Category Archives for "Palo Mayombe"

voodoo practices

The Origin of the Practice of Voodoo

Though it is not exactly known how Voodoo originated, it is believed to have Qbegun from Benin in West Africa. According to the Fon language, Voodoo would mean Spirit about the connection and reverence to the spirits.


The spread of this religion initially associated with ancestral worship began with the slave trade. When slaves were brought from West Africa to Haiti to work on the plantations for their masters who had colonized Haiti, they brought with them their religion. However, they were not allowed to practice this religion. A law was put in place in 1685 to ensure that the slaves gave up their worship practices. They were forbidden from practicing Voodoo and instead were converted to Christians by their masters.

The Catholic saw an opportunity with slavery to convert these individuals from the perceived dark magic practice to Catholicism. However, these salves did not automatically drop their religious practices. Instead, they merged both practices. This led to the syncretism between the original Voodoo magic and Catholic beliefs.

These slaves would ascribe different meanings to the saints of the Catholic Church as a way of combining both religions. For example, Saint Peter of the Catholic Church was also referred to as Papa Legbe, the gatekeeper of the spirit world.

The Spread:

In 1800, slavery ended in Haiti. However, it was a long process before this could be achieved. The practice of Voodoo by the slaves empowered and strengthened them through slavery. They were so energized that they began to revolt against the slave system. This ultimately led to the French Colonial masters leaving Haiti. Some took their African slaves and moved to New Orleans where the practice continued to spread.

It has also spread to other African nations, parts of the Caribbean and America. It is now officially recognized as a religion in both Benin and Haiti where it has strongholds. 

Even after the end of slavery in Haiti in 1800, Voodoo followers were still victimized by the authorities then. The religion has been associated with cannibalism and other extreme evils even till date. Many members of other organized religions have the perception of voodoo as dark magic and its members are seen as evil or demon-possessed.

This origin, however, differs from that of Palo Mayombe that has its origins in Central Congo and began its spread from Cuba. Though the similarities exist in the fact that these religions were brought from Africa to these parts of the world by slaves. Slaves who refused to give up on their beliefs and chose to uphold them. Though in the case of Voodoo, there is some level of syncretism with the Catholic Church, it is not so with Palo Mayombe.

Palo Mayombe is a pure branch of Palo; undiluted in its worship and belief systems. Although some Paleros still result in the learning of the teachings of other faiths and make attempts to combine them all in their worship.

palo monte

Resurfacing of The Palo Mayombe Religion

The Palo Mayombe has been kept in secret for a very long time leaving little or no knowledge. This is because it has been condemned and negative actions were made towards it. Now it has resurfaced and people are curious about it. They want to know its origins, traditions and beliefs. If you’re part of the curious cats, you’ve come to the right place.

The origins of the Palo Mayombe

The Palo Mayombe which is also known as the las reglas de Congo originated in the early 1500s during the slave trade in the Cuba era. It is divided into denominations; Mayombe, Monte and Briyumba. The Palo Mayombe has its roots in the Congo basin where a large number of slaves were brought to Cuba and from there the religion evolved. The Palo Mayombe can also be found in brazil and Mexico. In brazil the religion is known as Quinbanda. The Palo Mayombe has its main roots in the Bakongo religion. The language of the Palo Mayombe is a mix of both Spanish and bantu languages.

Traditions and beliefs of the Palo Mayombe religion

The Palo Mayombe are one to believe in spirits and natural powers. Their worship altars are called Nganga, el Cadero or Prenda. The Palo Mayombe believe that natural objects especially sticks have powers of the spirits. The spirits in the Palo religion are called Mpungu in the singular form and kimpungulu in the plural form. They inhibit sacred objects called Nkisi. These spirits are known for their good deeds and their names. They are often associated with the human emotions. Some of these spirits are; the Zarabanda, San Simon, El Christo Negro and El Christo rey. These spirits are said to be very powerful but not as powerful as the god the creator who is known as the Zambi or Nzambi.

