembe and Nzambi.
In this light Exu Rei is actually a title or office rather than a specific Exu. Usually it is common to find one of three Exu filling this role: Exu Lucifer (also known as Exu Sete Liras), Exu Mor, or Exu Rei das Sete Encruzilihadas. Each of these three represents different manifestations of the fire of the Maioral and can take up the role of Exu Rei which will vary from house to house.
In The House of Quimbanda, for example, Exu Mor is the Exu Rei of the house under Nzambi and The Maioral. Then under Exu Rei is the personal Exu of the individual, or in the case of a house or terrerio the Exu of the Tata. The personal Exu is therefore the King Exu of your life. This creates a unique dynamic in the hierarchy that is reflective of the uniqueness of individual destiny and personality.