The Palo religion does not make use of clothing, colors and dancing style linked to the deities unlike the Santeria and other Yoruba religions. The Palo Mayombe religion makes use of music in their rituals and the music sounds are made from wooden percussion instruments and drums. Some of the music tunes they use in their rituals are the cata, Guagua and the ngoma or conga. In the Palo religion, they make use of different spells and divination processes. The most common method of divination is the use of coconut shells. The priests are called Paleros and their initiates Ngueyos or Pino nuevo. To get initiated into the Palo Mayombe, is not as easy as becoming a member of any other religion out there. Its quite different in the Palo Mayombe. Normally, non-initiates are not to know about the Palo Mayombe unless they come across it somewhere. The initiation ceremony is called Rayamiento which in English it means being snatched. Special marks would be carved on your skin during the initiation. To undergo this initiation, you have to prove your courage, confidence and loyalty by taking an oath. it is done secretly.

yoruba gods

Yoruba Religion: Its Origin and Its Spread

The People:

The Yoruba religion originated from the Yoruba people. These people are scattered in different geographical locations and are connected by language, beliefs, and customs. The Yoruba people occupy the West of Nigeria in West Africa. They hold a strong belief that they are descendants of the great hero, Oduduwa. The Yoruba people can also be found in the Benin Republic, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, Jamaica, Sierra Leone, Argentina, Uruguay, and Togo. This spread was majorly due to the slave trade. The Atlantic slave trade is a major factor as many Yoruba indigenes were moved to several cities and countries as slaves.

The Religion:

The Yoruba religion forms the basis of other religions such as Santeria and Voodoo. It is however not fully practiced by all the Yoruba people. The Yorubas are divided into Christian, Muslims and only about 20% still practice the religion. The Yoruba religion focuses on the belief in Olorun, the Creator god and other minor deities called Orisas.

These Orisas stand as intermediaries between the Supreme deity and mankind. Some are believed to have existed since before man came to be, others being humans who attained that spiritual height and others assuming the form of natural forces such as waters, rocks, and trees. They are said to be able to engage in marriage, divorce, eating, drinking, dancing to music and every other activity man can engage in.

These Orisas are responsible for carrying prayer requests, messages from man to Olodumare. Followers also believe in body possession by the Orisas. This is done through ritualistic dancing, music, drum beats, and chants. As the participants dance, the Orisa rise from its place of residence, which is the Earth and rests on the soul of the follower or priest. From thence he is possessed of the Orisa which begins to express itself through the participant’s body.

The Story Of Creation:

The account of creation forms part of the peculiarities of the Yoruba religion. It is believed that Olodumare is the Supreme Deity that created the entire universe. He sent the Truth to identify habitable planets in the Universe and the Earth was reported to be too wet for the existence of life.

Olodumare then sent the other gods led by Obatala to develop the earth’s crust. Obatala in getting to the earth, armed with soil, winged beasts, and a cloth. A large heap was formed on the water and the winged beast began to spread it. This activity formed the dry land, mountains, and hills. 

Obatala stood on the dry ground and called it Ife. It became fertile and began to sprout plants. Obatala further took soil and began to mold images that would become humans. Olodumare then sent fire to bake those images. He further sent the breath of life that blew across the land and brought those images to life. Those images became the first living beings. It is believed that life began in Ife.

The Yoruba religion has notable differences when compared to Palo Mayombe. Despite the latter being the basis of some other religions, Palo Mayombe is still referred to as the most powerful dark religion.

palo mayombe sigils

The Making Of a Palero – How to initiate it?

An initiated member of a Palo Mayombe’s house or religious family, that has learned the way of the spirit and the religion can proudly call himself or answer as a Palero. A Palero believes in the power of the spirits to influence human and physical affairs. He must also continually learn the most effective way to allies and invoke their powers through the efficacy of rituals. The Spirits, Nfumbi, does not discriminate. They are ready to reward, protect and elevate any dedicated a Palero, based on his way with the spirits and his sacrifices. A Palero feeds the spirit through the Cauldron, Nganga. He feeds the spirit through Nganga with elements from nature such as Palos (sticks), minerals, earth etc. Since a Palero has embodied, given the sprits shape and feed it. He has earned the power to interact with the spirit physically. The power is enormous in seeking protection, provision and guidance from the spirits.

Palo Mayombe Beliefs

No one can claim to be a Palero with revering the spirits. That is one of the two main foundations of Palo Mayombe. There will no Palo Mayombe belief without the veneration of the Spirits. The other foundation is the belief in the power of natural objects. The two parts of Palo Mayombe beliefs work together. It is believed that the spirits dwell in these natural and sacred objects. Each spirit is considered to be like the custodian of an aspect of life and is powerful in that aspect of life. It is fundamental for any Palero to offer prayers to the right spirit for it to be answered. The Spirits are very powerful but are under the eminence of the Supreme Being and the Creator, Nzambi.

Palo Mayombe Rituals

A ritual in Palo Mayombe is often accompanied by music, rhythms, drums and beat repercussions of metal. Rum is also shared in Palo Mayombe rituals to add spice and effect to the occasion. Divination is an important practice in Palo Mayombe, similar to Ifa consultation in Santeria. Divination is a sensitive part of the religion that offers immediate insight to any problem and quick a solution, and right answer to any query. It is done by an elder Palero. It is common for a Palero’s body to be taken over by the spirit during Palo Mayombe rituals, the spirit then speaks to the community through the mouth of this Palero.

Palo Mayombe Curses

The Popular tag of ‘evil’ attached to Palo Mayombe is a good example of people fearing what they understand. It is worth repeating that Palo Mayombe Curse and other practices are the most potent form of black magic in the world. Palo Mayombe curse is no eviler than any other practices but gives an instant result, sometimes within 24 hours. Palo Mayombe curses are tools that can be used either way by a Taita. The best use of Palo Mayombe Curses is always advised during initiation, which involves the reading code of ethics of the religion as well as the house you belong to.

palo mayombe spells

Palo Mayombe and the Potency of its Spells

Palo Mayombe is a religion that deals with magic and supernatural powers, harnessed by connections with spirits and deities. These powers can be used to achieve various results which would fall into positive and negative results. These powers can be used to heal, as well as to lay sicknesses on others. It can also be used to bring prosperity and wealth, and can otherwise do as much take another man’s life. The result and effect of these powers would rest with the Palero’s individuality. However, most Paleros love to speak of the religion as one that brings healing, restoration, blessings, wisdom and a representation of the African identity and spiritual essence.

Efficacy Of The Spells:

New initiates are beginner Paleros are advised to apply caution as regards casting spells. The efficacy of the spell cast would rest on the level of experience attained by the Paleros. Notwithstanding, it is widely known that Palo Mayombe has the most powerful spells being cast, hence their Priests and Priestesses are being sought after by members and leaders of other dark cults and religions. However, these spells can be quite dangerous and should not be toyed with. Anyone who intends to engage in these spells must be well prepared for what it involves and the consequences that may follow.

Activating The Spells:

These spells are carried out using the sacred symbols and the nganga that has been set up the Palero. The nature of the deity, otherwise called mpungu to which the nganga is set up would determine to a large extent the result of the spells. Hence, a Palero can have more than one nganga to consult in different situations, whether violent or therapeutic.

To activate a spell, a sacred symbol also known as Firma would be drawn as a representation of the needed results. This firma stands as the signature of the entities and recognized spiritual authorities involved. Anyone drawing the frame has to have an in-depth understanding of its meaning to effectively harness the powers of the spirits. It is not enough to know how to draw the diagram or symbols themselves, you must be knowledgeable of what they represent. Beginners are advised to ask for the meaning of any firma they have received from their Tata (godfather).

While drawing the firma, ritual incantations are being made. Every angle and line is crafted with purpose and meaning. This would, in turn, bring the symbol to life with power from the spirits.

Some firma may also require the inclusion of certain items to empower it the more depending on the intended results. For example, to create a love spell, you may need the pictures or items belonging to the love target.

As the symbols are being drawn and incantations are being chanted, the frame is lit up with spiritual energy to set the action in motion. Some Paleros would also add rum and smoke as the incantations are carried on. Some herbs and plants may also be required for effect.


Nsambi, the creator and the overseer of the universe

Nsambi is the ultimate. He lives within every living thing and occupies every space, every object. He is the God in Palo Mayombe and the creator. He is often symbolized with the symbol of the Sun and the plants in many representations. There are symbols of Him been represented with a man in a crucifix, this is a misconception. There is nothing like a crucifix in Palo Mayombe religion. The symbol was meant to be a description of Nsambi presence within and around us. It is also an explanation of the pre-colonial Kongo Cosmology. They believe the Sun, which cycles and reflects around the four main points of the Sunset, dawn noon and the midnight. It was manipulated to look like a cross to suit Christianity’s agenda.

The higher Palo gods

Like any hierarchy, Nsambi is not only the creator but the overseer of the Universe. Other Palo Mayombe gods are always at your service at beck and call once you have the experience and the knowledge to call on them. 

Zarabanda is probably the busiest of all the gods; he is a divine messenger that carries human messages to the spirit world.  Zarabanda is a very fierce god that can be unmerciful to the evildoers and protect his own. He is the god to seek his face if you ever need protection both in the physical and spiritual.

 Madre De Agua is a powerful and gentle goddess that gives Palo Mayombe faithful money magic and love connection. Madre De Aqua is a Sea goddess and she is all about motherhood, so you can get plenty of love and provision from her.

La Santisma Piedra Iman: This is the god in care of the famous Palo Mayombe Magic. This is the spirit you need to attract if you are ever in need of either white or black magic.

Santisma Muerte: This is the goddess of death, cemetery and afterlife.

San Simon: The Just god, he is all about keeping law and justice.

The Dead and the ancestors in Palo Mayombe

Palo Mayombe does not consider death as the end. Life is a continual cycle where humans can exist in various form. This is why the ancestors are an important part of Palo Mayombe. They are dead are our ancestors who form invisible force all around. They are often there to protect us from danger. A Palero is most powerful where he knows how to invoke and use the spirit of the Palo Mayombe ancestors for protection, provision and guidance. Such benefits, however, do not come without a price. The price is to keep the memories of the dead alive and venerate their spirit with earthly symbols. That is a small price to honoring the Palo Mayombe ancestors to pay for the huge benefits that come with it.

Palo Mayombe Spell

Spells are the fastest to get quick result in Palo Mayombe. A well-planned Spell starts with the Firma or Patiempemba, a spiritualized drawing.  A Palo Mayombe spell goes beyond the drawing a Firma. A Palo Mayombe Spell is a spiritual exercise that represents your appeal to the spirit and also your request.

sateria initiation

Santeria: the Spiritual Passage to Participation

Pre Initiation:

Santeria is a religion whose practice involves different rites and ceremonies. The first and most important for every follower is the initiation rite. This rite is preceded by the cleansing ceremony where the godfather cleanses the scalp of the new initiate to prepare him for the rites. Special herbs and sacred water are used for this purpose. 

The initiation rite itself is in four stages. These four stages are termed: Obtaining the Necklace, Making Saint, Receiving the Warriors and Ascending the Throne.

Obtaining the Necklace (Ileke):

A new initiate is called a Bride (Iyawo). Before he proceeds, it has to be determined through ritual who the Orisha in charge of the Iyawo would be. The initiate would then have to search for the necklaces (elekes) that have the specific colors and design of his Orishas.

The beaded necklaces are then sanctified and dedicated using a mixture of herbs, sacrificial blood, and other potent components.

The initiate is expected to wear these necklaces as a connection to the Orisha. The god in return would offer protection and guidance to the new initiate. The beads, however, must not be worn during menstruation or sex. They are considered sacred and should not be defiled by such activities.

Making Ocha (Medio Asiento):

The next stage of initiation is erecting of the image of the god, Eleggua. Before this image is erected, the initiate has to consult with the Initiator, laying bare all aspects of his life. The initiator then decides which aspect of this OSHA the image would be erected by. The new initiate would have to obtain some stones, of which the Initiator picks one. This stone forms the center around which the image is erected. This image is housed by the new initiate as a source of protection and must be attended to. It is usually offered food and sacrifices.

Receiving Warriors (Los Guerreros):

At this stage, the new initiate receives items connected to the three warriors; Ogun, Ochosi, and Osun. These items are believed to further bind the new initiate with these Orishas. The items are iron instruments (Ogun), bow and arrow (Ochosi) and an iron chalice with a rooster mounted on it (Osun).

Ascending the Throne (Asiento):

This climaxes the entire initiation rites and is done with a lot of secrecy. It is the phase where the new initiate metaphorically dies and rises to a new life. In this phase, the new initiate is believed to be possessed by his Orisha and his utterances during this ceremony are believed to proceed from the Orisha itself. It is done in the company of other ordained Santeros and includes certain rituals.

Post Initiation:

After initiation, the new priest waits for a year, staying away from impurities and contact with non-initiates. He is not yet offered the privilege of performing ceremonies and rituals. After this phase, he is handed that privilege, along with standing as a healer and a diviner. He is then seen as a representative of the Orisha.

voodoo spells

The Practice of Voodoo and its Belief System

What comes to mind most times when Voodoo is mentioned is a religions that deals with dolls and zombies, intending to use them as representatives for the humans they want to have effects on. However, Voodoo is more than that. Voodoo is a version of voudon, a religion that originated from Haiti. It includes a collection of beliefs, practices, teachings and traditions passed down from one generation to another. These would also include ceremonies, proverbs, teachings, songs, chants and incantations.


Like Palo Mayombe, Voodoo worshiper’s belief in a supreme Creator who they call Bondyle and the reverence and acknowledgement of other spirits which they call Iwas. These spirits are believed to be responsible and connected to certain blessings. They are believed to be able to cause certain changes in this realm. But Palo Mayombe as a religion, holds its beliefs in the spirits of the dead as well. This for them is a very important part of their religion.

Spirit Possession:

Voodoo practitioners also believe in spirit possession. Unlike other modern religions that perceive spirit possession as an evil occurrence, suggesting exorcism, Voodoo worshipers desire Spirit possession. They believe that the soul or the spiritual essence of man can leave the body for a spirit to occupy it. They view this as valuable experience into the world of the spirit. This has to be done through a ceremony anchored by a priest.

The Origin of the Zombie and Doll Perception:

Across mainstream media, Voodoo is usually associated with zombies and dolls. But there is more to it than is being expressed. The zombie ideology started first as a West African deity and then progressed to represent a body in a soulless state. In Haiti, it is believed that the first zombies were called up from the dead by priests. For some it was to instill fear in the other living worshipers, that a person could still be punished after death. It was even said that these zombies were used to work on the fields, though there is really no evidence of that.

The zombies however, can be said to be a part of the sacred objects used by voodoo worshipers. They also hold ceremonies and rituals that may involve animal sacrifices.

Voodoo as a religion has spread through many countries in different continents; with each city or region having their own unique practices and syncretism with other religions. It is however believed that Palo Mayombe’s power is unmatched by any of these Voodoo versions. Palo Mayombe is known to be the most dreaded and most powerful dark magic practice. It is known that priests of other dark religions including Voodoo would often seek consultations with priests of Palo Mayombe in certain situations and to achieve certain results.

Though there may be similarities between the belief system and practices, Palo Mayombe stands out as a unique religion on its own. Despite its activities being done very discreetly and out of public eye, the religion has gained widespread reputation for the impact of the spells and magic.

palo mayombe nganga

Palo Mayombe Religion; the Palero and his Nganga

Palo Mayombe is known as the most powerful and dreaded dark religion. Its worshipers who are hugely located in Central America, Brazil, and Mexico, center their activities around their altar or shrines called nganga. Another name for it would be Penda which means jewel.


Nganga is got from a Bantu word ‘ganga’ meaning wisdom and skill. It is a consecrated and sacred pot or a cauldron that houses the spirits of dead ancestors. These spirits, in turn, guide the activities performed around the nganga. It also is filled with sacred sticks, earth, water from a river and bones.


The nganga is formed by a Palero. It is believed he has to establish a pact with the spirit of any dead person of his choice. These spirits are called nfumbis. He requests for the spirit to begin to work in his favor, while he promises to feed it with alcohol, rum, and honey all the days of his life. If the nfumbi accepts, the initiate then takes skeletal parts of the deceased or the whole skeleton and takes it to its sanctuary in his home. The sanctuary is supposed to be a part of the home or outer the home, dedicated to the nganga. It’s usually locked so strangers do not gain access.

He places the skeletal parts in a clay or metal pot, the nganga, along with metallic objects such as a machete, nails, iron, earth, water from the river and animal remains.


The nganga is not just the connection between the worshipers or Paleros and the                                                                                                                                       It is the interface, the medium between the physical and the living realm. The spirit of the dead that inhabits it and to which it is consecrated is the medium by which all spiritual and magical activities take place. It is believed that these spirits possess powers to control elements. The nganga is like a god connected to different entities. An embodiment of spiritual energy.

The nganga furnishes the dead spirit with a structure or a house where it can operate. It can speak, listen and exchange communication and emotions with the palero. It can also begin to work and go on assignments on behalf of the palero. These activities would involve forgiving, loving, striking with illness or even killing an enemy.

The nganga can also in some way chastise the palero of it fails to fulfill its part of the bargain or it feels jealous of his affections.

On the other hand, the Palero expects the nganga to supply him with protection for is enemies, provision, and healing. It can also tell it of the future of the activities of others that may harm him.

The nganga can also be further dedicated to one of the higher entities known as the mpungu. These entities would empower the ngungu the more and is usually called first while mentioning the name of the nganga as all nganga have their unique names. In summary, the nganga is a joint force of all powers of the deity, the dead spirit and the universal elements represented by the natural objects contained in it.

palo mayombe religion santeria

Cuba and the Different Religious Practices

Cuba, a Latin-American nation known for its many religious diversities; the most practiced being Roman Catholic. The Catholic Church was introduced as a religious practice by the Spanish who colonized them. Other modern religions are being practiced in Cuba and others resort to atheism, which is the belief in the non-existence of a god or gods.

After the Cuban communist revolution, the authorities maintained strict policies on religious activities but became more lenient from the 1900s. There were permissions granted to faiths of the fewer number to worship at their various centers.

The Different Religious Practices in Cuba would include the following:

  • Roman Catholicism:

About 60% of the Cuban population are practicing Christians of the Roman Catholic Church. The state had initially maintained strict rules against the practice of religion due to its communist government. But with time, the government became more lenient and the people of Cuba were allowed to practice any religion of their choice. The Catholic Church is led by the Cuban Bishops Conference. They are actively engaged in political reforms in the country aimed at achieving greater religious freedom for its people.

  • Protestantism:

Protestantism came to Cuba just at the same time as the Roman Catholic Church. Their growth was helped by the American missionaries and today, they make up for about 11% of the entire nation. The Protestant Churches and other non-Catholic Churches would include Baptist Church, Seventh Day Adventist, and the Pentecostals.

  • Islam:

Islam is also another religion being practiced in Cuba and as of 2011, made up for 0.1% of the entire population. With aid from the Turkish Islamic community, Islam in Cuba is starting to have a firmer hold.

  • Atheism:

Atheism has flourished in Cuba and it can be said to be an atheist state, though it has reduced the tight laws against other religions. Atheism is practiced by about 23% of the entire population. As other religions are given greater freedom to practice, this percentage would further reduce.

  • Santeria:

Santeria is one of the religions practiced by the people of Cuba. This religion was formed by the syncretism of the Yoruba religion practiced by the West African slaves and the Roman Catholic faith practiced by their slave Masters. About 13% of the population of Cuba practice Santeria. Due to their productivity and gentleness, the Yoruba slaves were a preferred choice for the slave masters. And as they came, their population in Cuba increased, as well as the spread of the Yoruba religion. When the government placed restrictions on the practice of other religions in Cuba, besides Catholicism, the syncretism of the Yoruba religion and the Catholic faith began as a way for the practitioners to continue to practice their religion.

  • Palo Mayombe:

Palo Mayombe is another dark religion practiced in Cuba with origins from Africa. It is believed to have begun from Central Congo in Africa. As the slaves from Congo were brought to Cuba, they also came along with their religion; Palo Mayombe. This religion is believed to be the most potent and dreaded among all the black magic religions in Cuba. The priests and followers are said to have a connection with the spirits of the dead, and through them can create both negative and positive results.